Zen Glossary of Terms

  • Bodhichitta: awakened mind, or the wholesome desire for enlightenment

  • Bodhisattva: enlightenment being, a being who seeks buddhahood through systemmatic practice of the perfect virtues

  • Buddha: awakened one – a person who has achieved the enlightenment that leads to release from the cycle of existence. Also, Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha

  • Chiden: sangha volunteer who takes care of the altar, cleaning, changing flowers, etc.

  • Dharma: the cosmic law underlying our world including the law of karmically determined rebirth. Also, the teachings of the Buddha

  • Dharma Talk: talk given by priest or teacher about the Buddha’s teachings

  • Dharma Name: one’s Buddhist name, usually two pairs of Chinese or Japanese characters. Received from a teacher during Jukai.

  • Doan: the sangha volunteer who rings the bells during service

  • Doanryo: (do an ree yo). Doan work group the group of people who ring bells and lead chants during service. See also Doan, Kokyo, and Tenken.

  • Dokusan: means literally “to go alone” a private interview between student and teacher see also Practice Discussion

  • Ino: the sangha volunteer who is in charge of supervising and leading activities in the meditation hall, training the doanryo, and maintaining the zendo schedule

  • Jisha: the sangha volunteer who attends to the teacher: helps with ceremonies, brings people to dokusan and helps the teacher in other ways including arranging travel, housing, and food while the teacher is visiting Bellingham

  • Jukai: literally means “receiving the precepts” a ceremony through which one officially becomes a Buddhist and receives the rakasu – also called “lay ordination”

  • Kinhin: walking meditation, usually done in between periods of sitting meditation, literally “sutra: walking”

  • Kokyo: a person who leads chants during service

  • Mahasattva: great being

  • Practice Discussion: private interview with a priest or Dharma leader to discuss one’s practice. Less formal than Doksuan. Available in our sangha with the Resident Priest on senior lay students.

  • Precepts: guidelines for behavior in daily life, derived from the rules that governed the community of monks and nuns in the time of the Buddha

  • Rakusu: symbolic of the Buddha’s robe, a bib: like garment that is conferred on one who has gone through the jukai ceremony. The teacher writes the ordainee’s dharma name on the back.

  • Ryo: work group.

  • Sangha: literally “crowd” – the Buddhist community. Can refer to members of Red Cedar Zen Community or more widely to all Buddhist practitioners

  • Samu: work period conducted mostly in silence with attention to the body and breath and the task at hand

  • Soku: sangha volunteer who leads a serving crew (serving tea or a meal formally in the Zendo.

  • Soto Zen: school of Zen founded in Japan (via China) in the first half of the 13th century by Dogen Zenji

  • Tathagata: one of the ten titles of the Buddha, literally the “thus come one” implies “one who has attained supreme enlightenment”

  • Tenken: the sangha volunteer who keeps track of time in the meditation hall

  • Zabuton: a square sitting mat used in meditation

  • Zafu: a round cushion used in meditation, usually with a zabuton

  • Zazen: sitting meditation

  • Zen: Japanese word, via China based on a Sanskrit word meaning “collectedness of mind or meditative absorption”

  • Zendo: meditation hall

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