Nāgabodhi (n.d.) A native of southern India and the fourth in the lineage of the transfer of the esoteric teaching of the True Word school. He is said to have inherited the esoteric teaching from Nāgārjuna and transferred it to Chin-kang-chih.
Nāgārjuna (n.d.) A Mahayana scholar who lived in southern India between 150 and 250. He wrote many important treatises on a great number of Mahayana sutras and organized the theoretical foundation of Mahayana thought, thus making an inestimable contribution to its development. He is especially known for his systematization of the doctrine of non-substantiality. His treatises include The Treatise on the Middle Way, The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, and The Commentary on the Ten Stages Sutra.
name and form Nāma and rūpa in Sanskrit. Spiritual and material objects that are discerned by consciousness. A link in the twelve-linked chain of causation.
Nam-myoho-renge-kyo The ultimate Law or reality that permeates all phenomena in the universe. It is the invocation or daimoku in the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, who identified it as the teaching underlying, or the essence of, the Lotus Sutra.
Namu Amida Butsu “Homage to Amida Buddha.” Also known as the Nembutsu. The phrase invoked by followers of the Pure Land school with the aim of attaining rebirth in Amida’s pure land.
Namu-bō (n.d.) Also known as Chikei. A priest of the Pure Land school during the Kamakura period in Japan. Initially of the Tendai school, he took faith in the Pure Land teaching and became a disciple of Ryūkan (1148–1227) of Chōraku-ji temple in Kyoto, who was a disciple of Pure Land school founder Hōnen. He later returned to Kamakura and built Chōraku-ji, a temple of the same name as his teacher’s temple in Kyoto.
Nan-yüeh (515–577) Also known as Hui-ssu. T’ien-t’ai’s teacher. He entered the priesthood at age fifteen and concentrated on the study of the Lotus Sutra. Later he studied under Hui-wen who taught him the meditation for observing the mind. He was often persecuted, but he devoted himself to lecturing on the Lotus and Wisdom sutras, while engaging in the practice of the Lotus Sutra and the training of disciples.
Nārāyana Originally the god Vishnu in Hindu mythology, incorporated into Buddhism as a protective deity said to possess great physical strength.
nayuta (Skt) An Indian numerical unit. Explanations differ according to the source. According to one account, it is one hundred billion (1011), and to another account, ten million (107).
near-perfect enlightenment The fifty-first of the fifty-two stages of bodhisattva practice. The stage almost equal to the Buddha’s perfect enlightenment, the last stage before a bodhisattva attains Buddhahood.
Nembutsu (Jpn) A term meaning to meditate on a Buddha. The Pure Land school took it to mean to meditate on Amida Buddha or invoke his name. This practice is said to enable adherents of the Pure Land school to attain rebirth in the pure land of Amida Buddha. The term also refers to the Pure Land school itself.
Nembutsu Chosen above All, The A work written by Hōnen that constitutes the basic text of the Japanese Pure Land school. In this work Hōnen explains the doctrine of the Nembutsu and, basing himself on the three major sutras of the school, exhorts people to discard all teachings other than the Nembutsu teachings.
Nen’a See Nen’amidabutsu.
Nen’ami See Nen’amidabutsu.
Nen’amidabutsu (1199–1287) Also known as Ryōchū, Nen’ami, or Nen’a. The third patriarch of the Japanese Pure Land school, after Hōnen and Benchō. He studied the doctrines of various schools and in 1236 became a disciple of Benchō. Nen’amidabutsu spread the Pure Land teaching in Kamakura and the Kanto region.
Never Disparaging According to the “Never Disparaging” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the name of Shakyamuni when he was a bodhisattva in a past existence. Never Disparaging simply bowed in obeisance to whomever he happened to meet because they possessed the Buddha nature. Seeing this, people of overbearing arrogance slandered and cursed him or attacked him with staves and stones. The sutra concludes that the bodhisattva thus had his past offenses wiped out and his six faculties purified, and that the slanderers fell into hell. But because they had formed connections with the Lotus Sutra Never Disparaging preached, they were reborn with him and received instruction in the teaching of enlightenment. The chapter describes the correct attitude in propagation and the benefit of the reverse relationship for those in the Latter Day of the Law.
“Never Disparaging” chapter The twentieth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which Shakyamuni relates the story of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging to illustrate both the benefit of embracing and practicing the Lotus Sutra and the gravity of retribution for slandering its votaries.
new translation Any of the Buddhist sutras or treatises translated into Chinese by Hsüan-tsang (602–664) and those after him. Translations that were completed before Hsüan-tsang by contrast are referred to as “old translation.” Generally speaking, the new translations tend to be more literal, while the old translations are more interpretive and attempt to translate the Buddhist texts in a style that is easier to understand. In actuality, however, the quality of any given translation depends mostly on the understanding and capability of its translators, rather than to which of these two categories it belongs.
