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.

The ever-weeping bodhisattva; he is mentioned in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras (Prajñaparamita) and is used as an example of unwavering devotion to the guru.

Method of accomplishment; the step-by-step instructions for practicing the meditations related to a particular meditational deity.

A wandering Hindu yogi.

One of the great holy days of the Tibetan calendar; commemorating the Buddha’s birth, death and parinirvana.

One of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, it was founded in the province of Tsang in 1073 by Khön Könchog Gyälpo (1034–1102), the main disciple of Drogmi Lotsawa (Drogmi Shakya Yeshe, 992–1072). Cf. Nyingma, Kagyü and Gelug.

The title of Kunga Gyaltsen, a master of the Sakya tradition, who spread Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia and China.

A bodhisattva renowned for his heroic aspiration and extensive offerings.

Sacred word of honor; the pledges and commitments made by a disciple at an initiation to keep tantric vows for life or to perform certain practices connected with the deity, such as daily sadhana recitation, or offering the Guru Puja on the tenth and the twenty-fifth of each Tibetan month.

The enjoyment body; the form in which the enlightened mind appears in order to benefit highly realized bodhisattvas. See also dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, rupakaya, three kayas and four kayas.

Early non-Buddhist philosophical school; the so-called "enumerators," because they advocate a definite enumeration of the causes that produce existents.

Cyclic existence; the six realms of conditioned existence, three lower—hell, hungry ghost (Skt: preta), and animal—and three upper—human, demigod (Skt: asura), and god (Skt: sura). The beginningless, recurring cycle of death and rebirth under the control of delusion and karma, fraught with suffering. Also refers to the contaminated aggregates of a sentient being.

Spiritual community; the third of the Three Jewels of Refuge. In Tibetan ge-dün literally means intending (dün) to virtue (ge). Absolute Sangha are those who have directly realized emptiness; relative Sangha refers to a group of at least four fully ordained monks or nuns.

A great eighth century Indian yogi; one of the 84 mahasiddhas and founders of the Vajrayana, particularly the mahamudra tradition. He composed many famous tantric songs.

A female buddha embodying creativity and wisdom, (the Tibetan means “Melodious Lady”). Her wrathful aspect is Palden Lhamo, the chief protector of the Tibetan people.

A small town near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India; the site of Deer Park, where the Buddha first turned the wheel of Dharma, giving his famous discourse on the four noble truths.

According to Tibetan traditions, one of the two major Hinayana philosophical schools. Ontologically, Sautrantikas subscribe to a doctrine of radical momentariness and accept some dharmas as real and others as conceptual; epistemologically, they assert a representational realism. Vasubandhu’s Autocommentary on the Treasury of Higher Knowledge reflects Sautrantika views, as do some of the writings of Dignaga and Dharmakirti. (See The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems, p. 508.)

One who liberates us from both the lower and the upper realms and leads us to enlightenment, the guru. Often mistranslated as “protector” in prayers.

One of the six groups of mental factors, these refer to the afflicted or nonvirtuous minds that arise in dependence on the root delusions such as attachment, anger and so forth. There are twenty: belligerence, resentment, concealment, spite, jealousy, miserliness, deceit, dissimulation, haughtiness, harmfulness, non-shame (shamelessness), non-embarrassment (inconsideration), lethargy, excitement, non-faith (faithlessness), laziness, non-conscientiousness, forgetfulness, non-introspection (non-alertness) and distraction. 

Another name for Vajrayana, so called because it should not be revealed to those not ready.

In tantric visualizations, a Sanskrit syllable arising out of emptiness and out of which the meditational deity in turn arises. A single syllable representing a deity's entire mantra.

The practice in Vajrayana where the meditator visualizes him- or herself as the deity. See also front generation.

The self-centered attitude of considering one’s own happiness to be more important than that of others; the main obstacle to the realization of bodhicitta.

The initial mind that apprehends the self to be inherently existing, which leads to self-cherishing.

A Highest Yoga Tantra meditation practice performed without the presence of an empowering lama, following initiation and completion of a long retreat and fire puja.

According to the Prasangika Madhyamaka school, the most subtle view of selflessness of person is the lack of inherent existence of the person or self. The five aggregates of body and mind are the mere basis of imputation of the self or “I”, which does not exist from its own side. See also selflessness of phenomena.

According to the Prasangika Madhyamaka school, the most subtle view of selflessness of phenomena—all things other than the self or person—is their lack of inherent existence, thus phenomena are empty of existing from their own side, by their own characteristics. See also selflessness of person.

Any unenlightened being; any being whose mind is not completely free from gross and subtle ignorance.

One of the three great Gelugpa monasteries near Lhasa; founded in the early fifteenth century by Jamchen Chöje, a disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa; now also established in exile in south India. It has two colleges, Sera Je, with which Lama Zopa Rinpoche is connected, and Sera Me.

The first in the line of incarnations, this great Tibetan yogi was the incarnation of Marpa the translator. He was famous for his scholarship and wisdom, and after practicing tantra in solitary retreat, manifested signs of realizations. 

The second in the line of incarnations, this great yogi studied sutra and tantra at Ganden and Gyume monasteries in Tibet. After fleeing Tibet, he lived for many years in Swayambhunath, Nepal, where he became a guru of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Born in India and recognized as the third in the line of incarnations by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. He received a geshe degree in 2010 and completed his studies at Gyume Tantric College in 2013. Since then he has been travelling and giving Buddhist teachings, as well as looking after his monastery, Serkong Dorjee Chang Monastery, in Swayambunath, Nepal.

Born in Lhokha, South Tibet, the son of the first Serkong Dorje Chang and an incarnation of Darma Dodé. After studying at Ganden Monastery, he became a lharampa geshe, and was one of seven tsenshabs or “master debate partners” to His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. 

Also known as Dharmakirti Serlingpa Suvarndvipa. A renowned tenth century Sumatran master and the main teacher of Lama Atisha, who travelled to Sumatra and stayed there for twelve years to receive teachings on thought transformation (lo-jong)

One of two methods used in Tibetan Buddhism for developing bodhicitta. The seven points are: 1) seeing all beings as your mother; 2) remembering the kindness of the mother; 3) wishing to repay the kindness; 4) love; 5) compassion; 6) special intention; 7) generating the mind of enlightenment. The other method is equalizing and exchanging the self with others.

Symbolizing the seven factors of enlightenment, they are: the precious wheel (mindfulness), the precious elephant (wisdom) the precious horse (energy), the precious jewel (joy), the precious queen (tranquility), the precious minister (concentration) and the precious general (equanimity).

They are: faith, ethics, study, generosity, shame, conscientiousness and wisdom.

The seven limbs are prostrating, making offerings, confession, rejoicing, requesting to turn the Dharma wheel, requesting the teachers to remain in the world and dedicating.

They are: 1) legs in vajra (full lotus) position or crossed; 2) hands in meditation mudra; 3) back straight; 4) jaw relaxed, tongue against pallet; 5) head tilted forward: 6) eyes slightly open, gaze directed downwards; 7)shoulders level and relaxed.