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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:

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

Literally, a method of actualization, namely a meditation method for actualizing oneself as a Buddha-figure for which one has received empowerment. Performing a sadhana entails recitation of a ritual meditation text describing the self-visualization process and a complex series of further practices based on that self-generation, such as reciting mantras and making offerings. Synonymous with "self-generation" and "antecedent practice for realization."

J. Hopkins' translation: "means of achievement."

Tib: sgrub-thabs
Skt: sadhana
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."

J. Hopkins' translation: "refuge."

Tib: skyabs
Skt: sharana
safe direction, provisional source of

See: provisional source of safe direction

safe direction, take

See: take safe direction

safe direction, ultimate source of

See: ultimate source of safe direction


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


A follower of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


See: absorbed concentration


See: Corpus of Full Use

same essential nature

The relationship between two facts about the same attribute of a phenomenon. In a sense, the two facts are referring to the same phenomenon from two points of view. The two facts may be naturally inseparable, such as the two truths about the phenomenon, or they may constitute a joined inseparability arising from the power of meditation, such as a blissful awareness and an awareness of voidness. Some translators render the term as "one by nature."

J. Hopkins' translation: "one entity; same entity."

Tib: ngo-bo gcig

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

J. Hopkins' translation: "cyclic existence."

Tib: 'khor-ba
Skt: samsara

The literal meaning of the Sanskrit term is a "community"; the literal meaning of the Tibetan translation is "those intent on a constructive goal." Four or more people from any of the four groups of the monastic community: full or novice monks or nuns - the four need not necessarily be all from one group or one from each group - and who have unlabored renunciation and are intent on ridding themselves of disturbing emotions and attitudes and thus attaining liberation.

J. Hopkins' translation: "spiritual community."

Tib: dge-'dun
Skt: sangha
Sangha Gem, apparent

See: apparent Sangha Gem

Sangha Gem, deepest

See: deepest Sangha Gem

Sangha Gem, nominal

See: nominal Sangha Gem


See: New Translation

Tib: gSar-ma

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

Tib: Thams-cad yod-pa smra-ba

A Hinayana school of Indian Buddhism that asserts the true existence of both reflexive awareness and 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: "Sūtra School, Sautrāntika."

Tib: mDo-sde-pa

According to Gelug, a subdivision of the Svatantrika Madhyamaka tenet system that does not assert reflexive awareness, but does assert external phenomena as having existence established by their individual defining characteristic marks.

J. Hopkins' translation: "SUtra Autonomy Middle Way School."

Tib: mDo-sde spyod-pa'i dbu-ma rang-rgyud-pa
scriptural categories, twelve

See: twelve scriptural categories

scriptural pronouncement

See: scriptural teaching


See: subtle discernment

sealing points for labeling an outlook as being based on enlightening words, four

See: four hallmarks of the Dharma

secondary bodhisattva vows

See: faulty actions

secondary tantric vows

See: thick actions

secret mandala

The offering of a blissful awareness, or of a nonconceptual blissful awareness of voidness with a clear-light mind. Also called: hidden mandala.

Tib: gsang-ba'i dkyil-'khor
secret offering

See: hidden offering

seeing pathway mind

The level of mind of arya sharavakas, arya pratyekabuddhas, and arya bodhisattvas with which they first attain a joined pair of shamatha and vipashyana focused nonconceptually on voidness -- or, in general, on the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths -- and with which they rid themselves of one or both sets of doctrinally based obscurations. Often translated as "path of seeing."

J. Hopkins' translation: "path of seeing."

Tib: mthong-lam
self-arising deep awareness

In Nyingma, the aspect of pure awareness (rigpa) that automatically arises with awareness of its own two truths or its own threefold nature. Synonymous with reflexive deep awareness.

J. Hopkins' translation: "self-arisen pristine wisdom."

Tib: rang-byung ye-shes

See: self-awareness


An attitude focused on one's conventional "me" and that distinguishes and knows correctly the mental factors, such as the motivation, disturbing emotions, level of feeling of happiness, and so on, that are presently manifest on one's mental continuum.


