Buddhist Dictionary



bahula-kamma: 'habitual karma': s. karma.

bala: 'powers'. Among various groups of powers the following five are most frequently met with in the texts: (1) faith (saddhá, q.v.), (2) energy (viriya, q.v.), (3) mindfulness (sati, q.v.), (4) concentration (samádhi, q.v.), (5) wisdom (paññá, q.v.).

Their particular aspect, distinguishing them from the corresponding 5 spiritual faculties (indriya, q.v.), is that they are unshakable by their opposites: (1) the power of faith is unshakable by faithlessness (unbelief); (2) energy, by laziness; (3) mindfulness, by forgetfulness; (4) concentration, by distractedness; (5) wisdom, by ignorance (see Pts.M., Ñána Kathá). They represent, therefore, the aspect of firmness in the spiritual faculties.

According to A.V. 15, the power (1) becomes manifest in the 4 qualities of the Stream-winner (sotápannassa angáni, q.v.), (2) in the 4 right efforts (s. padhána), (3) in the 4 foundations of mindfulness (satipatthána, q.v.), (4) in the 4 absorptions (jhána, q.v.), (5) in the (full comprehension of the) 4 Noble Truths (sacca, q.v.) .

Cf. S. XLVIII, 43; S. L. (Bala Samyutta).

In A. VII, 3, the powers of moral shame (hiri, q.v.) and moral dread (ottappa) are added to the aforementioned five Several other groups of 2 (s. patisankhána-bala), 4, 5 and more powers are mentioned in the texts. - About the 10 powers of a Buddha, s. dasa-bala.

balance of mental faculties: indriya samatta (q.v.).

bases: The 12 of the perceptual process: áyatana (q.v.).

beautiful: sobhana (q.v.).

beauty, deliverance through the perception of: cf. vimokkha (II. 3) To hold for beautiful or pure (subha) what is impure (asubha), is one of the 4 perversions (s. vipallása).

behaviour, morality consisting in good: abhisamácárikasíla (q.v.) .

being, living: satta (q.v.); further s. puggala. - Belief in eternal personality: bhava-ditthi (s. ditthi), sassata-ditthi (q.v.).

beings, The 9 worlds of: sattávása (q.v.).

belief, blind: s. indriya-samatta.

bhangánupassaná-ñána: 'knowledge consisting in contemplation of dissolution' (of all forms of existence), is one kind of insight: s. visuddhi (VI, 2).

bhava: 'becoming', 'process of existence', consists of 3 planes: sensuous existence (káma-bhava), fine-material existence (rúpa-bhava), immaterial existence (arúpa-bhava). Cf. loka.

The whole process of existence may be divided into two aspects:

(1) Karma-process (kamma-bhava), i.e. the karmically active side of existence, being the cause of rebirth and consisting in wholesome and unwholesome volitional actions. See Karma, paticca-samuppáda (IX).

(2) Karma-produced rebirth, or regenerating process (uppattibhava), i.e. the karmically passive side of existence consisting in the arising and developing of the karma-produced and therefore morally neutral mental and bodily phenomena of existence. Cf. Tab. - (App.).

bháva: (feminine and masculine) 'nature', refers to the sexual characteristics of the body, and belongs to the group of corporeality (s. khandha). It is a commentarial term for the faculties of femininity and masculinity (s. indriya 7, 8). (App.).

bhava-ditthi: 'belief in being' (eternal personality); s. sassataditthi, ditthi.

bhávaná: 'mental development' (lit. 'calling into existence, producing') is what in English is generally but rather vaguely called 'meditation'. One has to distinguish 2 kinds: development of tranquillity (samatha-bhávaná), i.e. concentration (samádhi), and development of insight (vipassaná-bhávaná), i.e. wisdom (paññá).

These two important terms, tranquillity and insight (s. samatha-vipassaná), are very often met with and explained in the Sutta, as well as in the Abhidhamma.

Tranquillity (samatha) is the concentrated, unshaken, peaceful, and therefore undefiled state of mind, whilst insight (vipassaná) is the intuitive insight into the impermanence, misery and impersonality (anicca, dukkha, anattá; s. tilakkhana) of all bodily and mental phenomena of existence, included in the 5 groups of existence, namely, corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness; s. khandha.

