Wake no Kiyomaro (733–799) A court official in Japan. He thwarted the attempts of the priest Dōkyō, who had gained the devoted patronage and support of Empress Shōtoku, to ascend the throne. As a result, he incurred the wrath of Dōkyō and was condemned to exile. After Dōkyō was stripped of power, Kiyomaro was recalled to service at court. He was instrumental in the transfer of the capital from Nara to Kyoto in 794.
Wang Mang (45 b.c.e.–c.e. 23) A high official of the Han dynasty in China who succeeded in ascending the throne to establish the short-lived Hsin dynasty (8–23). As regent to the nine-year-old Emperor P’ing, he solidified his hold on power. He is said to have poisoned P’ing, after whose death he eventually installed himself as emperor of the Hsin. The Hsin dynasty was overthrown and Wang killed in a peasant rebellion in 23, after which the Han dynasty was restored. The reign of Wang Mang, who is known in Han histories as “the Usurper,” divides Han rule into two periods referred to as the Former Han and Later Han dynasties.
Wei A kingdom in the period of the Three Kingdoms in China that existed from 220 through 265. The capital city was Lo-yang.
Wei Yüan-sung (n.d.) A Buddhist priest in sixth-century China. Out of a desire for fame and profit, he began to associate with a group of Taoists and eventually returned to lay life. His memorial to the throne was instrumental in influencing Emperor Wu of the Northern Chou dynasty to enact the abolition of Buddhism.
Wen, King (n.d.) The ruler who laid the basis for the founding and long prosperity of the Chou dynasty (c. 1100–256 b.c.e.), paving the way for the conquest of the Yin (Shang) dynasty by his son King Wu. King Wen governed with benevolence and was revered as a leader of outstanding virtue. See also Earl of the West.
wheel-turning king Also known as wheel-turning sage king. Ideal rulers in Indian mythology. In Buddhism, they are kings who rule by justice rather than by force. They were said to possess the same thirty-two distinguishing features as a Buddha and to rule the four continents by turning wheels they were given by Heaven. These wheels are of four kinds: gold, silver, copper, and iron—one for each of the four wheel-turning kings.
White Heron Lake A lake on the grounds of Bamboo Grove Monastery in Rājagriha in the kingdom of Magadha. The sutras of the Wisdom period, or Wisdom sutras, were preached at sixteen assemblies, and the setting of the last assembly was White Heron Lake.
Wisdom sutras Higher provisional Mahayana sutras belonging to the fourth of the five periods into which T’ien-t’ai classified Shakyamuni’s teachings. These sutras deal with the teaching of the perfection of wisdom and expound the concept of non-substantiality.
wish-granting jewel A jewel said to possess the power to produce whatever one desires. It symbolizes the greatness and virtue of the Buddha and the sutras.
Womb Realm Also, Womb World. A realm depicted in the Mahāvairochana Sutra, a principal scripture of Esoteric Buddhism. In this realm, all compassionate actions leading to salvation are depicted as being born of and sustained by the fundamental principle of the universe, just as life is nurtured by and born from the womb. The Womb Realm thus represents the “repository of truth,” or the Dharma body of Mahāvairochana Buddha, which is considered the source of compassion. This term contrasts with the Diamond Realm, which represents the wisdom of Mahāvairochana. The Womb Realm is represented graphically in Esoteric Buddhism by the Womb Realm mandala.
Womb Realm mandala One of the two mandalas of the esoteric True Word school, the other being the Diamond Realm mandala. Based on the Mahāvairochana Sutra, it is said to represent the fundamental principle of the universe, that is, the Dharma body of Mahāvairochana Buddha. In contrast, the Diamond Realm mandala, based on the Diamond Crown Sutra, depicts the Diamond Realm, which represents Mahāvairochana Buddha’s wisdom.
Womb Sutra A sutra translated into Chinese by Chu Fo-nien during the period of the Later Ch’in dynasty (384–417). In this sutra, when Shakyamuni Buddha is about to pass away, Ānanda asks what sutra teaching the Buddha expounded to his mother, Māyā, who died upon giving him birth. The Buddha ascended to the heaven of the thirty-three gods and preached to her there. In response, Shakyamuni uses his transcendental powers to enable Ānanda and the entire assembly of bodhisattvas to enter his mother’s womb, where he expounds such principles as non-substantiality and the attainment of enlightenment by women. Entrusting these teachings to Bodhisattva Maitreya, the Buddha passes away. The sutra then describes the distribution of the Buddha’s ashes and the erecting of stupas. It concludes with Mahākāshyapa acting as the leader of the Buddhist Order and initiating the compilation of the Buddha’s teachings.
