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.

Or tong-len. The meditation practice of generating bodhicitta by taking on the suffering of others and giving them happiness. See also equalizing and exchanging the self with others.

Literally, thread, or continuity. The secret teachings of the Buddha; a scriptural text and the teachings and practices it contains. Also called Vajrayana or Mantrayana.

Vows taken by tantric practitioners.

A female meditational deity who embodies the enlightened activity of all the buddhas; often referred to as the mother of the buddhas of the past, present and future. The Twenty-one Praises to Tara prayer is usually recited before debate sessions at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

The Highest Yoga Tantra aspect of Tara.

The Panchen Lama’s monastery in Shigatse in Tibet; built by the First Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drub; now re-established in exile in South India.

Literally, one who has realized suchness; a buddha.

Monks from the Tehor region in the eastern part of Kham in Tibet.

The worldly happiness of humans and gods.

The ten stages a bodhisattva progresses through once reaching the path of seeing, the first level being there, the second to seventh during the path of meditation and the eighth to tenth during the path of no more learning. See also bhumi.

Three of body (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct); four of speech (lying, speaking harshly, slandering and gossiping); and three of mind (covetousness, ill will and wrong views). General actions to be avoided so as not to create negative karma.

The six perfections plus four perfections mentioned in the Heart of Wisdom sutras (Prajnaparamita Sutras) as aspects of the sixth perfection, wisdom; they are method, skilful means, prayers and transcendental wisdom.

Along with the eight freedoms, the defining features of the perfect human rebirth: being born as a human being, in a Dharma country and with perfect mental and physical faculties; not having committed any of the five immediate negativities; having faith in the Buddha’s teachings; being born when a buddha has descended, the teachings have been revealed, the complete teachings still exist and there are still followers of the teachings; and having the necessary conditions to practice Dharma, such as the kindness of others.

The part of the Tibetan Canon that contains the Indian pandits' commentaries on the Buddha's teachings. Literally, "translation of the commentaries." It contains about 225 volumes (depending on the edition).

The Spanish reincarnation of Lama Thubten Yeshe.

Painted or appliquéd depictions of deities, usually set in a framework of colorful brocade.

The village in Solu Khumbu where Lama Zopa was born.

A tradition of Buddhism that upholds the Pali Canon and the noble eightfold path, which leads practitioners to liberation(nirvana), a state free from the suffering of conditioned existence; one of the eighteen schools into which the Hinayana split not long after Shakyamuni Buddha's death; the dominant Hinayana school today, widely practiced in Sri Lanka and most of continental South-east Asia.

Also called Thirty-five Confession Buddhas. Used in the practice of confessing and purifying negative karmas, the group of thirty-five buddhas visualized while reciting the Sutra of the Three Heaps and performing prostrations.

A set of practices that embraces all the aspects of the bodhisattva’s path to enlightenment, based on a text by Thogme Zangpo.

Also called the thirty-seven aids to, or harmonies of, enlightenment. (1) the four close placements of mindfulness; (2) the four thorough abandonments; (3) the four legs of magical manifestation; (4) the five powers; (5) the five strengths; (6) the seven branches of enlightenment; and (7) the eight branches of superiors’ path.

A buddha in the sambhogakaya aspect displays thirty-two major marks and eighty minor signs; the major signs are: 1) feet with a level tread; 2) thousand-spoked wheel marks on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; 3) projecting heels; 4) long fingers and toes (often taken as fingers the same length and likewise the toes); 5) soft and tender hands and feet; 6) web-like (reticulated) hands and feet; 7) high-raised ankles; 8) legs like antelopes; 9) ability to touch the knees without bending; 10) male organ enclosed in a sheath; 11) complexion like gold; 12) skin so smooth no dust can adhere to it; 13) separate body-hairs, one to each pore; 14) the body-hairs are bluish-black, curling in rings to the right; 15) the body is divinely straight; 16) the body has seven convex surfaces (the backs of the four limbs, the two shoulders and the trunk); 17) the front part of the body is like a lion’s; 18) no hollow between the shoulders; 19) proportioned like a banyan—the height of the body is equal to the span of outstretched arms; 20) the bust is evenly rounded; 21) a perfect sense of taste; 22) jaws like a lion; 23) forty teeth; 24) the teeth are even; 25) no spaces between the teeth; 26) the canine teeth are very bright; 27) the tongue is very long; 28) a Brahma-like voice; 29) the eyes are deep blue; 30) the eyelashes like a cow’s; 31) the hair (mole) between the eyes is soft like cotton down; 32) the head is like a royal turban (Skt: ushnisha). See also the Berzin Archives, Rigpa Shedrup Wiki and the Dhammakaya International Society of Belgium.

Also known as Gyalsä Ngulchu Thogme. A great master of the Nyingma and Sakya traditions and author of Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and a famous commentary on Shantideva’s Guide.

Also known as "mind training" or "mind transformation". A powerful approach to the development of bodhicitta, in which the mind is trained to use all situations, both happy and unhappy, as a means to destroy self-cherishing and self-grasping.

The three divisions of the Dharma: vinaya, sutra and abhidharma.

Impermanence, non-self, nirvana.

Body, speech and mind.

Ethics, concentration and wisdom.

Three places in the Himalayas that represent Heruka’s body, speech and mind, they are: Mt. Kailash, Tsari and Lapchi.

Also called the Triple Gem or the Three Rare Sublime Ones. The objects of Buddhist refuge: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Lama Zopa Rinpoche prefers “Three Rare Sublime Ones” as a more direct translation of kön-chog-sum.

Dharmakaya (truth body),sambhogakaya (enjoyment body) and nirmanakaya (emanation body). The general way a buddha is described as emanating after enlightenment, the wisdom body being a result of the wisdom side of the practice and the rupakaya (form body)—of which sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya are aspects—of the method side. See also four kayas.

Also known as the three I’s when the referent object is the self; they are the three possible ways we can experience any object: seeing it as truly existent, seeing it as not truly existent and seeing it without qualifying it one way or the other.

Attachment, anger and ignorance.