Tranquillity, or concentration of mind, according to Sankhepavannana (Commentary to Abhidhammattha-sangaha), bestows a threefold blessing: favourable rebirth, present happy life, and purity of mind which is the condition of insight. Concentration (samádhi) is the indispensable foundation and precondition of insight by purifying the mind from the 5 mental defilements or hindrances (nívarana, q.v.), whilst insight (vipassaná) produces the 4 supra mundane stages of holiness and deliverance of mind. The Buddha therefore says: "May you develop mental concentration, o monks; for who is mentally concentrated, sees things according to reality" (S. XXII, 5). And in Mil. it is said: "Just as when a lighted lamp is brought into a dark chamber, the lamp-light Will destroy the darkness and produce and spread the light, just so will insight, once arisen, destroy the darkness of ignorance and produce the light of knowledge."

Vis.M. III-XI gives full directions how to attain full concentration and the absorptions (jhána, q.v.) by means of the following 40 meditation subjects (kammatthána):

10 kasina-exercises (s. kasina). These produce the 4 absorptions

10 loathsome subjects (asubha, q.v.). These produce the 1st absorption.

10 recollections (anussati, q.v.): of the Buddha (buddhánussati), the Doctrine (dhammánussati), the Brotherhood of the Noble Ones (sanghánussati), morality, liberality, the heavenly beings, death (maranasati, q.v. ), the body (káyagatásati, q.v.), in-and-outbreathing (ánápána-sati, q.v.) and peace (upasamánussati, q.v.). Among these, the recollection (or mindfulness) of in-and-out breathing may produce all the 4 absorptions, that of the body the 1st absorption, the rest only neighbourhood-concentration (upacára-samádhi, s. samádhi).

4 sublime abodes (brahma-vihára, q.v.): loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, equanimity (mettá, karuná, muditá, upekkhá). Of these, the first 3 exercises may produce 3 absorptions, the last one the 4th absorption only.

4 immaterial spheres (arúpáyatana, s. jhána): of unbounded space, unbounded consciousness, nothingness, neither-perception-nor-non-perception. These are based upon the 4th absorption.

1 perception of the loathsomeness of food (áháre patikkúla-saññá), which may produce neighbourhood-concentration

1 analysis of the 4 elements (catudhátu-vavatthána, s. dhátu-vavatthána), which may produce neighbourhood-concentration.

Mental development forms one of the 3 kinds of meritorious action (puñña-kiriya-vatthu, q.v.). 'Delight in meditation' (bhávaná-rámatá) is one of the noble usages (ariya-vamsa, q.v.) .

bhávaná-bala: s. patisankhána-bala.

bhávaná-maya-paññá: wisdom based on mental development'; s. paññá

bhavanga-santána: 'continuity of subconsciousness'; s. santána

bhavanga-sota and bhavanga-citta: The first term may tentatively be rendered as the 'undercurrent forming the condition of being, or existence', and the second as 'subconsciousness', though, as will be evident from the following, it differs in several respects from the usage of that term in Western psychology. Bhavanga (bhava-anga), which, in the canonical works, is mentioned twice or thrice in the Patthána, is explained in the Abhidhamma commentaries as the foundation or condition (kárana) of existence (bhava), as the sine qua non of life, having the nature of a process, lit. a flux or stream (sota). Herein, since time immemorial, all impressions and experiences are, as it were, stored up, or better said, are functioning, but concealed as such to- full consciousness, from where however they occasionally emerge as subconscious phenomena and approach the threshold of full consciousness, or crossing it become fully conscious. This so-called 'subconscious life-stream' or undercurrent of life is that by which might be explained the faculty of memory, paranormal psychic phenomena, mental and physical growth, karma and rebirth. etc. An alternative rendering is 'life-continuum'.

