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 Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.


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

wish-granting jewel

cintamani (Skt); yizhin norbu (Tib); yid bzhin nor bu (Wyl)

Also called "wish-fulfilling jewel". A jewel that brings its possessor everything that they desire.

wrong view

mithya-drishti (Skt); logta (Tib); log lta (Wyl)

A mistaken or deluded understanding that leads to suffering. In Buddhism there are various ways of defining wrong views. The most common one is as the last of the ten nonvirtues, also known as heresy, but it can also be either all five of the afflicted views among the unwholesome mental factors—the view of the transitory aggregates, extreme views, views of superiority of belief, the views of superiority of morality and discipline, and mistaken or wrong views—or the last one alone.

yabyum (Tib)

yab yum (Wyl)

Literally, “father mother,” the image of a male and female tantric deity in union, signifying the union of method and wisdom.

yaksha (Skt)

nö jin (Tib); gnod sbyin (Wyl)

Spirits, usually described in Tibetan Buddhism as blood-drinking, flesh-eating cannibals, but in other forms of Buddhism they can be either malevolent or benevolent.

yama (Skt)

shinje (Tib); gshin rje (Wyl)

A guardian of the hell realm.

Yama (Skt)

shinchi dagje (Tib); gshin 'chi bdag rje (Wyl)

The Lord of Death, seen on the Wheel of Life.

Yamantaka (Skt)

shinje she (Tib); gshin rje gshed (Wyl)

The "Destroyer of Death," also known as Vajrabhairava, "Terrifying Vajra" (Tib: Droje Jigje; Wyl: rdo rje 'jigs byed). A wrathful meditational deity from the father tantra class of Highest Yoga Tantra.

yana (Skt)

Literally, vehicle; a spiritual path that  leads to an awakened state. The vehicle and spiritual journey depends on the attitude of the practitioner. See also Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana.

Yangsi Rinpoche (b. 1968)

Recognized as a reincarnation of Geshe Ngawang Gendun, Yangsi Rinpoche became a lharampa geshe at Sera Je Monastery in south India and completed his studies at Gyüme Tantric College. Having a particular wish to benefit Western students, he founded Maitripa College in 2005 in Portland, Oregon.

Yeshe Karda (Tib)

Transcendental Wisdom Star-Arrow, a deity used in water offering practices.

Yeshe, Lama Thubten (1935–1984)

Born and educated in Tibet, he fled to India, where he met his chief disciple, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. They began teaching Westerners at Kopan Monastery in 1969 and founded the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) in 1975.

yidam (Tib)

ishtadevata (Skt); yi dam (Wyl)

Literally, "mind-bound." One's own personal, main—or, as Lama Yeshe used to say, favorite—deity for tantric practice. The deity with which a practitioner has the strongest connection.

yoga (Skt)

näljor (Tib); rnal 'byor (Wyl)

Literally, “to yoke” or “to unite.” In Tibetan Buddhism, yoga refers to the spiritual discipline a practitioner commits to in order to attain realizations, for example, deity yoga.

yoga with signs

tsän chä kyi näljor (Tib); mtshan bcas kyi rnal ‘byor (Wyl)

Within the lower tantras, the practice that involves conceptuality (“sign”), before the realization of emptiness, comparable to the generation stage in Highest Yoga Tantra.

yoga without signs

tsänma me päi näljor (Tib); mtshan ma med pa’i rnal ‘byor (Wyl)

Within the lower tantras, when the practice is imbued with a realization of emptiness and hence beyond conceptuality (“sign”), comparable to the completion stage in Highest Yoga Tantra.

Yogacara-Svatantrika-Madhyamika (Skt)

rnal ‘byor spyod pa’i dbu ma rang rgyud pa (Wyl)

The Yogic Middle Way Autonomy school, a division of the Svatantrika (Autonomy school) of Buddhist philosophy. The proponent asserts a presentation of conventionalities through mostly conforming with the Cittamatra (Mind Only school). Examples of Yogic Middle Way Autonomists are Shantarakshita, Haribhadra, and Kamalashila. See also Sautrantika-Svatantrika-Madhyamika and the four Buddhist philosophical schools.

Yogachara (Skt)

näljor chöpa (Tib); rnal 'byor spyod pa (Wyl)

Often used as a synonym for the Cittamatra school, it can also refer to a subdivision of the Svatantrika Madhyamaka school. Its followers assert a coarse selflessness of phenomena that is the same as the Cittamatrins' subtle selflessness of phenomena—the lack of difference in entity between subject and object.

yogi (Skt)

näljor pa (Tib); rnal 'byor pa (Wyl) 

A highly realized meditator.

yojana (Skt)

A measure of distance used in ancient India, said to be somewhere between six and fifteen km (four to nine miles).

yum (Tib)

Literally, "mother"; a female consort of a male tantric deity (the "father"; Tib: yab), as in Yum Dorje Nyemma Karmo, the consort of Heruka Vajrasattva.

zen (Tib)

gzan (Wyl)

The upper robe of a monk or nun.

zhi dag (Tib)

gzhi bdag (Wyl)

Landlord; place owner. Tibetan Buddhism teaches that each place has associated with it a sentient being who considers that he owns it. Offerings are made to this being to request the temporary use of that place for, e.g., retreat.

Zong Rinpoche (1905–1984)

A powerful Gelugpa lama renowned for his wrathful aspect, who had impeccable knowledge of Tibetan Buddhist rituals, art and science.

Zopa Rinpoche, Kyabje Lama Thubten ((1945–2023))

Born in Thangme, near Mt. Everest, and recognized as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama, Kunsang Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche became the heart disciple of Lama Yeshe, who later established the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). As spiritual director of the extensive network of centers, projects and services of the FPMT for almost forty years, Rinpoche’s philanthropic work has seen a proliferation of charitable projects and beneficial activities worldwide. Rinpoche showed the aspect of passing away on 13 April 2023.