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

Tib: rang bces-par 'dzin-pa

Being so concerned about oneself and what others think of oneself and that one doesn't make any mistakes, that one becomes awkward and cannot act naturally. Often teenagers are like this. They have pimples on their faces and are so self-conscious about them that they think everyone is looking at them.


See: self-conscious


See: moral self-dignity

self-dignity, ethical

See: moral self-dignity

self-dignity, moral

See: moral self-dignity


See: ethical self-discipline

self-discipline, ethical

See: ethical self-discipline

self-established existence

See: existence established by self-nature

self-established stain

Something, the existence of which is established by its own power, independently of anything else, and which obscures the realization of Buddha-nature on one's mental continuum. This refers to an impossible manner of existence of the mind, and does not exist at all.

J. Hopkins' translation: "natural defilements."

Tib: rang-bzhin-gyi dri-ma
self-establishing nature

See: self-nature


See: pratyekabuddha


Synonymous with "sadhana." A meditation method in which one visualizes and imagines oneself to be a Buddha-figure for which one has received empowerment. See: sadhana.

J. Hopkins' translation: "self-generation; self generation."

Tib: bdag-bskyed

A tantric meditation practice in which one visualizes receiving the entire empowerment (initiation) ritual for a Buddha-figure, performed in order to renew one's tantric vows. It may only be performed if one has done the serviceability retreat of that particular Buddha-figure and the fire-puja afterwards.

Tib: bdag-'jug

See: lack of an impossible "soul"

selflessness of all phenomena

See: lack of an impossible "soul" of all phenomena

selflessness of a person

See: lack of an impossible soul of a person


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. A self-nature may do this either by its own power alone, or by its own power in conjunction with mental labeling. The term may also be translated as "self-establishing nature."

J. Hopkins' translation: "nature/inherent existence/inherent nature."

Tib: rang-bzhin

An attitude of thinking only about oneself, as if one were the only one in the world, and not thinking about anyone else; narcissism.

J. Hopkins' translation: "the conception as/of I; conception of [an inherently existent] I."

Tib: ngar-'dzin

See: self-preoccupation


See: pratyekabuddha

self-sufficiently knowable

A validly knowable phenomenon that, when actually cognized, does not rely on actual cognition of or by something else, for instance actual cognition of the object's basis for labeling.

Tib: rang-rkya thub-pa'i rdzas-yod
self-sufficiently knowable phenomenon

A validly knowable phenomenon that, when actually cognized, does not rely on actual cognition of or by something else, for instance actual cognition of the object's basis for labeling.

Tib: rang-rkya thub-pa'i rdzas-yod

The absence of any phenomenon existing, by "self"-nature, in an impossible manner.

J. Hopkins' translation: "emptiness of self."

Tib: rang-stong

All levels of awareness (levels of mind) that are tainted with the fleeting stains of the emotional and cognitive obscurations. All levels of awareness other than rigpa. Translated as "limited awareness."

J. Hopkins' translation: "mind."

Tib: sems
semblance, mental

See: mental aspect


See: mind division

Tib: sems-sde
sense of fitness

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

J. Hopkins' translation: "pliancy."

Tib: shin-sbyangs
sense of physical and mental fitness

See: sense of fitness


Sense data; forms of physical phenomenon that, in one moment, occupy an extended location and are cognized by one of the five types of sense consciousness; the data or information concerning one moment of the sight, sound, smell, taste, or physical sensation of an object having physical qualities.


See: cognitive sensor

sentient being

See: limited being

serenely stilled and settled state of mind

See: stilled and settled state of mind

serviceability retreat

An intensive tantric meditation practice, done over many meditation sessions, during which one performs the sadhana and recites the mantra of a Buddha-figure ten thousand, one hundred thousand, or many hundreds of thousands of times, depending on the number of syllables in the mantra. When completed and finished off with the appropriate fire puja, this intensive practice makes the mind fit to be used (fit to be put into service) for more advanced tantric practices with that Buddha-figure.

