absolute truth (Skt. paramartha satya Tib. dondam) There are two truths or views of reality—relative truth which is seeing things as ordinary beings do with the dualism of "I" and "other" and absolute truth, also called ultimate truth, which is transcending duality and seeing things as they are.
acarya (Tib. lo pon) A spiritual master. (Similar to a geshe scholar)
afflicted consciousness (Tib. nyön yid) The seventh consciousness. As used here it has two aspects: the immediate consciousness which monitors the other consciousnesses making them continuous and the klesha consciousness which is the continuous presence of self. See consciousnesses, eight.
afflictions These are another name for the kleshas or negative emotions. See kleshas
aggregates, five (Skt. skandha, Tib. phung po nga) Literally "heaps," These are the five basic transformations that perceptions undergo when an object is perceived. First is form which includes all sounds, smells, etc. everything that is not thought. The second and third are sensations (pleasant and unpleasant, etc.) and identification. Fourth is mental events which actually include the second and third aggregates. The fifth is ordinary consciousness such as the sensory and mental consciousnesses.
Akshobhya (Tib. mi bskyod pa) The sambhogakaya buddha of the vajra family.
alaya consciousness (Tib. kün shi nam she) According to the Chittamatra or Yogacara school this is the eighth consciousness and is often called the ground consciousness or store-house consciousness.
Amitabha One of the five buddha family deities known as "buddha of boundless light" Usually depicted as red.
amrita (Tib. dut tsi) A blessed substance which can cause spiritual and physical healing.
analytical insight In the sUtra tradition one begins by listening to the teachings which means studying the Dharma. Then there is contemplation of this Dharma which is analytical insight which is done by placing the mind in shhamatha and putting the mind one-pointedly on these concepts. Third, there is actual meditation which is free from concept.
anuttara yoga tantra (Tib. nal jor la na me pay jü) There are four levels of the vajrayana and annutara tantra is the highest of these. It contains the Guhyasamaja, the Chakrasamvara, the Hevajra, and the Kalachakra tantras.
arhat (Tib. dra chom pa) Accomplished hinayana practitioners who have eliminated the klesha obscurations. They are the fully realized shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.
arhatship The stage of having fully eliminated the klesha obscurations.
arya (Tib. phag pa) A person who has achieved direct realization of the true nature of reality. This person has achieved the third (path of insight) of the five paths.
Aryadeva The closest pupil of Nagarjuna who became his heir. He was born in Sri Lamba and wrote the Catuhshakate and shastra.
Asanga (Tib. thok may) A fourth century Indian philosopher who founded the Chittamatra or Yogacara school and wrote the five works of Maitreya which are important mahayana works. Also brother of Vasubhandu.
assets, ten or ten endowments (Skt. dashasashpada, Tib. jor wa chu) These are the factors conducive to practice the dharma. They are being human, being born in a Buddhist place, having sound senses, being free from extreme evil, having faith in the dharma, a buddha having appeared, a buddha having taught, the flourishing of his teachings, people following the teachings, and having compassion towards others.
Atisha (982-1055 C.E.) Was a Buddhist scholar at Vikramashila University in India and came to Tibet at the invitation of the King to overcome the damage done by Langdarma. He helped found the Kadam tradition.
atman Sanskrit for a permanent "self" which exists after death.
Avalokiteshvara (Tib. Chenrezig) Deity of compassion. Known as patron deity of Tibet and his mantra is OM MANI PADME HUM.
ayatanas (Tib. kye che) These are the six sensory objects such as a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, and body sensation; the six sense faculties such as the visual sensory faculty, the auditory sensory faculty, etc. and the six sensory consciousnesses such as the visual consciousness, the auditory consciousness, etc. They make up the eighteen constituents for perception.
bardo (Tib.) Literally, bardo means "between the two." There are six kinds of bardos, but here it refers to the time between death and a rebirth in a new body.
bardo retreat An advanced vajrayana practice in which the practitioner is enclosed in total darkness.
bhagavan An honorific term for the Buddha meaning "blessed lord."
Bhrama A chief god in the form realm.
bhikshhu (Tib. ge long) A fully ordained monk.
bhumi (Tib. sa) The levels or stages a bodhisattva goes through to reach enlightenment. Also called the bodhisattva levels. Usually comprised of ten levels in the sUtra tradition and thirteen in the tantra tradition.
bindu (Tib. tiglé) Vital essence drops or spheres of psychic energy which are often visualized in vajrayana practices.
bodhicitta (Tib. chang chup chi sem) Literally, the mind of enlightenment. There are two kinds of bodhicitta: absolute bodhicitta, which is completely awakened mind that sees the emptiness of phenomena, and relative bodhicitta which is the aspiration to practice the six paramitas and free all beings from the suffering of samsara.
bodhisattva (Tib. chang chup sem pa) Literally, one who exhibits the mind of enlightenment. Also an individual who has committed him or herself to the mahayana path of compassion and the practice of the six paramitas to achieve Buddhahood to free all beings from samsara.
bodhisattva (Tib. chang chup sem pa) An individual who is committed to the mahayana path of practicing compassion and the six paramitas in order to achieve Buddhahood and free all beings from samsara. More specifically, those with a motivation to achieve liberation from samsara and are on one of the ten bodhisattva levels that culminates in Buddhahood.
bodhisattva levels (Skt. bhumi, Tib. sa) The levels or stages a bodhisattva goes through to reach enlightenment. These consist of ten levels in the sutra tradition and thirteen in the tantra tradition.
bodhisattva vow A vow in which one promises to practice in order to bring all other sentient beings to Buddhahood.
Bon (Tib.) This is the religion of Tibet before Buddhism was introduced. The religion is still practiced in Tibet.
brahamin A Hindu of the highest caste who usually performs the priestly functions.
Buddha-nature (Skt. tathagatagarbha, Tib. de shin shek pay nying po) The original nature present in all beings which when realized leads to enlightenment. It is often called the essence of Buddhahood or enlightened essence.
Buddha Gautama The Shakyamuni Buddha or the Gautama Buddha refers to the Buddha who lived between 563 and 483 B.C.E.
Buddha Shakyamuni (Tib. shakya tubpa) The Shakyamuni Buddha, often called the Gautama Buddha, refers to the latest Buddha who lived between 563 and 483 B.C.E.
buddhadharma The teachings of the Buddha.
buddhakayas (Tib. sang gye chi cho)See kayas, three.
chakra (Tib. kor lo) Literally "wheels." These are points along the central channel at the forehead, throat, heart, etc. where there is an broadening of channels.
Chakrasamvara (Tib. korlo dompa) A meditational deity which belongs to the annuttara tantra set of teachings.
Chakrasamvara (‘khor lo bde mchog) A main yidam or tantra of the new schools.
chakravartin (Tib. koro gyur wa) Literally, the turner of the wheel and also called a universal monarch. This is a king who propagates the dharma and starts a new era.
Chandrakirti A seventh century Indian Buddhist scholar of the Madhyamaka school who is best known for founding the Prasangika subschool and writing two treatises on emptiness using logical reasoning.
Caryatantra The second of the four tantras emphasizing meditation and external rituals.
Charvakas A philosophical school in India which reject the sacred scriptures and vedas, the belief in reincarnation and karma, and therefore advocated hedonism and doing whatever one wants in self-interest.
chang (Tib.) A Tibetan beer made from barley.
central channel (Skt. avadhuti, Tib. u ma) This is a subtle channel of the body which is roughly located along the spine.
Chenresig (Skt. Avalokiteshvara) Deity of compassion.
