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:
|English||Definition||Tibetan / Sanskrit / Pali|
See: appearing object
See: focal object
See: involved object
See: specific object
|object category||Tib: don-spyi|
|object clear light||Tib: yul-gyi 'od-gsal|
See: focal condition
In the Sautrantika and Chittamatra tenet systems, those phenomena, the existence of which is established by their not being merely imputed by conceptual cognition. They include all nonstatic phenomena. According to Sautrantika, they include all nonstatic phenomena and are deepest true phenomena; according to Chittamatra, they include not only all nonstatic superficial true phenomena, but also the static deepest true phenomena of voidnesses, true stoppings, and nirvanas. (1) In the Gelug tradition, the appearing objects of only valid nonconceptual cognitions, although they are what actually appears and can be validly cognized in both valid nonconceptual and conceptual cognition. (2) In the non-Gelug systems, they can only be validly cognized by valid nonconceptual cognition. Also translated as "individually characterized phenomena."
|object mental synthesis|
(1) The conceptual category of a commonsense object, such as a table, used when thinking of, verbalizing, imagining (visualizing), or remembering a commonsense object. (2) A specific commonsense object as a conceptual category into which fit all moments of anyone's mental or sensory cognition of any amount of parts of any of its sensibilia.
|objects taken and minds that take them|
|objects that indicate a safe direction||Tib: skyabs-yul|
A fleeting stain that temporarily "covers" or accompanies mental activity (more precisely, clear light mental activity), thereby preventing the mental activity from cognizing objects without suffering or other limitations. Some translators render the term as "obstacle."
See: five obscurations
|obscurations about all knowables|
|obscurations of not knowing|
Mental blocks that come from not knowing the Dharma in general or specifically not knowing about the emotional and cognitive obscurations. These mental blocks prevent the attainment of liberation and enlightenment.
|Tib: mi-shes sgrib|
|obscurations preventing liberation|
|obscurations preventing omniscience|
|obscurations that are the disturbing emotions and attitudes|
|obscure phenomenon||Tib: lkog-gyur|
See: five obscurations
|obstructive unspecified phenomenon||Tib: bsgribs-pa'i lung ma-bstan|
A set of four disturbing emotions and disturbing attitudes: (1) obtainer desire, (2) an obtainer deluded outlook, (3) holding deluded morality or conduct as supreme, and (4) asserting one's identity, and which, when occurring at the time of death, constitute the ninth link of dependent arising.
A general term coined to refer to the last three "obtainers" that constitute the ninth link of dependent arising: (1) an obtainer deluded outlook, (2) holding deluded morality or conduct as supreme, and (3) asserting one's identity.
|obtainer deluded outlook|
A set of three disturbing deluded outlooks on life that constitute the second of the four "obtainers" that constitute the ninth link of dependent arising: (1) a distorted outlook, (2) an extreme outlook, (3) holding a deluded outlook as supreme.
|Tib: lta-ba nye-bar len-pa|
The mental factor (subsidiary awareness) of longing desire specifically for some desirable sensory object on the plane of sensory desires. See: longing desire. Equivalent to the obtainer emotion, it is the first of the four "obtainers" that constitute the ninth link of dependent arising.
|Tib: 'dod-pa nye-bar len-pa|
Equivalent to obtainer desire.
|obtaining aggregates||Tib: nyer-len-gyi phung-po|
The cause from which a result is obtained and which transforms into the result. For example, a seed is the obtaining cause for a sprout, and a network of positive force (a collection of merit) is the obtaining cause for a Corpus of Forms (Form Body) of a Buddha. Some translators render the term as "material cause," but this term does not refer to the physical elements that make up something.
|Tib: nyer-len-gyi rgyu|
A validly knowable phenomenon that can be cognized by valid nonconceptual straightforward cognition. Also defined as a validly knowable phenomenon that be apprehended through the force of personal experience.
See: inner offering
See: outer offerings
See: inner offering
|offering of the very nature of reality||Tib: de-kho-na-nyid mchod-pa|
|offering ritual||Tib: mchod-pa|
|offerings of absorbed concentration||Tib: ting-nge-'dzin-gyi mchod-pa|
|offerings of samadhi|
See: spiritual offspring
An adjective referring to (1) the period of the first transmission of the Dharma from India to Tibet, (2) the Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism founded during this period, (3) a text translated during this period.
See: Old Translation
See: omniscient awareness
|omniscient awareness||Tib: kun-mkhyen|
See: cognitive open space
|open space division|
The division of treasure texts, deriving from the oral teachings of the translator Vairochana, that emphasizes the cognitive open space aspect of pure awareness as the basis for all. Often referred to by the transliterated Tibetan "longdey."
A ceremony during which a spiritual teacher reads aloud or recites from memory, without any mistakes, a Buddhist text or mantra to disciples who listen attentively. The teacher needs to have heard, himself or herself, the words of the text or mantra recited faultlessly by his or her own teacher, who likewise heard it in this manner in an unbroken lineage tracing back to Buddha or to the author of the text. The ceremony insures the accurate transmission of the words, although neither the teacher reciting them nor the disciple hearing them need to understand their meaning.
|ordinary being||Tib: so-so'i skye-bo|
The emotional ups and downs of overexcitement and depression in response to the eight transitory things in life: praise or criticism, good or bad news, gains or losses, things going well or poorly.
|Tib: tha-mal 'du-'dzi|
See: dependent phenomenon
A round, flat-bottomed bowl, held bottom side up, with three mounds of grain, placed one atop the other on its surface and contained within progressively smaller concentric metal rings, and crowned with an ornamental diadem. It is used as an offering to a spiritual master in request for a teaching, the conferring of a set of vows, and for the conferring of a tantric empowerment. It is also used as an offering of appreciation at the conclusion of these three occasions. It is also offered 100,000 times as a preliminary practice for building up positive force for success in the practice of tantra.
|Tib: phyi'i dkyil-'khor|
|outer offerings||Tib: phyi'i mchod-pa|
A way of regarding and understanding objects, for instance as "me" and "mine."
See: extreme outlook
|outlook of holding deluded morality or conduct as supreme|
See: dominating condition
See: dominating result
See: dominating result
|own face||Tib: rang-ngo|