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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:

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EnglishDefinitionTibetan / Sanskrit
Kadam

One of the New Translation Period traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, deriving from Atisha's visit to Tibet. After its branches were merged and reformed, it continued as the Gelug tradition.


J. Hopkins' translation: "[word-advice]; the Ga-dam school [name of lineage traced to Atiza]; name of mansion; advice; instruction; counsel; preceptual instruction; advisory speech; exhortation."

Tib: bKa'-gdams
Kadampa

A follower of the Kadam tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.


J. Hopkins' translation: "Ga-dam-ba [a Tibetan order, or person of that order]."

Tib: bKa'-gdams-pa
Kadampa Geshe

A spiritual master and friend from the Kadam tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, especially one who is an extremely humble, down-to-earth master of attitude-training.

Tib: bKa'-gdams-pa dge-bshes
Kagyu

One of the New Translation Period traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. It has two branches, Shangpa Kagyu deriving from Kyungpo Neljor and Dagpo Kagyu deriving from the line Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa.


J. Hopkins' translation: "Ka-gyu."

Tib: bKa'-brgyud
Kagyupa

A follower of one of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tib: bKa'-brgyud-pa
Kagyur

See: Kangyur

Kalachakra tantra root downfall

A transgression of one of the version of the root tantric vows that is specific to the practice of Kalachakra.

Kama

The god of desire in Hindu mythology.

Tib: 'dod-pa'i lha
Kangyur

The collection of the Tibetan translations of the enlightening words of the Buddha.


J. Hopkins' translation: "Translated Word of Buddha."

Tib: bKa'-'gyur
Kanjur

See: Kangyur

Kargyu

See: Kagyu

karma

(1) In all Tibetan Buddhist systems except Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika, equivalent to a subcategory of the mental factor (subsidiary awareness), an urge. It is the mental factor that brings the mind in the direction of a specific physical, verbal, or mental action. (2) In the Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika, with respect to mental karmic actions, it is the mental factor of the urge that brings the mind in the direction of that action. With respect to physical or verbal karmic actions, it is (a) the revealing form of the physical impulse of the physical action or the sound of the words of the verbal action, plus (b) the nonrevealing form of the subtle invisible "vibration" of the action, which continues during and after the action. Some translators render the term "karma" as "action." (3) A general term used loosely for behavioral cause and effect. Also called: karmic impulse.


J. Hopkins' translation: "action."

Tib: las
Skt: karma
Karma Kagyu

One of the four major Dagpo Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhsim deriving from direct disciples of Gampopa, in this case the First Karmapa.

Tib: Kar-ma bka'-brgyud
karmic action

A physical, verbal, or mental action brought on by and sustained by a karmic impulse.

karmic aftermath

A general, nontechnical term for everything left over on someone's mental continuum as a consequence of having committed a karmic action. It includes karmic potentials, a network of karmic force, karmic tendencies, and karmic constant habits. According to the Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika tenet systems, also included, for physical and verbal actions, is a second phase of subtle karmic energy.

karmic constant habit

A type of karmic aftermath, imputable on one's mental continuum as an unspecified (ethically neutral) noncongruent affecting variable after having committed a karmic action, and which ripens into a result every moment until a true stopping of it has been achieved. Some translators render it as "habit" or "instinct."


J. Hopkins' translation: "predisposing latency/predisposition."

Tib: bag-chags
Skt: vasana
karmic energy

A general term for both positive and negative karmic energy. A constructive or destructive phenomenon that is the first phase of the karmic force of a karmic action.(1) In all Tibetan Buddhist systems except Vaibhashika and the Gelug Prasangika presentation, it is equivalent to the karmic action itself, from the point of view of what will ripen into a result intermittently. (2) In the Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika systems, this is the case only regarding mental karmic actions. With regard to physical and verbal karmic actions, it is equivalent to the karma of the action -- both its revealing and nonrevealing forms.

karmic force

A general term for both positive and negative karmic force -- the type of karmic aftermath that is either a constructive or destructive phenomenon and which will ripen into a result intermittently. (1) In all Tibetan Buddhist systems except Vaibhashika and the Gelug Prasangika presentation, it has two phases (a) the karmic energy, referring to the karmic action itself, and (b) the karmic potential, which is the karmic force that has taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency (karmic seed). (2) In the Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika system, this is the case only regarding mental karmic actions. With regard to physical and verbal karmic actions, the karma of the action -- both its revealing and nonrevealing forms, as well as the karmic force that has taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency.

karmic force, negative

See: negative karmic force

karmic force, positive

See: positive karmic force

karmic force that has taken on the essential nature of a karmic tendency

A synonym for "karmic potential."

Tib: sa-bon-gyi ngo-bor gyur-ba
karmic habit

A synonym for "karmic latency."


J. Hopkins' translation: "predisposing latency/predisposition."

Tib: bag-chags
Skt: vasana
karmic impulse

See: karma

karmic impulse for further existence

A karmic impulse that activates the karmic aftermath of throwing karma just before one dies, thus enabling the aftermath to ripen into a next rebirth. Abbreviated as "further existence."

Tib: yang-srid sgrub-pa'i las
karmic latency

A general term for all karmic aftermath -- namely, karmic potentials, karmic tendencies, and karmic constant habits.


J. Hopkins' translation: "predisposing latency/predisposition."

Tib: bag-chags
Skt: vasana
karmic legacy

A general term for all karmic aftermath that ripen into a result intermittently -- namely, karmic potentials and karmic tendencies.


J. Hopkins' translation: "seed."

Tib: sa-bon
Skt: bija
karmic potential

A general term for either positive or negative karmic potential. The phase of a karmic force that is a type of either constructive or destructive karmic aftermath, imputable as a noncongruent affecting variable on one's mental continuum after having committed a karmic action and which ripens into a result intermittently. (1) In all Tibetan Buddhist systems except Vaibhashika and the Gelug Prasangika presentation, it follows immediately after the karmic action ceases. (2) In the Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika systems, this is the case only with mental karmic actions. In the case of physical and verbal karmic actions, it is the phase of karmic force that follows immediately after the nonrevealing form of the action ceases.

karmic tendency

A type of karmic aftermath that is ethically neutral (unspecified as being either constructive or destructive), which is imputable on one's mental continuum after having committed a karmic action, and which ripens into a result only intermittently. Literally, a "karmic seed."


J. Hopkins' translation: "seed."

Tib: sa-bon
Skt: bija
kaya

See: Corpus of a Buddha

key points

The most important main points of a topic.

Tib: gnad
kind mental synthesis

The type of phenomenon that a specific individual item is an instance of, such as "a table" imputed on a specific instance of something having legs and a flat surface. This is equivalent to the conventional identity of something.


J. Hopkins' translation: "type generality; type-generality."

Tib: rigs-spyi
kindness

A beneficial action that is of help to others.


J. Hopkins' translation: "kindness; grace."

Tib: drin
kindness, remembering

See: remembering kindness

kindness, repaying

See: repaying kindness

kind synthesis

See: kind mental synthesis

kind universal

See: kind mental synthesis

klesha

See: disturbing emotion or attitude

knowing, seven ways of

See: seven ways of knowing

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