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The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

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Home > Glossary > Glossary English Terms

English Glossary of Buddhist Terms

This glossary is only a partial list of technical terms found on the pages of the website. From time to time, as work progresses on the glossary project, new terms will be added to the list. Sanskrit equivalents for Tibetan terms have been provided only for select terms and all diacritical marks for transliterated Sanskrit have been omitted, for ease of display on all browsers.

Choose one of the letters below to see the glossary entries that start with this letter:

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EnglishDefinitionTibetan / Sanskrit

A Hinayana school of Indian Buddhism that does not assert reflexive awareness and does assert external phenomena; a subdivision of the Sarvastivada school of Hinayana. One of the four Indian Buddhist tenet systems studied by all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Vaibhāṣhika, Great Exposition School."

Tib: Bye-brag smra-ba
Vajra Body

See: Vajra Corpus

Vajra Body, Immutable

See: Immutable Vajra Corpus

Vajra Corpus

In some dzogchen systems, the voidness factor of the deep awareness of a Buddha's pure awareness (rigpa); the unchanging nature of the other corpuses of a Buddha. Also called Vajra Body.

Tib: rdo-rje-i sku
Skt: vajrakaya
Vajra Corpus, Immutable

See: Immutable Vajra Corpus


The Diamond-strong Vehicle of Mind, within Mahayana, that makes use of the tantra methods. Synonymous with "Mantrayana" and "Tantrayana."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Vajra Vehicle."

Tib: rdo-rje theg-pa
Skt: vajrayana
valid bare cognition

Bare cognition that is fresh and nonfallacious. See: bare cognition.

Tib: mngon-sum tshad-ma
Skt: pratyakshapramana
valid cognition

(1) According to Gelug Sautrantika, Gelug Chittamatra, and Gelug Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, a fresh, nonfallacious cognition. (2) According to Gelug Prasangika and all tenet systems according to non-Gelug, a nonfallacious cognition.

J. Hopkins' translation: "valid cognition, prime cognition, epistemology and logic."

Tib: tshad-ma
Skt: pramana
validly knowable phenomena

Phenomena that can be the objects of valid cognition. Synonymous with "existents."

J. Hopkins' translation: "object of knowledge."

Tib: shes-bya
valid phenomenon

A phenomenon that is validly knowalble now.

J. Hopkins' translation: "existence."

Tib: srid-pa
valid straightforward cognition

Straightforward cognition that is nonfallacious. See: straightforward cognition.

Tib: mngon-sum tshad-ma
Skt: pratyakshapramana
Vanquishing Master

See: Vanquishing Master Surpassing All

Vanquishing Master Surpassing All

An epithet of a Buddha - one who has conquered (vanquished) all obstacles, attained (mastered) all good qualities, and gone beyond (surpassed) any of the Hindu gods for whom the epithet Bhagavan has also been applied. Some translators render the term as "Blessed One."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Supramundane Victor."

Tib: bcom-ldan-'das
Skt: bhagavan

An adjective used to describe a Mahayana practice, practitioner, person, aim, or motivation. It implies something that involves a mind that is aimed at the vastest goal (enlightenment) for the vastest number of beings (everyone).

Vast Vehicle

See: Vast Vehicle of Mind

Vast Vehicle of Mind

See: Mahayana


See: vehicle of mind

Vehicle of Far-reaching Attitudes

See: Paramitayana

vehicle of mind

A level of state of mind that acts as either (1) a vehicle for bringing one to the spiritual goal of either liberation or enlightenment, or (2) the resultant goal of liberation or enlightenment to which one is brought.

J. Hopkins' translation: "vehicle."

Tib: theg-pa
Skt: yana
verses, melodic

See: melodic verses

verses, metered

See: metered verses

verses, special

See: special verses

vertical mental synthesis

A collection or mental synthesis that extends over time, such as a human body over a lifetime.

Tib: gong-ma'i spyi
very nature of reality

A synonym for voidness (emptiness). Some translators render the term as "thusness."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Suchness, reality."

Tib: de-kho-na-nyid
Skt: tattvam
Victorious One

See: Triumphant One


In the description of a Buddhist system in terms of the view of reality, a way of meditating, and way of behaving that it espouses, the main way for regarding and understanding reality. See also: outlook.

Tib: lta-ba
view, distorted

See: distorted outlook

view of reality, way of meditating, and way of behaving

A way to describe a Buddhist system that specifies it in terms of its main way for regarding and understanding reality, its main topic of meditation, and its main manner of acting in the world.

Tib: lta-sgom-spyod gsum

See: rules of discipline


Vipassana (Pali for vipashyana) is a state of mind that cognizes clearly, distinctly and directly the true nature of the breath, thoughts, and all other affecting variables -- namely their being nonstatic (impermanent), suffering, and, in relation to them, the lack of an impossible soul. Also, the Theravada practices leading to this state of mind. See also: exceptionally perceptive state of mind.


(spiritual hero)

J. Hopkins' translation: "hero; intrepid person; ShUra."

Tib: dpa'-bo

(spiritual heroine)

Tib: dpa'-mo

See: constructive

void form

See: devoid form


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."

J. Hopkins' translation: "emptiness."

Tib: stong-pa-nyid
Skt: shunyata
voidness, other

See: other-voidness

voidness, realize

See: realize voidness

voidness, self

See: self-voidness


(1) In the Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Madhyamaka schools other than Gelug Prasangika, the subsidiary awareness (mental factor) to restrain from a certain type of detrimental behavior, which, during a specific ceremony, one has formally promised to restrain from. (2) In the Vaibhashika and Gelug-Prasangika systems, a non-revealing form on a person's mental continuum that performs the same function as in (1) by shaping one's behavior.

J. Hopkins' translation: "vow/discipline."

Tib: sdom-pa
Skt: samvara
vowed restraint

See: vow

vow preceptor

A spiritual mentor who has kept one or more of the sets of pratimoksha vows purely for a certain number of years and who confers on disciples one of the sets of pratimoksha vows that he or she has kept purely.

vows, bodhisattva

See: bodhisattva vows

vows, tantric

See: tantric vows

vows for individual liberation

See: pratimoksha vows

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