Glossary of Buddhist terms

Wisdom Library ( has the best glossaries that I’ve found. D. T. Suzuki explains Buddhist terms in his many books on Zen Buddhism, particularly  Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra (1932). Also, there is a dictionary of Prajnaparamita literature by  scholar Edward Conze (Suzuki Research Foundation, 1973), available here: Williams and Tribe explain Indian Buddhism in an easy-to-understand form in their book, Buddhist Thought.


abhisamskara – Doing, effort, will, action.

“Finally, in the eighth stage, the Bodhisattva’s activity is practiced spontaneously: no effort (anabhisamskara), no thought (anabhoga), for it is unaffected by dharma or adharma. This is why it is called anabhisaṃskārābhogavihāra . . .” Nagarjuna, “Acala

adharma – abstract or non-material things: concepts such as “Nirvana” and “Buddha”

alaya – Abode (the Himalayas are the abode of snow)

Alayavijnana – Storehouse consciousness, seat of consciousness, matrix; sometimes synonymous with citta (see the post “Alayavijnana“). The Lankavatara Sutra attempts to change the term to Tathagata-gharba, or buddha-matrix.

anabhisamskara – The effortless state of non-doing.

7. “Subhuti, what do you think? Has the Tathagata attained the supreme enlightenment? Has he something about which he would preach?”

Subhuti said: “World-honoured One, as I understand the teaching of the Buddha, there is no fixed Dharma that the Tathagata would preach. Why? Because the Dharma he preaches can neither be possessed nor preached; it is neither dharma nor adharma. How is this so? Because all sages belong to non-doing (asamskara) [do not themselves preach], though they are distinct from one another. (The Diamond Sutra, Suzuki, 1935)

anabhoga – no-thought

animitta – without signs or marks or characteristics: undifferentiated; simple (European Christianity)

apranihita – desireless

aryajnana – noble wisdom

asrava (Pali asava) – Mental outflows or outflowings. Sensual desires, craving for existence and ignorance are defilements that “flow out” of the mind and create the flood of the round of death and rebirth. ( The skandha are said to be “leaky,” meaning that outflowings “run out” towards objects.

anasrava – Without outflows or outflowings. Supramundane dharmas, such as miracles or powers of the Buddha are free of outflows. (Conze)

assertions – Statements made affirming the existence of nonentities. (1) The assertion about marks or traits that are nonexistent; (2) the assertion about philosophical views that are nonexistent; (3) the assertion about causality, which is nonexistent; and (4) the assertion about objects that are nonexistent. (Lankavatara Sutra, Chapter XII)

atman – Self, ego, ego-soul. Anatman [Pali anatta] is no-self or the doctrine of non-self.

atmatmiya – The notion of an ego-soul that possesses things external to itself: ‘me and mine’ or ‘self and what it has’

avidya – Ignorance; literally, not seeing or perceiving.

avikalpitajna – Directly knowing non-discrimination (vikalpa is discrimination).

ayatana (twelve) – The six senses or “doors” (vision, touch, hearing, smelling, taste, mind) and the sense-objects that they perceive (visual field, physical sensations, sounds, scents, flavors, thoughts) — sometimes called the six thieves who pass through the six gates.

bodhi – Wisdom of enlightenment: attaining bodhi is synonymous with attaining enlightenment.

bodhisattva – Student, disciple of the Mahayana school.

body-property-abode (deha-bhoga-pratishtha) – Usually found in combination. It means this bodily existence with one’s possessions and physical surroundings; in short, it stands for the world generally. (Suzuki, Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra, 1998, p. 97)

buddha – One who has attained bodhi; a Tathagata.

buddhi – Reason, intellect, mind.

causation – A chain of events resulting in existence: “from ignorance come predispositions, from predispositions consciousness, from consciousness name and form.” Causation does not obtain between things that depend on something else for their existence (conditioned things) as a thing that has no self-substance cannot have an effect on another thing that likewise has no self-substance.

ch’an – A derivative of the Indian dhyana, the yogic practice of attaining samadhi in meditation.

citta – mind (see below)

citta-caitta-kalapa – mentation-system; from cittacaitta – mind and mental events, and kalapa – a unit composed of parts (Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra, p. 235)

Cittamatra – “Mind-only” (See The Doctrine of “Mind-only”)

conditioned (samskrita) – That which does not exist on its own account but depends upon something else for its being; that which is not its own support but is supported by something else.

