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|
A combination of sounds that are assigned a meaning.
|nameable mental faculties with or without gross form, link of|
See: nameable mental faculties with or without gross form
|name and form|
See: ancient narratives
See: ethical narratives
That which gives rise to something, such as a womb for a baby or an oven for a loaf of bread.
The relationship between two items, in which when one is the case or is occurring, then automatically so is the other.
|Tib: rang-bzhin dbyer-med|
|naturally abiding family-traits|
(1) In the Chittamatra system, the seeds that, without beginning, are imputable on the basis of the stained mind of each limited being and which serve as factors allowing that being to attain one of the three purified states. (2) In the Madhyamaka systems, the voidnesses imputable on the basis of the stained mind of each limited being.
|Tib: rang-bzhin gnas-rigs|
|naturally destructive uncommendable action|
|naturally inseparable aspects|
|naturally uncommendable action||Tib: rang-bzhin-gyi kha-na ma-tho-ba|
|natural nirvana||Tib: rang-bzhin-gyi mya-ngan 'das|
See: actual nature
See: essential nature
See: functional nature
The lineage of a teaching that did not begin with Buddha himself, but began with an Indian or Tibetan master, usually through a pure vision.
|negatingly known phenomenon|
See: negation phenomenon
See: negation phenomenon
An item, or a truth about an item, defined in terms of the exclusion of something else, in which an object to be negated is explicitly precluded by the conceptual cognition that cognizes the phenomenon. Also translated as: "negation," "nullification," "refutation."
|negation phenomenon, implicative|
|negation phenomenon, nonimplicative|
|negative karmic force|
The type of karmic force associated with a destructive action and which ripens intermittently into unhappiness and the suffering of problems and pain. Also called: "negative karmic potential." Some translators render it as "sin." See: karmic force.
|network of deep awareness|
A constructive noncongruent affecting variable imputable on the moments of conceptual or nonconceptual cognition of the four noble truths or of voidness, on the mental continuum of a limited being, when followed by a bodhichitta dedication, and which functions as the obtaining cause for the Dharmakaya of a Buddha. Also called: "bountiful store of deep awareness." Some translators render the term as "collection of wisdom" or "collection of insight."
|Tib: ye-shes-kyi tshogs|
|network of positive force|
A constructive noncongruent affecting variable imputable on the positive force on the mental continuum of a limited being, when dedicated with bodhichitta, and which functions as the obtaining cause for the Form Corpus of a Buddha. Also called: "bountiful store of positive force." Some translators render the term as "collection of merit."
|Tib: bsod-nams-kyi tshogs|
|neutral feeling||Tib: btang-snyoms|
An adjective referring to (1) the period of the second transmission of the Dharma from India to Tibet, (2) one of the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism founded during this period -- namely, Kagyu, Sakya, Kadam or Gelug, (3) a text translated during this period.
See: New Translation
See: Corpus of Emanations
An extinguished state of release -- either an acquired one, in which all samsaric sufferings and their causes have been removed, or a naturally occurring one, in which all stains of impossible existence have always been removed. The Tibetan term means, literally, "a state beyond sorrow."
See: acquired nirvana
See: natural nirvana
See: nonabiding nirvana
|nirvana without residue|
(1) According to the Hinayana tenet systems, the state of nirvana that shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhats, or a Buddha, attains immediately upon their death from the lifetime in which they attain nirvana with residue. No longer having a residue of tainted aggregates left, their mental continuum extinguishes, like a spent candle. (2) According to the Mahayana tenet systems other than Gelug Prasangika, the state that shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhats attain immediately upon their death from the lifetime in which they attain nirvana with residue. Although they no longer have a residue of tainted aggregates left, their mental continuums now go on in a purified form. (3) According to Gelug Prasangika, in reference to shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats, their state during total absorption on voidness, when there is no appearance-making of truly established existence. In reference to Buddhas, their Deep Awareness Dharmakayas.
|Tib: lhag-med mya-ngan 'das|
|nirvana with residue|
(1) According to the Hinayana tenet systems, the state of nirvana that a shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhat, or a Buddha, attains during his lifetime and which lasts only so long as the person is alive. This is so called because the person still has left a residue of tainted aggregates. (2) According to the Mahayana tenet systems other than Gelug Prasangika, the same as asserted by the Hinayana systems, but in reference only to shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats. (3) According to Gelug Prasangika, in reference to shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats, their state either during subsequent attainment (post-meditation) periods, when meditating on something other than voidness, or when not meditating at all. In reference to Buddhas, their Corpuses of Form.
|Tib: lhag-bcas-kyi mya-ngan 'das|
The past occurrence of something. According to Gelug Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, a static nonimplicative negation phenomenon; according to Gelug Prasangika, a nonstatic implicative negation phenomenon. Also translated as "passed-happening."
|nominal Buddha Gem||Tib: brdar-btags-pa'i sangs-rgyas dkon-mchog|
|nominal Dharma Gem||Tib: brdar-btags-pa'i chos dkon-mchog|
|nominal gem||Tib: brdar-btags-pa'i dkon-mchog|
|nominal Sangha Gem|
Four or more people from any of the four groups of the monastic sangha (full or novice monks or nuns), representing the Sangha that is an actual source of safe direction and serving as a basis for showing respect to the actual Sangha Gem.