It should be noted that bhavanga-citta is a karma-resultant state of consciousness (vipáka, q.v.), and that, in birth as a human or in higher forms of existence, it is always the result of good, or wholesome karma (kusala-kamma-vipáka), though in varying degrees of strength (s. patisandhi, end of the article). The same holds true for rebirth consciousness (patisandhi) and death consciousness (cuti), which are only particular manifestations of subconsciousness. In Vis.M. XIV it is said:

"As soon as rebirth-consciousness (in the embryo at the time of conception) has ceased, there arises a similar subconsciousness with exactly the same object, following immediately upon rebirth-consciousness and being the result of this or that karma (volitional action done in a former birth and remembered there at the moment before death). And again a further similar state of subconsciousness arises. Now, as long as no other consciousness arises to interrupt the continuity of the life-stream, so long the life-stream, like the flow of a river, rises in the same way again and again, even during dreamless sleep and at other times. In this way one has to understand the continuous arising of those states of consciousness in the life-stream." Cf. viññána-kicca. For more details, s. Fund. 11. (App.).

bhava-tanhá: 'craving for (eternal) existence'; s. tanhá.

bhavásava: 'canker of existence'; s. ásava.

bhayatupatthána-ñána: 'knowledge consisting in the awareness of terror', is one of those kinds of insight-knowledge that form the 'purification by knowledge and vision of the path-progress' (s. visuddhi, VI.).

bhikkhu: A fully ordained disciple of the Buddha is called a bhikkhu. "Mendicant monk" may be suggested as the closest equivalent for "Bhikkhu", literally it means "he who begs" but bhikkhus do not beg. They silently stand at the door for alms. They live on what is spontaneously given by the supporters. He is not a priest as he is no mediator between God and man. He has no vows for life, but he is bound by his rules which he takes of his own accord. He leads a life of voluntary poverty and celibacy. If he is unable to live the Holy Life, he can discard the robe at any time.

bhojane mattaññutá: 'knowing the measure in eating'.

"Now, o monks, the monk wisely reflecting partakes of his almsfood, neither for pastime, nor for indulgence, nor to become beautiful or handsome, but only to maintain and support this body, to avoid harm and to assist the holy life, knowing: 'In this way I shall dispel the former pain (of hunger, etc.) and no new pain shall I let arise, and long life, blamelessness and ease will be my share ' This, o monks, is knowing the measure in eating." (A. III. 16). "How o monks, would it be possible for Nanda to lead the absolutely pure life of holiness, if he did not watch over his senses and did not know the measure in eating?" (A. VII, 9).

biases: s. ásava.

birth process: upapatti-bhava: s. bhava. Further s. patisandhi, játi.

bodhi (from verbal root budhi, to awaken, to understand): awakenment, enlightenment, supreme knowledge. "(Through Bodhi) one awakens from the slumber or stupor (inflicted upon the mind) by the defilements (kilesa, q.v.) and comprehends the Four Noble Truths (sacca, q.v.)" (Com. to M. 10).

The enlightenment of a Buddha is called sammá-sambodhi (q.v.) 'perfect enlightenment'. The faith (saddhá, q.v.) of a lay follower of the Buddha is described as "he believes in the enlightenment of the Perfect One" (saddahati Tathágatassa bodhim: M. 53, A. III, 2).

As components of the state of enlightenment and contributory factors to its achievement, are mentioned in the texts: the 7 factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga (q.v.)= bodhi-anga) and the 37 'things pertaining to enlightenment' (bodhipakkhiya-dhammá, q.v.). In one of the later books of the Sutta-Pitaka, the Buddhavamsa, 10 bodhipácana-dhammá are mentioned, i.e. qualities that lead to the ripening of perfect enlightenment; these are the 10 perfections (páramí, q.v.).

There is a threefold classification of enlightenment: 1. that of a noble disciple (sávaka-bodhi, q.v.). i.e. of an Arahat, 2. of an Independently Enlightened One (pacceka-bodhi, q.v.), and 3. of a Perfect Enlightened One (sammá-sambodhi). This 3-fold division, however, is of later origin, and in this form it neither occurs in the canonical texts nor in the older Sutta commentaries. The closest approximation to it is found in a verse sutta which is probably of a comparatively later period, the Treasure Store Sutta (Nidhikkanda Sutta) of the Khuddakapátha, where the following 3 terms are mentioned in stanza 15: sávaka-páramí, pacceka-bodhi, buddha-bhúmi (see Khp. Tr., pp. 247f.).

