This is an outline of some basic Buddhist concepts and teachings. To download a PDF of this page: Basic Buddhist Concepts

Buddha—Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha. Literally, awakened one, thus one who has achieved the enlightenment that leads to release from the cycle of birth and death.

Dharma—the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, also the law or true nature of existence.

Sangha—the community of Buddhist practitioners, both local and global. Most widely, all awakening beings.

The Triple Treasure or Three Jewels—Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. A practice in all Buddhist traditions is taking refuge in the Triple Treasure.

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

Bodhicitta—awakening mind, the desire to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings

Bodhisattva—literally, enlightenment being, a being who seeks to awaken for the benefit of others

Mahasattva—great being

Bodhisattvas—images of archetypal qualities

These are some of the most significant bodhisattva images in Japanese Zen:

Avalokiteshvara—(Kuan Yin in Chinese, Kannon in Japanese) bodhisattva of compassion

Samantabhadra—(Fugen in Japanese) bodhisattva of practice

Manjushri—(Manju in Japanese) bodhisattva of wisdom

Ksitigarbha—(Ti-tsang in Chinese, Jizo in Japanese) bodhisattva of great vow

Four Noble Truths

Suffering/dissatisfaction (dukkha) is characteristic of human life.

There is a cause of suffering—craving.

There is liberation from suffering.

The Path to the liberation from suffering—the eightfold path.

The Noble Eightfold Path

Right  view                                          Right thought

Right speech                                       Right conduct

Right livelihood                                   Right effort

Right mindfulness                               Right concentration

The Three  Poisions

Greed   Hatred    Ignorance

The Brahma Viharas  (heavenly abodes)




Sympathetic joy—mudita

The  Three Seals

Impermanence           Non-self           Suffering/dissatisfaction

The Six Paramitas  (Perfections)

dana (generosity/giving)                    shila (morality)

kshanti (patience)                               virya (vitality/zeal)

dhyana (meditative concentration)    prajna (wisdom)

The Four Additional  Paramitas

upaya (skillful means)                         pranidhana (determination)

bala (strength)                                                jnana (knowledge)