Glossary of Buddhist Terms

Full multilingual glossary


  1. Prasangika

    A subdivision of the Madhyamaka school within the Indian Buddhist tenet systems that uses absurd conclusions to bring about valid inferential cognition of something to be proven or established.

  2. parinirvana

    According to Hinayana, what an arhat or Buddha attains upon death, when the stream of continuity of his or her tainted aggregates is cut, like the extinguishing of a butter lamp.

  3. path

    A level or state of mind that acts or functions as a pathway toward liberation or enlightenment.

  4. path of meditation

    The fourth of the five paths (pathway minds) that a practitioner attains on the way to achieving a purified state of liberation or enlightenment.

  5. perfection of wisdom

    The discriminating awareness of voidness (emptiness) that is conjoined with a bodhichitta aim.

  6. permanent

    Unaffected or conditioned by causes and conditions and therefore never changing.

  7. pervasive

    "x" is pervasive with "y" if, whenever "x" is the case, so is "y".

  8. positive potential

    The type of karmic potential associated with a constructive action and which ripens intermittently into transitory happiness. Some translators render it as "merit."

  9. post-meditation

    A state of mind having the joined pair of shamatha and vipashyana, and in which absorbed concentration is focused single-pointedly on a voidness (emptiness) that is like an illusion.

  10. prajnaparamita

    The discriminating awareness of voidness (emptiness) that is conjoined with a bodhichitta aim.

  11. pramana

    Valid cognition.

  12. pratimoksha

    The disciplinary code of vowed conduct for laypersons and monastics.

  13. pratimoksha vows

    The vows of either a layman or laywoman, a novice or full monk, or a provisional, novice, or full nun.

  14. pratyekabuddha

    A Hinayana practitioner during the dark ages when the teachings of a Buddha are not available.

  15. precious human life

    A human life with temporary respite or freedom from the eight states of no leisure for spiritual practice and endowed with the ten enrichments conducive for spiritual progress.

  16. preta

    One of the three worse rebirth states, characterized by the suffering of being unable to satisfy basic needs, such as hunger and thirst, and caused primarily by miserliness.

  17. preventive measures

    Steps that one takes to hold oneself back from future experience of suffering and problems.

  18. primary consciousness

    Within a cognition of an object, the awareness of merely the essential nature of the object that the cognition focuses on, for instance its being a sight or a sound.

  19. primordial mind

    Awareness that, with no beginning, has been untainted by the fleeting stains of either the emotional or cognitive obscurations. A synonym for "clear light mind."

  20. prostration

    The act of showing respect to a venerated object by bowing down to the ground or making a hand gesture of respect.

  21. pure awareness

    In the dzogchen system, the subtlest level of awareness, which is totally untainted by any of the fleeting stains of mental obscurations

  22. pure land

    A non-samsaric realm in which the circumstances are the most conducive for uninterrupted intense spiritual practice for gaining Buddhahood.

  23. pure wish

    The full determination and resolve with which one takes the responsibility to lead all limited beings to liberation and enlightenment.

  24. purification

    The removal, in stages, of the emotional and cognitive obscurations, as well as karmic aftermath, from one's mental continuum.