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.

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

six-session guru yoga

thundrug lamäi näljor (Tib); thun drug bla ma'i rnal 'byor (Wyl)

A daily commitment for Highest Yoga Tantra initiates, incorporating refuge, offerings and so forth, recited six times a day.

sleeping yoga

nyälwäi näljor (Tib); nyal ba'i rnal 'byor (Wyl)

A Highest Yoga Tantra practice where the practitioner goes to sleep visualizing themselves as the guru-deity in the mandala in order to make it easier to attain the clear light mind. In the generation stage, without the realization of emptiness, this is called "with fabrication" or "with sign"; in the completion stage, with a realization of emptiness, this is called "without fabrication" or "without sign." See also waking yoga.

Sojong (Tib)

possadha (Skt); gso sbyong (Wyl)

The bi-monthly practice by ordained Sangha of purifying broken vows by confession in front of other Sangha members.

Solu Khumbu

The area in north-eastern Nepal, bordering Tibet, where Lama Zopa Rinpoche was born; populated by the Sherpas.

sources, twelve

dvadasa ayatana (Skt); kye chä chu nyi (Tib); skye mched bcu gnyis (Wyl)

The six internal sources (of consciousness) are the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mental sense powers; the six external sources (of consciousness or fields of consciousness) are the form source, sound source, odor source, taste source, object-of-touch source and phenomenon source.

special attitude

adhyashaya (Skt); lhag sam (Tib); lhag bsam (Wyl)

The sixth of the seven points of cause and effect technique for developing bodhicitta, where the practitioner takes on the responsibility to lead all sentient beings to enlightenment by him- or herself. This is the final step before actually attaining bodhicitta.


Beings not usually visible to ordinary people; can belong to the hungry ghost or god realms; can be beneficent as well as harmful.


The ancient kingdom of the Kosalas now situated in modern Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the site of the Jeta Grove, where the Buddha would spend the rainy season in retreat and where many ruins from that time have been excavated.

stupa (Skt)

chö ten (Tib); mchod rten (Wyl)

Buddhist reliquary objects ranging in size from huge to a few inches in height and representing the enlightened mind. Also known as chorten.

subtle laxity

jingwa tra mo (Tib); bying ba phra mo (Wyl)

The main hindrance to achieving single-pointed concentration, subtle laxity has clarity and stability but not the intensity needed, and so is often mistaken for single-pointed concentration.


The main character in the Gandavyuha Sutra, the last chapter of the Avatamsaka (Flower Ornament) Sutra. Sudhana is a youth whose search for enlightenment takes him on a journey to 53 spiritual teachers; he is used as an example of perfect guru devotion.

suffering of change

viparinama-duhkhata (Skt); gyurwäi dug ngäl (Tib); 'gyur ba'i sdug bsngal (Wyl)

What is normally regarded as pleasure, which because of its transitory nature sooner or later turns into suffering. See the three types of suffering.

suffering of suffering

duhkha-duhkhata (Skt); dug ngäl gyi dug ngäl (Tib); sdug bsngal gyi sdug bsngal (Wyl)

Aka the suffering of pain; the commonly recognized suffering experiences of pain, discomfort and unhappiness. See the three types of suffering.

sugata (Skt)

Tib: de war sheg pa; Wyl: bde bar gshegs pa

An epithet for a buddha, literally “excellent (su) gone one (gata).”

Sukhavati (Skt)

Dewachen (Tib); bde ba can (Wyl)

The pure realm of the Buddha Amitabha. Literally Land of Bliss, it is located in the western direction.

supreme siddhi

parama-siddhi (Skt); chog gi ngö drub (Tib); mchog gi dngos grub (Wyl)

Also called supramundane siddhi, this refers to enlightenment, often in reference to the attainment of clear light within the Mahamudra system. See also common siddhi, eight common siddhis and siddhi.

sur practice (Tib)

A tantric practice where tsampa is burned and offered to the spirits.

sutra (Skt)

sutta (Pali); do (Tib); mdo (Wyl)

A discourse of the Buddha recognized as a canonical text.

Svatantrika Madhyamaka (Skt)

u ma rang gyü pa (Tib); bdu ma rang rgyud pa (Wyl)

The Middle Way Autonomy School, a sub-school of the Middle Way school of Buddhist philosophy. According to Tibetan scholarly tradition, the school of Madhyamaka philosophy that (a) stresses syllogistic reasoning rather than the use of reductio ad absurdum (prasanga) in establishing the nature of dharmas as emptiness and (b) asserts that dharmas possess inherent defining characteristics (svalaksana), at least conventionally. The school is subdivided into Sautrantika Svatantrika Madhyamaka (represented by Bhavaviveka and Jnanagarbha) and Yogachara Svatantrika Madhyamaka (represented by Santarakshita and Kamalasila). (See The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Systems, p. 510.) See also Madhyamaka and Prasangika Madhyamaka.


Also called Swayambhunath; the ancient stupa complex in Kathmandu Valley, west of the city.