Glossary of Buddhist Terms

Full multilingual glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V Y Z

  1. Amitabha

    The Buddha of Infinite Light; the focus for Pure Land Buddhist practice in East Asia.


  2. Avalokiteshvara

    A bodhisattva, or sometimes a Buddha-figure (yidam), embodying and representing the compassion of all the Buddhas.


  3. Bon

    The pre-Buddhist spiritual tradition of Tibet.


  4. Bonpo

    A follower of the Bon tradition.


  5. Buddha

    A fully enlightened being.


  6. Buddha-family

    A group of Buddha-nature factors innately part of one's mental continuum that transform into various aspects of a Buddha.


  7. Buddha-field

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


  8. Buddha-figure

    An emanated form of a Buddha, in which tantric practitioners visualize themselves as a method for attaining the physical bodies of a Buddha.


  9. Buddha-nature

    A factor imputable on the tainted mind of a limited being (sentient being) that transforms into or allows for the attainment of enlightenment.


  10. Buddhahood

    The enlightened state of a Buddha.


  11. Buddhatva

    The enlightened state of a Buddha.


  12. Chenrezig

    A bodhisattva, or sometimes a Buddha-figure (yidam), embodying and representing the compassion of all the Buddhas.


  13. Chittamatra

    A Mahayana school of Indian Buddhism that does not assert external phenomena, but which does assert the true existence of dependent phenomena.


  14. Dharma-center

    A Buddhist institution, primarily in non-traditionallly Buddhist countries, where mostly laypersons study and practice Buddhism.


  15. Dharma-protector

    A class of forceful beings, tamed by Buddha or a spiritual lineage master, and made to take an oath to protect the Dharma and its practitioners.


  16. Dharmakaya

    The omnisicient all-loving mind of a Buddha and its voidness (emptiness) of impossible ways of existing.


  17. Dhyani Buddhas

    Western term coined for a set of five Buddha-figures representing the five aspects of an enlightened being,


  18. Gelug

    One of the New Translation traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, deriving from the reforms made by Tsongkhapa.


  19. Gelugpa

    A follower of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


  20. Great Vehicle

    The set of Buddhist texts and practices that emphasize the bodhisattva path to enlightenment.


  21. Hinayana

    A collective name for the 18 schools of Indian Buddhism that emphasize methods for attaining liberation from suffering. Theravada, practiced throughout Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka, is the only extant school of these 18.


  22. Kadampa

    A follower of the Kadam tradition, one of the New Translation Period traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, deriving from Atisha's visit to Tibet and continued as the Gelug tradition.


  23. Kagyu

    One of the New Translation Period traditions of Tibetan Buddhism., with two branches and 12 schools.


  24. Kagyupa

    A follower of one of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


  25. Kalachakra

    An anuttarayoga tantra practice for overcoming the cycles of time and attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all.


  26. Kangyur

    The collection of the Tibetan translations of the enlightening words of the Buddha.


  27. Karma Kagyu

    One of the four major Dagpo Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhsim deriving from direct disciples of Gampopa, in this case the First Karmapa.


  28. Lesser Vehicle

    A collective name for the 18 schools of Indian Buddhism that emphasize methods for attaining liberation from suffering. Theravada, practiced throughout Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka, is the only extant school of these 18.


  29. Madhyamaka

    A Mahayana school of Indian Buddhism that does not assert the truly established existence of anything.


  30. Madhyamika

    A follower of the Madhyamaka school of Indian Buddhism.


  31. Mahayana

    The set of Buddhist texts and practices that emphasize the bodhisattva path to enlightenment.


  32. Maitreya

    A bodhisattva residing in Tushita pure-land, who will be the next Buddha to come as a universal teacher in this eon.


  33. Manjushri

    A bodhisattva, or sometimes a Buddha-figure (yidam), embodying and representing the wisdom and clarity of mind of all the Buddhas.


  34. Nature Body

    The void nature of the omniscient mind of a Buddha.


  35. Nirmanakaya

    The network of grosser forms in which a Buddha appears in order to teach ordinary beings.


  36. Nyaya

    A school of non-Buddhist Indian philosophy that asserts a static, partless, independently existing atman (self) that lacks any consciousness by itself and which emphasizes logic.


  37. Nyingma

    The Old Translation Period tradition of Tibetan Buddhism deriving from Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava.


  38. Nyingmapa

    A follower of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


  39. 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.


  40. Rinpoche

    A title, literally meaning "Precious One," given to a reincarnate lama (tulku) or the abbot of a monastery.


  41. Rupakaya

    A network of physical forms in which a Buddha appears in order to benefit others.


  42. Sakya

    One of the New Translation traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, deriving from the five masters who were descendants of Kon Konchog-gyalpo.


  43. Sakyapa

    A follower of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


  44. Samantabhadra

    (1) A bodhisattva representing the enlightening influence and activity of all the Buddhas. (2) In Nyingma, the primordial Buddha, representing the primordial purity of all phenomena.


  45. Sambhogakaya

    The network of subtle forms, which make full use of the Mahayana teachings, and in which a Buddha appears in order to teach arya bodhisattvas


  46. Samkhya

    A school of non-Buddhist Indian philosophy that asserts a static, partless, independetly existing purusha (self) that has consciousness as its quality and 24 types of primal matter (prakrti).


