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.

There are three kinds: believing, or pure-hearted, faith; lucid, or understanding, faith - faith based on logical conviction; and yearning, or aspirational, faith.

An important text by Ashvaghosha, which describes the proper attitude toward the guru.

Also known as the five kleshas (Skt) or mental afflictions: anger, attachment, ignorance, jealousy and pride. See also the three poisons and six root delusions.

The last of the eight types of suffering; how we suffer because the aggregates are “appropriated” or controlled by delusion and karma.

They are Vairochana, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi and Akshobhya. Each of the five types, representing a different aspect of enlightenment, is linked to the fully purified skandhas, or aggregates, of form, feeling, discriminative awareness, compositional factors, and consciousness. Lama Zopa Rinpoche advises that type is the correct translation of the Tibetan term rig, rather than family, lineage, or Dhyani Buddhas. Read Rinpoche’s explanation here.

Five energy wheels or focal points of energy along the central channel (shushuma) upon which one's concentration is directed, especially during the completion stage of Highest Yoga Tantra. The main chakras are the crown, throat, heart, navel, and secret place (the sex organ). In some systems, the first, at the brow, and the last, at the secret place, are omitted.

The degenerations that occur as human beings evolve over the eon of existence; they are: the degeneration of disturbing thoughts, of lifespan, of time, of view and of sentient beings.

They are: the view of the changeable aggregates, the view of the extremes, the view of holding wrong views as supreme, the view of holding our own moral and religious discipline as supreme and wrong views.

Divine hearing, knowing others’ thoughts, remembering past lives, knowing the various rebirths of sentient beings—these fall into common siddhis—and the knowledge of the exhaustion of contaminations, which only arhats and buddhas can know.

The five great masters (patriarchs) who founded the Sakya tradition: Sachen Küngya Nyingpo (1092–1158), Lobpön Sonam Tsemo (1142–82), Jetsün Drakpa Gyaltsen (1147–1216), Sakya Pandita (1182–1251) and Drogön Chögyal Phakpa (1235–80).

The five main texts studied in the great Gelug monasteries: the Abhisamayalamkara, Vinaya, Madhyamaka, Abhidharmakosha and Pramanavarttika.

Taught by the Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta: desire (especially sense desires), ill-will, sloth and torpor, distraction and worry, doubt and wavering.

Also called the five uninterrupted negative karmas or actions, the five heinous crimes, the five actions without break or the five actions of immediate retribution. The five actions that are so heavy that they cause one to be reborn in hell immediately after death. They are (1) killing one's mother; (2) killing one's father; (3) killing an arhat; (4) maliciously drawing blood from a buddha; and (5) creating a schism in the Sangha.

The precepts taken by lay Buddhist practitioners for life, to abstain from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and taking intoxicants. See also pratimoksha vows.

Also called the five parallel actions of immediate retribution. The five actions that are similar to the five immediate negativities in that they cause rebirth in hell immediately after death. They are: defiling one’s mother or a female arhat through sexual misconduct; killing one definitely abiding as a bodhisattva; killing an arya who has not yet reached the arhat stage; stealing the property of the Sangha; and destroying a stupa. Rinpoche mentions that acts such as stepping over the guru’s robes, shadow or seat without permission, stepping on the shadow of a stupa or removing relics from a stupa without a Dharma reason are also heavily negative.

The paths along which beings progress to liberation and enlightenment: the path of merit (Skt: sambhara-marga; Tib: tsok lam), the path of preparation (Skt: prayoga-marga; Tib: jor lam), the right-seeing path (Skt: darsana-marga; Tib: tong lam), the path of meditation (Skt: bhavana-marga; Tib: gom lam) and (the unification of ) no more learning (Skt: asaiksa-marga; Tib: mi lop pä lam).

The five forces to be practiced both in this life and at the time of death. They are the power of motivation, the power of acquaintance, the power of the white seed (developing positive qualities) the power of destruction (of self cherishing) and the power of prayer.

Within Tibetan Buddhist education, they are: grammar, logic, medicine, arts and crafts and religious philosophy.

The five sufferings experienced by desire realm gods at the time of death: their bodies become unattractive, their thrones are no longer comfortable, their flower garlands wilt, their clothes stain and their bodies smell.

The wisdoms possessed by a buddha, they are: the mirror-like wisdom (Skt: adarsha-jnana; Tib: me-long ta-bü yeshe), the wisdom of equality (Skt: samata-jnana; Tib: nyam-nyi yeshe), the all-accomplishing wisdom (Skt: krty-anusthana-jnana; Tib: ja-drup yeshe), the wisdom of analysis (Skt: pratyaveksana-jnana: Tib: sor-tok yeshe), the dharmadhatu wisdom (Skt: tathata-jnana; Tib: chö-kyi yingkyi yeshe).

They are flattery (Tib: kha sag), hinting (Tib: zhog long), giving in order to receive (bribery) (Tib: nye pä nye pa dö pa), exerting pressure on others (coercing) (Tib: thob kyi jal wa), and being on one’s best behaviour (hypocrisy) (Tib: tshul chö).

An entire practice leading to buddhahood based on the Mahamudra practice of the Kagyü tradition. They are: meditation on bodhicitta, deity yoga, guru yoga, Mahamudra practice and dedication of merit.

The second of samsara’s three realms, with seventeen classes of gods.

The highest of samsara’s three realms, with four classes of gods involved in formless meditations. The four levels are limitless sky, limitless consciousness, nothingness and the tip of samsara (also called tip of samsara).

Four kinds of activities a buddha performs, replicated in a tantric practice; they are pacifying, increasing (or developing), controlling and subjugating.

The four ways karma will ripen, either in this life or a future life. They are: the ripening result, the possessed result, experiencing the result similar to the cause and creating the result similar to the cause.

Four actions that impede your spiritual progress; they are deceiving your guru or a holy being, feeling misplaced regret, criticizing or abusing a holy person and cheating others. See also four white dharmas.

The two Hinayana schools of Vaibhashika (Great Exposition) and Sautrantika (Sutra) and the two Mahayana schools of Cittamatra (Mind Only, also called Yogachara or Practice of Yoga) and Madhyamaka (Middle Way), of which there are two subschools, Svatantrika (Autonomist) and Prasangika (Consequentialist).

The division of tantra into Kriya (Action), Charya (Performance), Yoga and Anuttara Yoga Tantra (Highest Yoga Tantra, also sometimes referred to as Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra).

According to Buddhist cosmology the four world systems clustered around Mount Meru, one for each cardinal point. Ours is the southern continent, Jambudvipa (Rose-apple Land; Tib: dzam-bu-ling), the others being Godaniya (Cattle Gift Land; Tib: ba-lang-chö) in the west; Kuru (Unpleasant Sound; Tib: dra-mi-nyän) in the north and Videha (Tall Body Land; Tib: lü-phag-po) in the east. These continents appear in the mandala offering and are part of the symbolic representation of the entire universe.

Mythical animals that represent various aspects of the bodhisattva attitude: dragon for power, tiger for confidence, snow lion for fearlessness and garuda for wisdom.

The four elements that make an action of body or speech complete so that the full result is experienced. They are the intention (Tib: tsam-pa), object (Tib: shi), action (Tib: jor-wa) and completion (Tib: tar-tuk). Each of these four brings its own result and—if it is negative—can be purified by one of the four opponent powers. Actions that lack all four parts are weaker in strength and bring weaker results.

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