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Note: This glossary is a work in progress! Please don’t rely on this being complete, definitive, or even entirely accurate, for the moment.

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Sanskrit: Abhidharma; “higher teaching about dharmas

“an abstract and highly technical systemization of the [Buddhist] doctrine”

External link: Wikipedia: Abhidharma


Sanskrit: Abhidharmakośa

The Abhidharmakośakā or “Storehouse of the Abhidharma” is a key text on the Abhidharma written in Sanskrit by Vasubandhu in the 4th or 5th century.

It particularly focuses on analyzing and synthesizing what the āgama sutras mentioned from a psychological and philosophical viewpoint.

External links:

Aesthetic Contemplation

“Aesthetic contemplation” may refer to Schopenhauer’s aesthetic theory. If so, this is an interesting connection to Western philosophy. “In aesthetic contemplation, we stop thinking about the world and the objects in it as means to our ends, that is, as objects of our will. We also see attention and perception take center stage.”

External links:


(Sanskrit) āgama: sacred work or scripture.

The Āgamas are collections of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, originally transmitted orally, compiled after the Buddha’s death. In the Pali Cannon, these are called the Nikāyas.

External links:



Shakyamuni Buddha’s attendent, known for his complete memory of what the Buddha said.

External link: Wikipedia: Ānanda


Also: patriarch


An attendant to a teacher. Similar to the ceremonial jisha position, but closer to a full-time butler and cleaning person.


Sanskrit: aprāpti. “To separate”; non-acquisition. A ‘force’ between conditioned elements. See also: prāpti. Mentioned in Fukanzazengi – Talk 6 (1:27:50)

External link: Wikipedia: Vaibhāṣika


(Sanskrit) “A person who deserves respect from others,” because they have reached the “final goal” of entering nirvana.

External link: Wikipedia: Arhat


Āryadeva (fl. 3rd century CE), was a disciple of Nagarjuna and author of several important Mahayana Madhyamaka Buddhist texts. He is also known as Kanadeva, recognized as the 15th patriarch in Chan Buddhism, and as “Bodhisattva Deva” in Sri Lanka.

External link: Wikipedia: Aryadeva)


Asaṅga (fl. 4th century C.E.) was “one of the most important spiritual figures” of Mahayana Buddhism and the “founder of the Yogachara school”. Traditionally, he and his half-brother Vasubandhu are regarded as the major classical Indian Sanskrit exponents of Mahayana Abhidharma, Vijñanavada (awareness only) thought and Mahayana teachings on the bodhisattva path.

External link: Wikipedia: Asanga


(Sanskrit) Usually translated as “distraction”. Restlessness or agitation, restlessness of mind, or frivolity. One of the delusions in the list in Abhidharmakosha.


Sanskrit: Avalokiteśvara
Chinese: Guanyin, Guan Yin, or Kuan Yin
Japanese: Kannon

The Bodhisattva of Compassion. Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara are two primary symbolic figures in Zen Buddhism, representing Wisdom and Compassion.

External link: Wikipedia: Avalokiteśvara

Avatamsaka Sutra

The Avataṃsaka Sūtra: Flower Garland Sutra, Flower Adornment Sutra, or Flower Ornament Scripture. Known for (naturally?) it’s grandiose, “flowery” prose, describing a quest to meet a series of Bodhisattvas who explain reality.

External link: Wikipedia: Avatamsaka_Sutra


Baso Dōitsu

Chinese: Mazu Daoyi (Ma-tsu Tao-yi), 馬祖道一
Japanese: Baso Dōitsu

External link: Wikipedia: Mazu Daoyi

Blue Cliff Record

Japanese: Hekiganroku

Katagiri Roshi usually refers to The Blue Cliff Record translated by Thomas Cleary (see Blue Cliff Record: Case1 – Lecture1 (0:00)).

See Topic Index


The First Ancestor of Chan (Zen) Buddhism in China.


(Sanskrit) “Enlightenment Being” or “Enlightening Being”. Can refer to historical or mythical beings, or can also denote any being who is following the Buddha Way.

Book of Equanimity

Japanese: Shōyōroku

Another collection of koans, similar to Blue Cliff Record.




