top of page


Glossary for TWIM

As Bhante reads through the text he substitutes some terms with what he believes to be a better representation of the Pāli, and closer to the original meaning intended by the Buddha.

  • “Applied and sustained thought” is translated as “Thinking and examining thought”

  • “Bhikkhu” is translated as “Monk” or “Student”

  • “Concentration” is translated as “Collectedness”

  • “Contemplate” is translated as “Observe”

  • “Eightfold Path” is translated as “Harmonious Path”

  • “Enlightenment” is translated as “Awakening”

  • “Pleasure” is translated as “Happiness”

  • “Rapture” is translated as “Joy”

  • “Volition” is translated as “Formation”

  • “Zeal” is translated as “Enthusiasm”

Glossary Notes from Life is Meditation, Meditation is Life

A working terminology for the Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (TWIM) practice as described in the suttas.
Buddhist Meditation shows us how mind’s movements actually work. It reveals the true nature of things by uncovering the moment-to-moment impersonal process of Dependent Origination, the Four Noble Truths, and the Three Characteristics of Existence.

The Buddha Dhamma specifically shows us HOW we get caught by suffering, how this first manifests, the exact cause of it and the way out. The journey can sometimes be difficult but it also can be magical and fun as the changes become apparent in your life and people begin to notice the change for the good in you.
As we study this, we need to understand clearly some working definitions of certain training terminology.

From the beginning of our training the meditator learns to do this practice ALL OF THE TIME.

So, the precise definitions of terminology are very important if we are going to use this practice as our key to opening this doorway to Peace and these definitions may be slightly different from what you have heard in other places.
Before you begin to read further in this book, make sure the author and you are on the same page with keywords for the training is pretty important.


This section is to assist the beginner and for solving any mix-up in understanding for the experienced practitioner.
The Definitions for terminology used for training appear more or less in the order that you will have to deal with them as you learn the practice of Meditation.

  • Meditation (bhavana) - observing the movements of mind’s attention moment-to-moment, object-to-object for the purpose of seeing clearly the impersonal process of Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths.

  • Mindfulness (sati) - ‘Remembering’ to observe the movements of mind’s attention.

  • Awareness/Observation (sampajana) – Understanding what mind is doing; meaning whether it releasing what is arising, or getting involved with it? It is the true practicing of the 6R’s – That is: Recognizing the movements of mind’s attention, or is it moving into craving and clinging. It is Releasing, Relaxing, Re-smiling and then Returning to the object of meditation to Repeating or continuing with mindfulness.

  • Object of Meditation – Any object of meditation we choose is to become the home-base for centering during our meditation. The information we seek will not be found in the object of meditation we observe, but rather it is our recognition of the impersonal Process of Dependent Origination that leads to our knowledge and vision. This occurs around the object of meditation.

  • Hindrances (nivarana) - unwholesome tendencies that begin with an arising feeling that is the same as any other feelings and should be treated in the same way during the meditation by practicing the 6R’s - Releasing and relaxing them and not placing mind’s attention on them in any way. By denying them mind’s attention they will become weak and fade away.

  • Jhana - The definition here of “Jhana” in Buddhist terms is a "stage of meditation through understanding (the interconnectedness of the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination) and seeing how mind actually works." Level of understanding; stage of the meditation path

  • Craving (tanha) - the weak link in the process of Dependent Origination, which manifests as tension and tightness in mind and body as it is first appearing. The common definition for the word Craving is “to want or desire,” but there is much more to this word. According to the Buddha there is a definite pattern with everything that arises. For instance, in order "to see" there is a set way things happen. First, there must be a functioning sense door such as the eye.Next there must be color and form. When the eye hits color and form then eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of these three things is called eye-contact. With eye-contact as condition eye-feeling arises (Feeling [Vedana] is pleasant, painful or neither painful nor pleasant and this is either physical or mental feeling).With eye-feeling as condition, then eye-craving arises.

  Now “Craving” (Tanha) in all of its many different forms (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, bodily sensations, and thoughts) always arises as being a tensions and tightness in both mind and body. “Craving” (Tanha) also always manifests as the "I like it” or “I don’t like it” mind and can be recognized as tension or tightness in both one’s mind and body. This is where we come to understand the importance of the Buddha’s instructions about consciously tranquilizing one’s mind and body.