|Tib: brdar-btags-pa'i dge-'dun dkon-mchog|
(1) According to the Hinayana tenet systems, the static unchanging state of full enlightenment attained by a Buddha and lasting only so long as he is alive. In this state, a Buddha does not abide in either the extreme of continued samsaric suffering or in the extreme of the passivity of a Hinayana arhat's nirvana without residue. (2) According to the Mahayana tenet systems, including Gelug Prasangika, the static unchanging state of full enlightenment attained by a Buddha and lasting forever, in which a Buddha does not abide in either the extreme of continued samsaric suffering or in the extreme of the passivity of a Hinayana arhat's nirvana without residue.
|Tib: mi-gnas-pa'i mya-ngan 'das|
A follower of a non-Buddhist Indian school of philosophy that asserts either an eternalist position of an unchanging static soul (atman) of a person or a nihilist position that denies the continuity of a person after death and/or the workings of karmic cause and effect.
|nonconceptual cognition||Tib: rtog-med shes-pa|
The relationship between nonstatic components of a cognition, in which two or more of them do not share five things in common. See: five congruent features. See also: noncongruent affecting variables.
|Tib: mtshungs-ldan med-pa|
|noncongruent affecting variable|
One of the three types of nonstatic phenomena -- those nonstatic phenomena that do not share five things in common with the primary consciousness and subsidiary awarenesses of the cognition in which they occur, and which are neither forms of physical phenomena nor ways of being aware of something. Sometimes translated as "nonstatic abstractions." See: five congruent features.
|Tib: ldan-min 'du-byed|
|nondenumerable ultimate phenomenon|
Voidnesses that are validly cognized nonconceptually. They are "nondenumerable" in the sense that they cannot be counted among what appears to minds validly cognizing phenomena through mentally labeling them with words and concepts, thus they are voidnesses that are "beyond words and beyond concepts."
|Tib: rnam-grangs ma-yin-pa'I don-dam|
A cognition of an object, in which (a) the involved object is an objective entity, (b) a mental aspect (mental hologram) of the involved object arises, but (c) there is no ascertainment (certainty, decisiveness) of what the involved object is or that the cognition of it has occurred. Also called: inattentive cognition.
|Tib: snang-la ma-nges-pa|
(1) In Gelug Prasangika, the absence (the voidness) of a manner of existence that does not correspond to the actual manner in which everything exists. (2) In non-Gelug Madhyamaka, within a cognition, the absence (the voidness) of a consciousness and its object as each having truly established existence, independently of each other. (3) In Chittamatra, within a cognition, the absence (the voidness) of a consciousness and its object as deriving from different natal sources.
A division of anuttarayoga tantra, specified only in the non-Gelug schools, in which there is equal emphasis on practices for generating the physical bodies of a Buddha and practices for generating the mind of a Buddha.
|Tib: gnyis-med rgyud|
Things that cannot be validly known.
(1) An validly knowable, existent object that does not perform a function -- in other words, it does not produce a result -- namely, a static phenomenon. (2) A nonexistent object, such as an impossible way of existing.
|nonimplicative negation exclusions of something else||Tib: med-dgag-gi gzhan-sel|
|nonimplicative negation phenomenon|
An exclusion of something else in which, after the sounds of the words that exclude the object to be negated have negated that object, they do not leave behind in their wake, explicitly or implicitly, something else. Some translators render the term as a "nonaffirming negation."
|nonobstructive unspecified phenomenon||Tib: ma-bsgribs-pa'i lung ma-bstan|
A subtle form of physical phenomenon, asserted only by the Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika schools, that is caused by a strong constructive or destructive motivation, but which does not show ("reveal") that motivation. Such a phenomenon is part of a mental continuum, but is not felt on that continuum; it does not degenerate from moment to moment; it can only be an object of mental cognition; and it must be either constructive or destructive. Examples are vows and one aspect of karmic impulses.
|Tib: rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa'i gzugs|
See: nonstatic phenomenon
Phenomena that are affected and supported by causes and circumstances and, consequently, change from moment to moment, and which produce effects. Their streams of continuity may have a beginning and an end, a beginning and no end, no beginning but an end, or no beginning and no end. Some translators render the term as "impermanent phenomena." They include forms of physical phenomena, ways of being aware of something, and noncongruent affecting variables, which are neither of the two.
|nonupsetting||Tib: zang-zing med-pa|
|normal awareness||Tib: tha-mal-gyi shes-pa|
|no sense of ethical self-dignity|
See: no moral self-dignity
|no sense of moral self-dignity|
See: no moral self-dignity
|Tib: ngo-tsha med-pa|
|nothing-other-than||Tib: ma-yin-pa-las log-pa|
The future occurrence of something. According to Gelug Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, a static nonimplicative negation phenomenon; according to Gelug Prasangika, a nonstatic implicative negation phenomenon.
See: negation phenomenon
The Old Translation Period tradition of Tibetan Buddhism deriving from Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava.
A follower of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.