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.

An influential and charismatic lama of the Gelug order, Pabongka Rinpoche was the root guru of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Senior and Junior Tutors. He also gave the teachings compiled in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand.

A great yogi who lived at the time of Milarepa and taught in the Tingri region of Tibet; author of The Hundred Verses of Advice.

The eighth-century Indian tantric master who played a key role in establishing Buddhism in Tibet; he is revered by all Tibetans but especially followers of the Nyingma Tradition, which he founded.

Water (for drinking); one of the offering substances.

Tsampa mixed with butter tea.

Protector, said to be the special protector of Tibet.

Also known as Lobsang Palden Yeshe; the sixth Panchen Lama.

The “three baskets”; a collection of scriptures maintained orally by disciples of the Buddha and written down in the first century BCE, 450 years after his death. The Canon is the basis of the Theravada tradition.

A Gelug lineage of incarnations of Amitabha Buddha originally based in Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, Shigatse; the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are the two highest spiritual leaders of Tibet.

The first Panchen Lama, who composed Guru Puja and Path to Bliss Leading to Omniscience, a famous lam-rim text; a tutor of the Fifth Dalai Lama.

Scholar; learned person.

The Perfection Vehicle, another name for Bodhisattvayana or Sutrayana; the non-tantric Mahayana path.

The final nirvana the Buddha attained when he passed away in Kushinagar. See also liberation.

The first of the five paths leading to buddhahood.

The fourth of the five paths leading to buddhahood.

The fifth and last path leading to buddhahood; buddhahood itself.

The second of the five paths leading to buddhahood.

The third of the five paths to buddhahood; attained with the direct perception of emptiness.

A county in Tibet, near Lhasa.

The rare human state, qualified by eight freedoms and ten richnesses, which is the ideal condition for practicing Dharma and attaining enlightenment.

The most subtle of the three types of suffering, it refers to the nature of the five aggregates, which are contaminated by karma and delusions.

Indian yogi of unusual accomplishments; contemporary with Milarepa and disciple of Nagarjuna and Virupa.

Slang for urination.

The practice whereby the consciousness is forcibly ejected from the body into a pure land just before the moment of death.

One of four ways we can experience the result of an action, also called environmental result, possessed result is the environment we find ourselves in when we take rebirth.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s former residence in Lhasa.

Entered Reting Monastery in 1058 and became its abbot for a short time; one of the three great disciples of Dromtönpa, patriarch of the Kadampa Treatise lineage.

The Perfection of Wisdom. The Prajnaparamita Sutras are the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha in which the wisdom of emptiness and the path of the bodhisattva are set forth. The basis of Nagarjuna's philosophy.

Or Pramanavarttikakarika. Dharmakirti's Commentary on Dignaga’s Compendium of Valid Cognition (Pramanasamuccaya); one of five major treatises studied in Tibetan monasteries.

The Middle Way Consequence School, a sub-school of the Middle Way school of Buddhist philosophy. According to Tibetan scholarly tradition, the school of Madhyamaka philosophy that (a) stresses the use of reductio ad absurdum (prasanga) rather than syllogistic reasoning in establishing emptiness as the nature of dharmas and (b) denies that dharmas possess inherent defining characteristics (svalaksana) even conventionally. The greatest Indian representative of the Prasangika is generally regarded to be Chandrakirti. (See The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems, p. 508.) See also Madhyamaka and Svatantrika Madhyamaka.

The various levels of individual liberation vows for lay and ordained, including the five lay vows (Tib: ge-nyen) and the novice vows and full ordination that monks and nuns take.

The Solitary Realizer Vehicle. One of the branches of the Hinayana. Practitioners who strive for nirvana in solitude, without relying on a teacher. Cf. Shravakayana.

The practices that prepare the mind for successful tantric meditation by removing hindrances and accumulating merit. These practices are found in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and are usually done 100,000 times each; the four main practices are recitation of the refuge formula, mandala offerings, prostrations and Vajrasattva mantra recitation. The Gelug tradition adds five more: guru yoga, water bowl offerings, Damtsig Dorje purifying meditation, making tsa-tsas and the Dorje Khadro burning offering practice (jin-sek).

Hungry ghost, or spirit. The preta realm is one of the three lower realms of cyclic existence.