         When the meditator has any kind of distraction arising, that pulls their attention away from their object of meditation, then a feeling immediately arises, and next, right after that the "I like it.... I don’t like it" [craving-Tanha] mind arises.
This is seen sometimes as a big gross tightness and sometimes as a very subtle tightness or tension in mind and body.
As “Craving” (Tanha) is the cause of suffering (the Second Noble Truth) what the meditator must do is softly let go of that tension or tightness (i.e. relax, and this must consciously be done. It doesn’t happen automatically as it is shown in the meditation instruction given to us by the Buddha), then smile, and gently redirect mind’s attention back to the object of meditation (this step is the Third Noble Truth or the cessation of craving or suffering).

        In practical terms, this relaxing is the most important and major step that the Buddha discovered, this and the Fourth Noble Truth—that is the way’ leading to the Cessation of Suffering. The Buddha saw that when “Craving” (Tanha) was let go of; mind became clear, open, very observant, and pure. He saw that the thinking and conceptualizing mind did not arise.
The thinking and conceptualizing mind in Buddhism is called “Clinging” (Upadana). So, when a teacher says something like "Cling to Nothing," they are actually saying to “stop thinking about things and just observe,”, which is good advice as far as it goes. Actually it would be better to say "Crave Nothing," but that would be misunderstood because how are we supposed to do that? "Crave Nothing" means “to notice and let go of the tightness or tension in one’s mind and body before it arises.”

  How does one do this? When one sees a “Feeling” arise, if they relax at that very moment, then the “Craving” (Tanha) won’t arise. “Craving” (Tanha) is the weak link in the cycle or process of Dependent Origination. It CAN be recognized and let go of, and when it is released then the “Clinging” (Upadana) won’t arise.
        One thing that has become popular today is the putting together of these two words, “Craving/Clinging” and I think it helps to cause even more confusion. “Craving” is the "I like it ... I don’t like it" mind and “Clinging” is all of the thoughts, ideas, opinions, and concepts why mind likes or dislikes a feeling when it arises. They are two very different and separate parts to the process of how things work.So putting them together just makes one’s understanding of this process even cloudier. Some teachers today are trying to say the “Craving and Clinging” can be best defined as “Grasping.” And as the author just explained that moves away from the more precise definitions that the Buddha shows us within his teaching.

  • No-self (anatta) - Impersonal Nature; Impersonal perspective. An absence of taking anything personally, which occurs during life. Seeing things purely as they are without the arising of craving is the beginning of anatta. To do this in life, you don’t have to stop using the pronouns in your language! And you don’t have to try to disappear. Promise.

  • Delusion (moha) – In some Buddhist traditions the word "Delusion" (Moha) is linked up with two other words, which are “Lust” (lobha) and “Hatred” (dosa). Together these three words are sometimes called "the three poisons." This actually is a reasonable way to look at them. But there is some confusion about what "Delusion" (Moha) actually means.The Buddha meant something a little bit different every time he used this word.According to the suttas the word “Delusion” (Moha) means to see whatever arises as being a personal self (atta). Or we can say that “Delusion” (Moha) is seeing things through the false (deluded) idea of a self (atta). In other words, one takes all feelings or sensations to be a part of the "I," "Me," “My,” "Mine" (atta) identification, that is Delusion.

  • Serenity (samatha) - Here again is another word to look at.In Pali the word is Samatha. The meaning of Samatha is tranquility, serenity, peacefulness, stillness, or collectedness. Often the common popular definition is a strongly one-pointed type of concentration, absorption concentration, or ecstatic concentration. This specific definition of serenity or tranquility certainly implies a different type of "collectedness" than the deeper types of absorption or ecstatic concentration. The goal of absorption or ecstatic concentration is to have mind stay on only one thing as if it were glued to it (to the exclusion of anything else).

     The Samatha Collectedness implies to have a mind that is still, serene, calm, and collected—a mind that is very alert to whatever shifting or moving mind’s attention does moment-to-moment.
Of course Samatha/Vipassana (which is the standard way it is described in the suttas where they are always linked together) leads to the total Liberation of mind by seeing and recognizing how the Four Noble Truths interact with Dependent Origination.
As the Bodhisatta found out firsthand, Samatha/Vipassana leads directly to the end-result of Nibbana and absorption or ecstatic concentration does not.

  • Insight (vipassana) – This word has a surface meaning, which is “seeing things as they truly are.” According to the Buddha, the definition goes much deeper than that. “Insight” or understanding into what? Insight refers to “realizing the impersonal nature and deeply understanding of the Four Noble Truths and HOW Dependent Origination actually occurs with everything that arises and passes away (anicca) in one’s mind and body.” In other words, one gains a deeper and deeper understanding (in each stage of Jhana) of the impersonal process of HOW mind and body arises through truly seeing and understanding (knowledge and vision) of the Four Noble Truths interconnection with the ongoing processes of Dependent Origination. When one can see clearly these processes in all of existence, they will experience an unshakable knowledge that this is the right path to follow.