  47. Sangha

    Four or more people from any of the four groups of the monastic community: full or novice monks or nuns and who have unlabored renunciation and are thus intent on ridding themselves of disturbing emotions and attitudes and thus attaining liberation.


  48. Sarvastivada

    One of the 18 divisions of the Hinayana tradition of Buddhism and, within which, Vaibhashika and Sautrantika are subdivisions.


  49. Shakyamuni

    The Able One of the Shakya Clan, the Sage of the Shakya Clan, an epithet of Gautama Buddha.


  50. Six-Session Yoga

    In Gelug, a practice, recited six times daily, required of those who have received an anuttarayoga empowerment.


  51. Svatantrika

    A subdivision of the Madhyamaka school within the Indian Buddhist tenet systems.


  52. Tara

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


  53. Tathagata

    An epithet of a Buddha.


  54. Tengyur

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


  55. Theravada

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


  56. 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).


  57. Three Gems

    The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.


  58. Three Jewels

    The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.


  59. Triple Gem

    The Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.


  60. Triumphant One

    An epithet of a Buddha.


  61. Vairochana

    One of the five Dhyani Buddhas (Five Tathagatas), representing the pure physical bodies of all the Buddhas.


  62. Vajradhara

    The principal Buddha-figure in the father tantras of anuttarayogatantra.


  63. Vajrapani

    A Buddha-figure representing the powerful abilities of all the Buddhas.


  64. Vajrasattva

    A Buddha-figure representing the purity of the mind.


  65. Vajrayana

    The division of Mahayana Buddhism that employs the methods of tantra.


  66. Vajrayogini

    A female Buddha-figure prominent in the mother class of anuttarayoga tantra.


  67. Yogachara

    Another name for the Chittamatra school of Indian Buddhism; also called Vijnanavada.


  68. abhidharma

    Special topics of knowledge, studied in Buddhism to develop discriminating awareness and understanding of all that exists.


  69. aggregates

    The five networks of ever-changing objects and mental factors that make up each moment of someone's experience.


  70. ahimsa

    The mental factor of not wishing to cause harm to others, combined with the wish for them to be free of whatever sufferings they may have.


  71. alayavijnana

    An individual consciousness that underlies all cognition and carries a person's karmic tendencies and habits as well as the mental impressions of memories, in the sense that they are imputed on it.


  72. alertness

    The mental factor that checks the condition of mindfulness's mental hold on the object of focus. It sees if the mental hold has been lost or is too weak or too tight due to flightiness of mind or mental dullness.


  73. all-encompassing foundation consciousness

    An individual consciousness that underlies all cognition and carries a person's karmic tendencies and habits as well as the mental impressions of memories, in the sense that they are imputed on it.


  74. analytical meditation

    A method for habituating oneself to an understanding by focusing on an object and generating the understanding by investigating it roughly, scrutinizing it in detail and applying a line reasoning that one has already understood and become convinced of its validity.


  75. anatman

    The total absence of a "soul" inside a person's body and mind or inside any validly knowable phenomenon that establishes its existence in some impossible way.


  76. anger

    A root disturbing emotion, aimed at another limited being, one's own suffering, or situations entailing suffering, and which is impatient with them and wishes to get rid of them, such as by damaging or hurting them, or by striking out against them. It is based on regarding its object as unattractive or repulsive by its very nature.


  77. antigod

    A class of beings that fight continually with the gods.


  78. anuttarayoga

    The fourth or highest class of Buddhist tantra practice.


  79. anuyoga

    In the Nyingma system, the second of the three inner classes of tantra.


  80. appearance

    The nonstatic, everchanging content that arises each moment in mental activity.


  81. apprehend

    To cognitively take an object of cognition both correctly and decisively.


  82. arhat

    Someone who has attained liberation (nirvana) from uncomtrollably recurring rebirth (samsara).


  83. arya

    Someone who has attained nonconceptual cognition of the four noble truths.


  84. arya bodhisattva

    A bodhisattva that has attained nonconceptual cognition of the four noble truths and their voidness (emptiness).


  85. ascertainment

    A decisive cognition of a cognitive object.


  86. atiyoga

    In the Nyingma system, the third of the three classes of inner tantras, equivalent to dzogchen.


  87. atman

    A static, partless, independent self or soul of a person.


  88. attachment

    The disturbing emotion that exaggerates the good qualities of an object that one possesses and does not wish to let go of it.


  89. attention

    The ever-functioning mental factor that engages mental activity with a specific cognitive object. The cognitive engagement may be merely to pay some level of attention to the object (strong or weak), or to focus on the object in a certain way (painstakingly, effortlessly, etc.), or to consider the object in a certain way (concordantly or discordantly). Also called: paying attention, consideration, take to mind, taking to mind.


  90. audio category

    The conceptual category of the sound of a word or name, in which the sound of all individual pronunciations of the word or name fit.


  91. awakened state

    The state of a fully enlightened Buddha.


  92. awareness

    The most general, all-inclusive term for cognizing an object.


  93. bardo

    The state of existence inbetween rebirths.


  94. bare cognition

    Cognition of a cognitive object without that cognition being through the medium of a concept or category.


  95. bhagavan

    An epithet of the Buddha.


  96. bhikkhu

    A fully ordained male monastic in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.


