Madhyāntika A disciple of Ānanda. He is regarded as the third of the twenty-four successors of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Mahādeva A monk who lived about one hundred years after Shakyamuni and provoked the first division within the Buddhist Order. Before joining the Order, he killed his father, his mother, and an arhat. Later he advanced his own arbitrary views regarding Buddhism, and controversy over them precipitated a schism in the Order.
Mahākāshyapa Also known as Kāshyapa. One of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples; he was known as the foremost in ascetic practices. After Shakyamuni’s passing, he became head of the Buddhist Order.
Mahāprajāpatī Also known as Gautamī or Gotamī. Foster mother to Shakyamuni and the younger sister of Māyā, Shakyamuni’s real mother. Mahāprajāpatī raised Shakyamuni when Māyā died shortly after his birth. Later she became the first nun admitted to the Buddhist Order.
mahāsattva (Skt) A “great being,” another term for a bodhisattva.
Mahāvairochana Often referred to as the Thus Come One Mahāvairochana. A Buddha mentioned in the Mahāvairochana and the Diamond Crown sutras, worshiped by adherents of the esoteric teaching and regarded by them as the Buddha of the Dharma body who personifies the unchanging truth of all phenomena and who is the source from which all Buddhas and bodhisattvas spring.
Mahāvairochana Sutra One of the three basic scriptures of esoteric Buddhism. Reference in Nichiren Daishonin’s writings is to a Chinese translation done in 725 by Shan-wu-wei with I-hsing’s assistance. In this sutra, Mahāvairochana Buddha describes the way to obtain Buddha wisdom, defining the aspiration for enlightenment to be the cause, great compassion to be the foundation, and skillful means to be the way of realization.
Mahayana The great vehicle teaching, or the teaching that expounds the enlightenment of all and aims at the salvation of all living beings. It expounds the bodhisattva practice as the means toward the enlightenment of both oneself and others, in contrast to Hinayana, the teaching that aims only at personal salvation, or attaining the state of arhat.
Mahayana ordination platform Also, a Mahayana ordination hall or Mahayana ordination center. A place where the ceremony for conferring Mahayana precepts is conducted. Before Dengyō, priests in Japan had been ordained exclusively in the Hinayana precepts. Dengyō repeatedly sought imperial permission to establish a Mahayana ordination center at Mount Hiei, over the objections of the Buddhist schools at Nara. Permission was finally granted in 822, seven days after Dengyō’s death, and a Mahayana ordination platform was erected there in 827.
Maheshvara A god who reigns over the major world system. Originally he was one of the major Hindu gods. His name means the God of Great Freedom.
Maitreya A bodhisattva predicted to succeed Shakyamuni as a future Buddha. He is said to have been reborn in the Tushita heaven and to reside in the inner court of this heaven. Therein he is now expounding the teaching to the heavenly beings. It is said that he will reappear in this world 5,670 million years after Shakyamuni’s death to save people. Traditionally regarded as the teacher of Asanga, a scholar of the Consciousness-Only doctrine, who by means of supernatural powers is said to have ascended to the Tushita heaven in order to receive the bodhisattva’s instruction. However, some scholars have come to identify Asanga’s teacher with a historical personage named Maitreya.
major world system Also, thousand-millionfold world. One of the world systems in ancient Indian cosmology. A world consists of a Mount Sumeru, its surrounding seas and mountain ranges, a sun, a moon, and other heavenly bodies, extending upward to the first meditation heaven in the world of form and downward to the circle of wind that forms the basis of a world. One thousand worlds make up a minor world system; one thousand minor world systems constitute an intermediate world system; and one thousand intermediate world systems form a major world system. Therefore, one major world system comprises one billion worlds. There were thought to be countless major world systems in the universe.
major world system dust particle kalpas (Jpn sanzen jintengō) An immensely long period of time described in the “Parable of the Phantom City” chapter of the Lotus Sutra to indicate how much time has passed since Shakyamuni preached the Lotus Sutra to his voice-hearer disciples as the sixteenth son of the Buddha Great Universal Wisdom Excellence.
Malaya, Mount (Skt) A mountain in southern India. It was noted for its sandalwood trees.
mandala (Skt) An object of devotion on which Buddhas and bodhisattvas are depicted or on which the mystic doctrine is expressed. It was translated in China as meaning “perfectly endowed” or “cluster of blessings.” In Nichiren Daishonin’s writings, the Gohonzon is also called a mandala because it embodies all the practices and resulting virtues of all Buddhas.
mani (Skt) A jewel. The mani jewel also refers to a particular kind of jewel, which is said to have the power to remove misfortune, make muddy water clear, and cure illness.
manifested body One of a Buddha’s three bodies. It is the physical form in which a Buddha appears in the world to save the people.
mani jewel See mani.