Wonderful Adornment A king who appears in the “King Wonderful Adornment” chapter of the Lotus Sutra. Though originally a believer in Brahmanism, he went to see the Buddha at the urging of his wife Pure Virtue and his two sons Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye, and finally joined the Buddhist Order along with his wife, two sons, and many followers.
wonderful Law (1) The teachings of the Lotus Sutra. (2) The essence of the Lotus Sutra, or the Mystic Law, which is the ultimate Law of life and the universe and identified by Nichiren Daishonin as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Wonderful Sound A bodhisattva described in the “Wonderful Sound” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, who is said to assume any of thirty-four different forms in order to save people.
Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, The One of T’ien-t’ai’s three major works. It divides the Lotus Sutra into two parts, the theoretical teaching and the essential teaching, and explains passages from each chapter of the sutra. It thus elucidates such profound doctrines of the sutra as the replacement of the three vehicles with the one vehicle and the revelation of the Buddha’s original enlightenment.
World-Honored One (Skt bhagavat) One of the ten honorable titles of a Buddha. The Sanskrit “bhagavat” is usually translated as “blessed one.” In Chinese Buddhist scriptures, bhagavat was translated as World-Honored One. A Buddha is so called because he is widely revered in the world.
World-Honored One of Great Enlightenment An honorific title for a Buddha, particularly Shakyamuni Buddha. “Great Enlightenment” indicates the enlightenment of the Buddha. “World-Honored One” is one of the Buddha’s ten honorable titles, meaning one who is revered by the people of the world.
world of desire The first division of the threefold world. It is called the world of desire because its inhabitants are ruled by various desires, such as sexual desire and the desire for fame. The world of desire comprises the four evil paths of existence (the realms of hell, hungry spirits, animals, and asuras), the four continents (the realm of human beings) surrounding Mount Sumeru, and the six heavens (the realm of heavenly beings) of the world of desire. In the sixth, or highest, of these six heavens dwells the devil king of the sixth heaven, who is said to have a strong desire to control others and prevent them from attaining enlightenment.
world of form The second division of the threefold world, said to exist above the world of desire. Beings in this realm have physical bodies and are subject to certain material restrictions, but they have no desires and feed on light. The world of form consists of the four meditation heavens and is further subdivided into eighteen heavens (sixteen or seventeen according to other explanations).
world of formlessness The third division of the threefold world. The world of formlessness is the realm beyond form or matter, in other words, a purely spiritual and nonmaterial realm. This world comprises four realms, which are, in ascending order of quality, the realm of boundless empty space, the realm of boundless consciousness, the realm of nothingness, and the realm of neither thought nor no thought. With regard to the life span of beings in these four realms, it is 20,000 kalpas in the first realm, 40,000 kalpas in the second realm, 60,000 kalpas in the third realm, and 80,000 kalpas in the fourth realm. Nevertheless, beings in these realms are not free from the sufferings of birth and death.
World of Peace and Delight The land of Amida Buddha, said to be located “a hundred thousand million Buddha lands away in the west.” According to the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra, when the Buddha Infinite Life (another name for Amida) was engaged in practice as a bodhisattva, he vowed to create his own Buddha land that would combine the most outstanding features of various pure lands and live there when he attained Buddhahood. Its Sanskrit name, Sukhāvatī, means land of happiness or pleasure, and was translated in Chinese as Perfect Bliss, Peace and Delight, or Peace and Sustenance. It is also called the Western Pure Land, the Western Paradise, or simply the Pure Land. Its splendor is described in the Amida Sutra and the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra, which call it a land devoid of suffering, where there is only comfort and delight.
Wu, Empress (624–705) Also known as Empress Wu Tse-t’ien. Originally a concubine of T’ai-tsung, second emperor of the T’ang dynasty, and later consort of the third emperor, Kao-tsung. She ascended the throne in 690, but she had long before been in virtual control of the government.
Wu, King (n.d.) Son of King Wen of the Chou dynasty (c.1100–256 b.c.e.) in China. He is regarded as the founder of the dynasty along with King Wen. Carrying out the will of his father King Wen, he defeated Chou, the ruler of the Yin (Shang) dynasty, who flagrantly misgoverned the country.
Wu Ch’eng Teacher of Emperor Shun, and also by some accounts the teacher of his predecessor, Emperor Yao, fifth and fourth of the legendary sage rulers of China known as the Five Emperors.
Wu Tzu-hsü (d. 485 b.c.e.) A minister of the state of Wu in China. His father served the state of Ch’u, but his father and brother were killed by King P’ing of Ch’u. He left the state, vowing revenge. Offering his services to King Ho-lü of Wu, he helped him conquer Ch’u, and though King P’ing had died, Tzu-hsü exhumed his body and lashed it with a whip. He later served Ho-lü’s son and successor Fu-ch’a, who defeated the state of Yüeh ruled by King Kou-chien. Perceiving Kou-chien’s intent of reprisal, Wu Tzu-hsü warned Fu-ch’a to kill him, but he was not heeded. Faced with false charges, Wu Tzu-hsü was forced to commit suicide, but his warnings proved true when Kou-chien rallied an army and destroyed the state of Wu.