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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:

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

EnglishDefinitionTibetan / Sanskrit
tactile sensations

See: physical sensations

tainted

Something that derives from a disturbing emotion or attitude, or is related in some way with a disturbing emotion or attitude. According to Vasubandhu, they give rise to further tainted phenomena; while according to Asanga, only some do that. Also translated as "mixed with confusion. Some translators render this term as "contaminated."


J. Hopkins' translation: "contaminated."

Tib: zag-bcas
Skt: sashrava
tainted aggregates

The five aggregate factors of experience that derive from a disturbing emotion or attitude, or are related in some with a disturbing emotion or attitude. Some translators render the term as "contaminated aggregates."

Tib: zag-bcas kyi phung-po
take refuge

See: take safe direction

take safe direction

To put a direction in one's life, which, when one goes in it, protects one from true suffering and its true causes and which, when one reaches its endpoint, allows one to avoid true suffering and its true causes forever. Some translators render this as "take refuge," but it has no connotation of merely opening up and passively receiving protection.

Tib: skyabs-'gro
take safe direction from the Three Gems

To turn toward the direction indicated by the Three Rare and Supreme Gems (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha) and to put that safe direction in one's life. Some translators render this as "go for refuge to the Three Gems."

Tib: dkon-mchog-gsum-la skyabs-su-'gro
take to mind

See: attention

taking care

See: caring attitude

taking of safe direction, causal

See: causal taking of safe direction

taking of safe direction, mere

See: mere taking of safe direction

taking of safe direction, resultant

See: resultant taking of safe direction

taking of safe direction, special

See: special taking of safe direction

taking to mind

See: attention


J. Hopkins' translation: "mental engagement/taking to mind/mental contemplation."

Tib: yid-la byed-pa
tamed behavior

Ethical behavior with which one both restrains oneself from destructive actions and engages in constructive ones.


J. Hopkins' translation: "conduct; modes of conduct."

Tib: brtul-zhugs
Tangyur

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

Tanjur

See: Tangyur

tantra

(1) An everlasting stream of continuity. On the causal level, the mental continuum, with its various aspects of Buddha-nature. On the pathway level, the continuity of practices involving Buddha-figures. On the resultant level, the continuity of the various corpuses or bodies of a Buddha. (2) The texts that discuss the above topics.


J. Hopkins' translation: "continuum."

Tib: rgyud
Skt: tantra
tantra, nondual

See: nondual tantra

tantra mahamudra

See: mantra mahamudra

tantric master

A spiritual mentor who confers on disciples tantric vows. According to some commentaries, a spiritual mentor who confers on disciples empowerments and subsequent permissions from any of the classes of tantra.


J. Hopkins' translation: "vajra master."

Tib: rdo-rje slob-dpon
Skt: vajracarya
Tathagata

See: Thusly Gone One

teacher, spiritual

See: spiritual teacher

teaching, definitive

See: definitive teaching

teaching, interpretable

See: interpretable teaching

tendency, karmic

See: karmic tendency

tenet system

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


J. Hopkins' translation: "tenets."

Tib: grub-mtha'
Skt: siddhanta
ten levels of highly realized minds

also translated as: ten bhumi minds


J. Hopkins' translation: "ten grounds."

Tib: sa-bcu
Skt: dasha-bhumi
terma

See: treasure text


J. Hopkins' translation: "[Nying-ma] buried texts."

Tib: gter-ma
tetralemma

The relationship between two sets, A and B, is a tetralemma if there are four possibilities. There are phenomena that are members of (1) both set A and set B, (2) neither set A nor set B, (3) only set A, but not set B, or (4) only set B, but not set A.


J. Hopkins' translation: "four possibilities."

Tib: mu-bzhi
thick actions

A set of eight actions that, at either a yoga or anuttarayoga empowerment, one vows to avoid and which, if committed, weaken meditation practice and hamper progress along the tantra path. Also called: secondary tantric vows.


