Glossary of Buddhist Terms

Full multilingual glossary


  1. Tara

    A female Buddha-figure representing the enlightening influence of a Buddha (Buddha-activity).

  2. Tathagata

    An epithet of a Buddha.

  3. Tengyur

    The collection of the Tibetan translations of the Indian Buddhist treatises.

  4. Theravada

    One of the eighteen schools of Hinayana, currently practiced in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.

  5. Three Buddha-Bodies

    The networks (corpuses) of physical manifestations and mental faculties of a Buddha: Nirmanakaya (Emanation Body), Sambhogakaya (Enjoyment Body) and Dharmakaya (Truth Body).

  6. Three Gems

    The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

  7. Three Jewels

    The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

  8. Triple Gem

    The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

  9. Triumphant One

    An epithet of a Buddha.

  10. take refuge

    To put a direction in one's life, which, when one goes in it, protects one from true suffering and its true origins (causes).

  11. tantra

    The everlasting streams of continuity of the mind, the practices involving Buddha-figures, and the Buddha Bodies, plus the texts that discuss them.

  12. tantric vows

    The set of restraints from committing certain actions taken on with a yogatantra or anuttarayogatantra initiation

  13. tenet system

    A set of principles or assertions of a particular traditional Indian school of philosophy or of astronomical calculations.

  14. terma

    Texts hidden for safekeeping during times not conducive for their practice and later revealed and transmitted to disciples.

  15. thangka

    A scroll painting, usually framed in brocade.

  16. three circles

    Three aspects of an action that are all equally void of true existence: (1) the individual performing the action, (2) the object upon or toward which the action is committed, and (3) the action itself.

  17. three realms

    The threefold division of samsaric rebirth states: desire realm, form realm and formless realm.

  18. tonglen

    With love, giving one's happiness to others, and with compassion, taking on their suffering. Often practiced with visualizations and in coordination with the breath, this is a practice done in conjunction with exchanging one's attitudes about self with others. Usually translated as "giving and taking."

  19. torma

    A sculpted cone made of barley flour and butter, used as an offering in tantric rituals.

  20. total absorption

    A state of joined shamatha and vipashyana focused conceptually or non-conceptually on space-like voidness (emptiness).

  21. true cause

    The true origin of suffering: ignorance (unawareness).

  22. true existence

    The existence of something as a validly knowable object established merely by the power of something findable on the side of the object.

  23. true suffering

    The true problems in life: unhappiness, ordinary happiness that never lasts, and uncontrollably having a body and mind that supports these two.

  24. tsog

    A ceremonial round of offering a ritual feast, as well as the food offered in it.

  25. tulku

    The reincarnation of a highly realized spiritual master.

  26. tummo

    An advanced practice on the complete stage of anuttarayoga tantra in which one generates heat at the navel chakra in the central energy-channel for use in further practices.

  27. two truths

    Two true facts that can be validly known about any existent phenomenon.