bowing meditation

Buddhist meditation sessions often begin and end with bowing, an act considered a sign of respect to the Buddha. Repetitive and mindful bowing is also a form of meditation because it helps to rid the mind of self-centered desires.

Eido Tai Shimano-roshi

At the urging of his teacher, Soen-roshi, Eido-roshi left Japan in 1960 to be a resident monk at the Koko-an Zendo in Hawaii. Four years later, he arrived in New York City, where he became Zen Master of the Zen Studies Society. Throughout the 1960s he often served as the translator for Yasutani-roshi, accompanying the senior monk on his travels in the United States and around the world.

Kwan Um School of Zen

The Kwan Um School of Zen was founded in 1982 under the direction of Zen Master Seung Sahn, the 78th patriarch in his line of transmission in the Chogye order of Korean Buddhism. There are more than 60 branches worldwide, including 26 in the United States, and centers in Canada, Europe, South America, East Asia, and Africa.

Pure Land

Pure Land is a term used in the Mahayana Buddhist traditions to denote the realm under the auspices of a particular Buddha, most often referring to Sukhavati, the Land of Ultimate Bliss presided over by Amitabha Buddha. A Pure Land is an ideal place of cultivation, free from the distractions typically experienced in our world. Such a Pure Land may be thought of as a literal place different from our world or as a wholesome way of experiencing this world. In the former case, those reborn in a Pure Land are able to continuously meditate upon the Dharma until attaining enlightenment, no matter... Read more about Pure Land

Theravada Buddhism

Theravada, literally “The Way of the Elders,” was one of the eighteen earliest sub-schools of Buddhism. Today, the term designates the various traditions of Buddhism most prominent in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Although these traditions differ in important ways, they share with one another an emphasis on the historicity of the Buddha, the use of Pali as a liturgical language, and reliance on a particular commentarial tradition.


The Buddhist Sanskrit term bodhi means enlightenment or awakening. It is a direct awareness or realization of the changing and interdependent nature of reality which is accompanied by the elimination of the defilements and clinging that bind one to the suffering characteristic of ordinary life.


(also: Ch'an; Son; Zen) Dhyana is the Sanskrit term for meditation practice, which became known in China as Chan and in Japan as Zen. It consists of disciplines of sitting, breathing, and mental concentration which enable the mind to develop insight into its real nature. Chan and Zen also designate the particular school of Buddhism which emphasizes this form of practice. The two principle sub-traditions within Chan/Zen are Rinzai (which emphasizes koan study) and Soto (for which “just sitting” is the main form of practice).


Khmer refers to the indigenous people of Cambodia and their language, the official language of Cambodia.


Pali is an early middle-Indic language in which Buddhist texts were written. The group of Theravada Buddhist texts is collectively referred to as the Pali Canon.

Suzuki-roshi, Shunryu

Shunryu Suzuki (d. 1971) arrived in America in 1959 to serve as the priest of the Soto Zen Mission in San Francisco. Unlike his predecessors at the Mission, Suzuki not only served the Japanese congregation, but also devoted himself to teaching the practice of shikantaza (“just sitting”) to Euro-Americans. In 1966, he established Tassajara Zen Mountain Center (located in Los Padres National Forest) as America’s first mountain retreat for Zen practice. That same year, he opened the Zen Center on Page Street in downtown San Francisco to accommodate the ever-increasing number of Euro-Americans... Read more about Suzuki-roshi, Shunryu

Beat Zen

Beat Zen is a term used to refer to the views of Zen Buddhism made popular to the American public through the Beat poets. Such poets included Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac.

Dharma school

Patterned after the Sunday schools of Christian churches, Dharma schools in some Buddhist organizations provide weekly instruction to youth in the basics of Buddhist teachings and practice.

Olcott, Colonel Henry Steel and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky were the founders of the Theosophical Society, a group with interests ranging from the mysteries of ancient Egypt and Greece to Eastern religions. In 1878 Olcott and Blavatsky went to India and Sri Lanka, and took the five lay precepts of Buddhism — likely the first Americans to do so. Olcott became especially concerned about pan-Buddhist unity, eventually writing a Buddhist Catechism and designing a Buddhist flag.

Stuart-roshi, Maurine

Maurine Stuart-roshi (1922-1990) received Dharma transmission from her teacher, Nakagawa Soen-roshi, and became the resident teacher at the Cambridge Buddhist Association in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


The Asalha festival, especially important in the Theravada Buddhist traditions, commemorates the first sermon of the Buddha and his ascent to the second heaven, where he preached the Dharma to his mother. It is celebrated at the beginning of the three-month vassa, or rainy season, of Southeast Asia, thus signaling the advent of the annual period when itinerant Theravadin monks remain domiciled in a monastery.