Consciousness – the Tao, the Dharma, Tathata, Mind, etc.

consciousness – Awareness; the states of awareness of one being; individual consciousness is called a source of bondage in the Nirvana Sutra.

contact – Moment in which the senses are confronted with a sense-object.

defilements (asava) – Sensual pleasures (greed), craving for existence (fear) and ignorance; see also the three poisonous roots or klesha.

five desires – The desires that arise from the contact of the five sense organs with their respective sense-objects; alternatively the desire for wealth, erotic love, food and drink, fame, and sleep.

dharani – Aids to memory for meditation upon truths, each truth corresponding to one of the 43 syllables of a mystical alphabet; e.g. JNA because cognition (jñāna) cannot be apprehended. (Large_Sutra_On_Perfect_Wisdom)

Dharma – Absolute Truth or Reality; the laws of Absolute Truth or Reality; Buddhist teaching regarding these laws (see below).

Five Dharma (Lankavatara Sutra): Appearances (nimitta), names (nama), discrimination (samkalpa), right knowledge (samyagjnana), and suchness (tathata). The first three correspond to two of the Three Svabhavas — Parikalpita and Paratantra — while the last two belong to the Parinishpanna (seeing things as they truly are).

dharma – (Chinese fa ) Material things, physical phenomena.

adharma – Abstract or nonmaterial things; concepts.

dharmadhatu – “Dharmadhātu or simply dharma refers to the “thought element” and represents one of the eighteen elements (dhātu) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 25). The Dharma-samgraha is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit. The work is attributed to Nagarguna, who lived around the 2nd century A.D.” Source: Wisdom Library

Huayan teaches the Four Dharmadhatu — four ways to view reality:

  1. All dharmas are seen as distinct separate events;
  2. All events are an expression of the absolute;
  3. Events and essence interpenetrate;
  4. All events interpenetrate.

dharmakaya – The body of a Tathagata, which has no limitations.

In order to descend to the Dharmakaya, the stream of thought must be cut off just once; then we separate from the Rupakaya, and here there is no dwelling of thought anywhere on anything. – Hui-neng

dhatu – Elements. The four elements are earth, water, fire, wind: these four comprise the physical body. With space and consciousness there are six elements.

The dhatu of a consciousness number eighteen. There are the six sense-faculties or organs (indriya), and the six sense-objects (vishaya): together these are the twelve ayatana (senses and their fields). With the six types of sense-awareness (vijnana) there are eighteen dhatu. The sixth dhatu, thinking (samjna), is comprised of the manas (the mind as a thought-organ), dharma (thought-objects) and the manovijnana (thought-awareness).

dhyana (Pali jhana) – Meditation, concentration or absorption, whence come the words Ch’an and Zen.

rupa dhyana  – Form dhyana: the first four meditative attainments (see Threefold world, below).

arupajhana (ayatana or arupa) – Formless

dhyana, meditative states five through eight — also called samapatti (see Threefold world, below).

drista-sruta-mata-jnata – the seen, the heard, the perceived (thought), the known: the four activities of the mind

ekagra – Oneness

“By tranquillity is meant oneness (ekagra), and oneness gives birth to the highest Samadhi, which is gained by entering into the Tathagata-gharba, which is the realm of noble wisdom realised in one’s inmost self.” (The Lankavatara Sutra)

Emptiness – Sunyata, the Void. Quantum physics: when physical matter disappears in the absence of a conscious observer.

Essence of Mind (Mind-essence) – Tathata (Chinese ti); one’s true Self (see below)*

fa – Chinese for dharma.

false imagination (parikalpita) – something believed to be real, but which is in reality void of self-substance, having no objective or independent existence.

habit-energy (vasana) – memory stored in the Alayavijnana (See the post “Alayavijnana“)

hsin (Chinese) – Heart, mind and spirit; psyche, geist

ignorant – benighted, deluded

jnana (jñāna) – knowledge or realization of higher truths; gnosis

kalpa – a very long time

karma – Activities or deeds performed by a being that take place in a universe. Karma accumulated in one life creates samskara, dispositions that are the result of repeated karma and which condition what a being’s next life will be like. A being is purified of all accumulated karma, together with the seeds of its future effects, at the moment it lets go of the self.

kensho (Japanese) – First awakening to the state of samadhi.