  97. bhikkhuni

    A fully ordained female monastic in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.


  98. bhikshu

    A fully ordained male monastic in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.


  99. bhikshuni

    A fully ordained female monastic in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.


  100. bhumi

    The ten progressive levels of mind of an arya bodhisattva, spanning the path of seeing and path of meditation.


  101. bodhi

    The state of a shravaka arhat, pratyekabuddha arhat or a Buddha.


  102. bodhichitta

    A mind, accompanied by love and compassion, focused on one's own individual not-yet-happening enlightenment, validly imputable on the basis of the Buddha-nature factors of one's mental continuum, with the intention to attain that enlightenment and to benefit others by means of that attainment.


  103. bodhisattva

    Someone who has developed an unlabored bodhichitta aim to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.


  104. bodhisattva vows

    The set of restraints from committing certain actions that would be detrimental to achieving enlightenment.


  105. body mandala

    A network of Buddha-figures arranged inside the body of a Buddha-figure (yidam).


  106. bond

    A type of behavior or attitude that maintains a close connection with either a certain tantra or a certain spiritual master.


  107. cakravartin

    A cosmic emperor ruling with a wheel of authority over several island-worlds (continents).


  108. calm abiding

    A state of mind stilled of all flightiness and dullness, settled with lasting concentration on an object and accompanied by an exhilarating sense of fitness.


  109. caring attitude

    The mental factor that takes seriously the situations of others and oneself, and the effects of one's actions on others and on oneself, and which consequently causes one to build up as a habit constructive attitudes and behavior and safeguards against leaning toward tainted or destructive attitudes and behavior. Also translated as "carefulness."


  110. chakra

    A subtle energy node or hub in the subtle body of a human, from which a varied number of energy-channels (nadi) spread out.


  111. chakravartin

    A cosmic emperor ruling with a wheel of authority over several island-worlds (continents).


  112. charya tantra

    In Tibetan Buddhist schools, the second class of tantra practice, which equally emphasizes external behavior and internal methods.


  113. chod

    An advanced tantra practice for cutting off attachment to one's body.


  114. circumambulate

    The practice of walking slowly around an object of veneration, such as a stupa, Buddhist temple or holy place, as a show of respect.


  115. clarity

    The ability, mental activity or event of making cognitive objects arise – or giving rise to cognitive objects – so that they can be cognized; a defining characteristic of mind.


  116. clear light

    The subtlest level of mental activity.


  117. clear light mind

    The subtlest level of mental activity.


  118. close bond

    A type of behavior or a state of mind, which, when practiced, maintains a close connection with either a certain tantra or a certain spiritual master.


  119. closed-mindedness

    A mental factor of being naive about cause and effect or about reality, and being stubbornly closed to any suggestions from someone else.


  120. cognition

    The most general term for the act of knowing something, but without necessarily knowing what it is or what it means.


  121. cognitive sensor

    The dominating condition that determines the type of cognition a way of being aware of something is, for instance the photosensitive cells of the eyes.


  122. collective karma

    Karmic tendencies and potential built up jointly by a group of beings, the results of which they experience in common.


  123. compassion

    The wish for someone to be free from suffering and from the causes for suffering.


  124. complete stage

    The second stage of anuttarayoga tantra practice, in which everything is now complete for engaging in the practices that act as the immediate causes for reaching enlightenment.


  125. completion stage

    The second stage of anuttarayoga tantra practice, in which everything is now complete for engaging in the practices that act as the immediate causes for reaching enlightenment.


  126. concentration

    The mental factor that keeps the mental activity focused and abiding with continuity on an object. It may vary in intensity from weak to strong.


  127. concept

    A general term for a mental category.


  128. consciousness

    A class of ways of being aware of something that cognizes merely the essential nature of its object, such as its being a sight, a sound, a mental object, etc.


  129. constructive

    States of mind, or physical, verbal, or mental actions motivated by them, which ripen into happiness to be experienced by the person on whose mental continuum they occur. Since the term carries no connotation of moral judgment, the translation "virtuous" is misleading for this term.


  130. constructive actions

    Physical, verbal or mental actions that ripen into happiness to be experienced by the person on whose mental continuum they occur.


  131. contacting awareness

    The mental factor that differentiates that the object of a cognition is pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.


  132. conventional truth

    A true fact about a phenomenon that veils or conceals a deeper true fact about the same phenomenon.


  133. craving

    The mental factor of a strong longing desire either not to be parted from a feeling of happiness, to be parted from a feeling of unhappiness, or for a neutral feeling in deep meditation not to decline.


  134. crown chakra

    In the anuttarayoga class of Buddhist tantra, the subtle energy-hub located at the crown of the head in the central channel of the subtle body.


  135. daka

    A male figure that helps a practitioner to attain blissful awareness of voidness (emptiness) and enlightenment.


  136. dakini

    A female figure that helps a practitioner to attain blissful awareness of voidness (emptiness) and enlightenment.


  137. dana

    Generosity, the willingness to give to everyone everything that one has.


  138. deceptive appearance

    A cognitive object that appears to exist in a manner different from the way in which it actually exists.


  139. dedication

    A prayer for the attainment of a spiritual goal, in which positive force (merit) is directed toward achiving that goal.


  140. dedication prayer

    A prayer for the attainment of a spiritual goal, in which positive force (merit) is directed toward achiving that goal.