Tib: las-rung
set theory

Set theory has to do with the logical pervasions between two or more sets -- mutually exclusive, totally congruent, overlapping, etc. A set is a collection or a group of many items, like the set of all nonstatic phenomena.

Tib: bsdus-grva
Skt: dura
seven-part cause and effect method

See: seven-part cause and effect quintessence teaching for developing bodhichitta

seven-part cause and effect quintessence teaching for developing bodhichitta

One of the two methods for developing a bodhichitta aim. Based on the development of equanimity, (1) mother-awareness, (2) remembering kindness, (3) repaying kindness, (4) love, (5) compassion, (6) exceptional resolve, (7) a bodhichitta aim. The first six, developed consecutively, function as the causes for the seventh as the result.

J. Hopkins' translation: "seven cause-and-effect quintessential instructions."

Tib: rgyu-'bras man-ngag bdun

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

Tib: shakya'i thub-pa
Skt: Shakyamuni

See: stilled and settled state of mind

shared meaning, teaching of

See: teaching of shared meaning

sharing five congruent factors

Subsidiary awarenesses (mental factors) that share five things in common with the primary consciousness of the cognition in which they occur. (1) According to Vasubandhu: reliance, object, mental aspect, time, and natal source. (2) According to Asanga: natal source, focal aspect, essential nature, time, and plane and bhumi-level of mind.

Tib: mtshungs-ldan lnga
short-lived all-excited renunciation

The enthusiastic and fanatic giving up of everything worldly, often based on blind faith that an external source will save us.

Tib: sna-thung spu-sud-kyi nges-'byung

Literally, "listeners" to Buddha's teachings - practitioners of the Hinayana vehicle who, motivated by renunciation, strive to attain liberation from uncontrollably recurring rebirth (samsara) and to become an arhat (liberated being) of either the shravaka or pratyekabuddha class. They practice, based on having listened to Buddha's teachings. Some translators render the term as "hearer."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Hearer."

Tib: nyan-thos
Skt: shravaka
shravaka arhat

A shravaka that has attained liberation. See also: shravaka.

Tib: nyan-thos dgra-bcom
Skt: shravaka arhat

Nonstatic phenomena that can be explicitly cognized by eye consciousness -- namely, colors and shapes. Equivalent to "forms of physical phenomena that can become objects of experience of the eyes." One of the eleven types of forms of physical phenomena.

J. Hopkins' translation: "form."

Tib: gzugs
Skt: rupa
similar family cause

A cause that is in the same family or category of phenomenon as is the result. For example, a model of a vase is the similar family cause for a vase that one is now making.

Tib: rigs-'dra'I rgyu
Skt: sajatiyakaranam
simultaneously acting condition

An item that must exist prior to the arising of something and which assists in making the arising happen, but which does not transform into what arises, for instance water for a sprout.

Tib: lhan-cig byed-pa'i rkyen
Skt: sahakaripratyaya
simultaneously arising

Two items simultaneously arise if, when one of them arises or happens, the other does also, at the same time. The two items may arise simultaneously either naturally or through the power of meditation. Also called: innate.

J. Hopkins' translation: "innate."

Tib: lhan-skyes
Skt: sahaja
simultaneously arising cause

A cause that arises simultaneously with its results, such as the elements that make up a material object.

Tib: lhan-cig 'byung-ba'i rgyu
Skt: sahabhuhetu

See: negative karmic force


Sincerity has two factors included in it: (1) lack of hypocrisy (g.yo-med) – not hiding our own faults, (2) lack of pretension (sgyu-med) – not pretending to have qualities that we do not have.