Chittamatra school (Tib. sem tsampa) A school founded by Asanga in the fourth century and is usually translated as the Mind Only School. It is one of the four major schools in the mahayana tradition and its main tenet (to greatly simplify) is that all phenomena are mental events.
chod (Tib.) This is pronunced "chö" and literally means "to cut off" and refers to a practice that is designed to cut off all ego involvement and defilements. The mo chod (female chod) practice was founded by the famous female saint Machig Labdron (1031 to 1129 C.E.).
clarity (Tib. selwa) Also translated as luminosity. The nature of mind is that it is empty of inherent existence, but the mind is not just voidness, completely empty because it has this clarity which is awareness or the knowing of mind. So clarity is a characteristic of emptiness (shunyata) of mind.
clear light (Skt. prabhasvara, Tib. ösel) A subtle state of mind and according to tantric teachings is the state of mind wherein highest realization is attained.
coemergent wisdom (Skt. sahajajnana, Tib. lhen chik kye pay yeshe) The advanced realization of the inseparability of samsara and nirvana and how these arise arise simultaneously and together.
compassion (Skt. karuna, Tib. nying je) In Buddhist terms this is the desire for liberation of all sentient beings regardless of who they are. This feeling can only be developed with extensive meditation and understanding of the Buddhist path.
completion stage (Tib. dzo rim) In the vajrayana there are two stages of meditation: the development and the completion stage. The completion stage is a method of trantric meditation in which one attains bliss, clarity, and non-thought by means of the subtle channels and energies within the body.
conventional truth (Tib. kun sop) There are two truths: relative and absolute. Conventional or relative truth is the perception of an ordinary (unenlightened) person who sees the world with all his or her projections based on the false belief in self.
convention wisdom (Tib. kunsop) There are two truths: relative or conventional and ultimate or absolute truth. Relative truth is the perception of an ordinary (unenlightened) person who sees the world with all his or her projections based on the false belief in ego.
conditioned existence (Skt. samsara, Tib. khor wa) Ordinary existence which contains suffering because one still possesses attachment, aggression, and ignorance. It is contrasted to liberation or nirvana.
consciousness (Skt. vijnana, Tib. nam shé)
consciousnesses, sensory These are the five sensory consciousnesses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and body sensation.
consciousnesses, eight (Skt. vijnana, Tib. nam shé tsog gye) These are the five sensory consciousnesses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and body sensation. Sixth is mental consciousness, seventh is afflicted consciousness, and eighth is ground consciousness.
convention wisdom (Tib. kun sop) There are two truths: relative and absolute. Relative truth is the perception of an ordinary (unenlightened) person who sees the world with all his or her projections based on the false belief in ego.
daka (Tib. khandro) A male counterpart to a dakini.
dakini (Tib. khandroma) A yogini who has attained high realizations of the fully enlightened mind. She may be a human being who has achieved such attainments or a non-human manifestation of the enlightened mind of a meditational deity.
definitive teaching (Tib. ngedon)Teachings of the Buddha which give the direct meaning of dharma and are not changed or simplified for the capacity of the listener. This contrasts with the provisional meaning.
dependent origination (Skt. pratityasamutpada, Tib. ten drel) The principal that nothing exists independently, but comes into existence only in dependence on various previous causes and conditions. There are twelve successive phases of this process that begin with ignorance and end with old age and death.
desire realm (Tib. dö kham) The realm where the six realms of samsara abide. It is called the desire realm because these beings are continually tempted by desire.
deva (Tib. lha) Sanskrit for god. In this book it refers to a more highly evolved being who is still part of samsara and therefore in need of Dharma teachings to reach enlightenment.
development or creation stage (Skt. utpattikrama, Tib. che rim) In the vajrayana there are two stages of meditation: the development and the completion stage. This is a method of tantric meditation that involves visualization and contemplating deities for the purpose of realizing the purity of all phenomena. In this stage visualization of the deity is established and maintained.
dharani A short sutra containing mystical formulas of knowledge that are symbolic. They are usually longer than mantras.
dharma (Tib. chö) This has two main meanings: Any truth such as the sky is blue and secondly, as used in this text, the teachings of the Buddha (also called buddha-dharma).
Dharma (Tib. chö) We have followed the convention of capitalizing dharma when it means the teachings of the Buddha.
dharma of realization (Tib. tog pay chö) These are the teachings of the dharma which have been derived from the realization of their teachers. These contrast with the dharma of statements.
dharma of statements (Tib. lung gi chö) Teachings based on the Buddhist scriptures. Also called scriptural dharma or the teachings of the Tripitaka.
dharmacakra (Skt. for "wheel of dharma," Tib. chö chi khor lo) The Buddha’s teachings correspond to three levels: the hinayana, the mahayana and the vajrayana with each set being one turning of the wheel of dharma.
dharmadhatu (Tib. chö ying) The all-encompassing space, unoriginated and without beginning, out of which all phenomena arises. The Sanskrit means "the essence of phenomena" and the Tibetan means "the expanse of phenomena" but usually it refers to the emptiness, which is the essence of phenomena.
dharmakaya (Tib. chö ku) One of the three bodies of Buddha. It is enlightenment itself, that is wisdom beyond reference point. See kayas, three.
dharma protector (Skt. dharmapala, Tib. chö chong)
dharmata (Tib. chö nyi) Dharmata is often translated as "suchness" or "the true nature of things" or "things as they are." It is phenomena as it really is or as seen by a completely enlightened being without any distortion or obscuration so one can say it is "reality."
dhatu (Skt., Tib. kham) There are five elements of everything in the world in Buddhism: earth, water, fire, wind, and space (or ether). The internal elements are the same but have a property associated with them so there is: earth (soldity), fluidity (water), fire (heat), wind (movement), and space (the vacuities within the body).
dhyana meditation (Tib. sam ten) The Sanskrit refers to "meditation" but in this context it refers to "mental stability" in relation to shamatha.
disturbing emotion ( Skt. klesha, Tib. nyön mong) The emotional obscurations (in contrast to intellectual obscurations) which are also translated as "afflictions" or "poisons." The three main kleshas are (passion or attachment), (aggression or anger); and (ignorance or delusion). The five kleshas are the three above plus pride and (envy or jealousy).
doha (Tib. gur) A spiritual song spontaneously composed by a vajrayana practitioner. It usually has nine syllables per line.
dorje (Skt. vajra) Usually translated "diamond like." This may be an implement held in the hand during certain vajrayana ceremonies or it can refer to a quality which is so pure and so enduring that it is like a diamond.
dream practice (Tib. mi lam) An advanced vajrayana practice using the dream state. One of the Six Yogas of Naropa (See six yogas of Naropa).
Drikung Kagyu (Tib.) A branch of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism which originated by Lingje Repa and Tsangpa Gyare.
Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193 C.E.) The First Karmapa who was a student of Gampopa and founded the Karma Kagyu lineage. He is also known for founding the tulku system in Tibet.
dzogchen (Skt. mahasandhi) This is known also as the "great perfection" or atiyoga. It is the highest of the nine yanas according to the Nyingma tradition.
egolessness (Tib. dag me) Also called selflessness. There are two kinds of egolessness—the egolessness of other, that is, the emptiness of external phenomena and the egolessness of self, that is, the emptiness of a personal self.
egolessness or selflessness of person (Skt. pudgalanairatmya) This doctrine asserts that when one examines or looks for the person, one finds that it is empty. The person does not possess a self (Skt. atman, Tib. bdag-nyid) as an independent or substantial self. This position is held by most Buddhist schools.
egolesseness or selflessness of phenomena (Skt. dharma-nairatmya) This doctrine aserts than not only is there selflessness of person, but when one examines out phenomena, one finds that this external phenomena is also empty, i. e. it does not have an independent or substantial nature. This position is not held by the hinayana schools, but is put forth by the mahayana schools, particularly the Chittamatra school.
eight freedoms (Skt. ashtakshana, Tib. tel wa gye). These are not living in hell realm, not living in the hungry ghost realm, not living in animal realm, not a long-living god, not having wrong views, not being born in a country without dharma, being mute, or being born in an age without buddhas.
eight mental fabrications or complications Not having the eight mental fabrications is to be without a beginning, without a cessation, without nihilism, without eternalism, without going, without coming, not being separate, and not being non-separate.
eight ornaments These are six ornaments or six main mahayana tachers (Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Gunaprabha and Sakyaprabha) plus Dignaga, and Dharmakirti.