Manjushrī Leader of the bodhisattvas of the theoretical teaching. He represents the virtues of wisdom and enlightenment and, together with Bodhisattva Universal Worthy, is depicted in the sutras as one of the two bodhisattvas who attend Shakyamuni Buddha.
mantra (Skt) A formula consisting of secret words or syllables that is said to embody mystic powers. Mantras are employed in the practice and ritual of esoteric Buddhism, where they are believed to help achieve union with Mahāvairochana Buddha. The Sanskrit word mantra was translated into Chinese as “true word” (Jpn shingon).
Many Treasures A Buddha who appeared, seated within the treasure tower at the Ceremony in the Air, in order to lend credence to Shakyamuni’s teachings in the Lotus Sutra. According to the “Treasure Tower” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, he lives in the Land of Treasure Purity in the east. While still engaged in bodhisattva practice, he pledged that even after having entered nirvana he would appear in order to attest to the validity of the Lotus Sutra, wherever it might be taught.
Marīchi A god originally thought of as a personification of the sun’s rays. In Buddhism, generally represented as going before the god of the sun as a vassal. Marīchi was said to possess the power to become invisible and defeat an enemy without being captured and, for this reason, was worshiped particularly by the samurai in Japan. Some statues and writings depict Marīchi as female.
markings of the thousand-spoked wheel See thousand-spoked wheel pattern.
Masakado (d. 940) Taira no Masakado, a distinguished warrior of the Taira clan who exercised great power in eastern Japan. He attacked government offices in Kanto and adopted the title of “New Emperor.” Soon thereafter, however, his forces were routed, and he was killed by his cousin, Taira no Sadamori, with the support of Fujiwara no Hidesato.
Mātanga See Kāshyapa Mātanga.
Maudgalyāyana One of Shakyamuni’s ten major disciples, known as the foremost in transcendental powers. Born to a Brahman family in Magadha, he was a close friend of Shāriputra from childhood. They were at first disciples of Sanjaya Belatthiputta, one of the six non-Buddhist teachers, but later became followers of Shakyamuni.
Medicine King A bodhisattva said to possess the power to cure physical and mental diseases. The “Medicine King” chapter of the Lotus Sutra describes how he practiced austerities in a previous lifetime as a bodhisattva called Gladly Seen by All Living Beings.
Medicine Master Also, the Buddha of Medicine or the Buddha of Healing. The Buddha of the Pure Emerald World in the east, he is also known as the Buddha of the Eastern Region or the Thus Come One of the Eastern Region. While a bodhisattva, he made twelve vows to cure all illnesses and to lead all people to enlightenment. Belief in this Buddha was popular in both China and Japan, and many statues were made of him. Bhaishajyaguru, the Sanskrit name of this Buddha, means the “teacher of medicine.”
Medicine Master Sutra A sutra that emphasizes the blessings of the Buddha Medicine Master. First, the sutra recounts a previous life of the Buddha Medicine Master in which, as a bodhisattva, he made twelve great vows to benefit the people. The great benefit of invoking his name is then described. The sutra also explains the seven disasters and asserts that making offerings to the Buddha Medicine Master can avert them and restore peace to the land.
meditation master A priest who has attained the level of meditation in which one is able to focus the mind on one point and remain in a state of concentration in order to eradicate illusions and contemplate the truth. “Meditation Master” was often applied as an honorific title, as is the case with the tittles “Dharma Teacher” and “Discipline Mater.”
Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra Also, the Meditation Sutra. One of the three basic scriptures of the Pure Land school. According to its content, the sutra was expounded by Shakyamuni at Rājagriha in Magadha at the request of Vaidehī, who was grieving over the evil acts of her son, Ajātashatru. Shakyamuni used his supernatural powers to show her the various pure lands, including Amida’s Pure Land. Since Vaidehī preferred Amida’s Pure Land over all the others, Shakyamuni expounded sixteen types of meditation to attain rebirth there.
meditation on the five elements An esoteric form of meditation intended to let one realize that self and environment are composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and space; that the five parts of the body, namely, crown, face, chest, abdomen, and knees, are governed by the five syllables of the esoteric mantra, avarahakha; and that one’s own life is ultimately one with the five Buddhas who are embodiments of the five aspects of Mahāvairochana Buddha’s wisdom.
