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 Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.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

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

tantra (Skt)

gyü (Tib); rgyud (Wyl)

Literally, thread, or continuity. The secret teachings of the Buddha; a scriptural text and the teachings and practices it contains. Also called Vajrayana or Mantrayana.

tantric vows

sang ngag kyi dom pa (Tib); gsang sngags kyi sdom pa (Wyl)

Vows taken by tantric practitioners.

Tara (Skt)

Drolma (Tib); sgrol ma (Wyl)

A female meditational deity who embodies the enlightened activity of all the buddhas; often referred to as the mother of the buddhas of the past, present and future. The Twenty-one Praises to Tara prayer is usually recited before debate sessions at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (Tib)

bkra shis lhun po (Wyl)

The Panchen Lama's monastery in Shigatse in Tibet; built by the First Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drub; now re-established in exile in south India.

tathagata (Skt)

de zhin sheg pa (Tib); de bzhin gshegs pa (Wyl)

Epithet for a buddha; literally, “one who has gone to suchness.”

Tehor Khampa (Tib)

tre hor khams pa (Wyl)

Anyone from the Tehor region in the eastern part of Kham in Tibet. Tehor is the largest of the fourteen regional house groups at Sera Je Monastery.

temporal happiness

jigtenpäi dewa (Tib); 'jig rten pa'i bde ba (Wyl)

The worldly happiness of humans and gods.

ten great mantras

With the five great mantras, these are especially beneficial at the time of death. They are: 1) Chenrezig long and short mantra; 2) Namgyälma long and short mantra; 3) Milarepa’s mantra; 4) the mantra of Kunrig; 5) Medicine Buddha mantra (short); 6) Zung of the Exalted Completely Pure Stainless Light; 7) Stainless Pinnacle mantra; 8) Lotus Pinnacle of Amoghapasha; 9) Buddha Mitukpa mantra; 10) the mantras of Buddha Maitreya’s promise.

ten grounds or stages

dasha-bhumi (Skt); sa chu (Tib); sa bcu (Wyl)

The ten stages a bodhisattva progresses through once reaching the path of seeing, the first level being there, the second to seventh during the path of meditation and the eighth to tenth during the path of no more learning. See also bhumi.

ten nonvirtuous actions

mi gewa chu (Tib); mi dge ba bcu (Wyl)

Three of body (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct); four of speech (lying, speaking harshly, slandering and gossiping); and three of mind (covetousness, ill will and wrong views). General actions to be avoided so as not to create negative karma. See also the ten virtuous actions.

ten perfections

pharchun chu (Tib); phar phyin bcu (Wyl)

The six perfections plus four perfections mentioned in the Heart of Wisdom sutras (Prajnaparamita sutras) as aspects of the sixth perfection, wisdom; they are method, skillful means, prayers and transcendental wisdom.

ten richnesses

jorwa chu (Tib); 'byor ba bcu (Wyl)

Along with the eight freedoms, the defining features of the perfect human rebirth: being born as a human being, in a Dharma country and with perfect mental and physical faculties; not having committed any of the five immediate negativities; having faith in the Buddha's teachings; being born when a buddha has descended, the teachings have been revealed, the complete teachings still exist and there are still followers of the teachings; and having the necessary conditions to practice Dharma, such as the kindness of others.

tenet system

drubtha(Tib); grub mtha’ (Wyl)

A general term for a religious and/or philosophical system, whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist. It is often used as shorthand to refer to the four major Buddhist tenet systems that emerged from India. See the four Buddhist philosophical schools.

Tengyur (Tib)

bstan ’gyur (Wyl)

The part of the Tibetan Canon that contains the Indian pandits' commentaries on the Buddha's teachings. Literally, "translation of the commentaries." It contains about 225 volumes (depending on the edition).

thangka (Tib)

thang ka (Wyl)

A painted or appliquéd depiction of a deity, mandala or motif such as the Wheel of Life, usually set in a framework of colorful brocade. Artists follow strict guidelines and traditional techniques, and thangkas are rich in symbolic meaning.