eight worldly dharmas (Tib. jik ten chö gyé) These keep one from the path; they are attachment to gain, attachment to pleasure, attachment to praise, attachment to fame, aversion to loss, aversion to pain, aversion to blame, and aversion to a bad reputation.
eighteen constituents of perception See ayatanas.
elements, five (Skt. pancabhuta, Tib. jung wa nga) These are earth, water, fire, wind, and space. These elements are both the constituents of external matter and the physical components of the body.
empowerment (Tib. wang, Skt. abhisheka) To do a vajrayana practice one must receive the empowerment from a qualified lama. One should also receive the practice instruction (Tib. tri) and the textual reading (Tib. lung).
emptiness (Skt. shunyata, Tib. tong pa nyi) Also translated as voidness. The Buddha taught in the second turning of the wheel of dharma that external phenomena and the internal phenomena or concept of self or "I" have no real existence and therefore are "empty."
eternalism (Tib. tak ta) A belief that one’s self has concrete existence and is eternal.
father tantra (Tib. pha gyu) There are three kinds of tantras. The father tantra is concerned with transforming aggression, the mother tantra with transforming passion and the non-dual tantra with ignorance.
five aggregates, see aggregates, five
five aggregrates (Skt. skandha) Literally heaps. The aggregates are the five basic transformations that perceptions undergo when an object is perceived. These are form, feeling, identification, formation, and consciousness.
five actions of immediate result These are actions which, if committed, will lead to being immediately reborn in the lower realms. They are killing one’s father, killing one’s mother, killing an arhat, intentionally wounding a bodhisattva, and dividing the sangha.
five Buddhas (Tib. gyel wa rig nga) These are the five aspects of the victorious one who are Vairocanna, Asshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, and Amoghasiddhi.
five buddha families (Tib. rig nga) These are the buddha, vajra, ratna, padma, and karma families.
five dhyana buddhas (Tib. gyel wa rig nga) The sambhogakaya deities of Vairocana, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, and Amoghasiddhi. Each one represents one of the five wisdoms.
five great ones (Tib. nga de zang po) These were the first five disciples of the Buddha. They were Kaundinya, Ashvjit, Vashpa, Mahanaman, and Bhadrika.
five levels of practice See paths, five.
five major sciences (Tib. rig gnas che ba lnga) These are inner science (Skt. adhyatma), study of grammar (Skt. sabdavidya), logic (Skt. hetu), painting and the arts (Skt. Silpa), and medicine (Skt. cikitsa).
five paths (Tib. lam nga) Traditionally, a practitioner goes through five stages or paths to enlightenment. These are (1) The path of accumulation which emphasizes purifying one’s obscurations and accumulating merit. (2) The path of junction or application in which the meditator develops profound understanding of the four noble truths and cuts the root to the desire realm. (3) The path of insight or seeing in which the meditator develops greater insight and enters the first bodhisattva level. (4) The path of meditation in which the meditator cultivates insight in the second through tenth bodhisattva levels. (5) The path of fulfillment which is the complete attainment of Buddhahood.
five poisons (Tib. dug) These are passion aggression, delusion, pride, and jealousy.
five sensory consciousnesses These are the sensory consciousnesses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch or body sensation.
five wisdoms (Tib. yeshe nga) Upon reaching enlightenment, the eight consciousnesses are transformed into the five wisdoms: the mirror-like wisdom, discriminating wisdom, the wisdom of equality, the all-accomplishing wisdom, and the dharmadhatu wisdom.
form kayas ( Skt. rupakaya, Tib. zug ku) The sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya. See the kayas, three.
form realm (Tib. zuk kham) These are seventeen heavenly realms in which beings have bodies of light. See the realms, three
formless realm (Tib. zuk me kham)The abode of an unenlightened being who has practiced the four absorptions. See the realms, three
four empowerments (Tib. wang shi) These are the vase, the secret, the wisdom-knowledge, and the name empowerment.
four extremes (Skt. catushkoti, Tib. mu shi) These are a belief in the existence of everything (also called "eternalism"), a belief that nothing exists (also called "nihilism"), a belief that things exist and don’t exist, and the brief reality is something other than existence and non-existence.
four fearlessnesses (Skt. catvaravaisharadya, Tib. mi jig pa) These are four stages to be attained by bodhisattvas. They are being fearless to abandon all faults, overcoming the fear of complete realization, being fearless in showing the path, and being fearless in pointing out obscurations on the path.
four foundations of meditation (Tib. tun mong gi ngon dro shi) These are the four thoughts that turn the mind. They are reflection on precious human birth, impermanence and the inevitability of death, karma and its effects, and the pervasiveness of suffering in samsara.
four immeasurables (Skt. apramanani, Tib. tse me shi) These are four qualities one achieves with complete enlightenment that help others. They are inconceivable because ordinary persons cannot conceive of them. They are limitless loving-kindness, limitless compassion, limitless joy, and limitless equanimity.
form kayas or form body ( Skt. rupakaya, Tib. zug ku) The sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya. See the kayas, three.
four inconceivables see four immeasurables.
four noble truths (Tib. pak pay den pa shi) The Buddha began teaching with a talk in India at Saranath on the four noble truths. These are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path. These truths are the foundation of Buddhism, particularly the Theravadin path.
four ordinary foundations (Tib. tün mong gi ngon dro shi) This is meditation on the four thoughts that turn the mind towards dharma which are the precious human birth, impermanence, samsara, and karma.
four particularities These are the characteristics of buddha nature when it manifests as complete enlightenment. These are lucid clarity, purity, possessing buddha characteristics of enlightenment, and the presence of nonconceptual and analytical judgement.
four special foundations (Tib. ngöndro) These are the four ngöndro practices of doing about 100,000 each of taking of refuge with prostrations, doing vajrasattva purification mantras, making mandala offering, and doing guru yoga supplication practice.
four thoughts that turn the mind (Tib. blo do nam shi) These are realizing the preciousness of human birth, the impermanence of life, the faults of samsara, and realizing that pleasure and suffering result from good and bad actions.
four unfavorable obstacles The four obstacles that hinder one from complete enlightenment. These are hostility or dislike of dharma, strong belief in self, fear of suffering so one doesn’t enter the mahayana, and lack of helping others.
freedoms, eight (Skt. ashtakshana, Tib. dal ba gyad) These are not holding wrong views, not being born in a barbaric land, being born in a Buddhist country, having all one’s senses, not being born in hell realm, not being born in hungry ghost realm, not being born in animal realm, and not being born in god realm.
Gampopa (1079-1153 C.E.) One of the main lineage holders of the Kagyu lineage in Tibet. A student of Milarepa he established the first Kagyu monastic monastery and is known for writing the Jewel Ornament of Liberation.
ganacakra (Tib. tog kyi kor lo) This is a ritual feast offering which is part of a spiritual practice.
gandharva (Tib. dri za) A class of deities who are celestial musicians who live on odors.
garuda (Tib. khyung) A mythical bird which hatches fully grown.
gandharva (Tib. dri za) A class of deities that live of smells. They are also celestial musicians.
Gelug school One of the main four Tibetan schools of Buddhism founded by Tsong Khapa (1357-1419 C.E.) and is headed by His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama.
generation stage (Skt. utpattikrama, Tib. che rim) In the vajrayana there are two stages of meditation: the development and the completion stage. This is a method of tantric meditation that involves visualization and contemplating deities for the purpose of realizing the purity of all phenomena. In this stage visualization of the deity is established and maintained.
Gerab Dorje (Tib. Gerab Dorje also called Pramoda Vajra. The forefather of the Dzogchen lineage who received the transmission from Vajrasattva
geshe (Tib.) A scholar who has attained a doctorate in Buddhist studies. This usually takes fifteen to twenty years to attain.
ground consciousness (Tib. kunshi namshe) The eighth consciousness which has the function of storing all the latent karmic imprints of experience. See consciousness, eight.
ground, path, and fruition This is a logical method for describing something used in many Buddhist works. First one describes the beginning causal conditions (ground), then the coming together of these causes towards some goal (path), and finally the result (fruition).
guru (Tib. lama) A teacher in the Tibetan tradition who has reached realization.
guru yoga (Tib. lamay naljor) A practice of devotion to the guru culminating in receiving his blessing and blending indivisibly with his mind. Also the fourth practice of the preliminary practices of ngöndro.
