Dictionary of Key Spiritual Terms

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Wylie | Tibetan


See also commandment, law, revelation
  1. gsung rab/ 

    Biblical: Scripture: gsung rab bshig mi thub/  Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35), gsung rab kyi tshig mtshams/  passage of Scripture (Acts 8:32), gsung rab kyi don go ba'i phyir/  so that they could understand the Scriptures (Lk. 24:45), gsung rab dang ye shu'i bka' la dad par gyur to/  they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken (Jn. 2:22), gsung rab na gsungs pa bzhin/  according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3).

    Buddhist: 1) gsung rab/  [lit. word + highest] The Bst. scriptures are understood to be guides to spiritual insight rather than the self-revelation of a supernatural power. Once spiritual insight or realizations are obtained, the doctrines of the Buddhist scriptures may be discarded, just as a raft is left behind after crossing a river. The scriptures are thought to be true and inerrant mi slu ba/  only in the sense that they teach all that is needed for spiritual progress [rather than being true in the sense of free from logical contradictions or historical errors] (BAL 44). The Buddha's teachings gsung rab/  are believed to have four qualities: i) they describe the methods for attaining liberation; ii) they are without grammatical errors; iii) they are given for the sake of eliminating suffering; and iv) they teach the benefits of overcoming obstacles to enlightenment (BAL 44). The scriptural books themselves are considered materially holy, and are placed in high places, wrapped in special cloth, and worshipped with incense, lamps, etc. (KTM): glegs bam gsung rab rnams chos dkon mchog dngos/  the volumes of the scriptures are really the dharma jewel (REF 115); 2) figuratively, the most important literary work in a class: 'char yan ring lugs rig rtsal gzhung lugs kyi gsung rab/  the "Bible" of romantic literary theory (SBC-1, 62).

  2. mdo/ 

    Biblical: 1) sacred writing, Scripture: dam pa'i mdo/  the Holy Scriptures (Rom 1:2), mdo na gsungs pa 'grub pa'i phyir/  that what the Scripture said would be fulfilled (Jn. 19:28), dkon mchog gis lung du bstan pa'i mdo thams cad/  [lit.] all God-inspired Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16,17); 2) used of the names of various Biblical books: ston pa'i mdo/  Ecclesiates; ye sha ya'i mdo/  the Book of Isaiah (DPD).

    Buddhist: 1) mdo/  [Skt. sutra/} ] religious discourses ascribed to the historical Buddha, though in popular usage there may be no distinction between gsung rab/  and mdo/  (AMD). mdo'i sde/  the discourses, one of the 12 divisions of the scriptures or gsung rab yan lag (KBT 88), mdo sngags gnyis/  sutra and tantra (TRC 52), thar gyi mdo/  the Pratimoksha sutra (TRC 51); 2) mdo sde pa/  the Sautrantika, a Hinayana school of the second century AD who accept only the sutras as scripture (TRC 95).

  3. bka'/ 

    Biblical: 1) commandment: dkon mchog gi bka' dang tshul khrims/  God's commandments and regulations (Lk. 1:6); 2) Word: a) a pronouncement or communication from God: dkon mchog gi bka' ni rtag tu gnas/  the word of the Lord stands forever (Is. 40:8); b) Jesus Christ: thog mar bka' yod lags pa dang /,,bka' de dkon mchog mnyam du bzhugs/  in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God (Jn. 1:1). In these senses, God's bka'/  is authoritative (Ps. 103:20), true (Jn. 17:17), and eternal (Is. 40:8). Compare gsung rab/  above.

    Buddhist: sangs rgyas kyi bka'/  teachings or words of the Buddha recorded in the Bst. scriptures: ma log par ston pa'i sangs rgyas kyi bka'/  the inerrant scriptures of the Buddha (TRC 75). The Scriptures are traditionally divided into three parts by content: sangs rgyas kyi bka' sde snod gsum/  the "three baskets" of the Bst. scriptures: 'dul ba/  [Skt. vinaya] moral discipline and ethics, mdo sde/  [Skt. sutra] religious discourses, mngon chos kyi mdzod/  [Skt. abhidhamma] teaching on knowledge (TRC 113). They may also be divided into three parts by source: zhal nas gsungs pa'i bka'/  teachings supposedly spoken by the Buddha himself; byin gyis brlabs pa'i bka'/  teachings given later by others through the blessing of his word; rjes su gnang ba'i bka'/  approved or authorized teachings (CNG 20).