       Mind’s attention begins to see clearly that whatever arises and passes away (anicca) is a part of a definite process and this leads to a deep understanding that everything going on is a part of an impersonal pattern (anatta). These “Insights” can occur at anytime whether one is sitting in meditation or doing their daily activities. They are quite profound when they occur.
‘Insights’ are like finding a lost part to a puzzle and this is where the true "aha!" experiences happen.

  • Wisdom (panna) – there are many phrases within the suttas using the word ‘wisdom’ and they usually turn out, in some context or other, to be concerning “the impersonal process of Dependent Origination.”Anytime the words “Wise Attention” or “Wisdom” is seen in the suttas they are referring to the understanding of the Four Noble Truths and the process of Dependent Origination. Other such phrases appear as: “He sees with Wisdom,” ”Seeing with Wisdom,” “And his taints were destroyed by his seeing with Wisdom,” “Wisdom,” or “He is Wise.” 

     If we can remember these instances are referring to understanding the Four Noble Truths and seeing clearly the process of Dependent Origination as we read the various suttas, then our minds will open up to a new understanding of how this process and the Four Noble Truths uncover the core of the teaching of the Buddha.

  • Concentration (samadhi) - The Pali word actually means the unification or bringing together of mind. The word ”Collectedness” appears to be more functional for success in the meditation rather than the word ”Concentration.” Here in the West people take the word ”Concentration” to mean a kind of deep, one-pointedness of mind or an absorbed mind, and this is not what the Buddha was trying to get across. Before the time of the Buddha there were many words that described deep absorption or one-pointedness of mind.

     But the Buddha made up a new word "Samadhi" to describe a completely different way of seeing and experiencing the Jhana.After the Buddha’s parinibbana, because this word was very popular, the brahmins of that time changed the definition of “Samadhi” back to mean “strong one-pointedness.” But, the Buddha was showing that there is a difference between a ‘Collected Mind’ and a strongly absorbed or ‘Concentrated Mind’.
The words ”Collected Mind”’ (Samadhi) gives us the idea of a mind that is composed, calm, still, very alert, and pure, because one has let go of craving. This kind of mind observes HOW mind’s attention shifts from one thing to another.
     A ”Concentrated”’ mind, on the other hand, means that mind is stuck on one thing to the exclusion of anything else that may try to arise. So a ”Concentrated’” Mind by this definition loses full awareness and mindfulness (Sati) of what is happening in the present moment because it is only seeing the one thing it is pointing at.
This statement also refers to "access or neighborhood concentration" (Upacara Samadhi) and "moment-to-moment concentration" (Khanika Samadhi). Why? The simple answer is, there is no tranquilizing of mind and body before the meditator brings their attention back to the object of meditation.
     Because of this, there is no seeing of how the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination actually work and how craving (tightness and tension) is brought back to the meditation object.
This is why when the teachers of straight “Vipassana” tell their students that Absorption Concentration won’t ever lead to Nibbana, they are 100% correct. Any kind of practice, which divides “Samatha Meditation” and “Vipassana Meditation” into two different practices, can’t possibly lead one to Nibbana. Why? Because mind has the need to be calm, composed, and clear, while it is in a jhana, in order to see clearly the interconnectedness of the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination.
This is why the practice of straight vipassana has led to so much disappointment after so many years of hard work for some students.
     The Buddha taught us to practice “Samatha/Vipassana” together and this is the difference between commentary-based meditation practices and the Sutta approach to meditation. The results of these two practices are different. One-pointed Concentration’ or absorption concentration is not the same kind of mental development that the Buddha shows us.
The Buddha taught us to tranquilize our mind and body every time mind’s attention shifts from one thing to another.
The Collected Mind‘ is not so deeply one-pointed that the force of one’s Concentration’ causes mind to stay on one object of meditation, even if that attention Concentrates on something momentarily. The Collected Mind is able to observe how mind’s attention goes from one thing to another, very precisely. There is much more full awareness of both mind and body here than with a deeply Concentrated’ one-pointed mind or absorbed mind.
     This is why I choose to use the word Collected rather than Concentrated‘ mind. By using the word Collected there is less confusion about the kind of meditation that the Buddha is referring to and it is easier to understand the descriptions given in the suttas.These words are a good start for you to work with this approach to the meditation.

bottom of page