This glossary contains an alphabetical list of Buddhist terms that you may find on this website. The glossary includes English, Sanskrit and Tibetan terms. The list of terms is expanding and new listings are added regularly. Search for the term you want by entering it in the search box, or browse through the listing by clicking on the letters below.

A bandit.

Jampel Lhundrup. Pabongka Rinpoche’s root guru for lam-rim teachings; author of the Jorchö text A Necklace for the Fortunate; his reincarnation has lived in France for many years.

Literally, a "sky-goer." A male being who helps arouse blissful energy in a qualified tantric practitioner.

Literally, a "female sky-goer." A female being who helps arouse blissful energy in a qualified tantric practitioner.

The pure land of Vajrayogini.

Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso. Revered spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and tireless worker for world peace; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989; a guru of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

A small hand drum used in tantric practice.

The eldest son of Marpa, he died at a young age and returned as the Indian brahmin Paravatapada or Tiphupa, who became important for the future of the Kagyü lineage in Tibet. 

One of two main ways of understanding a Dharma teaching, this one is where the content is be taken literally and not open for interpretation, as opposed to the interpretive meaning.

We’re living in one! It has five characteristics: short life spans, scarce means of subsistence, mental afflictions, strong wrong views and weak sentient beings.

An emanation of the enlightened mind used as the object of meditation in tantric practices.

An obscuration covering the essentially pure nature of the mind, causing suffering and dissatisfaction; the main delusion is ignorance and all the others come from this. See also the three poisons, the root delusions and secondary delusions.

Born in Kham, Tibet, this learned lama studied at Drepung Loseling Monastery and was abbot of His Hoiness' Namgyal Monastery from 1986 to 1991. He is one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s gurus.

Also called dependent arising. The way that the self and phenomena exist conventionally as relative and interdependent. They come into existence in dependence upon (1) causes and conditions, (2) their parts and, most subtly, (3) the mind imputing, or labeling, them. See also twelve links.

One of the three realms of samsara, comprising the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, asuras and the six lower classes of suras; beings in this realm are preoccupied with desire for objects of the six senses.

A god dwelling in a state with much comfort and pleasure in the desire, form or formless realms.

Shakyamuni Buddha’s cousin, who was jealous of Buddha and constantly tried to harm him.

A popular collection of sayings of the Buddha in the Pali canon.

A village in the north-west of India, in Himachal Pradesh. The residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.

A tutor to many Gelugpa tulkus and resident teacher at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, before leaving to establish his own centers in New Zealand, where he passed away.

The second refuge jewel. Literally, “that which holds or protects (us from suffering)” and hence brings happiness and leads us towards liberation and enlightenment. In Buddhism, absolute Dharma is the realizations attained along the path to liberation and enlightenment and conventional Dharma is seen as both the teachings of the Buddha and virtuous actions.

One of the five transcendental wisdoms, the wisdom that apprehends the nature of phenomena. The other wisdoms are: mirror-like wisdom, wisdom of equality, all-accomplishing wisdom and wisdom of analysis.

The truth body of a buddha (the other “body” being the form body or rupakaya); the blissful omniscient mind of a buddha, the result of the wisdom side of the path. It can be divided into the wisdom body (Skt: jnanakaya; Tib: ye-she nyi-ku) and the nature body (Skt: svabhavikakaya; Tib: ngo-wo nyi-ku). See also svabhavikakaya, jnanakaya, nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, three kayas and four kayas.

A seventh century Indian scholar and author of Seven Treatises of Valid Cognition. He is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.

A ninth century Indian scholar and author of the text Wheel of Sharp Weapons. He was also a teacher of Lama Atisha.

Incense; one of the offering substances.

An advanced form of concentration meditation after realizing shamatha (calm abiding).

(Tib: pak-pa shä rap-pa röl-tu chin-pa dorje chö pa-she ja-tek pa-chen pö-do.) Aka Diamond Sutra or Vajra Cutter Sutra, one of the most popular of the prajnaparamita, or perfection of wisdom sutras.

A sixth century Indian scholar and disciple of Vasubandhu, Dignaga composed the Compendium of Valid Cognition (Skt: Pramâna-samuccaya). He is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.

A great scholar and author of many popular works such as Enlightened Courage: An Explanation of Atisha’s Seven-Point Mind Training and The Excellent Path to Enlightenment, Rinpoche was the head of the Nyingma school from 1987 until his death in Bhutan in 1991.

Cloth meditation seat cover used by the Sangha.

Also known as gross obscurations, these are the less subtle of the two types of obscurations, the ones that block liberation. See also obscurations to knowledge and two obscurations.

The non-deluded pride that regards oneself as a deity and the surroundings and enjoyments as those of the deity; an antidote to ordinary conceptions. See generation stage.

A monk within the Gelug monasteries in Tibet who had less interest in studying and more in worldly matters such as appearance, sport and fighting. Dob-dobs usually did much of the manual labor, as well as cooking, serving tea in assemblies and caring for elderly monks. 

Resident teacher for more than twenty-five years at Tara Institute, the FPMT center in Melbourne, Australia.