Guhyasamaja tantra (Tib. sang pa dus pa) This is the "father tantra" of the anuttara yoga which is the highest of the four tantras. Guhyasamaja is the central deity of the vajra family.
Gunaprabha (Tib. yönten wö) A scholar of the seventh centuray who was of the foremost students of Vasubandhu. He is known for his work called the Vinayasutra.
Hashang Mahayana (rgya nag gi hva shang) A Chinese meditation teacher whose view was repudiated by Kamalashila.
healing nectar (Skt. amrita Tib. dud tsi) A blessed substance which can cause spiritual and physical healing.
heruka (Tib. trak thung) A wrathful male deity.
Hevajra tantra (Tib. kye dorje) This is the "mother tantra" of the anuttara yoga which is the highest of the four yogas.
hinayana (Tib. tek pa chung wa) Literally, the "lesser vehicle." The term refers to the first teachings of the Buddha which emphasized the careful examination of mind and its confusion. Also known as the Theravadin path.
how-it-is see knowledge of how-it-is.
hungry ghosts (Skt. preta, Tib. yadik) A type of being who is always starving and thirsty. This is the result of excessive greed in previous lifetimes and are depicted as having an enormous stomachs and a thin throat. See the six realms of samsara.
illusory body (Tib. gyu lu) One of the Six yogas of Naropa. See the Six Yogas of Naropa.
individual absorption or withdrawal. (Skt. pratyahara) This is the first of the stages of the completion phase of practice.
Indra (Tib. brgua byin) The chief god of the realm of desire and said to reside on the top of Mt. Meru.
Indrabodhi (Tib. rgyal po indra bodhi) An Indian king during the time of the Buddha who become an accomplished master.
insight meditation (Skt. vipashyana, Tib. lhak thong) Meditation that develops insight into the nature of mind. The other main meditation is shamatha meditation.
insight meditation (Skt. vipashyana, Tib. lhak tong) Meditation that develops insight into the nature of phenomena. In the Theravada tradition this involves observing every thought in daily life. In the vajrayana it involves more a close examination of the emptiness of phenomena. The other main meditation is shamatha meditation.
interdependence (Skt. pratityasamutpada, Tib. tren drel) Also called dependent origination. The principal that nothing exists independently, but comes into existence only on dependency of various previous causes and conditions. There are twelve successive phases of this process that begin with ignorance and end with old age and death.
interdependent origination (Skt. pratityasamutpada, Tib. tren drel) The twelve successive phases that begins with ignorance and ends with old age and death.
Jamgön Kongtrul (1813-1899 C.E.) Also known as Lodro Thaye. He was best known for founding the rimay movement which is a non-sectarian, eclectic movement which preserved the various practice lineages that were on the verge of extinction. He also was a prolific writer of ninety volumes.
jealous gods (Skt. asura, Tib. lha ma yin) A type of beings residing in the six realms of samsara who are characterized as being very jealous.
jnana (Tib. ye she) Enlightened wisdom which is beyond dualistic thought.
Kadam (Tib.) One of the major schools in Tibet. It was founded by Atisha (993-1054 C.E.). A follower is a Kadampa.
Kadampa (Tib.) One of the major schools in Tibet. It was founded by Atisha (993-1054 C.E.)
Kagyu (Tib.) One of the four major schools of Buddhism in Tibet. It was founded by Marpa and is headed by His Holiness Karmapa. The other three are the Nyingma, the Sakya, and the Gelupa schools.
Kalachakra (Tib. du kyi khor lo) A well known meditation deity of the Anuttarayoga tantra and is associated with the myth of Shambhala.
Kalacakra (Tib. du kyi khor lo) One of the most well known meditational deities of the Anuttarayogatantra. This practice involves a complex system of cosmology and is related to the kingdom of Shambhala.
kalpa (Tib., Skt. yuga) An eon which lasts in the order of millions of years.
Kamalashila An eighth century scholar in India who was a student of Shantarakshita and is best known for coming to Tibet and debating and defeating the Chinese scholar Hashang Mahayana at Samye monastery and then writing the Stages of Meditation.
Kangyur (Tib.) The Tibetan collection of 104 volumes of the words of the Buddha. The other great collection are the commentaries called the Tengyur.
karma (Tib. lay) Literally "action." Karma is a universal law that when one does a wholesome action one’s circumstances will improve and when one does an unwholesome action negative results will eventually occur from the act.
Karma Kagyu (Tib.) One of the eight schools of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism which is headed by His Holiness Karmapa.
Karma Pakshi (1206-1283 C.E.) The Second Karmapa who was known for his miraculous activities.
Karmapa The title of seventeen successive incarnations of Dusum Khyenpa who has headed the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Kashyapa Buddha The buddha who lived before the present Shakyamuni buddha.
kayas, three (Tib. ku sum) There are three bodies of the Buddha: the nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya and dharmakaya. The dharmakaya, also called the "truth body," is the complete enlightenment or the complete wisdom of the Buddha which is unoriginated wisdom beyond form and manifests in the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya. The sambhogakaya, also called the "enjoyment body," manifests only to bodhisattvas. The nirmanakaya, also called the "emanation body," manifests in the world and in this context manifests as the Shakyamuni Buddha.
key instructions Sometimes called the quintessential instructions. These are instructions given directly from guru to student concerning meditation on the nature of mind. While some of these are written down, there are many passed on orally.
kiang (Tib.) A wild Tibetan ass.
khenpo (Tib.) A title of someone who has completed ten year’s study of Buddhism. It can also mean an abbot of a monastery.
klesha (Tib. nyön mong) The emotional obscurations (in contrast to intellectual obscurations) which are also translated as "disturbing emotions" or "poisons." The three main kleshas are (passion or attachment), (aggression or anger); and (ignorance or delusion). The five kleshas are the three above plus pride and (envy or jealousy).
klesha consciousness (Tib. nyön yid) The seventh of the eight consciousnesses. See consciousnesses, eight.
knowledge of how-it-is (Tib. ji ta ba) This is transcendent knowledge (jnana) of the true nature of reality, not as it appears to individuals in samsara.
knowledge of variety (Tib. ji nye pa) This is the transcendent knowledge (jnana) of the variety of phenomena.
kriya tantra (Tib. ja way gyu) One of the four tantras which empahsizes personal purity.
Kuntuzangpo (Skt. Samantrabhadra) This is the primordial dharmakaya buddha. It is said that at the beginning Samantrabhadra saw the separation of "I" and "other" and was not fooled by it, unlike everyone else.
kusali (Tib.) There are two approaches; one is to study the Buddhist texts and the other is to meditate directly with little study which is the kusulu way.
Kyobpa Jigten Sumgo (1143-1217 C.E.) Was the founder of the Drikung branch of the Kagyu lineage.
lama (Skt. guru) A spiritual teacher.
lamdre (Tib., Skt. margaphala) A set of instructions outlining the entire mahayana path which originated with the India yogin Virupa and which was passed on to the Sakya school. It emphasizes the deity Hevajra.
latent karmic imprints (Skt. vasana, Tib. pakchak) Every action and that a person does has an imprint which is stored in the eighth consciousness. These latencies express themselves later by leaving the eighth consciousness and entering the sixth consciousness upon being stimulated by external experience.
left channel (Skt. lalana) This subtle channel is parallel to the central channel and is usually visualized as white. The left, central, and right channels are the three principle channels within the body which conduct the subtle airs.
life maintaining energy (Skt. prana, Tib. bindu) This is the subtle energy which gives the inanimate body the energy to be a living system. It flows in channels called nadis.
lopon (Skt. acarya) A spiritual master. (Similar to a geshe scholar)
lotsawa This is Sanskrit for "translator."
lovingkindness (Skt. maitri, Tib. jam pa) This is compassion for oneself and is a prerequisite to compassion for others (Skt. karuna).
luminosity (Tib. selwa) In the third turning everything is void, but this voidness is not completely empty because it has luminosity. Luminosity or clarity allows all phenomena to appear and is a characteristic of emptiness (Skt. shunyata).
lung (Tib.) This is a Tibetan word for ritual reading. In order to perform a vajrayana practice, one must have a holder of the lineage read the text straight through (Tib. lung), give an explanation of the practice (Tib. tri) and give the empowerment for the practice (Tib. wang).