klesha, kleśa (Chinese fan nao) – Afflictions, defilements, entanglements, passions, hindrances: mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Klesha include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, envy, exaltation, sorrow, etc. Three klesha are at the root of all the others — the “three poisons”; they are greed (attachments), anger (aversions) and ignorance (avidya).

koshas, sheaths or coverings (Hindu) – Outer coverings or states of the self: the gross body, the energy body, the mind body, the wisdom body, the bliss body.

ksanti – Patience (equanimity) in the face of ill treatment or adversity, forbearance; suffering in the sense of acceptance (e.g., to suffer an injury by turning the other cheek).

lakshana, lakśaṇa) – Characteristics, traits, marks, signs, qualities: “The lakshana of existence thus presented to us are not its real nature, but our own thought-construction. But our buddhi (reason), which chases after multiplicities, fails to understand this fact and causes us to cling to appearances as realities.” Lankavatara Sutra

maha – great

Mahayana – Great Vehicle School of Buddhism

manas – The discriminating mind; an organ of thought and will: “Manas meaning “to think,” “to intend,” is that seat of intellection and cognition corresponding to the Western conception of the mind.”

manovijnana (manas + vijnana) – Discriminating consciousness. The manovijnana represents the whole vijnana-system, which differentiates that which is seen, heard, felt, smelled, tasted and thought. Manas and manovijnana are used interchangeably in The Lankavatara Sutra: “Another name for Manas is discrimination (vikalpa), and it goes along with the five vijnana (senses).”

Mind-essence – Essence of Mind, Tathata, (Chinese ti).

Mind-only – Cittamatra (See The Doctrine of “Mind-only”)

mindfulness – “Paying attention on purpose non-judgmentally in the present moment as if your life depended on it.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

nama – (lit. ‘name’) Mind, mentality, consciousness; nama is used as a collective name for the four mental skandha (besides rupa or form) ( Sometimes seen in conjunction with rupa: nama-rupa.

namo – “Be my adoration to” The first two syllables of the Nembutsu mantra, “Na-mu-a-mi-da-bu-tsu,” which is meant to be meaningless, but literally means “Be my adoration to Amitabha Buddha” (Amida, Buddha of Infinite Light).

Nembutsu – See namo, above.

nimitta – Signs, traits, marks, characteristics, distinctions. The Absolute is animitta, unbroken or undifferentiated, uniform, the same.

nirmanakaya – Transformation body that allows a buddha to appear in myriad different forms in order to help different kinds of beings according to their limitations.

outflowings asava – The mental defilements of sensual pleasures, craving for existence, and ignorance, that flow out from the skandha towards objects.

paramitas – Practices for reaching the opposite shore.

paravritti – Turning-about (See Suzuki, The Lankavatara Sutra)

parikalpita – False imagining; something believed to be real, but which is in reality void of self-substance; figments of the imagination.

paratantra – Dependent origin of things, meaning that they have no objective existence as they do not come into being on their own but are dependent on a cause. This cause is discrimination leading to the rising of vijnanas or thoughts.

prajna (prajñā) (Chinese 般若三藏) – Intuitive wisdom, the Third Eye, one’s true Self; (Abrahamic religions) the Holy Spirit.

pratyekabuddha – Buddhas who achieve enlightenment on their own, live in solitude and do not spread the Dharma. Often a hermit. “One who has attained to supreme and perfect insight, but who dies without proclaiming the Dharma to the world.” (Wikipedia)

prithagjana – A simpleminded person

samadhi – “If, through practice, especially tso-ch’an (sitting dhyana), one can get one’s mind to a unified state, this state can be called samadhi. To say that the mind is unified doesn’t mean that the person has a sense or idea of being coextensive with the universe. Rather, it means that the mind is simply not moving. There is no distinction between inside and outside, self and environment. There is no sense of time and space. There is only the sense of existence. So this state of unified mind is called samadhi. This is not a state of no-thought, or no-mind, since there is at least the awareness of self experiencing samadhi. It is a state of one-thought, or one-mind, and is not considered enlightenment in Ch’an.” — Master Sheng Yen, Tso-Ch’an

samadhi samapatti – Meditative stage in which samadhi is experienced.

samadhi mayopama – A state of consciousness in which the world appears illusory or dreamlike.

samadhi vajra-vimbopama – The highest Samadhi, that of the Tathagata. Vajra means thunderbolt, or bolt of lightning.

samapatti – The four formless meditative attainments following the four rupa dhyana.

samata – Sameness; the perception that all is of the same essence.