  141. deep awareness

    In the context of the five types of deep awareness, a type of principal awareness that all beings have as an aspect of Buddha-nature. It is "deep" in the sense that it is a fundamental way in which the mind works and has always been there, primordially, with no beginning and no end.


  142. deluded awareness

    A primary consciousness that is aimed at the all-encompassing foundation consciousness (alayavijnana) in the Chittamatra system and grasps at it to be the "me" to be refuted.


  143. dependent arising

    The reliance of something on something other than itself for establishing or accounting for its existence. Also translated as "dependent origination."


  144. dependent origination

    The reliance of something on something other than itself for establishing or accounting for its existence.


  145. desire realm

    Of the three planes of samsaric existence, characterized by suffering, the realm in which beings are filled with sensory desires.


  146. destructive

    States of mind, or physical, verbal, or mental actions motivated by them, which ripen into unhappiness or the suffering of problems or pain, to be experienced by the person on whose mental continuum they occur. Since the term carries no connotation of moral judgment, the translation "nonvirtuous" is misleading for this term.


  147. destructive actions

    Physical, verbal or mental actions motivated by a disturbing emotion, no sense of values or scruples, and which ripens into unhappiness and suffering for the person who commmits them.


  148. destructive behavior

    Physical, verbal or mental actions motivated by a disturbing emotion, no sense of values or scruples, and which ripens into unhappiness and suffering for the person who commmits them.


  149. detachment

    The constructive mental factor of bored disgust with and thus lack of longing desire for compulsive existence and objects of compulsive existence.


  150. deva

    A sentient being in the rebirth state that, out of the six states of rebirth, has the least amount of suffering.


  151. dharma

    (1) Preventive measures which, if one puts into practice or achieves, prevent the experience of future suffering. (2) Buddha's teachings. (3) Any phenomenon or "thing."


  152. discriminating awareness

    The mental factor that decisively discriminates between what is correct and what is incorrect.


  153. distinguishing

    The mental factor that focuses on an uncommon defining feature of an object as being distinct from everything else.


  154. distorted cognition

    A way of being aware of something that takes its object incorrectly.


  155. distorted view

    The disturbing attitude that regards an actual cause, an actual effect, an actual functioning, or an existent phenomenon as not being actual or existent.


  156. disturbing emotion

    A mental factor that, when it arises, causes oneself to lose peace of mind and incapacitates oneself so that one loses self-control.


  157. dorje

    A ritual instrument used in conjunction with a bell in tantric rituals and signifying skillful means.


  158. dream body

    The subtle body in which one appears in dreams.


  159. dzogchen

    A Mahayana system of practice that entails accessing rigpa, one's own pure awareness, and realizing that it is complete with all good qualities.


  160. eight worldly concerns

    Praise or criticism, good or bad news, gains or losses, things going well or poorly – eight things that one needs to avoid becoming overexcited or depressed about.


  161. eight worldly dharmas

    Praise or criticism, good or bad news, gains or losses, things going well or poorly – eight things that one needs to avoid becoming overexcited or depressed about.


  162. eightfold noble path

    Eight types of practices for developing the three higher trainings in ethical self-discipline, concentration and discriminating awareness.


  163. empowerment

    A tantric ritual that activates and empowers Buddha-nature factors to grow so that they will eventually bring about enlightenment.


  164. emptiness

    The total absence of an impossible way of existing. The impossible way of existing has never existed at all. Mostly rendered on this website as "voidness."


  165. energy-channel

    Tube-like channels in which the subtle energy-drops (bindu) are located and through which the energy-winds (prana) flow in the subtle body.


  166. energy-wind

    The subtle energy, associated with the breath and analogous to "winds,", that flows through the energy-channels (nadi) of the subtle body.


  167. engaged Buddhism

    A modern Buddhist movement for applying Buddhist principles to deal with social and political injustices and environmental issues.


  168. enlightenment

    The state of a Buddha, in which one has attained a true stopping (cessation) of both the emotional obscurations and the cognitive obscurations and has realized in full all good qualities for being able to benefit others as much as is possible.


  169. envy

    A disturbing emotion that is unable to bear the good qualities, possessions or success of others and wishes to have them for oneself.


  170. equanimity

    The mental factor of having an equal attitude toward everyone.


  171. ethical self-discipline

    (1) In Theravada, the subsidiary awareness (mental factor) to avoid doing any harm to others, by keeping one's vows, free from anger or ill-will even if others harm one. (2) In Mahayana, the mental urge to safeguard the actions of one's body, speech, and mind, which comes from having turned one's mind away from any wish to cause harm to others and from the disturbing and destructive mental factors that had motivated one to harm others. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, it becomes a far-reaching attitude.


  172. far-reaching attitude

    A mental factor that brings one to the far shore of samsara, either to liberation or to enlightenment. There are either six or ten far-reaching attitudes. Also called "perfection" or, in Sanskrit, "paramita."


  173. father tantra

    The division of anuttarayoga tantra that emphasizes practices for attaining an illusory body.


  174. fear

    The mental state of feeling helpless, hopeless and unprotected in the face of danger.


  175. fire-puja

    A tantric ritual in which one offers into a fire a large number of specific substances, accompanied by elaborate visualizations.


