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.

Literally, “not seeing” that which exists, or the way in which things exist. There are basically two kinds, ignorance of karma and ignorance of ultimate truth. The fundamental delusion from which all others spring. The first of the twelve links of dependent origination.

A subtle body generated through practice of the completion stage of Highest Yoga Tantra; the cause of the rupakaya.

The gross and subtle levels of the transience of phenomena. The moment things and events come into existence, their disintegration has already begun.

The seed, or potential, left on the mind by positive or negative actions of body, speech and mind.

The subtle drop at the center of the heart chakra where the very subtle consciousness resides; originating from the father’s red drop and mother’s white one, it consists of two halves, which split at the moment of death to release the very subtle consciousness.

The liberation achieved by the hearer (Skt: shravaka; Tib: nyen-thö) or the solitary realizer (Skt: pratyekabuddha; Tib: rang sangye) within the Theravada tradition, as compared to enlightenment achieved by a practitioner of the Mahayana tradition.

A powerful Hindu deity in the god realm.

What phenomena are empty of; the object of negation, or refutation. To ignorance, phenomena appear to exist independently, in and of themselves, to exist inherently. Cf. emptiness.

Transmission received from a tantric master allowing a disciple to engage in the practices of a particular meditational deity. It is also referred to as an empowerment.

Another term for Buddhist, so called because the person has entered "inside" the teachings of the Buddha by taking heartfelt refuge in the Three Jewels, thus differentiating from an "outer being" (Tib: chi-pa) who relies on non-Buddhist philosophies and external phenomena as sources of happiness.

The Dharma practiced by Buddhists, as opposed to “outer Dharma” which is practiced by non-Buddhists.

The energy residing at the navel chakra, aroused during the completion stage of highest yoga tantra and used to bring the energy winds into the central channel. It is also called inner or psychic heat.

A tantric offering whose basis of transformation is one's five aggregates visualized as the five meats and the five nectars.

The principal meditation taught in the Theravada tradition. It is based on the Buddha's teachings on the four foundations of mindfulness. It is sometimes called mindfulness meditation. In the Mahayana, vipashyana (Skt) has a different connotation, where it means investigation of and familiarization with the actual way in which things exist and is used to develop the wisdom of emptiness.

Sometimes translated as "faculty of imagination." A human being's capacity for thinking and imagination that enables him or her to project into the future, recollect past experiences and so forth; a faculty that often leads us into conflict. The insight, or wisdom, that enables us to judge between long- and short-term benefit and detriment.

Various hindering spirits who try to prevent pure Dharma practice.

The state between death and rebirth.

One of two main ways of understanding a Dharma teaching, this one is where the content is not to be taken literally but needs interpretation, as opposed to the definitive meaning.