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​​Glossary

(Click on those items which are underlined items to access articles o the subject)

 

  • absorption or meditative states (jhana in Pali): Four progressively deeper meditative states that meditators spontaneously experience after patient and persistent practice.
  • aggregates of personality (khandha in Pali): The collection of physical, mental and behavioral qualities that provide us with the sense of being individuals. The aggregates are the five manifestations of our personality, namely, body, sensory signals, perceptions, mental formations and cognition.
  • anchors: Objects or devices on which meditators focus their attention during their practice. The two most commonly used anchors in mindfulness meditation are our breath and our sensations.
  • anxiety-and-stress or suffering (dukkha in Pali): The set of negative feelings generated by cravings for what we lack (food in excess, friends, love, sex, money, power, prestige, etc.) and aversions to what imaginarily or actually surrounds us (threats, unpleasant people, events or things).
  • aversion: A feeling of strong dislike or repugnance toward certain people or things with a keen desire to avoid or turn away from them.
  • appetite: Natural desire, such as the desire for food or sex, necessary to keep up organic life and preserve species; the survival driver to meet biological needs. 
  • biased views: A biased belief, bigoted view or prejudice that lacks backing from positive knowledge. See opinion.
  • body: The totality of parts and inner components of the human body; the body is the first aggregate of personality. The word body in some sentences, such body and brain, means body ex-brain.
  • Buddha, the: Siddhattha Gotama, the founder of Buddhism.   
  • characteristics of human existence: Facts about the nature of human existence; these characteristics are three: impermanence, materiality and suffering (more precisely, the human predisposition to suffering).
  • cognition (viññana in Pali, fifth aggregate of personality): The process of knowing, learning, judging and being aware—our ability to call and use our knowledge, skills and memories—which can only be accessed by ourselves; it is the storehouse for both our library of everything we know, believe and are, and the manual of instructions for everything we can do.
  • craving: An intense, abnormal desire or longing.
  • delusion: A persistent false belief held as true despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.
  • ego (atta in Pali): Sense of identity. Since the word ego bears a contrasting connotation, this book uses it linked to the adjective redundant (see redundant ego), not as a synonym of self.
  • emotion: Body's reactions to certain external or internal stimuli (e.g., a threat or a remembrance).
  • essential selfThe reduced or downsized self when the harmful formations have been silenced; what is left of our inflated self when we suppress the redundant portion.​
  • favoring factors: Favoring factors are the conditions that help us to surmount the hindrances to meditation and mindfulness. The Buddha suggests seven favoring factors: attention to cravings and aversions, calm (both physical and mental), silence, equanimity, determination, learning and joy.
  • fear: Natural apprehension caused by anticipation or awareness of danger, the survival driver to manage threats.
  • feeling: The perception of emotional reactions, that is, the recording and processing the brain makes when it becomes aware of such reactions.
  • foundations of mindfulness: The domains or objects on which we should maintain our attention to gain freedom from anxiety-and-stress.
  • hindrances: Hindrances to meditation and mindfulness are the conditions that prevent or discourage us from practicing meditation or mindfulness. The Buddha suggests five culprits: greed, hostility, sloth, restlessness and doubt.
  • impermanence (annica in Pali, one of the characteristics of human existence): The permanent changing nature of everything.
  • inner harmony (nibbana in Pali): The experience of the total, unconditional cessation of suffering; the state of being at peace even in the face of difficulties.
  • level zero: The mental state meditators reach when they abide the basic definition of mindfulness meditation for a reasonably long period (say, for example, forty-five minutes to an hour).
  • levels 1 through 4: The four absorptions or meditative states of deep meditation. 
  • materiality (annatta in Pali, one of the characteristics of human existence): The physical or worldly nature of human life according to which our self is the result of some neuronal software that originates in and operates from our brain, and manifests through our body. Materiality implies the absence or lack in human existence of any entity that could be regarded as an immaterial self or an immaterial essence within, behind or parallel to the physical entity. Literally, the Pali word means lack of soul or self; suggested alternative translations include impersonality and nothingness.
  • meditation: The broad set of physical and mental exercises through which their practitioners manage and control their attention in search of certain benefits such as stress reduction, health improvement, spiritual growth or performance enhancement.
  • meditative states: See absorptions.
  • mental formations (sankhara in Pali, fourth aggregate of personality): The behavioral routines—physical or mental—that we learn voluntarily or acquire unwillingly.
  • mind: The workings of the brain that are exclusive of human beings; the activities performed by the human brain and that are not performed by the brain of the other mammals which posses a similar organ.
  • mindfulness (khandha in Pali): The permanent awareness of life as it unfolds. More specifically, mindfulness is (1) the active awareness of whatever we are doing, and (2) the passive, nonjudgmental awareness of our body, our sensations and our mental states.
  • mindfulness meditation: A mental exercise during which meditators with their eyes gently closed, sitting in a comfortable position and in a quiet environment, adopt a passive attitude, and focus attention on certain anchors in order to enhance their daily awareness; whenever meditators notice that their attention is off-course, they take it back to the anchor of their choice.
  • opinion: A belief or judgment stronger than an impression but not strong enough for certainty.
  • Pali Canon: A voluminous collection of documents that contains, among many other texts, the discourses of the Buddha. 
  • pain: Distressing sensation that results from events, such as aches, injuries and other physical disarrays that negatively affect the body of animals.
  • perceptions (khandha in Pali, third aggregate of personality): The interpretation the brain makes of sensory signals.
  • phenomenon: Any perceptible event.
  • physical individuality: The body.
  • redundant egoThe share of self, programmed in our brain by harmful mental formations, that is discretionary and, therefore, it can be disconnected or turned off. Each person's redundant ego is the seat of his or her suffering.
  • self  (atta in Pali): The subject of experience of perceptions, emotions and thoughts that manifests as a sense of identity in the continuity and consistency in a person's behavior. The self is a super-complex piece of neuronal software that performs its work through the brain, the seat of our mind.Sense of identity or symbolic identity that manifests as continuity and consistency in a person's behavior. The self is a super-complex piece of neuronal software that performs its work through the brain, the seat of our mind.
  • sensations: The consolidated sensory phenomenon, this is, the merging of sensory signals (that occur throughout the whole body) and perception (that occur in the brain).
  • sensory signals (vedana in Pali, second aggregate of personality): Bodily reactions to external or inner stimuli.
  • suffering or anxiety-and-stress (dukkha in Pali): The set of negative feelings generated by cravings for what we lack (food in excess, friends, love, sex, money, power, prestige, etc.) and aversions to what imaginarily or actually surrounds us (threats, unpleasant people, events or things).
  • symbolic identity: The mental identity­—the self—as opposed to the physical individuality; the neuronal software that controls the body.
  • teachings (dhamma in Pali): The essence of the Buddha's doctrine, which leaves out the myths and the religious portion of Buddhism. The word teachings is one of the English translations of the Pali word dhamma, the most important word in Buddhist literature. Other translations include law, natural law and doctrine.​​