A Glossary of Misunderstood Buddhist Terms

Buddhism is a vast, sprawling heterogeneous and internally inconsistent tradition dying and flowering over and over in various times and places over around 2500 years.  Anyone who tells you its “core” teachings or practices is ignorant or lying.  This is okay; as long as you know it is so. I am not making any such claim here.  These are some notes on a few aspects of Buddhist terminology and its translations.  Many important and beautiful flowerings of Buddhist doctrine are absent.  These wordings and explanations are based on my own understanding; they are not especially controversial, but differ, in places, from the mainstream.  I offer them in humility to those who may be interested. Buddha himself probably did not exist.  The teachings attributed to him are at least 2500 years old.  It is said that after spending seven days and nights meditating under a tree, he saw the Morning Star and exclaimed, “I along with all other beings am completely awakened forever!”  

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