J. Hopkins' translation: "gross contravention."

Tib: sbom-po
thing, referent

See: referent thing

thinking with a distorted antagonistic attitude

See: distorted antagonistic thinking

thinking with a distorted view

See: distorted antagonistic thinking

thirty-two excellent signs

Also translated as: thirty-two major marks

Tib: mtshan bzang-po gsum-cu rtsa-gnyis
thoroughly established phenomena

(1) In the context of the Mahayana tenet system, a synonym for deepest truths. Specifically, in the Chittamatra system, the various voidnesses, true stoppings, and nirvana. (2) In the Buddhist medical system, hereditary, congenital diseases; genetic disorders.


J. Hopkins' translation: "thoroughly established phenomenon; thoroughly established [nature]."

Tib: yongs-grub
Skt: parinishpanna
those who sustain themselves on fragrances

(1) A class of divine beings (gods) on the plane of sensory desires that live on fragrances and are musicians. Also translated as "heavenly musicians." (2) Beings in the state of bardo existence inbetween death and rebirth onto the plane of sensory desires. Such beings live on either pleasant fragrances during fortunate eons or unpleasant odors during unfortunate eons.


J. Hopkins' translation: "scent eater; odor eater; the musicians of Indra, ruled by DhRtarastra, who live in the region of the air and the heavenly waters; their special duty is to guard the heavenly soma, which the gods obtain through their intervention."

Tib: dri-za
Skt: gandharva
Three Buddha-Bodies

See: Three Corpuses of a Buddha

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. Occasionally, as in the case of the action of giving, the object may refer to the object given. The existence of each of these is established dependently on the others. Sometimes translated as "the three spheres" of an action.

Tib: 'khor-lo gsum
Three Corpuses of a Buddha

(1) A Corpus of Emanations (Nirmanakaya), (2) Corpus of Full Use (Sambhogakaya), and (3) Corpus Encompassing Everything (Dharmakaya) of a Buddha.


J. Hopkins' translation: "the three exalted bodies [of a Buddha."

Tib: sku-gsum
Skt: trikaya
Three Gems

See: Three Rare and Supreme Gems

Three Jewels

See: Three Rare and Supreme Gems

Three Jewels of Refuge

See: Three Rare and Supreme Gems

three planes of existence

See: three planes of samsaric existence

three planes of samsaric existence

A threefold division of samsaric rebirth states: the planes of (1) sensory desires, (2) ethereal forms, and (3) formless beings. Sometimes called "the three realms."


J. Hopkins' translation: "three realms; the three realms [i.e., desire realm ('dod khams, kAmadhAtu), form realm (gzugs khams, rUpadhAtu), and formless realm (gzugs med khams, arUpyadhAtu)]."

Tib: khams-gsum
Skt: tridhatu
three purified states

The three states of bodhi; the three states of a shravaka arhat, a pratyekabuddha arhat, and a Buddha.

Three Rare and Supreme Gems

The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Also called "The Three Gems," "The Triple Gem," "The Three Jewels," and "The Three Jewels of Refuge."


J. Hopkins' translation: "Three Jewels."

Tib: dkon-mchog gsum
Skt: triratna
three realms

See: three planes of samsaric existence

threshold

Also translated as: near attainment, black appearance


J. Hopkins' translation: "near attainment; near-attainment."

Tib: nyer-thob
Thusly Gone One

A epithet of a Buddha -- one who has gone to the goal of enlightenment through nonconceptual cognition of voidness, the very nature of reality (thusness).


J. Hopkins' translation: "One-Gone-Thus."

Tib: de-bzhin gshegs-pa
Skt: tathagata
thusness

See: very nature of reality

thusness offering

See: offering of the very nature of reality

time

An interval imputed or measured in the continuum of the occurrence of a sequence of cause and effect. Since time is conceptually imputable, time is a function of and therefore relative to the mind that conceptually imputes it.

Tib: dus
Skt: kala
tonglen

See: giving and taking

total absorption

A state of mind having the joined pair of shamatha and vipashyana, and in which absorbed concentration is focused single-pointedly on a voidness that is like space. It may be either conceptual or nonconceptual. Sometimes translated as "meditative equipoise."