The village in Solu Khumbu, Nepal, where Lama Zopa Rinpoche was born.

Theravada (Pali)

Sthaviravada (Skt); nätenpa (Tib); gnas brtanpa (Wyl)

A tradition of Buddhism that upholds the Pali Canon and the noble eightfold path, which leads practitioners to liberation (nirvana), a state free from the suffering of conditioned existence. Theravada is one of the four root divisions of the Hinayana schools and is widely practiced in Sri Lanka and most of continental South-east Asia.

Thirteen Golden Dharmas

serchö chusum (Tib); gser chos bcu gsum (Wyl)

The Thirteen Golden Dharmas of the Sakya are said to have come from the time of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092–1158). They are: the three Khechara Vajrayoginis, the three major red deities, the three minor red deities, Amaravajradevi, Red Zhambala, Simhamukha and Black Manjushri.

Thirty-five Buddhas

tungshag kyi sang gye so nga (Tib) ltung bshags kyi sangs rgyas so lnga (Wyl)

Also called Thirty-five Confession Buddhas. Used in the practice of confessing and purifying negative karma, the group of thirty-five buddhas visualized while reciting the Sutra of the Three Heaps and performing prostrations.

thirty-seven harmonies with enlightenment

jang chog sodün (Tib); byang phyogs so bdun (Wyl)

Also called the thirty-seven aids to, or factors of, enlightenment. They are: 1) the four foundations of mindfulness; 2) the four thorough abandonments; 3) the four legs of magical manifestation; 4) the five powers; 5) the five strengths; 6) the seven branches of enlightenment; and 7) the eight branches of superiors' path.

thirty-two major marks of a buddha

mahapurusalakshana (Skt); tsen zang po sum chu tsa nyi (Tib); mtshan bzang po gsum cu rtsa gnyis (Wyl)

A buddha in the sambhogakaya aspect displays thirty-two major marks and eighty minor signs; the major signs are: 1) feet with a level tread; 2) thousand-spoked wheel marks on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet; 3) projecting heels; 4) long fingers and toes (often taken as fingers the same length and likewise the toes); 5) soft and tender hands and feet; 6) web-like (reticulated) hands and feet; 7) high-raised ankles; 8) legs like antelopes; 9) ability to touch the knees without bending; 10) male organ enclosed in a sheath; 11) complexion like gold; 12) skin so smooth no dust can adhere to it; 13) separate body-hairs, one to each pore; 14) the body-hairs are bluish-black, curling in rings to the right; 15) the body is divinely straight; 16) the body has seven convex surfaces (the backs of the four limbs, the two shoulders and the trunk); 17) the front part of the body is like a lion’s; 18) no hollow between the shoulders; 19) proportioned like a banyan—the height of the body is equal to the span of outstretched arms; 20) the bust is evenly rounded; 21) a perfect sense of taste; 22) jaws like a lion; 23) forty teeth; 24) the teeth are even; 25) no spaces between the teeth; 26) the canine teeth are very bright; 27) the tongue is very long; 28) a Brahma-like voice; 29) the eyes are deep blue; 30) the eyelashes like a cow’s; 31) the hair (mole) between the eyes is soft like cotton down; 32) the head is like a royal turban (Skt: ushnisha). See also Study Buddhism, by Berzin Archives, Rigpa Shedrup Wiki and the Dhammakaya International Society of Belgium.

Thogme Zangpo (1295–1369)

Also known as Gyalse Ngulchu Thogme. A great master of the Nyingma and Sakya traditions and author of Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and a famous commentary on Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life.

thought transformation

lojong (Tib); blo sbyong (Wyl)

Also known as “mind training” or “mind transformation”. A powerful approach to the development of bodhicitta, in which the mind is trained to use all situations, both happy and unhappy, as a means to destroy self-cherishing and self-grasping.

three doors

go sum (Tib); sgo gsum (Wyl)

Body, speech and mind.