What is the characteristic of no-mind (wu-hsin)? The characteristic is no-thought (wu-nien). What is the characteristic of no-thought? The characteristic is non-duality. What is the characteristic of non-duality? The characteristic is the sameness of things. – Tathagatajnanamudrasamadhi (Jan Yun Hua, 1989)

sambhogakaya – ‘reward body’ or ‘body of enjoyment’ of a tathagata, which functions in perfect harmony

Samsara – The wheel or cycle of birth and death.

samskrita – conditioned; lacking self-substance and therefore dependent on something else for its subsistence

samskara (Pali sankhara) –  Conditioned events and things; mental formations; karma-formations; volitions or predispositions that exist before they are manifested in events.

(Wikipedia) Saṅkhāra (Pali; Sanskrit saṃskāra) is a term figuring prominently in Buddhism. The word means ‘that which has been put together’ and ‘that which puts together’.

In the first (passive) sense, saṅkhāra refers to conditioned phenomena generally but specifically to all mental “dispositions”. These are called ‘volitional formations’ both because they are formed as a result of volition and because they are causes for the arising of future volitional actions. English translations for saṅkhāra in the first sense of the word include ‘conditioned things,’ ‘dispositions’ and ‘formations’ (or, particularly when referring to mental processes, ‘volitional formations’).

In the second (active) sense of the word, saṅkhāra is joined with karma (Pali sankhara-khandha) [Sanskrit karma-abhisamskārā]. [In this compound sense it] leads to conditioned arising, dependent origination (paṭiccasamuppāda). In this sense, the term Sankhara is karmically active volition or intention, which generates rebirth and influences the realm of rebirth. Sankhara herein is synonymous with karma, and includes actions of the body, speech and mind.

The saṅkhāra-khandha states that living beings are reborn (bhava, become) by means of actions of body and speech (kamma). The Buddha stated that all volitional constructs are conditioned by ignorance of [both] impermanence and non-self [anatman]. It is this ignorance that leads to the origination of the sankharas and ultimately causes human suffering. The cessation of all such sankharas is synonymous with Awakening (bodhi), the attainment of nirvana.

Interdependent origination:

2. From avidyā there arise actions (karman) which realize fruition in a universe. These are the saṃskāras, karma-formations.

3. From saṃskāra there arises a defiled mind, initial cause of the [present] existence. Because it is aware in the way that a calf is aware of its mother, it is called vijñāna, consciousness.

4. This vijñāna produces the four formless aggregates—perception, feeling, volition (saṃskāra), consciousness (vijñāna)—and the aggregate form (rupa), which serves as base for them. This is name and form, nāmarūpa. (Wisdom Library)

satori (Japanese) – sudden awakening of the Zen School

sila – conduct, moral behavior

skandha (see Suzuki below) – The five aggregates that comprise the self. These are: form (rupa), feeling or sensation (vedana), perception or thought (samjna), thought formations (volitions) that are conditioned by prior events and give rise to subsequent events (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The last four (after form) are collectively known as nama or ‘mind’ (see

Samjna is typically translated as perception, cognition or thought. It is what the mind (citta) does, which is to grasp or attach itself to the features of things. In Genesis, Adam ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This ‘knowledge’ is samjna.

To give an example, a person is bit by a mosquito: the body and the insect are rupa, and the sensation is vedana. Knowledge of mosquito bites is samjna. Later, the person has a thought of mosquitoes: this idea is samskara. Mosquitoes then appear, humming and alighting on the skin: these forms, sounds and sensations are vijnana. They would not have appeared were it not for the initial thought-formation, which in turn arises from the knowledge (samjna) that there are such things as mosquitos, which bite.

smrti – (Chinese nien) recollectedness, mindfulness; asmrti (Chinese wu-nien) forgetfulness, oblivion

Sravaka – Pali term for disciple. In Mahayana sutras, Sravakas or Arhats, sometimes called “voice-hearers” because they had heard the teachings of the Buddha, were contrasted negatively with Bodhisattvas. Although they had attained the eighth stage, Acala, they took a dualistic view of the Absolute (viviktadharma)—rejecting the world of dharmas as pure illusion and seizing upon Nirvana as pure emptiness.

