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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 Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.
Jampel Lhundrup. Pabongka Rinpoche's root guru for lam-rim teachings; author of the Jorchö text A Necklace for the Fortunate; his reincarnation has lived in France for many years.
Literally, a "sky-goer." A male being who helps arouse blissful energy in a qualified tantric practitioner.
Literally, a "female sky-goer." A female being who helps arouse blissful energy in a qualified tantric practitioner.
Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso. Revered spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and tireless worker for world peace; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989; a guru of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
A small hand drum used in tantric practice.
The eldest son of Marpa, he died at a young age and returned as the Indian brahmin Paravatapada or Tiphupa, who became important for the future of the Kagyü lineage in Tibet.
One of two main ways of understanding a Dharma teaching, this one is where the content is be taken literally and not open for interpretation, as opposed to the interpretive meaning.
We’re living in one! It has five characteristics: short life spans, scarce means of subsistence, mental afflictions, strong wrong views and weak sentient beings.
An emanation of the enlightened mind, the meditational deity used as the object of meditation in tantric practices.
An obscuration covering the essentially pure nature of the mind, causing suffering and dissatisfaction; the main delusion is ignorance and all the others come from this. See also the three poisons, the root delusions and secondary delusions.
Born in Kham, Tibet, this learned lama studied at Drepung Loseling Monastery and was abbot of His Hoiness' Namgyal Monastery from 1986 to 1991. He is one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's gurus.
Also called dependent arising. The way that the self and phenomena exist conventionally as relative and interdependent. They come into existence in dependence upon: 1) causes and conditions; 2) their parts; and, most subtly, 3) the mind imputing, or labeling, them. See also twelve links.
One of the three realms of samsara, comprising the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, asuras (demi-gods) and the six lower classes of suras (gods); beings in this realm are preoccupied with desire for objects of the six senses. See also six abodes of the desire realm gods.
A god existing in a state with much comfort and pleasure in the desire, form or formless realms.
Shakyamuni Buddha’s cousin, who was jealous of Buddha and constantly tried to harm him.
A popular collection of sayings of the Buddha originally found in the Pali Canon. The Tibetan Dhammapada or Compilations of Indicative Verse was translated into English by Gareth Sparham and first published by Mahayana Publications, New Delhi, in 1983.
A village in the north-west of India, in Himachal Pradesh. The residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.
The term dharani is from a Sanskrit root word that means “to hold or maintain.” Dharanis contain the essence of a teaching and are often compared to mantras, however, they are longer than mantras and are more likely to have intelligible phrases, like sutras. They are said to have the power to heal and protect from harm. Zungdu (Wyl: gzungs bsdus), a collection of dharanis found in the Kangyur, is often recommended by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
A tutor to many Gelugpa tulkus and resident teacher at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, before leaving to establish his own centers in New Zealand, where he passed away.
The second refuge jewel. Literally, “that which is established” but generally etymologized as “that which holds or protects (us from suffering)” and hence brings happiness and leads us towards liberation and enlightenment. In Buddhism, absolute Dharma is the realizations attained along the path to liberation and enlightenment, and conventional Dharma is seen as both the teachings of the Buddha and virtuous actions.
One of the five transcendental wisdoms, the wisdom that apprehends the nature of phenomena. The other wisdoms are: mirror-like wisdom, wisdom of equality, all-accomplishing wisdom and wisdom of analysis.
The ultimate reality of a buddha’s enlightened mind, which is unborn, empty of true existence, free from conceptual thought, naturally radiant, beyond duality and spacious like the sky. One of the three embodiments of a buddha. Dharmakaya can be divided into the jnanakaya or wisdom body (the blissful omniscient mind of a buddha) and svabhavikakaya or nature body (the emptiness of the buddha's mind). See also rupakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya, two kayas, three kayas and four kayas.
A seventh-century Indian scholar and author of Seven Treatises of Valid Cognition. He is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.
An eleventh-century Indian scholar, a guru of Atisha and author of the mind training text The Wheel of Sharp Weapons, also known as The Wheel Weapon Striking at the Vital Points of the Enemy.
Incense; one of the offering substances.
Also known as the Diamond Sutra or Vajra Cutter Sutra, one of the most popular of the Prajnaparamita, or Perfection of Wisdom sutras. The Tibetan title is often abbreviated to Dorje Chöpa.
A sixth-century Indian scholar and disciple of Vasubandhu, Dignaga composed the Compendium of Valid Cognition (Skt: Pramana-samuccaya). He is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.
A great scholar and author of many popular works such as Enlightened Courage: An Explanation of Atisha's Seven-Point Mind Training and The Excellent Path to Enlightenment, Rinpoche was the head of the Nyingma school from 1987 until his death in Bhutan in 1991.
Cloth meditation seat cover used by the Sangha.