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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
naivety

A subcategory of unawareness. The unawareness of behavioral cause and effect or of reality that accompanies only destructive states of mind or behavior. One of the three poisonous emotions.


J. Hopkins' translation: "obscuration."

Tib: gti-mug
Skt: moha
name

A combination of sounds that are assigned a meaning.

Tib: ming
nameable mental faculties with or without gross form, link of

See: nameable mental faculties with or without gross form

name and form

See: link of nameable mental faculties with or without gross form

narratives, ancient

See: ancient narratives

narratives, ethical

See: ethical narratives

natal source

That which gives rise to something, such as a womb for a baby or an oven for a loaf of bread.


J. Hopkins' translation: "substantial entity."

Tib: rdzas
Skt: dravya
natural inseparability

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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "natural lineage."

Tib: rang-bzhin gnas-rigs
naturally destructive uncommendable action

See: naturally uncommendable action

naturally inseparable aspects

See: natural inseparability

naturally uncommendable action

A negative action which, because it is destructive by nature, ripens into the experience of suffering by anyone who commits it.

Tib: rang-bzhin-gyi kha-na ma-tho-ba
natural nirvana

Equivalent to voidness (emptiness), the natural state of all phenomena being released from impossible ways of existing. Asserted only by the Mahayana tenet systems.

Tib: rang-bzhin-gyi mya-ngan 'das
natural stain

See: self-established stain

nature, actual

See: actual nature

nature, essential

See: essential nature

nature, functional

See: functional nature

Nature Body

See: Corpus of Essential Nature

near lineage

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.

Tib: nye-brgyud
negatingly known phenomenon

See: negation phenomenon

negation

See: negation phenomenon

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."


J. Hopkins' translation: "negative/negative phenomenon."

Tib: dgag-pa
negation phenomenon, implicative

See: implicative negation phenomenon

negation phenomenon, nonimplicative

See: nonimplicative negation phenomenon

negative force

See: negative karmic force

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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "sin; moral wrong-doing; scorpion."

Tib: sdig-pa
Skt: papa
negative potential

See: negative 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."


J. Hopkins' translation: "accumulation of wisdom; collection of wisdom."

Tib: ye-shes-kyi tshogs
Skt: jnanasambhara
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."


J. Hopkins' translation: "accumulation of merit; collection of merit."

Tib: bsod-nams-kyi tshogs
Skt: punyasambhara
neutral feeling

That feeling which, when it arises, one neither wants to be parted from it, nor, when it stops, one wishes to meet it again.


J. Hopkins' translation: "neutral feeling, equanimity."

Tib: btang-snyoms
Skt: upeksha
New Translation

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.

Tib: Sar-ma
New Transmission

See: New Translation

ngondro

See: preliminary practices

Nirmanakaya

See: Corpus of Emanations

nirvana

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."


J. Hopkins' translation: "nirvANa; liberation; liberated."

Tib: mya-ngan-'das
Skt: nirvana
nirvana, acquired

See: acquired nirvana

nirvana, natural

See: natural nirvana

nirvana, nonabiding

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
Skt: nirupadhishesha-nirvana
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
Skt: sopadhishesha-nirvana
noble one

See: arya

no-longer-happening

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."


J. Hopkins' translation: "past; pass away; go beyond; pastness."

Tib: 'das-pa
nominal Buddha Gem

A painting or statue of a Buddha, representing a Buddha that is an actual source of safe direction and serving as a basis for showing respect to an actual Buddha Gem.

Tib: brdar-btags-pa'i sangs-rgyas dkon-mchog
nominal Dharma Gem

Printed Dharma texts, representing the Dharma that is an actual source of safe direction and serving as a basis for showing respect to the actual Dharma Gem.

Tib: brdar-btags-pa'i chos dkon-mchog
nominal gem

Representations of the Three Rare and Supreme Gems, which themselves are not actual sources of safe direction, but which serve as a basis for showing respect to them.

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
nonabiding nirvana

(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
Skt: apratisthita-nirvana
nonaffirming negation

See: nonimplicative negation phenomenon

non-anger

See: imperturbability

nonattachment

See: detachment

non-Buddhist extremist

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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "Forder{N}."

Tib: mu-stegs-pa
Skt: tirthika
nonconceptuailty

A state of mind that cognizes an object without the filter of a concept, idea, category, or universal.

nonconceptual cognition

Cognition of an object, without that cognition being through the medium of a universal, a category, or a mental label.

Tib: rtog-med shes-pa
noncongruent

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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "non-associated compositional factors."

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
nondetermining cognition

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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "awareness to which an object appears but is not ascertained."

Tib: snang-la ma-nges-pa
nondual

(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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "non-duality; non-dual; non-dualistic."

Tib: gnyis-med
nondual tantra

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
nonexistent phenomenon

See: nonexistents

nonexistents

Things that cannot be validly known.


J. Hopkins' translation: "nonexistent."

Tib: med-pa
nonfallacious

Not incorrect.


J. Hopkins' translation: "inevitable; [not-deceive]; incontrovertible; ineluctible; undeceived."

Tib: mi-bslu-ba
nonfunctional phenomenon

(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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "non-thing; that which is not a [functioning] thing; non-existent."

Tib: dngos-med
nonimplicative negation exclusions of something else

Synonymous with nonimplicative negation phenomena, and thus include voidnesses, spaces, and other absences.


J. Hopkins' translation: "other-eliminator that is a non-affirming negative."

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."


J. Hopkins' translation: "non-affirming negation, nonaffirming negative phenomenon."

Tib: med-dgag
nonobstructive unspecified phenomenon

A phenomenon that Buddha did not specify as being either constructive or destructive, and which does not hinder the attainment of liberation.

Tib: ma-bsgribs-pa'i lung ma-bstan
Skt: anivrta-avyakrta
nonrevealing form

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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "non-revelatory form."

Tib: rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa'i gzugs
Skt: avijnaptirupa
nonstatic

See: nonstatic phenomenon

nonstatic abstraction

See: noncongruent affecting variable

nonstaticness

The noncongruent affecting variable of changing from moment to moment, under the influence of causes and circumstances. Sometimes translated as "impermanence."


J. Hopkins' translation: "impermanence."

Tib: mi-rtag-pa
Skt: anitya
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.


J. Hopkins' translation: "impermanence."

Tib: mi-rtag-pa
Skt: anitya
nonupsetting

A way of being aware of something that shares five congruent features with an arya's total absorption on voidness.


J. Hopkins' translation: "non-object; not disarranged; unconfused; non-thing."

Tib: zang-zing med-pa
nonvirtuous

See: destructive

normal awareness

In the Karma Kagyu system, a synonym for clear light mind, which is "normal" in the sense that it is the primordial, natural state that has always been the case.

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


J. Hopkins' translation: "non-shame."

Tib: ngo-tsha med-pa
nothing-other-than

An implicative negation phenomenon that leaves behind in its wake what is left when one excludes or eliminates everything that is not a specific object.


J. Hopkins' translation: "opposite from not being; opposite from non-; non-non."

Tib: ma-yin-pa-las log-pa
not-yet-happening

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.

Tib: ma-'ong-pa
nullification

See: negation phenomenon

Nyingma

The Old Translation Period tradition of Tibetan Buddhism deriving from Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava.


J. Hopkins' translation: "Nying-ma."

Tib: rNying-ma
Nyingmapa

A follower of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


J. Hopkins' translation: "Nying-ma-ba (Old Translation) Order."

Tib: rNying-ma-pa
nyingtig

See: heart essence teachings

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