(Sanskrit) A title meaning “Awakened One”. “Buddha” can refer to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, Siddhartha Gotama, referred to as “the Buddha” or “the Tathāgata”. Also used to denote other (mostly mythical) figures. “Buddha” can be used in a more general sense to mean the original nature of reality, or an awakened state, e.g. “buddha nature” or “all are Buddha”. “Buddha” is also enlightenment personified.

External link: Wikipedia: Buddhahood

Buddha Dharma

Buddha Hall

The room used for teaching (giving talks) in a traditional Zen monastery.

Buddha Land

Buddha Nature

The original nature of existence, perfect and all pervading. Interconnection.

External link: Wikipedia: Buddha nature

Buddha Way


Buddhist Psychology


“Of, relating to, or supporting Buddhism.” As it turns out, this is an actual word, so it is kept verbatim. Although one could usually substitute “Buddhist” for “Buddhistic”, Katagiri Roshi’s use of “Buddhistic” might connote that something is “like Buddhism” without implying that “Buddhism” is a fixed object or concept.



A traditional art practiced by Zen priests and monks.

External link: Wikipedia: Hitsuzendō


An enigmatic being that sometimes appears in Katagiri Roshi’s talks.


Also: Ch’an

A Chinese word meaning the same as “Zen” in Japanese. Both words derive from the Sanskrit dyana.

Chan Buddhism

Chan Buddhism usually refers to Zen Buddhism in China. Zen is the Japanese word for “Chan”. Both words derive from the Sanskrit dyana.



Katagiri Roshi’s Buddhist name, meaning “Great Patience”. See Katagiri.


Mistaking a perception for an independent object or fact.



(Japanese) Denkōroku 伝光録, Record of the Transmission of the Light

External link: Wikipedia: Denkoroku

Dependent Origination


Truth; the teachings; universal law; original nature of existence; phenomena. ‘Dharma’ is a multi-faceted word with no single equivalent in English, so it is often left untranslated.

Dharma Vehicle

Dharma as action, activity.


Diamond Sutra

Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra



Eihei Dōgen (永平道元; 19 January 1200 – 22 September 1253) - “Eternal Peace Way Source” - was the founder of Soto Zen Buddhism in Japan. Dogen is probably the most frequently referenced source in Katagiri Roshi’s talks (and in Soto Zen Buddhism in general). His most famous work is Shobogenzo.

Katagiri Roshi often refers to him respectfully as “Dogen Zenji”: Zen Master Dogen.

External link: Wikipedia: Dōgen




Edward Conze

Ego Consciousness


Eightfold Path

Eihei Dogen

See Dogen

Eihei Koroku

Eihei Koroku is a collection of Dogen Zenji’s Dharma Hall Discourses (short dharma talks).

There is now an English translation of the Eihei Koroku, but at the time the talks were given, there was not. Where Eihei Koroku discourses appear in the talks, it seems like that Katagiri Roshi translated them himself.

The titles for these discourses are taken from “Dōgen’s Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Kōroku,” translated by Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura. The titles did not originate with Dogen, but are useful for reference.


Monastery founded by Eihei Dogen. Considered one of the primary Zen training temples in Japan.


See śūnyatā.

Engo Kokugon

Chinese: Yuanwu Keqin (Yuan Wu K’e Ch’in), 圓悟克勤,
Japanese: Engo Kokugon,
1063-1135 CE.

Yuanwu added the Pointers, Notes and Commentaries to the Blue Cliff Record.


Awakening from delusion.


Four Dharma Seals

The Four Dharma Seals are:

It is said that if a teaching contains the Four Dharma Seals then it can be considered Buddha Dharma.

External link: Wikipedia: Four Dharma Seals


Fukanzazengi – Dogen’s “Universal Recommendation for Zazen” – provides the cannonical guidance for practicing zazen in the Soto Zen school. It is often recited daily during sesshins.


Also: kudoku

(Japanese) Fukutoku 福徳 – “merit and virtue”. Equivalent to Sanskrit “punya”.

External link: link


Gempo Yamamoto

Gempo Yamamoto Roshi was the teacher of Sōen Nakagawa.


Genjōkōan – “Actualizing the Fundamental Point” – is one of the first and best-known of Dogen’s works, and appears as an early chapter in Shobogenzo. It is both an introduction to and overview of Dogen’s teachings.

See Topic Index

Gensha Shibi

Japanese: Gensha Shibi,
Chinese: Xuansha Shibei (Hsuan-sha Shih-pei) 玄沙師備,
also “Mendicant Pei”

Chinese Zen Master, 835 - 908 CE. A successor of Seppō Gison.