The commentaries (e.g. to M., Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka) generally give a 4-fold explanation of the word bodhi: 1. the tree of enlightenment, 2. the holy path (ariya-magga), 3. Nibbána, 4 omniscience (of the Buddha: sabbaññutá-ñána). As to (2), the commentaries quote Cula-Nidesa where bodhi is defined as the knowledge relating to the 4 paths (of Stream-entry, etc.; catúsu maggesu ñána).

Neither in the canonical texts nor in the old commentaries is it stated that a follower of the Buddha may choose between the three kinds of enlightenment and aspire either to become a Buddha, a Pacceka-Buddha, or an Arahat-disciple. This conception of a choice between three aspirations is, however, frequently found in present-day Theraváda countries, e.g. in Sri Lanka.

bodhipakkhiya-dhammá: The 37 'things pertaining to enlightenment', or 'requisites of enlightenment' comprise the entire doctrines of the Buddha. They are:

the 4 foundations of mindfulness (satipatthána, q.v.),

the 4 right efforts (s. padhána),

the 4 roads to power (iddhi-páda, q.v.),

the 5 spiritual faculties (indriya; s. bala),

the 5 spiritual powers (bala, q.v.),

the 7 factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga, q.v.),

the Noble 8-fold Path (s. magga).

In M. 77 all the 37 bodhipakkhiya-dhammá are enumerated and explained though not called by that name. A detailed explanation of them is given in Vis.M. XXII. In S.XLVII, 51, 67, only the five spiritual faculties (indriya) are called bodhipakkhiya-dhammá; and in the Jhána Vibhanga, only the 7 factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga).

See The Requisites of Enlightenment, by Ledi Sayadaw (WHEEL 169/172).


Bodhisatta: 'Enlightenment Being', is a being destined to Buddhahood, a future Buddha. According to the traditional belief a Bodhisatta, before reaching his last birth as a Buddha on this earth, is living in the Tusita-heaven (s. deva), the heaven of bliss. Cf. A. IV, 127; VIII, 70.

In the Páli Canon and commentaries, the designation 'Bodhisatta' is given only to Prince Siddhattha before his enlightenment and to his former existences. The Buddha himself uses this term when speaking of his life prior to enlightenment (e.g. M. 4, M. 26). Bodhisattahood is neither mentioned nor recommended as an ideal higher than or alternative to Arahatship; nor is there any record in the Páli scriptures of a disciple declaring it as his aspiration. - See bodhi.

bodily action (wholesome or unwholesome); s. karma, karma formations - Right b.a. = sammá-kammanta; s. magga.

bodily postures, the 4: iriyá-patha (q.v.)

body: káya (q.v.) Contemplation on the b. is one of the 4 satipatthána (q.v.).

body-witness: káya-sakkhi (q.v.).

bojjhanga: 'the 7 factors of enlightenment', are: mindfulness (sati-sambojjhanga; s. sati), investigation of the law (dhamma-vicaya-sambojjhanga), energy (viriya-sambojjhanga; s. viriya, padhána), rapture (píti-sambojjhanga, q.v.) tranquillity (passaddhi-sambojjhanga, q.v.), concentration (samádhi-sambojjhanga, q.v.), equanimity (upekkhá, q.v.). "Because they lead to enlightenment, therefore they are called factors of enlightenment" (S. XLVI, 5).

Though in the 2nd factor, dhamma-vicaya, the word dhamma is taken by most translators to stand for the Buddhist doctrine, it probably refers to the bodily and mental phenomena (náma-rúpa-dhammá) as presented to the investigating mind by mindfulness, the 1st factor. With that interpretation, the term may be rendered by 'investigation of phenomena'.

In A.X. 102, the 7 factors are said to be the means of attaining the threefold wisdom (s. tevijjá).

They may be attained by means of the 4 foundations of mindfulness (satipatthána, q.v.), as it is said in S. XLVI, 1 and explained in M. 118:

(1) "Whenever, o monks, the monk dwells contemplating the body (káya), feeling (vedaná), mind (citta) and mind-objects (dhammá), strenuous, clearly-conscious, mindful, after subduing worldly greed and grief, at such a time his mindfulness is present and undisturbed; and whenever his mindfulness is present and undisturbed, at such a time he has gained and is developing the factor of enlightenment 'mindfulness' (sati-sambojjhanga), and thus this factor of enlightenment reaches fullest perfection.