  176. firm conviction

    According to Asanga, the mental factor that focuses on a fact that one has validly ascertained to be true and which makes one's belief in its validity unshakable.


  177. five aggregates

    The five networks of ever-changing factors that make up each moment of each person's experience.


  178. form realm

    Of the three planes of samsaric existence, the realm in which beings have attachment to subtle forms of sensory objects.


  179. formless realm

    Of the three planes of samsaric existence, the realm in which beings have no gross form, only a subtle one, and are mostly absorbed in deep meditative states.


  180. forms of physical phenomena

    The nonstatic phenomena of sights and eye sensors, sounds and ear sensors, smells and nose sensors, tastes and tongue sensors, and forms of physical phenomena knowable only by mental consciousness, such as those that appear in dreams.


  181. four noble truths

    Four facts seen as true by highly realized beings (aryas, noble ones), those who have had non-conceptual cognition of reality.


  182. generation stage

    The first stage of anuttarayoga practice, during which one uses the powers of imagination to generate oneself in the form of a Buddha-figure (yidam) and performs a sadhana.


  183. generosity

    The mental urge that leads one to wish to give to others all that is one's own – one's body, material wealth, and the roots of one's constructive actions. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, it becomes a far-reaching attitude. Also translated as "giving."


  184. geshe

    In the Gelug tradition, a title given to those who have completed the monastic education system.


  185. gompa

    A Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The term is often used in the West for the main assembly hall or meditation hall of a Buddhist center.


  186. great compassion

    The wish for all others to be free from suffering and from the causes for suffering. Aimed equally at all beings, it regards them like a mother for her only child, and leads to an exceptional resolve to help them all and a bodhichitta aim to achieve enlightenment so as to be best able to help them.


  187. guru

    A spiritual teacher, someone, literally, "heavy" with good qualities and able to lead disciples to attain spiritual goals.


  188. guru devotion

    The respectful attitude and manner of behavior toward the spiritual teacher to whom one entrusts oneself for instruction and guidance along the path to enlightenment.


  189. guru-yoga

    A tantric practice, done with visualizations, with which one imagines that one's own qualities of body, speech and mind become joined with the good qualities of one's spiritual teacher and uplifted by them.


  190. happiness

    That feeling which, when it stops, we wish to meet with it again.


  191. hearer

    A Hinayana practitioner that strives toward liberation as an arhat based on listening to the teachings of the Buddha.


  192. hungry ghost

    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.


  193. ignorance

    Either simply not knowing or knowing in an inverted, incorrect manner either (1) behavioral cause and effect, or (2) voidness (emptiness), the total absence of impossible ways of existing. Mostly translated on this website as "unawareness."


  194. illusory body

    A body made of subtle energy-wind that one attains through advanced methods on the complete stage of the father division of anuttarayoga tantra.


  195. impermanence

    Moment to moment change, under the influence of causes and conditions; the fact that so long as a form of physical phenomenon or a mental state lasts, it does not remain static, but always changes.


  196. imperturbability

    The constructive mental factor of not wishing to cause harm in response to what others might say or do or in response to situations of one;s own or others' suffering.


  197. imputation

    A term used to describe phenomena that are dependent on other phenomena as their basis for existence and for being validly knowable.


  198. indecisive wavering

    The mental factor that is undecided about accepting or rejecting something that is true or a fact.


  199. inferential cognition

    A valid conceptual way of cognizing an obscure object through reliance on a correct line of reasoning as its basis.


  200. inherent

    Something findable within a phenomenon that establishes its existence.


  201. inherent existence

    Existence established or proven or affirmed by there being findable on the side of an object a self-establishing nature.


  202. initial scope

    The first of the three levels of spiritual motivation on the graded path – the stage at which one aims for better rebirth.


  203. initiation

    A tantric ritual that activates and empowers Buddha-nature factors to grow so that they will eventually bring about enlightenment.


  204. innate

    Things that arise with each moment of experience as an inseparable part of that experience.


  205. inner heat

    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.


  206. inner offering

    In anuttarayoga tantra practice, an offering visualized as substances inside the body, transformed into nectar.


  207. intention

    The mental factor to obtain any object, to achieve any goal, or to do something with the object or goal once obtained or achieved.


  208. interpolation

    The projection or superimposition, onto an object, of a quality or a conventional or ultimate identity that it does not have.


  209. jealousy

    A disturbing emotion that focuses on other peoples' accomplishments – such as their good qualities, possessions, or success – and is the inability to bear their accomplishments, due to excessive attachment to one's own gain or to the respect one receives. Also translated as "envy."


  210. jenang

    A tantric ritual associated with a specific Buddha-figure (yidam), received in order to strengthen further the Buddha-nature factors that were previously activated with a full empowerment.


  211. karma

    A mental urge or impulse that accounts for the compulsiveness of our behavior. The mental factor that compulsively brings the mind in the direction of a specific physical, verbal, or mental action and to engage in it.


  212. karmic force

    A general term for both the positive and negative type of karmic aftermath that is either a constructive or destructive phenomenon and which will ripen into a result intermittently.


  213. karmic potential

    A general term for either positive or negative karmic potential. The phase of a karmic force that is a type of either constructive or destructive karmic aftermath, imputable on one's mental continuum after having committed a karmic action and which ripens into a result intermittently.