J. Hopkins' translation: "thinking."

Tib: bsam-pa

Concentration settled on an object or settled in a state of mind (such as compassion) and free of all flightiness of mind an mental dullness.

singular sufficient white panacea

Also called: all-curing single white epanacea, single white remedy, self-sufficient white remedy

Tib: dkar-po chig-thub
six realms of existence

Literally, the six families of wandering beings. The six types of samsaric rebirth: (1) hell-beings (trapped beings in the joyless realms), (2) clutching ghosts (hungry ghosts), (3) animals (creeping creatures), (4) humans, (5) would-be divine beings (anti-gods), and (6) divine beings (gods).

Tib: 'gro-ba rigs-drug
Six-Session Yoga

In Gelug, a practice, recited six times daily, required of those who have received an anuttarayoga empowerment, through which they keep the nineteen closely bonding practices for the five Buddha-families.

Tib: Thun-drug rnal-'byor
sixty-two wrong views

A set of sixty-two incorrect positions regarding the past, present and future of the self, the universe, and so on, propounded by the eighteen non-Buddhist extremeists and refuted in Buddhism. Sometimes translated by others as the sixty-two bad views.

Tib: lta-ba ngan-pa drug-cu re-gnyis
skillful means

See: skill in means

skill in means

The special discriminating awareness concerning the most effective and appropriate internal methods for actualizing the Buddha's teachings and the most effective and appropriate external methods for making limited beings ripe for attaining liberation and enlightenment. In Mahayana, when conjoined with a bodhichitta, the seventh of the ten far-reaching attitudes.

J. Hopkins' translation: "skill in means/skillful means."

Tib: thabs-mkhas
Skt: upayakaushalya
solid "me"

A "me" that exists as a concrete, autonomous entity, as if it had a line around it or were encapsulated in plastic. A general, nontechnical term for the false "me" (the "me" to be refuted), which has never existed at all.

solidly existing "me"

See: solid "me"

solitary Buddha

See: pratyekabuddha

something possessing the actual nature

See: property-possessor

something that is supported by something else

Something that rests upon or is contained within something else, for instance the people in relation to the house in which they live. Also translated as "what is supported" or simply as "supported."

J. Hopkins' translation: "depend; rely; resort to; support."

Tib: brten
something that supports something else

Something that serves as the foundation or container for something else, for instance a house in relation to the people living inside it. Also translated as "what supports" or simply as "support."

J. Hopkins' translation: "basis/support."

Tib: rten

According to non-Buddhist Indian tenet systems, something findable, either with or without being a conscious phenomenon, inside the body of a person, and which is static, a partless monad, separable from the body, and self-sufficiently knowable.

J. Hopkins' translation: "self."

Tib: bdag
Skt: atman
soul, impossible

See: impossible "soul"


An object explicitly cognized by ear consciousness.

J. Hopkins' translation: "sound/term."

Tib: sgra
Skt: shabda
sound universal

See: audio category

source, natal

See: natal source

source of safe direction, provisional

See: provisional source of safe direction

source of safe direction, ultimate

See: ultimate source of safe direction

special insight

See: exceptionally perceptive state of mind

special taking of safe direction

Synonym for "resultant taking of safe direction."

Tib: skyabs-'gro khyad-par-ba
special verses

Praises that Buddha uttered with joy for the sake of the long life of his teachings, and not for the sake of specific individuals. One of the twelve scriptural categories.

J. Hopkins' translation: "saying; sayings; purposeful expressions."

Tib: ched-du brjod-pa
Skt: udana
specific awareness

In the Karma Kagyu system, the aspect of mental activity that is aware of the specific type of awareness of an object that has arisen and the specific object that it is aware of. In a looser sense, awareness of the details that have arisen and one is aware of in a cognition.

J. Hopkins' translation: "consciousness."

Tib: rnam-shes
Skt: vijnana
specific-awareness alaya

In the Karma Kagyu system, a synonym for alayavijnana. See: all-encompassing foundation for all.

Tib: kun-shes rnam-shes
specific consciousness

See: specific awareness

speech, enlightening

See: Buddha's enlightening speech

sphere, open

See: open sphere

spiritual mentor

A Buddhist teacher who has had stable realizations, who embodies the teachings in the sense of having integrated them into his or her life, and who confers vows on disciples.