Meditation Sutra An abbreviation of the Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra. See Meditation on the Buddha Infinite Life Sutra.
medium kalpa Any of the twenty kalpas that constitute the kalpa of continuance. These kalpas correspond to cyclic changes said to occur in the human life span. A medium kalpa is equal to 15,998,000 years. The term medium kalpa is also used to refer to any of the four kalpas of formation, continuance, decline, and disintegration. See also kalpa of continuance.
Miao-lo (711–782) Also known as Chan-jan, the Venerable Ching-hsi, the Great Teacher Ching-hsi, and the Great Teacher Miao-lo. The sixth patriarch of the T’ien-t’ai school, counting from T’ien-t’ai. He is revered as the restorer of the school and wrote commentaries on T’ien-t’ai’s major works, contributing to a clarification of the school’s teachings. His principal works are The Annotations on “The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra,” The Annotations on “The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra,” and The Annotations on “Great Concentration and Insight.”
Middle Day of the Law Also, the period of the Counterfeit Law. The second of the three periods following a Buddha’s death. During this time the Buddha’s teaching gradually becomes formalized, the people’s connection to it weakens, and progressively fewer people are able to gain enlightenment through its practice. Some sources define the Middle Day of the Law of Shakyamuni as lasting a thousand years, while others define it as five hundred years.
Middle Way The way that transcends polar extremes. Thus the term Middle Way also indicates the true nature of all things, which cannot be defined by the absolutes of existence and nonexistence.
Mihirakula (n.d.) A king of the ancient kingdom of Cheka in India. He turned against Buddhism and banished the Buddhist monks. He later attempted to conquer Magadha but was instead captured by King Bālāditya, who was a Buddhist. Released by the intercession of Bālāditya’s merciful mother, Mihirakula then fled to Kashmir and later killed its king. He went on to attack Gandhāra where he destroyed temples and stupas and killed half of the people because they were Buddhists. That same year, however, he died and is said to have fallen into the hell of incessant suffering.
Minamoto clan Also, the Genji clan. The clan that established the Kamakura shogunate, Japan’s first military government. In the late twelfth century, the Minamoto clan defeated the rival Taira clan, and Minamoto no Yoritomo, the head of the Minamoto clan, established the Kamakura government. Both the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan were offshoots of the imperial family.
Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147–1199) The first shogun of the Kamakura government, who initiated a state administration by the warrior class. He shifted the virtual power of government from the imperial court in Kyoto to Kamakura.
Mononobe no Moriya (d. 587) A leading court official who opposed Buddhism and fought against Soga no Umako, another chief official who supported Buddhism.
Mononobe no Okoshi (n.d.) A leading court official in the reign of Emperor Kimmei (509–571). He criticized his rival at court, Ōtomo no Kanamura, also a member of a prominent family, for his handling of Korean affairs and overthrew the entire Ōtomo family. Later, concerning Japan’s acceptance of Buddhism, he opposed Soga no Iname, another important minister of the court, who maintained the acceptance of Buddhism. Mononobe no Moriya was his son.
Moon of Deliverance A bodhisattva who, during the ceremony described in the Flower Garland Sutra, begged Bodhisattva Diamond Storehouse to preach about the ten stages of development. See also fifty-two stages of bodhisattva practice.
Moriya See Mononobe no Moriya.
Mother of Demon Children A demoness said to have been a daughter of a yaksha demoness in Rājagriha. She is said to have fed the babies of others to her own children. In the “Dhāranī” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, however, she and the ten demon daughters pledge to protect the votaries of the Lotus Sutra.
mudra (Skt) Signs and gestures made with the hands and fingers, which symbolize the enlightenment and vows of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Mudras are employed in the esoteric True Word school, which regards them as a way of achieving union with Mahāvairochana Buddha.
Munemori (1147–1185) Taira no Munemori. The last head of the Taira clan. Under pressure from the rival Minamoto clan, Munemori fled westward from the capital, Kyoto, with the emperor Antoku. The Taira forces were finally defeated, however, at the naval battle of Dannoura. Munemori cast himself into the sea, but was captured and later beheaded.
mutual possession of the Ten Worlds The principle that each of the Ten Worlds contains all the other nine as potential within itself. This is taken to mean that an individual’s state of life can be changed, and that all beings of the nine worlds possess the potential for Buddhahood.
Myoho-renge-kyo (Jpn) (1) The Mystic Law, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. (2) The Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, the Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra by Kumārajīva. “Myoho-renge-kyo” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese title.
Myōun (1115–1183) The fifty-fifth and fifty-seventh chief priest of Enryaku-ji, the head temple of the Tendai school in Japan.
Mystic Law The ultimate truth of life and the universe, the Law of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.