“Further, Mahamati, the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas at the eighth stage of
Bodhisattvahood are so intoxicated with the happiness that comes from the
attainment of perfect tranquillisation, and, failing to understand fully that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the Mind itself, they are thus unable to
overcome the hindrances and habit-energy growing out of their notions of generality [unity?] and individuality; and adhering to the egolessness of persons and things and cherishing views arising therefrom, they have the discriminating idea and knowledge of Nirvana, which is not that of the truth of absolute solitude (viviktadharma).” (Suzuki, The Lankavatara Sutra, p. 214)

Sunyata (Sunata)- The Void, Emptiness; quantum physics: when physical matter disappears in the absence of a conscious observer.

Svabhava – Inherent nature, intrinsic nature; the trisvabhava are the three natures (see below):

Parikalpita-svabhava – false imagination; imagined self-nature

Paratantrasvabhava – dependent nature (physical or phenomenal things)

Parinishpanna-svabhava – perfected nature: when things are perceived truly, as having no self-nature

Tao – Consciousness, the Dharma, Tathata, Mind, etc.

tathagata – One who goes in suchness (a buddha).

Tathagata-garbha – Tathagata-womb or matrix: “Buddha-nature, which exists in every one of us, and is characterised with such virtues as permanency, bliss, freedom, and purity.”

Tathata – Suchness (literally “that-ness”): the essence (ti) of Consciousness; one’s Mind-essence or Original Nature.

Threefold World – The desire realm (kamadhatu); the form realm (rupadhatu); and the formless realm (arupadhatu).

“The desire realm consists of all the realms of rebirth apart from that of the gods. Beings in the desire realm have the five physical senses plus consciousness, and act from a base of sensual experience. A practitioner of meditation who dies without attaining enlightenment is reborn into the the form realm or the formless realm that corresponds to his or her meditative attainment—one of the four dhyana or one of the four samapatti.

“Technically the gods of the form and formless realms are known not as ‘gods’ (deva), but as ‘Brahmas’. Those of the form realm are . . . divided into four classes corresponding to the four dhyanas, the four ‘meditations’ or ‘absorptions’ . . . Brahmas within the form realm are said to have only two senses: sight and hearing.

“The Brahmas of the formless realm are of four types, corresponding to a hierarchy of four formless meditative attainments (samapatti): (i) infinite space; (ii) infinite consciousness; (iii) nothingness, and (iv) neither perception nor non-perception. This last is also referred to as the ‘peak of existence’ (bhavagra) [Suzuki ‘limit of existence’]. Brahmas within the formless realm have just consciousness, and so long as they are in that rebirth and have not attained enlightenment they presumably enjoy uninterruptedly the appropriate meditative attainment.” (Williams, p. 77)

Triple Emancipation: sunyata, animitta, apranihita: emptiness, no-form, non-striving or effortlessness.

twofold egolessness –  The lack of self-nature or self-substance of persons and things

twofold death – Cyuti, the death of discontinuity, and acintyaparinama, the inconceivable or mysterious transformation death or ‘Great Death.’

twofold hindrance – passion (klesa) and relative knowledge

twofold passion (klesa) – Craving born of ignorance and the passions that follow from craving.

tun – Sudden, abrupt; the Southern School founded by Hui-neng.

vasana – (literally “perfuming”) Habit-energy; memory-seeds stored in the Alayavijnana, which condition the constant flow of appearances that conform the universe.

vedana – One of the five skandha: Sensations or feelings that arise upon contact with something or someone; these fall into five categories:

  1. agreeable bodily feeling (sukha);
  2. disagreeable bodily feeling (dukkhā);
  3. agreeable mental feeling (somanassa);
  4. disagreeable mental feeling (domanassa);
  5. indifferent or neutral (adukkha-m-asukhā vedanā = upekkhā).

vijnana – Consciousness of a thing; awareness of a thing; a thought that manifests itself as reality. The manovijnana represents the whole vijnana-system (see Suzuki, below).

viviktadharma – Sole (undivided) reality—from vivikta, meaning solitude, and dharma, meaning reality. “When I think how one He is with me, as if He had forgotten all creatures and nothing existed but I alone.” — Meister Eckhart (Walshe, Vol. II, Sermon Seventy)

Void – Sunyata, Emptiness. Quantum physics: when physical matter disappears in the absence of a conscious observer.

will-body (manomakaya): A body that exhibits various powers of self-mastery and supernatural activity, which moves from place to place according to one’s will.