J. Hopkins' translation: "spiritual friend, virtuous spiritual friend, spiritual guide."

Tib: dge-ba'i bshes-gnyen
Skt: kalyanamitra
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.

spontaneously establishing appearances

The functional nature of rigpa (pure awareness), which is that it automatically, without any effort, gives rise to pure appearances.

J. Hopkins' translation: "spontaneity."

Tib: lhun-grub
stability, mental

See: mental stability

stabilizing meditation

A method for habituating oneself to an insight, understanding, or state of mind in which one focuses on an object with that desired insight, understanding, or state of mind and with full conviction in its validity, but without the mental factors of gross detection (investigation) or subtle discernment (scrutiny). Also translated sometimes as "fixating meditation."

Tib: 'jog-sgom
stable elder

A senior member of the ordained Sangha who is stable in his vows. It has nothing to do with age from birth, but how long someone has been a monk.

stable realization

In mahamudra meditation, the state of mind in which the meditator has nonconceptual bare cognition of there being no dualism of meditator and meditation.

J. Hopkins' translation: "realization."

Tib: rtogs-pa

Something that obscures the Buddha-nature factors, preventing them from being fully realized.

J. Hopkins' translation: "stain; taint; defilement; contamination."

Tib: dri-ma
stain, fleeting

See: fleeting stain

stain, natural

See: self-established stain

stain, self-established

See: self-established stain


The quality of something standing out sharply and dramatically in its appearance, without anything adorning it (like a rock mountain in a desert, totally devoid of any vegetation); the quality of being barren.

J. Hopkins' translation: "empty."

Tib: stong-pa
state, primordial

See: primordial state

state parted from mental fabrication

The state of mind that is parted from conceptual constructs.

J. Hopkins' translation: "free from elaborations{N}."

Tib: spros-bral
state parted from taking to mind

The state of mind that is parted from conceptual constructs -- in other words, equivalent to the state parted from mental fabrication.

Tib: yid-byed bral-ba

See: static phenomenon

static abstraction

See: static phenomenon


The noncongruent affecting variable of not changing from moment to moment. Sometimes translated as "permanence."

J. Hopkins' translation: "permanent phenomenon; permanence."

Tib: rtag-pa
Skt: nitya
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. Somewhat similar to unchanging facts, they are imputed about some validly knowable phenomenon and only exist and can be validly known so long as the basis for their imputation lasts. Sometimes translated as "static abstractions." Some translators render the term as "permanent phenomena."

J. Hopkins' translation: "permanent phenomenon; permanence."

Tib: rtag-pa
Skt: nitya
sticky attachment

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

J. Hopkins' translation: "attachment."

Tib: chags-pa
Skt: sneha
stilled and settled state of mind

A 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. Also called a "serenely stilled and settled state of mind," "shamatha." Some translators render the term as "calm abiding" or "mental quiescence."

J. Hopkins' translation: "calm abiding."

Tib: zhi-gnas
Skt: shamatha
stimulating others' good qualities

Also translated as "increase."

J. Hopkins' translation: "verb: extend; fill; spread; increase; further adjective: extensive; broad; wide; full."

Tib: rgyas-pa
stimulators of cognition

The focal conditions and dominating conditions that give rise to the six types of cognition -- namely, the cognitive objects and cognitive sensors of each of the six cognitive faculties. In the case of the five sensory faculties, the objects and sensors are forms of physical phenomena, such as sights and photosensitive cells. In the case of the mental faculty, the objects may be any validly knowable phenomenon, while the sensors are the immediately preceding moments of mental cognition. Usually counted as the twelve stimulators of cognition, but in the list of the twelve links of dependent arising, referred to as the six stimulators of cognition, in which case the two cognitive stimulators of each cognitive faculty are counted as one.

J. Hopkins' translation: "sense-sphere,sphere."

Tib: skye-mched
Skt: ayatana
stimulators of cognition, link of

See: link of stimulators of cognition

stimulators of cognition, twelve

See: twelve stimulators of cognition


The total elimination of something such that it never recurs.

