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.

As opposed to aspirational bodhicitta, which is uncontrived, this is the wish to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings that arises through reasoning. See bodhicitta and effortless bodhicitta.

The spontaneous, uncontrived wish to achieve full enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, without needing reasoning, like a mother’s concern for a beloved child. See bodhicitta and effortful bodhicitta.


The wrong conception of the self; the mistaken belief that “I am self-existent.” The fundamental ignorance that has caused us to circle through cyclic existence since beginningless time.

The ignorant compulsion to regard one's self, or I, as permanent, self-existent, and independent of all other phenomena.

These items represent a group of offerings presented to the Buddha as symbols of the Eightfold Path. They are the mirror, precious medicine, yoghurt, long-life (durva) grass, bilva fruit, the right-turning conch, cinnabar (vermilion powder) and mustard seeds.

Or eight symbols of good fortune. They are the right-turning conch, glorious endless knot, golden fishes, lotus, parasol, treasure vase, wheel and victory banner.

The close entourage of Shakyamuni Buddha: Manjushri, Vajrapani, Avalokiteshvara, Ksitigarbha, Sarvanivaranviskambini, Akashadarbha, Maitreya and Samantabhadra.

The hell of blisters, the hell of bursting blisters, the hell of a-choo, the moaning hell, the clenched-teeth hell, the hell of cracking like an upali flower, the hell of cracking like a lotus, the hell of great cracking like a lotus.

As opposed to the supreme siddhi (enlightenment), these mundane attainments are usually listed as: the sword of invincibility (rel-dri ngö-drub), the eye potion enabling one to see the gods (mik-mem gyi ngö-drub),swift footedness—the ability of being able to cover great distance extremely quickly (kang-gyok kyi ngö-drub), invisibility (mi-nang-ba’i ngö-drub), the art of extracting the essence (rejuvenation) (chü-len gyi ngö-drub), becoming a sky-traveler—the ability to fly (kha-chö kyi ngö-drub), the ability to make medicinal [invisibility] pills (ril-bü ngö-drub), the power of perceiving treasures under the earth (sa-ok ngö-drub). See also common siddhi and siddhi.

The eight stages that are passed through at the time of death, where the consciousness becomes progressively more and more subtle until it absorbs into the indestructible drop at the heart chakra immediately before separating from the body.

Fears that Tara is able to dispel, each external fear relating to an internal state; they are the fear of: lions (pride), wild elephants (ignorance), fire (anger), snakes (jealousy), floods (attachment), imprisonment (miserliness), thieves (wrong views) and cannibals (doubt).

The eight states from which a perfect human rebirth is free: being born as a hell-being, hungry ghost, animal, long-life god or barbarian or in a dark age when no buddha has descended; holding wrong views; being born with defective mental or physical faculties. See also ten richnesses.

The hell of being alive again and again, the black-line hell, the gathered and crushed hell, the hell of crying, the hell of great crying, the hot hell, the extremely hot hell and the inexhaustible hot hell.

One-day vows to abandon killing; stealing; lying; sexual contact; intoxicants; high seats; eating at the wrong time; and singing, dancing and wearing perfumes and jewelry.

Traditional offerings to the Triple Gem, they are: water for drinking (Skt: argham), water for cleaning the feet (Skt: padyam), flowers (Skt: pushpe), incense (Skt: dhupe), light (Skt: aloke), perfume (Skt: gandhe), food (Skt: naivedya), music (Skt: shabda).

Eight qualities that are said to be most conducive to developing spiritually. They are: long life, handsome or beautiful body, noble caste, wealth, power and fame, trustworthy speech, a male body and a strong body and mind. See also the four Mahayana Dharma wheels.

Also known as the sufferings of humans. The suffering of birth, old age, illness, death, encountering what is unpleasant, separation from what is pleasant, not getting what you want and the five appropriated aggregates.

A short essential mind training text composed by Geshe Langri Tangpa.

The worldly concerns that generally motivate the actions of ordinary beings: being happy when given gifts and unhappy when not given them; wanting to be happy and not wanting to be unhappy; wanting praise and not wanting criticism; wanting a good reputation and not wanting a bad reputation.

The six sense powers, the six consciousnesses and the six objects.

The subtle minds that exist below the conscious level, controlling our conscious mental activities. These minds dissolve during the latter stages of the death process.

In the sambhogakaya aspect, a buddha displays thirty-two major marks and eighty minor signs. The minor signs include very smooth hands, nails the color of copper, a perfectly proportioned body, lips of cherry color and so forth. For more details, see Rigpa Shedrup Wiki and the Dhammakaya International Society of Belgium.

Asanga’s eleven-point analysis whereby the advantages of following the mind of attachment to the eight worldly dharmas is compared to following the holy Dharma. They are: worldly pleasure 1) it doesn’t satisfy the whole body, the Dharma does; 2) it depends on external conditions, the Dharma doesn’t; 3) it doesn’t exist in all three realms, the Dharma does; 4) it is not the cause for the seven treasures of the aryas, the Dharma is; 5) its pleasure finishes by enjoying it, the Dharma’s never finishes; 6) it can be destroyed by external enemies, the Dharma cannot; 7) It cannot be carried into future lives, the Dharma can; 8) it cannot bring full satisfaction, the Dharma can; 9) it is the cause of suffering, the Dharma generates no suffering; 10) it is merely labeled on a false base, the Dharma isn’t; 11) it causes attachment and delusions to arise, the Dharma doesn’t.

A synthesis of the two main systems for generating bodhicitta, the seven points of cause and effect and equalizing and exchanging self and others. They are: 1) equanimity; 2) recognizing all beings as our mother; 3) recollecting their kindness; 4) repaying their kindness; 5) equalizing yourself with others; 6) reflecting on the disadvantages of self-cherishing; 7) reflecting on the advantages of cherishing others; 8) the practice of “taking” with compassion; 9) the practice of “giving” with love; 10) special intention; 11) generating the mind of bodhicitta.

Literally “emptiness only.” The absence, or lack, of true existence. Ultimately, every phenomenon is empty of existing truly, or from its own side, or independently. Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains the importance of the syllable nyi (Tib) or “only” in cutting off ordinary emptiness, for example, a purse being empty of having money. Without this final syllable the term falls short of indicating the total lack of inherent existence. (See also merely labeled.)

The altruistic mind of enlightenment that actively engages in the six perfections and the four means of drawing sentient beings to the Dharma, after the bodhisattva vows have been taken. See also aspirational bodhicitta and bodhicitta.

Full awakening; buddhahood; omniscience. The ultimate goal of a Mahayana Buddhist, attained when all obscurations have been removed and all the qualities of the mind have been fully actualized. It is a state characterized by perfect compassion, wisdom and power. Lama Zopa Rinpoche points out that the Tibetan, jang-chub, is much more precise than the English as the two syllables encompass what enlightenment is: jang meaning “elimination” as in the elimination of all gross and subtle obstacles and chub meaning “development” as in the development of all perfect qualities.

A world period, an inconceivably long period of time. The life span of the universe is divided into four great eons which are themselves divided into twenty lesser eons.

The second of two methods used in Tibetan Buddhism to develop bodhicitta. The other method is the seven points of cause and effect.

Absence of the usual discrimination of sentient beings into friend, enemy and stranger, deriving from the realization that all sentient beings are equal in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering and that since beginningless time, all beings have been all things to each other. An impartial mind that serves as the basis for the development of great love, great compassion and bodhicitta.

The belief in the inherent existence of things, as opposed to nihilism; one of the two extremes.