This glossary contains an alphabetical list of Buddhist terms that you may find on this website. Many of the terms now include phoneticized Sanskrit (Skt) as well as two forms of Tibetan—the phonetic version (Tib), which is a guide to pronunciation, and transliteration using the Wylie method (Wyl). Search for the term you want by entering it in the search box or browse through the listing by clicking on the letters below. Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.
Treasury of Knowledge, by Vasubandhu; one of the main philosophical texts studied in Tibetan monasteries.
Asanga’s Compendium of Higher Knowledge is one of the principal philosophical texts studied in Tibetan monasteries, particularly revered for its clarity and for the exposition of mind and mental factors.
(Tib: shä rap kyi pa röl tu chin pä men ngak gi ten chö ngön par tok pä gyen chä jawa)
Ornament for Clear Realizations, by Maitreya; a philosophical text studied in Tibetan monasteries.
Also called ultimate refuge, absolute refuge is the ultimate attainment of the three refuges, as opposed to conventional refuge. Absolute Buddha is the dharmakaya, the buddha's omniscient mind, absolute Dharma is the true cessation of suffering and absolute Sangha is any being who has attained the true cessation of suffering and become an arya being.
Also known as “the I-maker” this is the eighth main mind posited by the Cittamatra school, which asserts that there needs to be a separate consciousness where the sense of I resides. The other schools only posit six main consciousnesses, but the Cittamatra school posits two additional types—afflictive mental consciousness and mind basis of all.
The psycho-physical constituents that make up a sentient being: form, feeling, discriminative awareness, compositional factors and consciousness. Beings of the desire and form realms have all five whereas beings in the formless realm no longer have the aggregate of form.
An early Indian king who imprisoned and killed his father, Bimbisara. Realizing the enormity of this sin and guided by the Buddha, he purified this negativity and became an arhat.
Light; one of the offering substances. Aloke is Tibetanized; the actual Sanskrit is aloka.
The site of an ancient Buddhist stupa in modern Andra Pradesh, India, and also the place where Buddha first gave the Kalachakra empowerment, according to the Vajrayana tradition. In 2006, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a Kalachakra empowerment there.
The northeastern region of Tibet that borders on China.
One of the bodhisattvas who accompanied Shakyamuni Buddha.
Of the two main types of meditation, this is a meditation where the subject is examined using logical reasoning, as opposed to single-pointed concentration or fixed meditation (Tib: jog gom) where the mind focuses on one single object.
No-self; as opposed to atman (self); the term used for selflessness in the Four Noble Truths Sutra.
A character in a classic Dharma story about choosing the wrong guru and committing horrendous actions. Angulimala killed 999 people and made a rosary out of their fingers. He was prevented from killing his thousandth victim by the Buddha, and he was able to purify and become an arhat.
Water (for drinking); one of the offering substances.
The Tibetan translates as "foe destroyer." A person who has destroyed their inner enemy, the delusions, and attained liberation from cyclic existence.
A female arhat.
Also known as chebulic myrobalan; the botanical name is terminalia cherbula. A fruit that is one of the three fundamental Tibetan medicines; the Medicine Buddha holds the stem of the arura plant in his right hand. Ordinary arura is commonly used in Tibetan medical compounds; special arura—which is said to cure any sickness—is extremely rare.
Literally, noble. One who has realized the wisdom of emptiness.
The fourth-century Indian master who received directly from Maitreya Buddha the extensive, or method, lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings. Said to have founded the Cittamatra school of Buddhist philosophy. He is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.
Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty (about 250 BC) who converted to Buddhism and propagated Buddhism across Asia.
The third-century Indian master, renowned for his scholarship and poetry, who is the author of Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion.
Demi-god. A being in the god realms who enjoys greater comfort and pleasure than human beings, but who suffers from jealousy and quarreling.
The renowned Indian master who went to Tibet in 1042 to help in the revival of Buddhism and established the Kadam tradition. Atisha wrote the seminal text, A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, in which he organized the Buddha's teachings into clear steps, known as lamrim, or stages of the path to enlightenment.