Green Gulch

Green Gulch Farm near San Francisco, California, one of the Soto Zen practice centers established by Suzuki Roshi.



“Han: In Zen monasteries, a wooden board that is struck with a mallet to summon monastics to the zendo or other practice hall, as well as serving as a time-keeping signal during the monastic day. The pattern of strikes often includes three “roll downs”, a series of strikes gradually becoming accelerando and crescendo.”

Hashimoto Roshi

Eko Hashimoto, abbot of Eiheiji when Dainin Katagiri practiced there as a monk. Katagiri’s second teacher.

Heart Sutra



Chinese: Dajian Huineng, 大鑒惠能
Japanese: Daikan Enō

The Sixth Ancestor of Chan Buddhism; a semi-legendary figure. The one who won the poetry contest.



Japanese: igi 威儀 (pronounced “ee-jee”, more or less).

Dignity; dignified manner; majesty.

External link: wordhippo: igi


Constant change. One of the Four Dharma Seals.


See samskara.


Zendo (meditation hall ) manager.


‘Intimacy’ refers to how the the ultimate nature of existence – emptiness – and your life work together very closely.

Isan Reiyū

Japanese: Isan Reiyū
Chinese: Guishan Lingyou (Kuei-shan Lingyu) 溈山靈祐
771-853 CE

External links:



Ceremonial attendant. See also anja.

Jōshū Jūshin

Chinese: Zhàozhōu Cōngshěn (Chao-chou Ts’ung-shen), 趙州從諗,
Japanese: Jōshū Jūshin,
778–897 CE.

One of the greatest Zen teachers in China. It is said that he became a monk at 60 years old, and until his death, he practiced continuously. Jōshū figures in many Zen stories, and is often mentioned by Dogen.

External link: Wikipedia: Zhaozhou Congshen



(Japanese): Signal of the end of zazen. One bell.

Kapleau Roshi



Dainin Katagiri Roshi, a primary figure who brought Soto Zen Buddhism to America. His Buddhist name, Jikai Dainin, means “Compassion Ocean Great Patience”. In these talks he is usually addressed as Roshi or Hojo-san, but he often refers to himself as “Katagiri”. He sometimes refers to his younger self (e.g. in monastic training) as just Dainin.

Keitoku Dentō-roku

Japanese: Keitoku Dentō-roku
Chinese: Jǐngdé Chuándēnglù (Ching-te Ch’uan teng lu) 景德传灯录
English: The Jingde Record of the Transmission of the Lamp

Wikipedia: The Jingde Record of the Transmission of the Lamp



Chinese name Ching-ch’ing or Jingqing. 863–937. Successor of Seppō Gison. Famous for his discipline.



Lotus Sutra

Sanskrit: Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, lit. ‘Sūtra on the White Lotus of the True Dharma




One of the main disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. ‘Maha’ means ‘Great’.

External link: Wikipedia: Mahākāśyapa



Mahāyāna (/ˌmɑːhəˈjɑːnə/; “Great Vehicle”) is a term for a broad group of Buddhist traditions, texts, philosophies, and practices. Mahāyāna is considered one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism (the other being Theravada). Mahāyāna Buddhism developed in India (c. 1st century BCE onwards). It accepts the main scriptures and teachings of early Buddhism, but also adds various new doctrines and texts such as the Mahāyāna Sūtras.[1]

External link: Wikipedia: Mahayana


The Bodhisattva of Discerning Wisdom. Traditionally, Soto Zen temples have a statue of Manjushri in the zendo.

External link: Wikipedia: Manjushri

Masao Abe

pronounced “Ah-bay”

External links:

Middle Way

Minnesota Zen Meditation Center

Mount Sumeru

External link: Wikipedia: Mount Meru (Buddhism)


A symbolic pose of (usually) the hands, found in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. In zazen (zen meditation), the “cosmic mudra” is used.

  • [Mudra on Wikipedia][]


Nakagawa Roshi

Probably Soen Nakagawa.

External link: Wikipedia: Soen Nakagawa



External link: Wikipedia: Nagarjuna


External link: Wikipedia: Nichiren


Nikāya: a Pāli word meaning “volume”. It is often used like the Sanskrit word āgama to mean “collection”, “assemblage”, “class” or “group”. In the Pali Cannon, the Nikāyas are a collection of the teaching of early Buddhism, originally transmitted orally, recorded after Shakyamuni Buddha’s death.