Madhyamaka (Tib. u ma) The most influential of the four schools of Indian Buddhism founded by Nagarjuna in the second century C.E. The name comes from the Sanskrit word meaning "the Middle-way" meaning it is the middle way between eternalism and nihilism. The main postulate of this school is that all phenomena—both internal mental events and external physical objects—is empty of any true nature. The school uses extensive rational reasoning to establish the emptiness of phenomena. This school does, however, hold that phenomena do exist on the conventional level of reality.
maha ati (Tib. dzogchen) The highest of the tantras.
mahadevi Mother of the Buddha who died seven days after giving birth to him.
mahakala (Tib. nag po chen po or gon po) A dharma protector who is the wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara known as the "great black one" and is called Bernakchen. A chief dhamapala or wrathful protector of the dharma.
mahamaya tantra (Tib. gyu ma chen mo) The mother tantra of the annutarayoga tantra which is one of the four main tantras in Tibet.
mahamudra (Tib. cha ja chen po) Literally, "great seal" meaning that all phenomena are sealed by the primordially perfect true nature. This form of meditation is traced back to Saraha (10th century) and was passed down in the Kagyu school through Marpa. This meditative transmission emphasizes perceiving mind directly rather than through rational analysis.
mahapandita (Tib. pan di ta chen po) A very great Buddhist scholar (pandita).
mahasandhi (Tib. dzog chen) This is known also as the "great perfection" or atiyoga. One of the highest tantric teachings in Tibet.
mahasiddha (Tib. drup thop chen po) A practitioner who has a great deal of realization. These were particularly vajrayana practitioners who lived in India between the eight and twelfth century and practiced tantra. The biography of some of the most famous is found in The Eighty-four Mahasiddhas.
mahayana (Tib. tek pa chen po) Literally, the "great vehicle." These are the teachings of the second turning of the wheel of dharma, which emphasize shunyata, compassion, and universal buddha nature.
Maitreya (Tib. jampa) In this work refers to the bodhisattva Maitreya who live at the time of the Buddha. Maitreya is presently residing in the Tushita pure realm until he becomes the fifth buddha of this eon.
mala (Tib. trengwa) A rosary which usually has 108 beads.
mandala (Tib. chin kor) A diagram used in various vajrayana practices, which usually has a central deity and four directions. It also denotes a sacred location such as the mandala of the dharmakaya and this is how it is used in this text.
mandala offering One of the four ngöndro practice. See ngöndro.
Manjushri (Tib. Jampalyang) A meditational deity representing discriminative awareness (prajna) known for knowledge and learning. Usually depicted as holding a sword in the right hand and scripture in the left.
mantra (Tib. ngak) These are invocations to various meditation deities which are recited in Sanskrit. These Sanskrit syllables, representing various energies, are repeated in different vajrayana practices.
mantrayana Another term for the vajrayana.
mara (Tib. du) Difficulties encountered by the practitioner. There are four kinds—skandha-mara which is incorrect view of self, klesha-mara which is being overpowered by negative emotions, mrityu-mara which is death and interrupts spiritual practice, and devaputra-mara which is becoming stuck in the bliss that comes from meditation.
Marpa (1012-1097 C.E.) Marpa was known for being a Tibetan who made three trips to India and brought back many tantric texts including the Six Yogas of Naropa, the Guhyasamaja, and the Cakrasamvara practices. His teacher was Tilopa and he founded the Kagyu lineage in Tibet.
Maudgalyayana One of the Buddha’s ten main disciples.
meditation instructions (Tib. man ngag)
meditative absorpon (Skt. samadhi, Tib. ting nge dzin) This is one-pointed meditation and is the highest form of meditation.
mental consciousness (Tib. yid kyi namshe) The sixth consciousness responsible for analyzing the sensory perceptions of the five sensory consciousnesses. See consciousnesses, eight.
mental factors (Tib. sem yung) Mental factors are contrasted to mind in that they are more long-term propensities of mind including eleven virtuous factors such as faith, detachment, and equanimity, and the six root defilements such as desire, anger, and pride, and the twenty secondary defilements such as resentment, dishonesty, harmfulness.
Middle-way (Tib. u ma) or Madhyamaka School. A philosophical school founded by Nagarjuna and based on the Prajnaparamita sutras of emptiness.
Mipham Rinpoche (Tib. mipham rinpoche) Great Nyingma master and writer of last century.
Milarepa (1040-1123 C.E.) Milarepa was a student of Marpa who attained enlightenment in one lifetime. His student Gampopa founded the (Dagpo) Kagyu lineage.
Mind-Only school. Also called Cittamatra school. This is one of the major schools in the mahayana tradition founded in the fourth century by Asanga that emphasized everything is mental events.
mind poisons (Tib. duk). Literally means "poison" but is usually translated as "defilements" in this text. The three main poisons are passion or desire, aggression or anger, and ignorance. The five poisons are the three above plus pride and envy or jealousy.
mother tantra (Tib. ma gyu) There are three kinds of tantras. The father tantra which is concerned with transforming aggression, the mother tantra which concerns transforming passion and the non-dual tantra which concerns ignorance.
mudra (Tib. chak gya) In this book it is a "hand seal" or gestures which are preformed in specific tantric ritual practices to symbolize certain aspects of the practice being done.
nadi (Tib. tsa) Subtle channels through which the subtle energies (vayu) flow.
naga (Tib. lu) A water spirit which may take the form of a serpent. It is often the custodian of treasures either texts or actual material treasures under ground.
Nagarjuna (Tib. ludrup) An Indian scholar in the second century who founded the Madhyamaka philosophical school which emphasized emptiness.
Nalanda The greatest Buddhist University from the fifth to the tenth century located near modern Rajgir which was the seat of the mahayana teachings and had many great Buddhist scholars who studied there.
namo This is Tibetan for homage.
Naropa (956-1040 C.E.) An Indian master who is best known for transmitting many vajrayana teachings to Marpa who took these back to Tibet before the moslem invasion of India.
ngöndro (Tib. and pronounced "nundro") Tibetan for preliminary practice. One usually begins the vajrayana path by doing the four preliminary practices which involve about 100,000 refuge prayers and prostrations, 100,000 vajrasattva mantras, 100,000 mandala offerings, and 100,000 guru yoga practices.
nihilism (Tib. ché ta) The extreme view of nothingness, the nonexistence of a mind after death.
nine steps for settling the mind (Tib. semnegu) These are the ways to place the mind in meditation. They are (1) placing the mind, (2) continuously placing, (3) intermittent placing, (4) taming the mind, (5) pacifying the mind, (6) complete pacification, (7) single-mindedness, (8) complete composure.
nirmanakaya (Tib. tulku) There are three bodies of the Buddha and the nirmanakaya or "emanation body" manifests in the world and in this context manifests as the Shakyamuni Buddha. See kayas, three.
nirvana (Tib. nyangde) Literally, "extinguished." Individuals live in samsara and with spiritual practice can attain a state of enlightenment in which all false ideas and conflicting emotions have been extinguished. This is called nirvana.
noble truths, four (Tib. pak pay den pa shi) The Buddha founded Buddhism with a teaching at Sarnath, India on the four noble truths. These are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path. These are the foundation of Buddhism, particularly the hinayana path.
Nyingma (Tib.) The oldest school of Buddhism based on the teachings of Padmasambhava and others in the eighth and ninth centuries.
obscurations, two (Tib. drippa nyi) The first kind of obscuration to achieving enlightenment along the path is the cognitive obscurations (Tib. shes sgrib) and the second kind are the emotional obscruations (Tib. nyon sgrib).