J. Hopkins' translation: "cessation."

Tib: 'gog-pa
Skt: nirodha
stopping, true

See: true stopping

storehouse consciousness

See: all-encompassing foundation consciousness

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. Straightforward cognition may be either conceptual or nonconceptual.

J. Hopkins' translation: "direct perception."

Tib: mngon-sum
Skt: pratyaksha
stream of continuity

A succession of moments of something.

J. Hopkins' translation: "continuation; continuum; mental continuum; life continuum; stream; continuity."

Tib: rgyun

The special discriminating awareness employed for expanding one's discriminating awareness and not letting it be crushed by countering factors, such as attachment to anything. One of the ten Mahayana far-reaching attitudes (ten perfections).

J. Hopkins' translation: "power."

Tib: stobs
Skt: bala

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

J. Hopkins' translation: "reliquary; basis for worship."

Tib: mchod-rten
Skt: stupa
subject clear light

See: cognitive clear light

subliminal awareness

See: subliminal cognition

subliminal cognition

A cognition in which the consciousness gives rise to a mental hologram of a cognitive object and, in which, the cognitive object appears, through that hologram, only to the consciousness of the subliminal cognition and only that consciousness cognizes it. The cognitive object of the subliminal cognition does not appear to the person and is not cognized by the person. Nor does it appear to or is it cognized by the consciousness of the manifest cognition that is simultaneously occurring and overpowering the subliminal cognition.

Tib: bag-la nyal-gyi shes-pa
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 that is like an illusion. It is attained only upon rising from total absorption on space-like voidness and may occur either while still in meditation or after arising from meditation. It may be either conceptual or nonconceptual. Sometimes translated as "subsequent realization." Other translators often render the term as "post-meditation."

J. Hopkins' translation: "state subsequent to meditative equipoise, attainment subsequent [to meditative equipoise]."

Tib: rjes-thob
subsequent cognition

One of the seven ways of knowing something: a nonfraudulent, but not fresh, cognition of an object. It is the second phase of a valid bare cognition or inferential cognition, and is asserted only by the Gelug Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Svatantrika tenet systems.

Tib: bcad-shes
subsequent permission

A tantric ritual for a specific Buddha-figure, received in order to strengthen further the Buddha-nature factors that were previously activated with a full empowerment. Usually called by its Tibetan name, "jenang."

Tib: rjes-snang
subsequent realization

See: subsequent attainment

subsidiary awareness

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. Also called "mental factor."

J. Hopkins' translation: "mental factor."

Tib: sems-byung
Skt: caitika
subtle body

Within the gross body of humans, the invisible system of energy-winds, energy-channels, energy-nodes (chakras), and creative energy-drops.

Tib: lus phra-mo
subtle creative energy-drops

See: creative energy-drops

subtle discernment

A subsidiary awareness (mental factor) that actively understands the fine details of the nature of something, having scrutinized them thoroughly. It does not imply verbal thinking, although it may be induced by verbally thinking. According to Asanga, one of the four changeable subsidiary awarenesses. Also translated as "scrutiny," "analysis." and "discerning analysis."

J. Hopkins' translation: "analysis."

Tib: dpyod-pa
subtle energy-winds

Subtle forms of energy that move within the subtle energy-channels of the subtle body and which are the "mount" (the physical basis) for consciousness, either in nonconceptual or conceptual cognition, transporting it through the subtle body. Through anuttarayoga complete stage practices, one can cause them to enter, abide, and dissolve in the central energy-channel and thereby make manifest the subtlest clear light mind.

Tib: rlung phra-mo
subtle impermanence

A nonstatic phenomenon's drawing closer each moment to its ultimate end, like a time bomb, based on the fact that the cause for the phenomenon's final disintegration or end is its coming into being, its arising.

Tib: mi-rtag-pa phra-mo
subtle mind

Mental consciousness, both conceptual and nonconceptual.

