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 Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.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

Collected Topics

dura (Tib); bsdus grwa (Wyl)

A preliminary subject in the Tibetan Gelug tradition that serves as an introduction to syllogistic reasoning and systematizes and defines basic Buddhist concepts and terms.

common siddhi

sadharanasiddhi (Skt); tun mong gi ngo drub (Tib); thun mong gi dngos grub (Wyl)

Also called mundane siddhi, an attainment or realization of psychic power acquired as a by-product of the spiritual path, not considered helpful in developing toward enlightenment. Includes the various forms of common clairvoyance, invisibility, the ability to fly or travel great distances extremely quickly and so forth. For the traditional list see eight common siddhis. See also siddhi and supreme siddhi. For clairvoyance see five forms of clairvoyance.


karuna (Skt); nying je (Tib); snying rje (Wyl)

The wish that others be free from suffering.

completing karma

drubje kyi lä (Tib); 'grub byed kyi las (Wyl)

Also called finishing karma, the karmic imprints that ripen to determine the type of experiences we have when we are reborn, as opposed to throwing karma that determines the actual rebirth. There are three types of completing karma: the possessed result and two types of result similar to the cause—that similar in experience and that similar in habit, or tendency. 

compositional factors

samskara (Skt); du je kyi phung po (Tib); ’du byed kyi phung po (Wyl)

Also called conditioning factors; the fourth of the five aggregates, consisting of 49 of the 51 mental factors (excluding feeling and discriminative awareness) that compound the result—that is, they are compounding—as opposed to compounded phenomena, which refers to the result itself.

compounded phenomena

samskrta (Skt); du jä kyi chö (Tib); ’dus byas kyi chos (Wyl)

Phenomena that arise due to causes and conditions.

Condensed Advice

Shiksa-samuccaya (Skt); lab tu (Tib); bslab btus (Wyl)

An important work by Shantideva with descriptions of the hell realm.

contaminated aggregates

zagchä kyi phung po (Tib); zag bcas kyi phung po (Wyl)

The aggregates of an ordinary being that are contaminated by the seeds of delusion and therefore pervaded by suffering because they are controlled by delusion and karma.

conventional bodhicitta

kun dzob jang chub sem (Tib); kun rdzob byang chub sems (Wyl)

The altruistic mind of enlightenment; a mental primary consciousness holding the two aspirations of wishing to benefit all sentient beings and wishing to attain enlightenment in order to do this. See also ultimate bodhicitta.

conventional guru

kun dzob lama (Tib); kun rdzob bla ma (Wyl)

The manifestation in ordinary form of the absolute guru, in order to benefit sentient beings.

conventional refuge

kundzob kyabne (Tib); kun rdzob skyabs gnas (Wyl)

Also called relative refuge; the objects of refuge—the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha—as known to an obscured mind, The conventional Buddha refers to the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, and any other buddha, the conventional Dharma refers to three baskets of teachings—Vinaya, Abhidharma and Sutra—as well as the virtuous actions we do, and conventional Sangha refers to any assembly of four or more fully ordained monks or nuns living in pure vows who have yet to attain the state of arya being. Lama Zopa Rinpoche also refers to the conventional Buddha as "the Buddha that is true to the all-obscuring mind" or "illusory Buddha." See also absolute refuge.

conventional truth

samvriti satya (Skt); kun dzob den pa (Tib); kun rdzob bden pa (Wyl)

As opposed to ultimate truth, which is the understanding of the ultimate nature of reality (emptiness), conventional truth is what is true to the valid conventional consciousness. It is also called concealer truth or all-obscuring truth because, although true on one level, it obscures the ultimate nature. Conventional and ultimate truth form the important subject in Buddhist philosophy called the two truths.

cyclic existence

samsara (Skt); khor wa (Tib); ‘khor ba (Wyl)

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). It is the beginningless, recurring cycle of death and rebirth under the control of delusion and karma and fraught with suffering. It also refers to the contaminated aggregates of a sentient being.

Dagpo Rinpoche

Jampel Lhundrup. Pabongka Rinpoche's root guru for lam-rim teachings; author of the Jorchö text A Necklace for the Fortunate; his reincarnation has lived in France for many years.

daka (Skt)

kha dro (Tib); mkha’ ’gro (Wyl)

Literally, a "sky-goer." A male being who helps arouse blissful energy in a qualified tantric practitioner.

dakini (Skt)

kha dro ma (Tib); mkha’ ’gro ma (Wyl)

Literally, a "female sky-goer." A female being who helps arouse blissful energy in a qualified tantric practitioner.

Dalai Lama (b. 1935)

Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso. Revered spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and tireless worker for world peace; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989; a guru of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Darma Dodé

The eldest son of Marpa, he died at a young age and returned as the Indian brahmin Paravatapada or Tiphupa, who became important for the future of the Kagyü lineage in Tibet.

definitive meaning

nitartha (Skt); ngedön (Tib); nges don (Wyl)

One of two main ways of understanding a Dharma teaching, this one is where the content is be taken literally and not open for interpretation, as opposed to the interpretive meaning.

degenerate time, or age

kaliyuga (Skt); nyigme dü (Tib); snyigs ma'i dus (Wyl)

We’re living in one! It has five characteristics: short life spans, scarce means of subsistence, mental afflictions, strong wrong views and weak sentient beings.


ishtadevata (Skt); yidam (Tib); yi dam (Wyl)

An emanation of the enlightened mind, the meditational deity used as the object of meditation in tantric practices.


klesha (Skt); nyon mong (Tib); nyon mongs (Wyl)

An obscuration covering the essentially pure nature of the mind, causing suffering and dissatisfaction; the main delusion is ignorance and all the others come from this. See also the three poisons, the root delusions and secondary delusions.


asura (Skt); lha ma yin (Tib); lha ma yin (Wyl)

See asura.

Denma Lochö Rinpoche (1928-2014)

Born in Kham, Tibet, this learned lama studied at Drepung Loseling Monastery and was abbot of His Hoiness' Namgyal Monastery from 1986 to 1991. He is one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's gurus.

dependent origination

pratityasamutpada (Skt); ten drel (Tib); rten ‘brel (Wyl)

Also called dependent arising. The way that the self and phenomena exist conventionally as relative and interdependent. They come into existence in dependence upon: 1) causes and conditions; 2) their parts; and, most subtly, 3) the mind imputing, or labeling, them. See also twelve links.

deva (Skt)

lha (Tib); lha (Wyl)

A god existing in a state with much comfort and pleasure in the desire, form or formless realms.


Lha jin (Tib); lhas byin (Wyl)

Shakyamuni Buddha’s cousin, who was jealous of Buddha and constantly tried to harm him.