Padmasambhava (Tib. Guru Rinpoche) He was invited to Tibet in the ninth century C.E. and is known for pacifying the nonBuddhist forces and founding the Nyingma lineage.
pandita (Tib. pan di ta) A great scholar.
paramitas, six (Tib. parol tu chinpa) Sanskrit for "perfections" and the Tibetan literally means "gone to the other side." These are the six practices of the mahayana path: Transcendent generosity (dana), transcendent discipline (shila), transcendent patience (kshanti), transcendent exertion (virya), transcendent meditation (dhyana), and transcendent knowledge (prajna). The ten paramitas are these plus aspirational prayer, power, and yeshe.
parinirvana (Tib. yongs su mya ngan las ‘das pa) When the Buddha died, he did not die an ordinary death to be followed by rebirth so his death is the parinirvana because it was then end of all rebirths because he had achieved complete enlightenment.
path, Buddhist (Tib. lam) The path refers to the process of attaining enlightenment. Path may also refer to part of the threefold logic of ground, path, and fruition.
path of skillful means The skillful means used by enlightened beings to present the dharma, taking the person’s capabilities and propensities into account.
paths, five (Tib. lam nga) Traditionally, a practitioner goes through five stages or paths to enlightenment. These are (1) The path of accumulation which emphasizes purifying one’s obscurations and accumulating merit. (2) The path of junction or application in which the meditator develops profound understanding of the four noble truths and cuts the root to the desire realm. (3) The path of insight or seeing in which the meditator develops greater insight and enters the first bodhisattva level. (4) The path of meditation in which the meditator cultivates insight in the second through tenth bodhisattva levels. (5) The path of fulfillment which is the complete attainment of Buddhahood.
phowa (Tib.) An advanced tantric practice concerned with the ejection of consciousness at death to a favorable realm.
pointing-out instruction (Tib. ngo troe chi dama pa) A direction instruction on the nature of the mind which a guru gives the student when the student is ready for the instructions. It takes many forms—slapping the student with a shoe, shouting at him or her—and is individual to each teacher and each student.
poisons, three (Tib. duk sum) The three poisons or major defilements also called desire or attachment, anger or aggression, and ignorance or bewilderment.
Pomodrupa (Tib. phag mo grub pa) Student of Gampopa who founded the eight lesser schools of the Kagyu lineage.
prajna (Tib. she rab) In Sanskrit it means "perfect knowledge" and can mean wisdom, understanding, or discrimination. Usually it means the wisdom of seeing things from a high (e.g. non-dualistic) point of view.
Prajnaparamita (Tib. sherab chi parol tu chin pa) The Buddhist literature outlining the mahayana path and emptiness written mostly around the second century.
Pramana (Tib. tse ma) The study of the theory of knowledge.
prana (Tib. bindu) Life supporting energy.
pratyekabuddha (Tib. rang sang gye)Literally, solitary realizer. A realized hinayana practitioner who has achieved the knowledge of how it is and variety, but who has not committed him or herself to the bodhisattva path of helping all others.
pointing-out instruction (Tib. ngo sprod kyi gdama pa) A direction instruction on the nature of the mind which a guru gives the student when the student is ready for the instructions. It takes many forms—slapping the student with a shoe, shouting at him or her—and is individual to each teacher and each student.
provisional teaching (Tib. drang dön) The teachings of the Buddha which have been simplified or modified to the capabilities of the audience. This contrasts with the definitive meaning.
pratimoksha vows (Tib. so sor tar pa) The vows of not killing, stealing, lying, etc. which are taken by monks and nuns.
preliminary practices (Tib. ngöndro)The four preliminary practices which are done before doing yidam practice. See ngöndro.
pure realm (Tib. dag zhing) Realms created by buddhas which are totally free from suffering and dharma there can be received directly. These realms are presided over by various buddhas such as Amitabha, Avalokiteshvara, and Maitreya who presides over Tushita.
Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339 C.E.) The Third Karmapa known for writing a series of texts widely used in the Kagyu school.
Rangton School (Tib.) The Madhyamika or Middle-way school divided into two major schools: the Rongtong which maintains voidness is devoid of inherent existence and Shentong which maintains voidness is indivisible from luminosity.
ratna (Tib. kern cho) Literally "a jewel" but in this context refers to the three jewels which are the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.
Ratnasambhava (Tib. rinchen jungné) The sambhogakaya buddha of the ratna family.
realms, three Existence in samsara is in one of three realms: the desire realm in which beings are reborn into bodies in the six realms of samsara based on their karma; the form realm in which beings, due to the power of their meditations, are born with immaterial bodies; the formless realm in which beings with meditative absorption have entered a state of meditation after death, where the processes of thoughts and perception have ceased, and there are thus no bodies, and no actual realms, environments, or locations.
refuge (Tib. kyab, trs. skyabs) In the Buddhist context to take refuge means to accept the Buddha and the Buddhist teachings as the path one wants to takes.
relative truth (Tib. kun sop) There are two truths: relative and absolute. Relative truth is the perception of an ordinary (unenlightened) person who sees the world with all his or her projections based on the false belief in self.
ringsel (Tib.) Tiny round rocks of sacred substances found in the ashes
rinpoche Literally, "very precious" and is used as a term of respect for a Tibetan guru.
rishi A holy Hindu sage or saint.
rolong (Tib.) A Tibetan zombie.
root lama (Tib. tsa way lama) A teacher whom which one has received the instructions and empowerments that form the core of one’s practice.
rupakaya (Tib. zuk kyi ku) The form bodies which encompass the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya.
sadhana (Tib. drup tap) A tantric ritual text which details how to attain meditative realization of a specific mandala of deities.
Shakyamuni Buddha (Tib. shakya tubpa) The Shakyamuni Buddha, often called the Gautama Buddha, refers to the latest Buddha who lived between 563 and 483 B.C.E.
Shakya (Tib. sa skya) One of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It was established by Drogmi Lotsawa in the eleventh century.
Shakya Pandita A hereditary head of the Shakya lineage. A great scholar (1181-1251 C.E.) who was an outspoken opponent of the Kagyu teachings. He also became head of the Tibetan state under the authority of the Mongol emperors.
samadhi (Tib. tin ne zin) Also called meditative absorption or one-pointed meditation, this is the highest form of meditation.
Samantrabhadra (Tib. Kuntuzangpo) This is the primordial dharmakaya buddha. It is said that at the beginning Samantrabhadra saw the separation of "I" and "other" and was not fooled by it unlike everyone else.
shamatha or tranquility meditation (Tib. shinay) This is basic sitting meditation in which one usually follows the breath while observing the workings of the mind while sitting in the cross-legged posture. The main purpose of shamatha meditation is to settle or tame the mind so that it will stay where one places it.
samaya (Tib. dam sig) The vows or commitments made in the vajrayana which can be to a teacher or to a practice.
Sashkhya (Tib. grongs can pa) A Buddhist school which holds the non-Buddhist view that all objects of knowledge can be enumerated into 25 categories of phenomena. They believe in the "fundamental principle" which is partless, permeanent, and pervades all phenomena.
sambhogakaya (Tib. long chö dzok ku) There are three bodies of the Buddha and the sambhogakaya, also called the "enjoyment body," is a realm of the dharmakaya which only manifests to bodhisattvas. See the three kayas.
sampannakrama (Tib. dzo rim) In the vajrayana there are two stages of meditation: the development and the completion stage. This is the completion stage. The completion stage is a method of trantric meditation in which one attains bliss, clarity, and non-thought by means of the subtle channels and energies within the body.
samsara (Tib. kor wa) Conditioned existence of ordinary life in which suffering occurs because one still possesses attachment, aggression, and ignorance. It is contrasted to nirvana.
samvrtikaya There is the body of ultimate truth (Skt. paramarthakaya) and the body of relative truth (Skt. samvrtikaya). This is the embodiment of relative truth.