  214. karmic tendency

    A type of karmic aftermath that is ethically neutral (unspecified as being either constructive or destructive), which is imputable on one's mental continuum after having committed a karmic action, and which ripens into a result only intermittently. Literally, a "karmic seed."


  215. kaya

    A corpus or body of many forms or qualities of a Buddha.


  216. khenpo

    (1) The title of an abbot of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. (2) The title given in the Kagyu and Nyingma tradition to monks who have completed the monastic education system.


  217. klesha

    A mental factor that, when it arises, causes oneself to lose peace of mind and self-control.


  218. koan

    Japanese term for keywords or phrases used as topics for meditation in the Rinzai School of Zen.


  219. kriya tantra

    The first of the four (or six) classes of Buddhist tantra, which emphasizes external types of actions, particularly ritual cleanliness and vegetarianism.


  220. labeling

    To impute (project, superimpose), with conceptual cognition, an audio category or a meaning/object category onto a basis.


  221. lack of naivety

    The discriminating awareness that is aware of the individual details concerning behavioral cause and effect or concerning reality, and which acts as the opponent for naivety about them.


  222. lam-rim

    A course of training in the Mahayana sutra teachings through which one makes progress by developing graded stages of motivation, which act as pathway minds leading to enlightenment.


  223. lama

    A highly advanced spiritual teacher.


  224. lamdre

    Literally "the path and its result," an anuttarayoga tantra system of practice transmitted in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism and deriving from the "Hevajra Tantra."


  225. liberation

    The state of an arhat (a liberated being); the state in which one has attained a true stopping of true suffering and the true origins of suffering, and thus a true stopping of samsara (uncontrollably recurring rebirth); the state in which one has attained a true stopping of the emotional obscurations.


  226. limited being

    A living being, other than a Buddha, that acts with intention and thus experiences the results of his or her behavior.


  227. listener

    A Hinayana practitioner that strives toward liberation as an arhat based on listening to the teachings of the Buddha.


  228. lojong

    A spiritual training in which one cleanses disturbing attitudes from one's mind and trains to replace them with constructive attitudes. Often called "mind training."


  229. longing desire

    The disturbing emotion that exaggerates the good qualities of an object that one does not possess and wishes to obtain it.


  230. love

    The wish for someone to be happy and to have the causes for happiness.


  231. lung

    The oral transmission of a Buddhist text.


  232. mahamudra

    Literally, "the great seal," a Mahayana meditation practice that focuses on the nature of the mind.


  233. mahasiddha

    A great tantric practitioner with actual attainments (siddhi), especially used in reference to any of a group of 80 or 84 yogis.


  234. mahayoga

    In the Nyingma system, the first of the three classes of inner tantras.


  235. mandala

    A round symbol used to represent a meaning, and most often to represent a world system.


  236. mantra

    Sets of syllables which, when repeated, protect the mind from destructive states.


  237. mara

    Demonic forces that cause interference to practitioners and those trying to accomplish something constructive.


  238. meaning category

    The conceptual category into which fit all significances (meanings) of an audio category.


  239. meditation

    The repeated practice of generating and focusing on a beneficial state of mind in order to build it up as a habit.


  240. mental consciousness

    A primary consciousness that can take any existent phenomenon as its object.


  241. mental dullness

    A mental factor faulting the appearance-making (the clarity) of the mental hold by mindfulness on an object of focus.


  242. mental factor

    A way of cognizing an object that accompanies a primary consciousness, sharing five things in common with that consciousness, and which qualifies or helps with the cognition of the object.


  243. mental stability

    Single-pointed placement of the mind on any constructive focal object, without any mental wandering.


  244. mental urge

    The mental factor that causes the mental activity to face an object or to go in its direction.


  245. merit

    The type of karmic force or potential associated with a constructive action and which ripens intermittently into transitory happiness.


  246. mind

    The cognitive activity of merely giving rise to an appearance or mental hologram of something knowable and cognitively engaging with it.


  247. mind training

    A spiritual training in which one cleanses disturbing attitudes from one's mind and trains to replace them with constructive attitudes. Often called by its Tibetan name "lojong."


  248. mind-only

    A Mahayana school of Indian Buddhism that does not assert external phenomena, but which does assert the true existence of dependent phenomena.


  249. mind-stream

    The stream of continuity of mental activity of an individual being, which has no beginning, which continues even into Buddhahood, and, according to Mahayana, has no end.


  250. mindfulness

    The mental factor, similar to a mental glue, that keeps a mental hold on a cognitive object, so that it is not lost.


  251. moral self-dignity

    As defined by Asanga, the sense to refrain from negative behavior because of caring how one's actions reflect on oneself.


  252. mother tantra

    The division of anuttarayoga tantra that emphasizes practices for attaining a clear light mind.


  253. motivation

    A state of mind entailing an aim and an emotion that draws one to reach a certain goal for a certain purpose.


  254. mudra

    A hand gesture made during a tantric ritual.


  255. naivety

    The unawareness (ignorance) of behavioral cause and effect or of reality that accompanies only destructive states of mind or behavior.


  256. name

    A combination of sounds that are assigned a meaning.


  257. negation

    An item, or a truth about an item, defined in terms of the exclusion of something else.


  258. negative potential

    The type of karmic potential associated with a destructive action and which ripens intermittently into unhappiness and the suffering of problems and pain.