Nikkō (1246–1333) Nichiren Daishonin’s closest disciple and immediate successor. Also called Hōki-bō. In 1258, when he was thirteen, he became the Daishonin’s disciple. He later joined the Daishonin in his two exiles, to Izu and Sado, and went on to lead successful propagation efforts that sparked the Atsuhara Persecution. At Minobu he recorded the lectures on the Lotus Sutra that the Daishonin gave to his disciples and compiled them as The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings. After the Daishonin’s passing, Nikkō collected and copied his teacher’s writings, which he called the Gosho, or “honorable writings.”
nine consciousnesses Nine kinds of discernment. The first five consciousnesses correspond to the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The sixth consciousness integrates the perceptions of the five senses into coherent images and makes judgments about the external world. The seventh consciousness corresponds to the inner spiritual world and generates awareness of the self and the ability to distinguish good from evil. The eighth consciousness, called ālaya-consciousness, receives the results of one’s good and evil deeds and stores them as karmic potentials, or “seeds,” which then produce the rewards of either happiness or suffering accordingly. The ninth consciousness, called amala-consciousness, which remains free from all karmic impurity, is defined as the basis of all life’s functions and is identified with the true aspect of life, or the Buddha nature.
nine divisions of the teachings Also nine divisions of the scriptures or nine divisions of the sutras. A classification of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings according to style and content, of which there are four different traditions. According to one tradition, the nine divisions of the teachings are (1) sutra, or teachings in prose style; (2) geya, restatements of sutra in verse; (3) vyākarana, the Buddha’s predictions of the future enlightenment of his disciples; (4) gāthā, teachings set forth by the Buddha in verse; (5) udāna, teachings that the Buddha preaches spontaneously without request or query from his disciples; (6) itivrittaka, discourses beginning with the words “This is what the World-Honored One said”; (7) jātaka, stories of the Buddha’s previous lives; (8) vaipulya, expansion of doctrine; and (9) adbhutadharma, descriptions of marvelous events that concern the Buddha or his disciples. According to another tradition, nidāna replaces jātaka; in a third tradition, nidāna replaces udāna; and in a fourth tradition, nidāna, avadāna, and upadesha replace vyākarana, udāna, and vaipulya. Nidāna means descriptions of the purpose, cause, and occasion on which teachings and rules of monastic discipline are propounded. Avadāna refers to tales of the previous lives of persons other than the Buddha, and upadesha to discourses on the Buddha’s teachings. It is generally believed that the nine divisions of the teachings developed into the concept of twelve divisions of the teachings.
nine schools The Dharma Analysis Treasury, Establishment of Truth, Precepts, Dharma Characteristics, Three Treatises, Flower Garland, Tendai, True Word, plus either the Zen or the Pure Land school. The first eight schools and the Pure Land school appeared in Japan before the Kamakura period (1185–1333), while the Zen school emerged in the early Kamakura period.
ninety-five non-Buddhist schools Schools of Brahmanism said to have existed in Shakyamuni’s time. Their names and particular doctrines are unknown. Another view holds that there were ninety-six schools of Brahmanists.
nine worlds The nine worlds, from hell to the world of bodhisattvas, which are often contrasted with the world of Buddhahood to indicate the transient and deluded states of life. The Lotus Sutra teaches that all beings of the nine worlds possess the potential for Buddhahood.
ninth period of decrease Usually a reference to the ninth period of decrease in the present kalpa of continuance. During the kalpa of continuance, the human life span is said to undergo a repeated cycle of decrease and increase. This decrease and increase is repeated twenty times. It is said that Shakyamuni appeared in the kalpa of continuance, in the ninth period of decrease, when the life span of human beings was one hundred years long.
nirvana (Skt) Enlightenment, the goal of Buddhist practice. The word “nirvana” means “blown out” and is variously translated as extinction, emancipation, cessation, quiescence, or non-rebirth. Nirvana was originally regarded as the state in which all illusions and desires are extinguished and the cycle of birth and death ends. In Mahayana, nirvana means not so much an exit from the phenomenal world as an awakening to the true nature of phenomena, or the perfection of Buddha wisdom. The term “nirvana” is also used to refer to the death of a Buddha. The Sanskrit words parinirvāna and mahāparinirvāna are often used in reference to the passing away of the physical body of a Buddha.
nirvana of no remainder In the Hinayana teachings, one of two types of nirvana—the state in which illusion and suffering as well as the cycle of birth and death are extinguished. The nirvana of no remainder refers to a state of complete extinction in which one has not only eliminated illusion and desire, but has destroyed the body, thereby freeing oneself from rebirth in the six paths. It contrasts with the nirvana of remainder, in which the body still remains. The goal of achieving the nirvana of no remainder became an object of criticism by Mahayana Buddhists, who characterized it as “reducing the body to ashes and annihilating consciousness.”
Nirvana Sutra A compilation of the teachings expounded by Shakyamuni immediately before his death. It teaches that the Dharma body of the Buddha is eternal, that all people possess the Buddha nature, and that even icchantikas, or those of incorrigible disbelief, can attain Buddhahood. It also contains the stories of the boy Snow Mountains, who offered his body to a demon in exchange for the Buddhist teaching, and of Ajātashatru, who put his father to death but later repented and became the Buddha’s disciple.
non-substantiality A fundamental Buddhist concept, also expressed as emptiness, void, latency, or relativity, which teaches that things and phenomena have no fixed or independent nature. It is closely linked to the concept of dependent origination, which states that because phenomena arise and continue to exist only by virtue of their relationship with other phenomena, they have no fixed substance of their own. The concept of non-substantiality thus teaches that nothing exists independently, and that one should have no attachments that blind one to the essential nature of phenomena. The implications of this concept differ among the Buddhist schools and their doctrines.
numberless major world system dust particle kalpas (Jpn gohyaku-jintengō) A reference to the incredibly long period described in the “Life Span” chapter of the Lotus Sutra that indicates the time that has elapsed since Shakyamuni’s original attainment of enlightenment. This concept differs from “major world system dust particle kalpas” in that, while the calculation of “major world system dust particle kalpas” begins with one major world system being reduced to dust particles, as is explained in the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, that of “numberless major world system dust particle kalpas” begins with countless major world systems being reduced to dust particles. When compared with the period revealed in the “Life Span” chapter, “major world system dust particle kalpas” indicates a very recent past.