Samye temple The first monastery build in Tibet probably in 750-770 C.E.
sangha (Tib. gen dun) These are the companions on the path. They may be all the persons on the path or the noble sangha, which are the realized ones.
Saraha One of the eighty-four mahasiddhas of India who was known for his spiritual songs about mahamudra.
Sautrantika school (Tib. do dé pe) One of the four major schools of Indian Buddhism. This is a hinayana school.
secret mantra (Tib. sang ngak) A name for the vajrayana.
self-knowledge (Tib. rang rig) This is a high meditation in which one looks directly at mind itself with no conceptualization to determine the characteritics of reality.
selflessness (Tib. dag me) Also called egolessness. In two of the hinayana schools (Vaibhashika and Sautrantika) this referred exclusively to the fact that "a person" is not a real permanent self, but rather just a collection of thoughts and feelings. In two of the mahayana schools (Chittamatra and Madhyamaka) this was extended to mean there was no inherent existence to outside phenomena as well.
selwa Tibetan for luminosity. In the vajrayana everything is void, but this voidness is not completely empty because it has luminosity. Luminosity or clarity allows all phenomena to appear and is a characteristic of emptiness (shunyata).
sending and taking practice (Tib. tong len) A meditation practice promulgated by Atisha in which the practitioner takes on the negative conditions of others and gives out all that is positive.
seven patriarches (Tib. tarab dun) These were the seven great teachers and major holders of Buddhism and were Mahakashyapa, Ananada, Upagupta, Canavasika, Dhitika, Krisna, and Mahasudarchana.
Shantarakshita (eighth century C.E.) An abbot of Nalanda University who was invited by King Trisong Detsen to come to Tibet. He established Samye Monastery and thus helped introduce Buddhism in Tibet.
Shantideva (675- 725 C.E.) A great bodhisattva who lived in 7th and 8th century in India known for his two works on the conduct of a bodhisattva.
shinay (Tib., Skt. shamatha) Often called tranquility meditation. This is basic sitting meditation in which one usually follows the breath while observing the workings of the mind while sitting in the cross-legged posture.
Shentong school (Tib.) The Madhyamika or middle way school divided into two major schools: the Rongtong which maintains voidness is devoid of inherent existence and Shentong which maintains voidness is indivisible from luminosity.
Shariputra (Tib. shari pu) One of the buddha’s ten main disciples. He is known for his intelligence and when the sutras say, "Thus have I heard..." it is Shariputra who recited this sutra.
shastra (Tib. tan chö) The Buddhist teachings are divided into words of the Buddha (the sutras) and the commentaries of others on his works the (shastras).
shravaka (Tib. nyen thö) Literally "those who hear" meaning disciples. A type of realized hinayana practitioner (arhat) who has achieved the realization of the nonexistence of personal self.
shramana A wandering recluse at the time of the Buddha.
siddha (Tib. drup top) An accomplished Buddhist practitioner.
siddhi (Tib. ngodrup) Spiritual accomplishments of accomplished practitioners.
six oranaments These are Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, and Dharmakirti.
six realms of samsara (Tib. rikdruk) These are the possible types of rebirths for beings in samsara and are: the god realm in which gods have great pride, the asura realm in which the jealous gods try to maintain what they have, the human realm which is the best realm because one has the possibility of achieving enlightenment, the animal realm characterized by stupidity, the hungry ghost realm characterized by great craving, and the hell realm characterized by aggression.
six yogas of Naropa (Tib. naro chödruk) These six special yogic practices were transmitted from Naropa to Marpa and consist of the subtle heat practice, the illusory body practice, the dream yoga practice, the luminosity practice, the ejection of consciousness practice, and the bardo practice.
skandha (Tib. pung pa) Literally "heaps." These are the five basic transformations that perceptions undergo when an object is perceived: form, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness. First is form which includes all sounds, smells, etc. everything we usually think of as outside the mind. The second and third are sensations (pleasant and unpleasant, etc.) and identification. Fourth is mental events which actually include the second and third aggregates. The fifth is ordinary consciousness such as the sensory and mental consciousnesses.
skillful means (Skt. upaya, Tib. thab) On the mahayana level, this is one of the ten paramitas and refers to dedicating the merits of all one’s deeds to the benefit of all sentient beings. On the vajrayana level, it refers to practices of the internal yogas, which manipulate the internal energies and channels.
space (Skt. dhatu, Tib. ying)
spiritual song (Skt. doha, Tib. gur) A religious song spontaneously composed by a vajrayana practitioner. It usually has nine syllables per line.
stable consciousness See consciousnesses, five
stupa (Tib. chö ten) A dome shaped monument to the Buddha which often contains relics and remains of the Buddha or great bodhisattvas.
subtle channels (Skt. nadi, Tib. tsa) These refer to the subtle channels which are not anatomical ones but ones in which psychic energies or "winds" (Sk. prana, Tib. lung) travel.
subtle heat (Tib. tummo) An advanced vajrayana practice for combining bliss and emptiness which produces heat as a byproduct.
suchness (Skt. tathagata, Tib. de kho na nyi) This is things as they really are, not as they appear.
sugatagarbha (Tib. der sheg nying po) Buddha nature or that enlightened essence present in all beings that allows them to have the capacity to achieve enlightenment. It is closely related to tathagatagarbha.
shunyata (Tib. tong pa nyi) Usually translated as voidness or emptiness. The Buddha taught in the second turning of the wheel of dharma that external phenomena and internal phenomena or the concept of self or "I" have no real existence and therefore are "empty."
sutra (Tib. do) These are the hinayana and mahayana texts which are the words of the Buddha. These are often contrasted with the tantras which are the Buddha’s vajrayana teachings and the shastras which are commentaries on the words of the Buddha.
sutrayana The sutra approach to achieving enlightenment which includes the hinayana and the mahayana.
supreme yogi An epithet for the Buddha.
svabhavikakaya (Tib. ngo wo nyi kyi ku) The essence body and refers to the dharmakaya of the Buddha.
tantra (Tib. gyü) One can divide Tibetan Buddhism into the sutra tradition and the tantra tradition. The sutra tradition primarily involves the academic study of the mahayana sutras and the tantric path primarily involves practicing the vajrayana practices. The tantras are primarily the texts of the vajrayana practices.
Tashi Nagyal (1512-1587 C.E.) A famous teacher who wrote many texts and acted as Gampopa’s regent and presided over Gampopa’s Dakla Gampo monastery in later years.
tathagatas (Tib. dezhin shekpa)Literally, those who have gone to thusness. A title of the Buddha and bodhisattvas.
tathagatagarba (Tib. deshin shekpai nying po) Literally, the seed or essence of tathatas which is usually translated as Buddha-nature or buddha essence. It is the seed or essence of enlightenment possessed by all sentient beings and which allows them to have the potential to attain Buddhahood.
ten directions These are the four cardinal directions, their mid-directions (i.e. NE, SE, etc.) plus up and down.
Tengyur (Tib.) The great Tibetian collection of over 100 works of the commentaries (shastras) of the Buddhist works. See Kangyur.
terton (Tib.) A master in the Tibetan tradition who discovers treasures (terma) which are teachings concealed by great masters of the past.
ten powers of the Buddha These are special "miraculous" powers of the Buddha.
terma Literally, hidden treasure. Works which were hidden by great bodhisattvas and later rediscovered. They might be actual physical texts or they may come from "the sky" as transmissions from the sambhogakaya.
thangka (Tib.) A Tibetan religious scroll.
Theravada School (Tib. neten depa ) A school, sometimes called the hinayana, which is the foundation of Buddhism and this school emphasizes the careful examination of mind and its confusion.