  259. ngondro

    Preliminary practices done to build up a store of positive potential and cleanse oneself of negative potential in preparation for tantric practice.


  260. nirvana

    A state of release (liberation) from uncontrollably recurring rebirth (samsara).


  261. noble one

    Someone who has attained nonconceptual cognition of the four noble truths.


  262. non-returner

    A shravaka or pratyekabuddha arya that will attain liberation as an arhat in this lifetime without returning once more for samsaric rebirth.


  263. nondual

    The absence (the voidness) of a consciousness and its object as each having truly established existence, independently of each other.


  264. nonstatic

    Impermanent in the sense of changing from moment to moment, under the influence of causes and conditions.


  265. nonstatic phenomenon

    Phenomena that are affected and supported by causes and circumstances and, consequently, change from moment to moment, and which produce effects.


  266. nonvirtuous

    States of mind, or physical, verbal or mental actions motivated by them, that ripen into unhappiness or the suffering of problems or pain, to be experienced by the person on whose mental continuum they occur.


  267. obscuration

    A fleeting stain that temporarily "covers" or accompanies mental activity, preventing it from cognizing objects without suffering or other limitations.


  268. obtainer

    A set of four disturbing emotions and disturbing attitudes which, when occurring at the time of death, activate throwing karma for a next rebirth.


  269. omniscience

    A Buddha's unceasing nonconceptual cognition simultaneously of all validly knowable phenomena and their voidnesses (emptinesses).


  270. once-returner

    A shravaka or pratyekabuddha arya that will return with another samsaric rebirth only one more time before gaining liberation as an arhat.


  271. 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.


  272. path

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


  273. 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.


  274. perfection of wisdom

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


  275. permanent

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


  276. pervasive

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


  277. 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."


  278. 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.


  279. prajnaparamita

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


  280. pramana

    Valid cognition.


  281. pratimoksha

    The disciplinary code of vowed conduct for laypersons and monastics.


  282. pratimoksha vows

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


  283. pratyekabuddha

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


  284. 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.


  285. 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.


  286. preventive measures

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


  287. 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.


  288. 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."


  289. prostration

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


  290. pure awareness

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


  291. pure land

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


  292. pure wish

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


  293. purification

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


  294. rangtong

    The voidness (emptiness) of self-established existence.


  295. realization

    A stable, correct understanding of some point in the Dharma, such as voidness (emptiness), which brings about a lasting attainment and positive change in the person who has it.


  296. rebirth

    Past and future lives on the mental continuum of an individual limited being (sentient being), driven by unawareness, disturbing emotions and compulsive behavior.


  297. reflexive awareness

    The cognitive faculty within a cognition that takes as its cognitive object the consciousness within the cognition that it is part of.


  298. refuge

    A direction that one puts in one's life that will protect one from true suffering and its true causes, and, when one reaches the goal of this direction, allows one to avoid true suffering and its true causes forever. Mostly translated on this website as "safe direction."


  299. regard

    According to Vasubandhu, the mental factor that takes its object to have some level of good qualities and may be either accurate or distorted.


  300. regret

    The mental factor of not wishing to repeat doing something, either proper or improper, that one did or that someone else made one do.


  301. reincarnation

    Past and future lives on the mental continuum of an individual limited being (sentient being), driven by unawareness (ignorance), disturbing emotions and compulsive behavior (karma).


  302. relative truth

    In the Mahayana tenet systems (Chittamatra and Madhyamaka), a true fact about a phenomenon that veils or conceals a deeper true fact about the same phenomenon.


  303. renunciation

    The definite determination to be free of samsara and to gain liberation, and with which one is willing to give up true suffering and true causes. Also translated as "determination to be free."


  304. retreat

    An intensive period of prolonged, repeated meditation.


  305. rigpa

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


  306. ripening

    The process whereby a karmic cause gives rise to its result.


  307. root guru

    The spiritual teacher that inspires one the most.


  308. safe direction

    A direction that one puts in one's life that will protect one from true suffering and its true causes, and, when one reaches the goal of this direction, allows one to avoid true suffering and its true causes forever. Some translators render this as "refuge."


  309. samaya

    A type of behavior or a state of mind, which, when practiced, maintains a close connection with either a certain tantra or a certain spiritual master.


  310. samsara

    Uncontrollably recurring rebirth under the power of disturbing emotions and attitudes and of karma. Some translators render it as "cyclic existence."


  311. secular ethics

    Basic human values.


  312. seed-syllable

    A syllable, often the first syllable of a word or name, from which a Buddha-figure (yidam) is generated.


  313. self-cherishing

    The attitude with which one considers oneself as the most important being and has affection for and takes care of only oneself.


  314. self-nature

    Something on the side of an object or phenomenon that (1) establishes the existence, in general, of the object or phenomenon and (2) establishes, as well, what the object or phenomenon is.


  315. selflessness

    The total absence of a "soul" inside a person's body and mind or inside any validly knowable phenomenon that establishes its existence in some impossible way.


  316. sem

    All levels of awareness (levels of mind) that are tainted with the fleeting stains of the emotional and cognitive obscurations.


  317. sense of fitness

    The mental factor of feeling totally fit to do something, and which is both exhilarating and blissful, physically and mentally, but in a nondisturbing way.


  318. sense of values

    According to Vasubandhu, respect for positive qualities or persons possessing them.