D. T. Suzuki:

The five Skandhas (“aggregates” or “elements”) are form (rupam), sensation or sense-perception (vedana), thought (samjna), confection or conformation (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The first Skandha is the material world or the materiality of things, while the remaining four Skandhas belong to the mind. Vedana is what we get through our senses; samjna corresponds to thought in its broadest sense, or that which mind elaborates; samskara is a very difficult term and there is no exact English equivalent; it means something that gives form, formative principle; vijnana is consciousness or mentation. There are six forms of mentation, distinguishable as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking. (Manual of Zen Buddhism, 1935, p. 14)

Vijñāna is composed of the prefix vi, meaning “to divide”, and the root jñā which means “to perceive,” “to know.” Thus, Vijñāna is the faculty of distinguishing or discerning or judging. When an object is presented before the eye, it is perceived and judged as a red apple or a piece of white linen; the faculty of doing this is called eye-vijñāna. In the same way, there are ear-vijñāna for sound, nose-vijñāna for odour, tongue-vijñāna for taste, body-vijñāna for touch, and mind-vijñāna (manovijñāna) for thoughts—altogether six forms of Vijñāna for distinguishing the various aspects of world external or internal. (1998)

Citta (from the root ci, “to pile up,” “to arrange in order”) is generally translated “mind,” either with the “m” capitalised or not. When it stands in the series of Citta, Manas and Vijnana, it means the empirical mind. Besides this, citta has an absolute sense denoting something that goes beyond the realm of relativity and yet lies at the foundation of this world of particulars. When the Lanka speaks of “Mind-only” (Cittamatra) it refers to this something defined here. (1998, p. 178)

Dharma (see David K. Jordan)

= Sanskrit: Dharma, “law” or “teaching.” In Sanskrit Dharma is a complex term referring to what the ultimate reality is. It is often rendered in Chinese, which means both “law” and “teaching.”  is also the secret teaching given by a Master to his successor; thus, Huì-neng receives from the Fifth Patriarch the symbolic robe and begging bowl of the patriarchate, but also the .

Edward Conze on Samskara (Sankhara):

The purpose of the “Aids to penetration” is to bring about a condition which makes the path of vision appear, and which destroys the quality of being an average, unconverted person. . . .  As a result of these meditations, indifference or repulsion to complexes sankhara, or conditioned events, is established. One wants to be released from them, grasps them in contemplation, sees nothing in them one could seize upon as ‘I’ or ‘mine’ (atmatmiya), puts away fear or delight, and becomes indifferent and impartial to all “complexes” as not really concerning one at all. One turns away from them and views the tranquil Path, Nirvana, as calm. All signs which indicate anything conditioned stand out as mere impediments or obstacles. One makes Nirvana into the object, which is signless, procedureless, without complexes, the stopping of complexes, by means of a cognition “which passes beyond the kinship and plane of average men, which enters into the kinship and plane of the Ariyas”. It is the first turning to, the first laying to heart, the first bringing to mind of Nirvana as object. (The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom, p. 8)


“That which appears is called other-dependent (paratantra),
And the way it appears is called imaginary (parikalpita),
Because the former originates in dependence on conditions,
And the latter only exists as imagination.
The state where that which appears is seen as void
Is understood to be perfected nature because of its immutability.” (Vasubandhu’s Trisvabhavanirdesa)

The three natures can be described as follows:

paratantra-svabhava / other-dependent nature (physical phenomena)

parikalpita-svabhava / imagined self-nature

parinispanna-svabhava / perfected nature: realized when phenomena are seen as devoid of self-nature or substance

“The triple world of existence is no more than thought-construction, which is
discriminated by the twofold Svabhava; but when a turning-away from the course of sense-objects and the ego-soul takes place, then we have Suchness.” (The Lankavatara Sutra, p. 274)

Conze, Edward. Dictionary of the Prajnaparamita. Suzuki Research Foundation, 1973.

Conze, Edward. The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom. University of California Press, 1975.

Suzuki, D. T. The Lankavatara Sutra: A Mahayana Text. (Based upon the Sanskrit edition of Bunyu Nanjo). London, 1932. (

Suzuki, D. T. Manual of Zen Buddhism, 1935. (

Suzuki, D. T. Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra, New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1998.

Williams, P. and Tribe, A. Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

Yun-Hua, Jan. A Comparative Study of ‘No-Thought’ (Wu-nien) in some Indian and Chinese Buddhist texts. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. 16 (1989) 37-58

37 thoughts on “Glossary of Buddhist terms

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