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 Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.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

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

Sada Prarudita (Skt)

Tagtu ngu (Tib); rtag tu ngu (Wyl)

The ever-weeping bodhisattva (sada is “always” and prarudita is in “tears”); he is mentioned in the Perfection of Wisdom sutras (Prajnaparamita) and is used as an example of unwavering devotion to the guru. Sada Prarudita is often translated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche as the Bodhisattva Always Crying One.

sadhana (Skt)

drubthab (Tib); sgrub thabs (Wyl)

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

Saka Dawa (Tib)

sa ga zla ba (Wyl)

One of four great holy days of the Tibetan calendar, falling on the fifteenth of the fourth Tibetan month, Saka Dawa commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and parinirvana. Engaging in virtuous activities at this time by making extensive offerings or doing beneficial pujas and practices creates vast merit.

Sakya (Tib)

sa skya (Wyl)

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). See also Nyingma, Kagyü and Gelug.


Kuntu Zangpo (Tib); kun tu bzang po (Wyl)

A bodhisattva renowned for his heroic aspiration and extensive offerings.

samaya (Skt)

dam tsig (Tib); dam tshig (Wyl)

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.

Samayavajra (Skt)

damtsig dorje (Tib); dam tshig rdo rje (Wyl)

One of 32 deities from the Guhyasamaja mandala, a Highest Yoga Tantra practice. This practice purifies broken samaya in relation to one’s spiritual guide.

Samkhya (Skt)

drang chen pa (Tib); grangs can pa (Wyl)

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

samsara (Skt)

khor wa (Tib); ‘khor ba (Wyl)

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.

Sangha (Skt)

gen dun (Tib); dge 'dun (Wyl)

Spiritual community; the third of the Three Jewels of Refuge. In Tibetan gen dun literally means intending (dun) 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.

Saraswati (Skt)

Yangchenma (Tib); dbyangs can ma (Wyl)

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.


natha (Skt); gon (Tib); mgon (Wyl)

One who liberates us from both the lower and the upper realms and leads us to enlightenment, the guru. Lama Zopa Rinpoche advises to avoid "protector" in this context.


visarana (Skt); trowa (Tib); ’phro ba (Wyl)

The mind wanders from the object of meditation to an unintended object. Scattering to another object is induced through either (1) the force of attachment; (2) the force of anger; or (3) virtuous thoughts. Scattering through attachment is most common, the other two less so, but all are obstacles to single-pointed concentration. See also attachment-scattering thought, sinking thought and lethargy.

secondary delusions

upaklesha (Skt); nye wä nyon mong (Tib); nye ba'i nyon mongs (Wyl)

One of the six groups of mental factors, these are 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.

Secret Mantra

sang ngag (Tib); gsang sngags (Wyl)

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

seed syllable

dru (Tib); 'bru (Wyl)

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.


dag che par dzin pa (Tib); bdag gces par ’dzin pa (Wyl)

The self-centered attitude of considering one’s own happiness to be more important than that of others.


dag dzin (Tib); bdag ’dzin (Wyl)

The mind that apprehends the self as inherently existent. This refers to both the self of persons and the self of phenomena.


dagjug (Tib); bdag 'jug (Wyl)

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.

selflessness of person

gang zag gi dag me (Tib); gang zag gi bdag med (Wyl)

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.

selflessness of phenomena

chö kyi dag me (Tib); chos kyi bdag med (Wyl)

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.

Sera Monastery

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.

Serkong Dorje Chang (1855–1918)

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.

Serkong Dorje Chang (1921–79)

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

Serkong Dorje Chang (b. 1981)

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 Gyüme 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.