Tib: sems phra-mo
subtlest body

The subtlest life-supporting energy-wind that accompanies each moment of subtlest mind.

Tib: lus shin-tu phra-mo
subtlest mind

See: clear light awareness

Tib: sems shin-tu phra-mo
subtle winds

See: subtle energy-winds

suffering, all-pervasive

See: all-pervasively affecting suffering

suffering, all-pervasively affecting

See: all-pervasively affecting suffering

suffering of change

The suffering of ordinary happiness, which never lasts, never satisfies, and which eventually turns into the suffering of suffering.

J. Hopkins' translation: "suffering of change/vicissitude."

Tib: 'gyur-ba'i sdug-bsngal
suffering of suffering

The suffering of gross pain or unhappiness.

Tib: sdug-bsngal-gyi sdug bsnal

See: Blissfully Gone One

superficial true phenomenon

In the Hinayana tenet systems, a true phenomenon that veils or conceals a deeper true phenomenon. Also called: relative true phenomenon, conventional true phenomenon, apparent true phenomenon.

J. Hopkins' translation: "conventional truth/obscurational truth."

Tib: kun-rdzob bden-pa
Skt: samvrtisatya
superficial truth

In the Mahayana tenet systems, a true fact about a phenomenon that veils or conceals a deeper true fact about the same phenomenon. Also called: relative truth, conventional truth, apparent truth, surface truth.

J. Hopkins' translation: "conventional truth/obscurational truth."

Tib: kun-rdzob bden-pa
Skt: samvrtisatya

See: interpolation


(1) An individual defining characteristic mark findable on the side of a knowable object, upon which a word or label for the object is set. (2) See: "something that supports something else."

J. Hopkins' translation: "basis/support."

Tib: rten

See: something that is supported by something else

supported mandala

The set of Buddha-figures residing inside the immeasurably magnificent palace of a symbolic world system visualized in tantra practice.

Tib: brten-pa'i dkyil-'khor
supporting mandala

The immeasurably magnificent palace of a symbolic world system, together with the environment around it, visualized in tantra practice.

Tib: rten-pa'i dkyil-'khor

Related to the mental continuum of an arya -- someone who has attained nonconceptual cognition of the four noble truths. Also translated as "with a base beyond perishing," "transworldly" or "transcendent."

Tib: 'jig-rten-las 'das-pa
surface truth

See: superficial truth


(1) Texts by Shakyamuni Buddha, both Hinayana and Mahayana, that discuss themes of practice.(2) Within the context of the Three Baskets (Tripitaka), the texts of Buddha that especially concern the training in higher concentration. (3) Within the context of Buddha's teachings divided into sutra and tantra, the division that does not entail visualization of oneself as a Buddha-figure. (3) Within the context of the twelve scriptural categories, the texts that present what Buddha had to say in a brief and condensed format. Also called: expositions on themes of practice.

J. Hopkins' translation: "sUtra; discourse; short sentence; axiom; scripture."

Tib: mdo
Skt: sutra
sutra mahamudra

Meditations on the nature of the mind with regard to only gross and subtle minds -- in other words, sensory and mental consciousness -- and not with regard to the subtlest mind, clear light.

Tib: mdo'i phyag-chen

See: Corpus of Essential Nature


A subdivision of the Madhyamaka school within the Indian Buddhist tenet systems that refutes truly established existence by relying on lines of reasoning the members of which have existence established from their own sides. Gelug adds to this definition that it also asserts that all phenomena lack existence established by an essential nature, but nevertheless conventionally have existence established by their individual defining characteristic marks.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Autonomy School, Svātantrika."

Tib: rang-rgyud-pa
Svatantrika Madhyamaka

See: Svatantrika

J. Hopkins' translation: "Middle Way Autonomy School."

Tib: dbu-ma rang-rgyud-pa

See: mental synthesis

synthesis, collection

See: collection mental synthesis

synthesis, kind

See: kind mental synthesis

synthesis, object

See: object mental synthesis

systems of tenets

See: tenet system

Tib: grub-mtha’

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