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 Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.

Glossary terms for "M"

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W Y Z

Machig Labdrön (1055–1149)

Literally "Unique Mother Torch of Lab", she was a great tantric practitioner and teacher who developed several chöd practices.

madana (Skt)

Nectar; one of two offering substances in a tantric offering, the other is bala.

Madhyamaka (Skt)

u ma (Tib); bdu ma (Wyl)

The Middle Way school, one of the two Mahayana (Great Vehicle) philosophical schools. The Middle Way school does not assert true establishment even conventionally. There are two divisions of the Middle Way school: 1) Autonomists (Skt: Svatantrika) and 2) Consequentialists (Skt: Prasangika). The Middle Way school was founded by Nagarjuna, based on the Prajnaparamita sutras of Shakyamuni Buddha, and is considered to be the supreme presentation of emptiness according to the Gelug tradition. See also Madhyamika and the four Buddhist philosophical schools.

Madhyamakavatara (Skt)

u ma la jug pa (Tib); dbu ma la 'jug pa (Wyl)

A Guide to the Middle Way, a famous text composed by Chandrakirti to supplement Nagarjuna's treatise Mulamadhyamakakarika (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way). It is used as the main source book by most Tibetan monasteries for the study of emptiness.

Mahadeva (Skt)

Literally, "great god," an epithet for Shiva, one of the three principal Hindu deities with Brahma and Vishnu.

Mahakala (Skt)

nag po chen po (Tib, Wyl)

Wrathful male meditational deity connected with Heruka; a Dharma protector favored by Lama Yeshe.

Mahamudra (Skt)

chag ya chen po (Tib); phyag rgya chen po (Wyl)

The Great Seal; a profound system of meditation upon the mind and the ultimate nature of reality.

Mahayana (Skt)

teg chen (Tib); theg chen (Wyl)

Literally, Great Vehicle. It is one of the two general divisions of Buddhism. Mahayana practitioners' motivation for following the Dharma path is principally their intense wish for all mother sentient beings to be liberated from conditioned existence, or samsara, and to attain full enlightenment or buddhahood. The Mahayana has two divisions, Paramitayana (Sutrayana) and Vajrayana (Tantrayana, Mantrayana). See also Hinayana.

Maitreya (Skt)

Jampa (Tib); byams pa (Wyl)

After Shakyamuni Buddha, the next (fifth) of the thousand buddhas of this fortunate eon to descend to turn the wheel of Dharma. Presently residing in the pure land of Tushita (Ganden). Recipient of the method lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings, which, in a mystical transmission, he passed on to Asanga.

mala (Skt)

threng wa (Tib); phreng ba (Wyl)

A rosary of beads for counting mantras.

mandala (Skt)

khyil khor (Tib); dkyil 'khor (Wyl)

A circular diagram symbolic of the entire universe. The purified environment of a tantric deity; the diagram or painting representing this.

mandala offering

The symbolic offering of the entire purified universe to the spiritual teacher (guru) and the visualized merit field.

mani pills

Medicinal pills made by Tibetan monks and nuns, very effective for healing mental and physical problems. The name comes from the Chenrezig (Skt: Avalokiteshvara) mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, which is chanted as the pills are made.

Manjushri (Skt)

Jampelyang (Tib); 'jam dpal dbyangs (Wyl)

The bodhisattva (or buddha) of wisdom. Recipient of the wisdom lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings, which he passed on to Nagarjuna.

mantra (Skt)

ngag (Tib); sngags (Wyl)

Literally, mind protection. Mantras are Sanskrit syllables usually recited in conjunction with the practice of a particular meditational deity and embody the qualities of that deity.

mantra rosary

A mantra visualized as a rosary, its syllables representing beads; usually circular, as in the syllables of the one hundred syllable mantra standing around the edge of the moon disc.

Mara (Skt)

du (Tib); bdud (Wyl)

The demonic obstructor to spiritual progress; the one who attempted to block Shakyamuni Buddha as he strove for enlightenment under the bodhi tree. See also four maras.

mara of the deva’s son

devaputra-mara (Skt)

One of the four types of maras; interferes with meditation by increasing desire for sensual pleasures. The personification of desire and temptation that the Buddha defeated just before his enlightenment.


One of the two principal disciples of the Buddha, with Shariputra. Maudgalyayana was considered the disciple most accomplished in miraculous powers developed through meditation.

McLeod Ganj

The area of Dharamsala where His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many of the Tibetan refugees live.


gom (Tib); bsgom (Wyl)

Familiarization of the mind with a virtuous object. There are two types, fixed (Tib: jog gom) also called stabilizing or placement meditation, and analytic or insight meditation (Tib: che gom). See also single-pointed concentration.

meditative equipoise

samapatti (Skt); nyam zhag (Tib); mnyam bzhag (Wyl)

A state of single-pointed concentration achieved within a formal meditation session, usually in the context of calm abiding and special insight, which is lost outside the meditation session.

merely labeled

tag tsam (Tib); btags tsam (Wyl)

The subtlest meaning of dependent arising; every phenomenon exists relatively, or conventionally, as a mere label, merely imputed by the mind.


sonam (Tib); bsod nams (Wyl)

Positive imprints left on the mind by virtuous, or Dharma, actions. The principal cause of happiness. The merit of virtue, when coupled with the merit of wisdom, eventually results in rupakaya. See also the two accumulations.

merit field

tshogzhing (Tib); tshogs zhing (Wyl)

Or field of accumulation. The visualized or actual holy beings in relation to whom one accumulates merit by going for refuge, making offerings and so forth, and to whom one prays or makes requests for special purposes.

merit of (transcendental) wisdom

jnanasambhdra (Skt); ye she kyi tsog (Tib); ye shes kyi tshogs (Wyl)

Also called the merit of fortune or the collection of wisdom, which develops the wisdom side of the path by meditation on emptiness. See also the two accumulations.

merit of virtue or fortune

punyasambhara (Skt); so nam kyi tsog (Tib); bsod nams kyi tshogs (Wyl)

Also called the collection of merit, which develops the method side of the path by practicing generosity and so forth. See also the two accumulations.