  319. sentient being

    A living being, other than a Buddha, that acts with intention and thus experiences the results of his or her behavior.


  320. shamatha

    A stilled and settled state of mind, attained through meditation, in which the mind is stilled of all mental flightiness and mental dullness, is settled down on an object and remains there, and is accompanied by an exhilarating sense of fitness. Some translators render the term as "calm abiding" or "mental quiescence."


  321. shentong

    The absence of all levels of mind tainted with ignorance and conceptual thought.


  322. shravaka

    A Hinayana practitioner that strives toward liberation as an arhat based on listening to the teachings of the Buddha.


  323. siddha

    Someone who has attained a significant spiritual goal, such as extrasensory or extraphysical powers.


  324. siddhi

    A significant spiritual goal that one actually attains on one's mental continuum.


  325. six paramitas

    Six mental factors that, when held by the force of a bodhichitta aim and strengthed to the maximum, serve as causes for attaining enlightenment.


  326. six perfections

    Six mental factors that, when held by the force of a bodhichitta aim and strengthed to the maximum, serve as causes for attaining enlightenment.


  327. skandha

    The five networks of ever-changing objects and mental factors that make up each moment of someone's experience.


  328. skillful means

    The special discriminating awareness concerning the most effective and appropriate internal methods for actualizing the Buddha's teachings.


  329. special insight

    An exceptionally perceptive state of mind that combines the perfect concentration of shamatha with feeling totally fit to discern and understand fully the subtle details of anything.


  330. spiritual teacher

    A general term for the four levels of Buddhist teachers: a Buddhism professor, a Dharma instructor, a meditation trainer or ritual trainer, and a spiritual mentor.


  331. static phenomenon

    Phenomena that are unaffected by causes and circumstances and, consequently, do not change from moment to moment and do not produce any effects.


  332. storehouse consciousness

    An individual consciousness that underlies all cognition and carries a person's karmic tendencies and habits as well as the mental impressions of memories, in the sense that they are imputed on it.


  333. straightforward cognition

    In the Gelug Prasangika system, cognition of an object, which occurs without relying on a line of reasoning in the moment immediately prior to it.


  334. stream-enterer

    A shravaka or pratyekabuddha arya who has achieved a seeing pathway mind (the path of seeing).


  335. stupa

    A monument within which are kept the relics of a great Buddhist master.


  336. subsequent attainment

    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.


  337. subsequent realization

    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.


  338. sutra

    Discourses by Shakyamuni Buddha, both Hinayana and Mahayana, that discuss themes of practice.


  339. 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).


  340. tantra

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


  341. tantric vows

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


  342. tenet system

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


  343. terma

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


  344. thangka

    A scroll painting, usually framed in brocade.


  345. 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.


  346. three realms

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


  347. 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."


  348. torma

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


  349. total absorption

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


  350. true cause

    The true origin of suffering: ignorance (unawareness).


  351. 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.


  352. true suffering

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


  353. tsog

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


  354. tulku

    The reincarnation of a highly realized spiritual master.


  355. 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.


  356. two truths

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


  357. ultimate truth

    A true fact about something that is concealed by a more superficial true fact about the same phenomenon.


  358. unawareness

    Either simply not knowing or knowing in an inverted, incorrect manner either (1) behavioral cause and effect, or (2) voidness (emptiness), the total absence of impossible ways of existing. Translators often render the term as "ignorance."


  359. upasaka

    A Buddhist layman keeping any or all of a set of five vows.


  360. upasika

    A Buddhist laywoman keeping any or all of a set of five vows.


  361. vajra

    A ritual instrument used in conjunction with a bell in tantric rituals and signifying skillful means.


  362. valid bare cognition

    In the Gelug Sautrantika, Gelug Chittamatra, and Gelug Svatantrika-Madhyamaka systems, cognition of a cognitive object without that cognition being through the medium of a concept or category.


  363. valid cognition

    Fresh, nonfallacious cogniton.


  364. valid straightforward cognition

    In the Gelug Prasangika system, nonfallacious cognition of an object, which occurs without relying on a line of reasoning in the moment immediately prior to it.


  365. vinaya

    The scriptural texts that discuss the ethical discipline and vows for the monastic community of monks and nuns.


  366. vipashyana

    An exceptionally perceptive state of mind that combines the perfect concentration of shamatha with feeling totally fit to discern and understand fully the subtle details of anything.


  367. virtuous

    States of mind, or physical, verbal, or mental actions motivated by them, that ripen into happiness to be experienced by the person on whose mental continuum they occur.


  368. void form

    A form of physical phenomenon that is devoid of atoms and is the natural play of the clear light mind or of pure awareness (rigpa).


  369. voidness

    An absence of an impossible way of existing. The impossible way of existing has never existed at all. Translators often render the term as "emptiness."


  370. vow

    The mental factor to restrain oneself from a certain type of detrimental behavior, which, during a specific ceremony, one has formally promised to refrain from.


  371. yidam

    An emanated form of a Buddha, often with multiple faces, arms, and legs, which tantric practitioners visualize themselves as.


  372. yoga

    A practice to yoke or join oneself with something authentic.


  373. zhentong

    The natural, beginningless absence from the clear light level of mental activity of "other" levels of mental activity, which are all limited by fleeting stains.


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