External link: Wikipedia: Nikāya


One of the Four Dharma Seals.

Nirvana Sutra


One of the Four Dharma Seals.




The branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of being.

External link: Wikipedia: ontology



Pali Cannon



See Ancestor


Sanskrit: prajñā. Usually translated as “wisdom”, not conventional wisdom, but rather the wisdom of boundlessness and interconnection.

External links:


“Wisdom beyond wisdom”, or The Perfection of Wisdom.

Prajñāpāramitā means “the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom” in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Prajñāpāramitā refers to this perfected way of seeing the nature of reality, as well as to a particular body of sutras and to the personification of the concept in the Bodhisattva known as the “Great Mother” (Tibetan: Yum Chenmo). The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā “wisdom” with pāramitā “perfection”. Prajñāpāramitā is a central concept in Mahāyāna Buddhism and is generally associated with the doctrine of emptiness (śūnyatā) or ‘lack of Svabhava’ (essence) and the works of Nagarjuna. Its practice and understanding are taken to be indispensable elements of the Bodhisattva path.

According to Edward Conze, the Prajñāpāramitā Sutras are “a collection of about forty texts … composed somewhere on the Indian subcontinent between approximately 100 BC and AD 600.”[1] Some Prajnāpāramitā sūtras are thought to be among the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras.[2][3]

External link: Wikipedia: Prajnaparamita

Prajnaparamita Sutra

See Prajnaparamita


Sanskrit: prāpti. “To get, to obtain.” A ‘force’ between conditioned elements. See also: aprāpti.

External link: Wikipedia: Vaibhāṣika

Primitive Buddhism

Katagiri Roshi sometimes uses them term “Primitive Buddhism” – possibly to refer to early Buddhist teachings, which were probably heavily influenced by Brahmanism in India. Or, it might refer to Pre-sectarian Buddhism, “Buddhism as theorized to have existed before the various subsects of Buddhism came into being” – which is not exactly the same thing. Either way, it is something somewhat distinct from Mahayana Buddhism. However, the term is probably not meant to be perjorative; Katagiri often mentions that we need to understand our Zen practice in terms of general Buddhism, “mentioned by Buddha.”

I’m tracking references to “Primitive Buddhism” to try to get a better sense of what Katagiri Roshi does mean (because it’s pretty interesting).

External link: Wikipedia: Pre-sectarian Buddhism



Reb Anderson

Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi, of San Francisco Zen Center

Religious Zazen

Fukanzazengi – Talk 2 (25:09) Fukanzazengi – Talk 5 (15:10-)

Rinzai Zen


A distinguished elder teacher.

Ryōtan Sūshin

Chinese: Longtan Chongxin (龍潭崇信)
Japanese: Ryōtan Sūshin
9th century.

External link: Longtan Chongxin


Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sutra

The Lotus Sutra.

External link: Wikipedia: Lotus Sutra


One-pointedness. Often the kind achieved in meditation, but it can refer to complete absorption in any activity.


(Sanskrit) Literally, “wandering in circles”: the “wandering in circles world” of the Six Realms of Existence.


Sanskrit: saṃskāra संस्कार
Pali: Saṅkhāra सङ्खार

One of the five skandhas; often translated as formations or impulses.

As “together-maker”: see Fukanzazengi – Talk 6

As “original nature of action”: see Save All Sentient Beings

External links:

Saṃyukta Āgama

“Connected Discourses”. See Āgama.

External link: Wikipedia: Āgama Buddhism

Sandhinirmocana Sutra

Sandhinirmocana Sutra.

External links:

San Francisco Zen Center

The Soto Zen temple in San Francisco where Katagiri worked with Suzuki Roshi in the 60’s.


External link: Wikipedia: Sanskrit


A buddha who attains enlightenment through listening the Buddha’s teaching. (Basically, an arhat.)

External link: Wikipedia: Sāvakabuddha



See Seppō Gison

Seppō Gison

Japanese: Seppō Gison
Chinese: Xuefeng Yicun (Hsueh-feng I-ts’un) 雪峰义存
also Seppō Shinkaku

External links:


(Japanese) An intensive meditation retreat in the style followed by Zen monasteries. Literally, “gathering the heart-mind”.