J. Hopkins' translation: "meditative equipoise."

Tib: mnyam-bzhag
Skt: samahita
totally conceptional phenomena

(1) In the context of the Chittamatra tenet-system, all static phenomena other than the various types of voidness, true stoppings, and nirvana, plus all non-existent phenomena. (2) In the context of the Madhyamaka tenet-system, all non-existent phenomena, especially true existence.


J. Hopkins' translation: "imputational factor, artificial."

Tib: kun-btags
Skt: parikalpita
totally devoid

Totally lacking something, in the sense that something never has in the past, never does in the present, and never will in the future possess a certain characteristic that is impossible for anything to possess, because that characteristic does not exist at all.


J. Hopkins' translation: "thousand; 1,000; empty; empty of; vacuity."

Tib: stong
totally imaginary forms of physical phenomena

Forms of physical phenomena included only among cognitive stimulators that are all phenomena and which appear in certain mental states, such as the sensory objects appearing in dreams and the conceptually implied objects in visualizations and imaginings.

Tib: kun-btags-pa'i gzugs
totally pervasive

Two sets, A and B, are totally pervasive if every element in set A is also a member of set B, and vice versa


J. Hopkins' translation: "mutually inclusive/equivalent."

Tib: don-gcig
trainer, meditation

See: meditation trainer

trainer, ritual

See: ritual trainer

traits, abiding

See: naturally abiding family-traits

traits, evolving

See: evolving family-traits

transcendent

See: supramundane

transference of consciousness

See: phowa

transmission, oral

See: oral transmission

transworldly

See: supramundane

treasure text

Texts planted by Indian or Tibetan masters, either in a physical location, such as inside a pillar of a temple, or in the minds of disciples and hidden there for safekeeping during times that were not conducive for their practice. Often referred to by the transliterated Tibetan term "terma."


J. Hopkins' translation: "[Nying-ma] buried texts."

Tib: gter-ma
trilemma

The relationship between two sets, A and B, is a trilemma if there are three possibilities. There are phenomena that are members of (1) both set A and set B, (2) neither set A, nor set B, or only set A, but not set B. There are no phenomena that are members of set B that are not also members of set A. In other words, all elements of set A are also members of set B, but not all elements of set B are elements of set A.


J. Hopkins' translation: "three possibilities; three possibilities/permutations."

Tib: mu-gsum
Triple Gem

See: Three Rare and Supreme Gems

Triumphant One

An epithet of a Buddha - one who has triumphed over the emotional and cognitive obscurations. Some translators render the term as "Victorious One."


J. Hopkins' translation: "conqueror; victor; epithet of Buddha."

Tib: rgyal-ba
Skt: jina
true cessation

See: true stopping

true existence

(1) An impossible mode of existence mistakenly considered to be true. Existence established or proven (a) merely by the power of something on the side of an object and not in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis, according to Gelug Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, or (b) by the power of something on the side of an object, either by itself or in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis, according to Gelug Prasangika-Madhyamaka. (2) A mode of existence that is true. Existence established or proven by (a) arising from causes and conditions, according to Jetsunpa and Kunkhyen Gelug Sautrantika, or (b) the power of something on the side of an object, according to Panchen Gelug Sautrantika and Gelug Chittamatra. Also translated as "truly established existence."


J. Hopkins' translation: "truly established; true establishment; truly existent; name of school founded by Harivarman; existence."

Tib: bden-par grub-pa
true findable existence

Existence established or proven by the power of something findable on the side of an object, either by itself or in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis. According to Gelug Prasangika-Madhyamaka, an impossible mode of existence mistakenly considered to be true. Also called "truly and findably established existence."


J. Hopkins' translation: "truly established; true establishment; truly existent; name of school founded by Harivarman; existence."