Theravadin (Tib. neten depa pa) A follower of the Theravada school.
three immutables These are the hinayana, the mahayana, and the vajrayana.
three jewels (Tib. kön chok sum) These are the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.
three realms These are three categories of samsara. The desire realm includes existences where beings are reborn with solid bodies due to their karma ranging from the deva paradises to the hell realms. The form realm is where beings are reborn due to the power of meditation; and their bodies are immaterial in this realm. These are the meditation paradises. The formless realm is where beings due to their meditation (samadhi), have entered a state of meditation after death and the processes of thought and perception have ceased.
three roots (Tib. tsa wa sum) These are the lamas, the yidams, and the dharma protectors.
three marks of existence These are the characteristics of impermanent objects and are literally birth, present life, and death. More metaphorically, it means the object has a beginning, it has a solid existence in the present, and it decays or disintegrates into smaller constituents in the future.
Thrisong Deutsen (790-858 C.E.) Was king of Tibet and invited great Indian saints and yogis to Tibet. He also directed construction of Tibet’s first monastery (Samye Ling).
Tilopa (928-1009 C.E.) One of the eighty-four mahasiddhas who became the guru of Naropa who transmitted his teachings to the Kagyu lineage in Tibet.
tirthika (Tib. mu teg pa)A religious person who believes in a personal self. Also referred to as icchantikas.
torma (Tib., Skt. bali) A ritual object made of dried barley and butter and put on the shrine used as a symbolic offering to the dieties.
tradition of profound view (Tib. ta wa zap mo?)This tradition is one of the principal mahayana traditions in India which was founded by Nagarjuna in the 2nd century C.E. It is the Madhyamaka "middle way" that teaches emptiness of all external and internal phenomena.
tradition of vast conduct (Tib. chö pa gya chen po?) This tradition is one of the two principal mahayana traditions in India founded by Asangha in the fourth century A. D. It is the Chittamatra or "mind only" school that teaches how all phenomena are mind created. It gave rise to the mahayana traditions of Abhidharma and logic.
tranquility meditation (Skt. shamatha, Tib. shinay) A basic meditation practice aimed at taming and sharpening the mind. It is also called basic sitting meditation.
Tripitaka (Tib. de nö sum)Literally, the three baskets. There are the sutras (the narrative teachings of the Buddha), the vinaya (a code for monks and nuns) and the Abhidharma (philosophical background of the dharma).
triplistic thought The belief in the solidity of relative reality by dividing all actions into subject and object and the exchange between the two. For example, on the relative level, one (subject) does a prostration (the action between) to a buddha statue (object).
tsampa (Tib.) Dried barley flour that Tibetans eat by mixing with butter.
tulku (Tib., Skt. nirmanakaya) A manifestation of a buddha that is perceived by an ordinary person. The term has commonly been used for a discovered rebirth of any teacher.
tummo (Tib.) An advanced vajrayana practice for combining bliss and emptiness which produces heat as a byproduct. This is one of the Six Yogas of Naropa
Tushita (Tib. gan dan) This is one of the heaven fields of the Buddha. Tushita is in the sambhogakaya and therefore is not located in any place or time.
twelve deeds of the Buddha Traditionally, the Buddha performed 12 major deeds in his life.
two truths (Skt. dvisatya, Tib. den pa gnyi) There is the conventional or relative truth which is the world as we normally experience it with solid objects. The other truth is ultimate or absolute truth which is that ultimately phenomena are empty.
ultimate level (Tib. dondam)This ultimate truth which can only be perceived by an enlightened individual is that all phenomena both internal (thoughts and feelings) and external (the outside physical world) does not have any inherent existence.
Upanishads Hindu religious texts dating from the seventh century B.C.E.
upaya (Tib. tap) Literally, skillful means. This is used by enlightened beings to present the dharma taking the person’s capabilities and propensities into account.
Vaibashhika school (Tib. je trak ma wa) One of the main hinayana schools. Also called Saravastivadins.
Vairocanna (Tib. nam par nang dze) The sambhogakaya buddha of the buddha family.
vajra (Tib. dorje) Usually translated "diamond like." This may be an implement held in the hand during certain vajrayana ceremonies, or it can refer to a quality which is so pure and so enduring that it is like a diamond.
vajra posture This refers to the full-lotus posture in which the legs are interlocked. When one leg is placed before the other as many Westerners sit it is called the half-lotus posture.
Vajradhara (Tib. Dorje Chang) The name of the dharmakaya Buddha. Many of the teachings of the Kagyu lineage came from Vajradhara.
Vajrapani (Tib. Channa Dorje) A major bodhisattva said to be lord of the mantra and a major protector of Tibetan Buddhism.
Vajrasattva (Tib. Dorje Sempa) The Buddha of purification. Vajrasattva practice is part of four preliminary practices.
Vajravarahi (Tib. Dorje Phagmo) A dakini who is the consort of Cakrasamvara. She is the main yidam of the Kagyu lineage and the embodiment of wisdom.
Vajrayogini (Tib. Dorje Palmo) A semiwrathful yidam.
vajrayana (Tib. dorje tek pa) There are three major traditions of Buddhism (hinayana, mahayana, vajrayana) The vajrayana is based on the tantras and emphasizes the clarity aspect of phenomena and is mainly practiced in Tibet.
vase breathing An advanced breathing practice which has to be learned under the supervision of an experience teacher and involves the retention of the breath in the abdomen which is thus like an air filled vase.
Vasubandu (Tib. yik nyen) A great fourth century Indian scholar who was brother of Asanga and wrote the hinayana work the Abhidharmakosha explaining the Abhidharma.
Vatsipatriya (Tib. gnas ma bu pa) A Buddhist school names after its leader Vatsipatra.
vayu (Tib. lung) In Sanskrit and Tibetan can mean "wind" outside or the air that is breathed as well as the subtle airs of the body. Different kinds of vayu regulate different functions with subtle air that maintains life being called prana. In this context it refers to the subtle airs or energies that travel along the subtle channels.
victorious one One of the epitaphs given to the Buddha.
Vijnanavada Another name for the Chittamatra school.
Vinaya (Tib. dul wa) These are the teachings by the Buddha concerning proper conduct. There are seven main precepts that may be observed by lay persons and 125 or 320 to be observed by monks and nuns.
vipashyana meditation (Tib. lha tong)Sanskrit for "insight meditation" This meditation develops insight into the nature of reality (Skt. dharmata). The other main meditation is shamatha meditation.
visualization stage (Skt. utpattikrama) Also called developmental or generation phase. The practice of creating the visualization of a yidam deity along with retinue, palace, mantra, etc.
visual consciousness See consciousnesses, eight
voidness (Skt. shunyata Tib. tong pa nyi) Usually translated as voidness or emptiness. The Buddha taught in the second turning of the wheel of dharma that external phenomena and internal phenomena or concept of self or "I" have no real existence and therefore are "empty."
Wangchup Dorje (1556-1603 C.E.) The ninth Karmpapa.
wish-fulfilling jewel (Tib. yid shin norbu) A jewel said to exist in the naga or deva realms which gave the owner whatever he or she wanted. Now used mostly metaphorically.
wheel of dharma (Skt. dharmacakra) The Buddha’s teachings correspond to three levels: the hinayana, the mahayana and the vajrayana with each set being one turning of the wheel.
wisdom of nature of phenomena (Tib.ji ta ba) This is transcendent knowledge (Skt. jnana) of the true nature of reality, not as it appears to individuals in samsara.
wisdom of multiplicity or variety (Tib.ji nye pa) This is the transcendent knowledge (jnana) of the variety of phenomena.
worldly dharmas, eight (Tib. jig ten chö gya ?) These keep one from the path and they are attachment to gain, attachment to pleasure, attachment to praise, attachment to fame, aversion to loss, aversion to pain, aversion to blame, and aversion to a bad reputation.
yana (Tib. thek pa ) Literally means vehicle but refers here to level of teaching. There are three main yanas (see hinayana, mahayana, and vajrayana).
yidam (Skt. ishtadevata) A trantric deity that embodies qualities of Buddhahood and is practiced in the vajrayana. Also called a tutelary deity.
yogi (Tib. naljorpa) A buddhist practitioner who has chosen an unconventional path of practicing.
yoga Literally, union. In this text it
refers to special movement and breathing exercises that are done to enhance
meditation by clearing the subtle channels.
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