(2) "Whenever, while dwelling with mindfulness, he wisely investigates, examines and thinks over the law ... at such a time he has gained and is developing the factor of enlightenment 'investigation of the law' (dhamma-vicaya°) ....

(3) "Whenever, while wisely investigating his energy is firm and unshaken ... at such a time he has gained and is developing the factor of enlightenment 'energy' (viriya°) ....

(4) "Whenever in him, while firm in energy, arises supersensuous rapture ... at such a time he has gained and is developing the factor of enlightenment 'rapture' (píti°) ..

(5) "Whenever, while enraptured in mind, his body and his mind become composed ... at such a time he has gained and is developing the factor of enlightenment 'tranquillity' (passaddhi°).

(6) "Whenever, while being composed in his body and happy, his mind becomes concentrated ... at such a time he has gained and is developing the factor of enlightenment 'concentration' (samádhi°)

(7) "Whenever he looks with complete indifference on his mind thus concentrated ... at such a time he has gained and is developing the factor of enlightenment 'equanimity' (upekkhá).

Literature: Bojjhanga Samyutta (S. XLVI); Bojjhanga Vibh. - For the conditions leading to the arising of each of the factors, see the Com. to Satipatthána Sutta (Way of Mindfulness, by Soma Thera; 3rd ed., 1967, BPS). Further, The 'Seven Factors of Enlightenment, by Piyadassi Thera (WHEEL 1.)

bondages, mental: cetaso vinibandha (q.v.).

bonds, the 4: yoga (q.v.).

both-ways liberated, s. ubhato-bhága-vimutta, ariyapuggala B. 4.

boundless consciousness (and b. space), Sphere of: s. jhána 5, 6.

brahma-cariya: 'pure (chaste) or holy life', is a term for the life of the monk. Also a lay-devotee who observes the 8 moral precepts (sikkhápada, q.v.), takes as the third precept the vow of chastity, i.e. full abstention from sexual relations. The highest aim and purpose of b. is, according to M. 29, the 'unshakable deliverance of mind' (akuppá ceto-vimutti).

brahma-káyika-deva: The 'heavenly beings of the Brahma-world' inhabit the first 3 heavens of the fine-material world, (rúpaloka), corresponding to the 1st absorption (jhána, q.v.). The highest ruler of them is called the Great Brahma (Mahá-Brahmá). With caustic humor he is said (D. 11) to pretend: "I am Brahma, the Great Brahmá, the Most High, the Invincible One, the Omniscient One, the Ruler, the Lord, the Creator, the Maker, the Perfect One, the Preserver, the Controller, the Father of all that was and will be." Cf. deva (II. 1-3).

brahma-loka: 'Brahma-world', in the widest sense, is a name for the fine-material (rúpa-loka) and immaterial world (arúpa-loka); in a narrower sense, however, only for the first three heavens of the fine-material world. Cf. Brahma-káyika-deva.

brahma-vihára: the 4 'sublime' or 'divine abodes', also called the 4 boundless states (appamaññá), are: loving-kindness (mettá), compassion (karuná), altruistic (or sympathetic) joy (muditá), equanimity (upekkhá).

The stereotype text on the development of these 4 sublime abodes (brahma-vihára-bhávaná; s. bhávaná), often met with in the Suttas,- is as follows: "'There, o monks, the monk with a mind full of loving-kindness pervading first one direction, then a second one, then a third one, then the fourth one, just so above, below and all around; and everywhere identifying himself with all, he is pervading the whole world with mind full of loving-kindness, with mind wide, developed, unbounded, free from hate and ill-will." Hereafter follows the same theme with compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity.

Literature: Detailed explanation in Vis.M. IX. - For texts s. "Path", 97ff; texts on mettá in The Practice of Loving Kindness, by Ñánamoli Thera (WHEEL 7). - The Four Sublime States, by Nyanaponika Thera (WHEEL 6). - Brahma Vihára, by Narada Thera (Vajirarama, Colombo, 1962).

breathing, mindfulness of in-and-out-breathing ánápánasati (q.v.) .

Buddha: s. sammá-sambodhi.

buddhánussati: 'recollection of the Enlightened One'; s. anussati.

Buddha-sásana: s. sásana.