Tib: bden-par grub-pa
true identity, lack of

See: lack of true identities

true origin

Also translated as: true causes


J. Hopkins' translation: "true origins."

Tib: kun-'byung bden-pa
Skt: samudaya-satya
true pathway mind

Also called: true path


J. Hopkins' translation: "true path; true path{N}; truth of the path; true paths."

Tib: lam-bden
Skt: marga-satya
true reality

A nontechnical term used for what actually exists.

true stopping

The elimination, forever, of some degree of either an emotional or a cognitive obscuration from a mental continuum. They occur only on the mental continuum of aryas -- those with nonconceptual cognition of voidness. Often translated as "true cessation."


J. Hopkins' translation: "true cessations."

Tib: 'gog-pa'i bden-pa
Skt: nirodha-satya
true unimputed existence

Existence established or proven merely by the power of something on the side of an object and not in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis. According to Madhyamaka, an impossible mode of existence mistakenly considered to be true. Also called "truly and unimputedly established existence."


J. Hopkins' translation: "truly established; true establishment; truly existent; name of school founded by Harivarman; existence."

Tib: bden-par grub-pa
truly and findably established existence

See: true findable existence

truly and unimputedly established existence

See: true unimputed existence

truly established existence

See: true existence

truth, apparent

See: superficial truth

truth, conventional

See: superficial truth

truth, deepest

See: deepest truth

truth, relative

See: superficial truth

truth, superficial

See: superficial truth

truth, surface

See: superficial truth

truth, ultimate

See: deepest truth

truths, two

See: two truths

tsog

(1) Equivalent to "ceremonial round of offering a ritual feast." (2) The food offerings presented at a ceremonial round of offering a ritual feast.


J. Hopkins' translation: "collection; stock; assembly; gathering; group; accumulation; community."

Tib: tshogs
twelve links of dependent arising

The twelve-part mechanism whereby the existence of all samsaric phenomena, especially those of future rebirth, are established by reliance on unawareness: (1) unawareness, (2) affecting impulses, (3) loaded consciousness, (4) nameable mental faculties with or without gross form, (5) stimulators of cognition, (6) contacting awareness, (7) feeling a level of happiness, (8) craving, (9) an obtainer, (10) further existence, (11) conception, and (12) aging and dying.


J. Hopkins' translation: "twelve branches of dependent arising."

Tib: rten-'brel yan-lag bcu-gnyis
twelve scriptural categories

The twelve classes of Buddha's scriptural (verbal) teachings divided according to a textual point of view -- namely, (1) expositions on themes of practice, (2) melodic verses, (3) revelatory accounts, (4) metered verses, (5) special verses, (6) ethical narratives, (7) illustrative accounts, (8) ancient narratives, (9) past life accounts, (10) epic presentations, (11) fabulous accounts, and (12) decisive explications.

Tib: gsung-rab yan-lag bcu-gnyis
twelve stimulators of cognition

The twelve classes of nonstatic phenomena that serve as focal and dominating conditions for the six types of cognition -- namely, (1) sights, (2) eye sensors, (3) sounds, (4) ear sensors, (5) smells, (6) nose sensors, (7) tastes, (8) tongue sensors, (9) physical sensations, (10) body sensors, (11) (all) phenomena, and (12) mnd sensors.

Tib: skye-mched bcu-gnyis
Skt: dvadasha ayatana
Two Buddha-Bodies

See: Two Corpuses of a Buddha

Two Corpuses of a Buddha

(1) A Corpus of Forms (Rupakaya) and (2) Corpus Encompassing Everything (Dharmakaya) of a Buddha.

Tib: sku-gnyis
two truths

(1) In Hinayana, two types of validly knowable phenomena into which all existent phenomena can be divided: superficially true and deepest true phenomena. (2) In Gelug Mahayana, two true facts that can be validly known about any existent phenomenon. (3) In non-Gelug Mahayana, all existent phenomena cognized with dualistic appearance-making and cognized without dualistic appearance-making.


J. Hopkins' translation: "the two truths [i.e. ultimate truth (don dam bden pa, paramArtha-satya); and conventional truth (kun rdzob bden pa, samvRti-satya)]."

Tib: bden-pa gnyis

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