Setchō Jūken

Chinese: Xuedou Chongxian (Hsueh Tou Ch’ung Hsien), 雪竇重顯
Japanese: Setchō Jūken
980-1052 (CE)

Xuedou compiled the koans of the Blue Cliff Record, and wrote the verses.

Shakyamuni Buddha

The historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Shakyamuni means “sage of the Shākyas,” the Shākyas being his tribe or clan.


Shijo 止靜 (Japanese): Signal of the beginning of zazen.

“When you hit the bell three times, that is called shijo, signing of [the] beginning of zazen. The ‘shi’ is ‘struck’. ‘Jo’ is ‘stillness’. Stillness implies samadhi; stillness implies zazen itself. So, ‘struck zazen’ means, zazen settles itself in zazen.”


The “just” from “just sitting”; see shikantaza.


A Japanese word meaning “just sitting”. “Shikan” is not “just” in a casual sense, but with emphasis: Just sitting. Shikantaza is difficult to define in concrete terms, but it is the primary practice in Soto Zen, so Katagiri discusses it frequently.


Shōbōgenzō: “Treasury of the True Dharma Eye” is a collection of texts by Dogen – his most well-known work.

See Topic Index


“Sitting” is often short for “doing zazen”, “seated meditation”, or even shikantaza.

Six Realms of Existence

External links:


Sōen Nakagawa

External link: Wikipedia: Soen Nakagawa

Soto Zen

Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sutra

Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda - Sanskrit

External link: Wikipedia: Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra


(Sanskrit) Usually translated as “dullness”. Torpor, stiffness, obduracy, indifference, languor, torpor, sloth, lethargy. One of the delusions in the list in Abhidharmakosha.



One of the Four Dharma Seals.


Sanskrit: śūnyatā, pronounced “shoon-ya-ta”.
Also: emptiness, vastness, boundlessness

Lack of independent, inherent existence. Sūnyatā or “emptiness” is frequently discussed in Zen Buddhism. The first thing to understand is that it is not a nihilistic kind of emptiness, it really means unlimited potential.

External link: Wikipedia: Śūnyatā

D. T. Suzuki

“Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki was a Japanese author of books and essays on Buddhism, Zen and Shin that were instrumental in spreading interest in both Zen and Shin to the West. Suzuki was also a prolific translator of Chinese, Japanese, and Sanskrit literature.”

External links:

Suzuki Roshi

Sukhāvatīvyūha Sutra

Sukhāvatīvyūha: Infinite Life Sutra; Pure Land.

External links:


suki (Japanese) 隙: gap; space.

External link: suki




(Japanese) Floor mat.


A title applied to a Buddha, meaning “thus come, thus gone.”

External link: Wikipedia: Tathāgata


External link: Wikipedia: Tathāgatagarbha thought

Three Times

The three times: past, present, and future.

Tibetan Buddhism

Tokusan Senkan

Chinese: Deshan Xuanjian (Te-shan Hsuan-chien), 德山宣鑒
Japanese: Tokusan Senkan

Originally a scholar of the Diamond Sutra, he was defeated in Zen combat by an old woman in a dumpling shop. After that, he studied under Ryōtan Sūshin, and became a Zen Master in the Rinzai line. He was noted for his strict and rough training of the monks.



From Wikipedia: Tōrō: In Japan, a tōrō (灯籠 or 灯篭, 灯楼, light basket, light tower)[note 1] is a traditional lantern made of stone, wood, or metal. Like many other elements of Japanese traditional architecture, it originated in China; where they can still be found in Buddhist temples and Chinese gardens.




External link: Wikipedia: Vasubandhu


Vimalakirti Sutra





Yogācāra; literally “yoga practice” is an influential tradition of Buddhist philosophy and psychology emphasizing the study of cognition, perception, and consciousness through the interior lens of meditative and yogic practices.

External link: Wikipedia: Yogachara



Bowing mat, used to protect the okesa. It is folded up in a somewhat elaborate way, and carried under the sleeve of the robes when not in use. The zagu and okesa are supposed to stay together.


“Seated meditation”

For detailed guidance on how to practice zazen, see Dogen Index: Fukanzazengi.


Zen Buddhism

Zen Master

Zen Practice


Meditation hall


Japanese word meaning “Zen Master “. E.g., Dogen Zenji.

Next: Dogen Index