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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:

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EnglishDefinitionTibetan / Sanskrit

One of the New Translation traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, deriving from the reforms made by Tsongkhapa.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Ge-luk."

Tib: dGe-lugs

A follower of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Ge-luk-pa."

Tib: dGe-lugs-pa
general awareness

In the Karma Kagyu system, the aspect of mental activity that gives rise to and is aware of the appearing (the arising in general) of an awareness of an object and an object that one is aware of. In a looser sense, awareness of the general features of an entire sensory or mental field that one cognizes, so that one gets an overview.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Intellect/mentality."

Tib: yid

See: conceptual category

generation stage

The first stage of anuttarayoga practice, during which one uses the powers of imagination to generate oneself in the form of a Buddha-figure and performs a sadhana.

J. Hopkins' translation: "stage of generation."

Tib: bskyed-rim

(1) In Theravada, the mental factor of wishing to give material things to all beings, so that they may be happy, without investigating whether or not they are worthy to receive them. (2) In Mahayana, the mental urge that leads one to wish to give to others all that is one's own – one's body, material wealth, and the roots of one's constructive actions. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, it becomes a far-reaching attitude. Also translated as "giving."

J. Hopkins' translation: "donation; verb: give; bestow; present noun: giving; gift; present; alms."

Tib: sbyin-pa
Skt: dana

(1) In the Kadam tradition, a title given to a spiritual mentor and friend, especially those that are masters of attitude-training (lojong). (2) In the Gelug tradition, a title given to those who have completed the monastic education system.

J. Hopkins' translation: "ge-shay."

Tib: dge-bshes
Skt: kalyanamitra

See: generosity

giving and taking

With love, giving one's happiness to others, and with compassion, taking on their suffering. Often practiced with visualizations and in coordination with the breath, this is a practice done in conjunction with exchanging one's attitudes about self with others. Often called by the Tibetan term "tonglen."

giving rise to

See: making arise

giving rise to appearances

See: appearance-making

go for refuge to the Three Gems

See: take safe direction from the Three Gems

golden libation

(1) An offering of a liquid, most commonly alcohol, made usually to a Dharma protector and ideally offered in a golden bowl. (2) The ritual that accompanies this offering.

Tib: gser-skyems
good qualities

Helpful aspects or beneficial talents of a person that are corrections of inadequacies.

J. Hopkins' translation: "good qualities; good quality; virtue; attainment; quality."

Tib: yon-tan
Skt: guna
gorges, dangerous

See: dangerous gorges

grasping for true existence

See: grasping for truly established existence

grasping for truly established existence

(1) Both to cognize (literally, take as a cognitive object) the appearance of the world as having truly established existence, which the habits of this grasping cause the mind to fabricate and project, as well as believing this deceptive appearance to correspond to how things actually exist, (2) simply cognizing the appearance of the world as having truly established existence, without actually believing this deceptive appearance to correspond to how things actually exist. Gelug asserts both definitions, while non-Gelug asserts only the first. Abbreviated as "grasping for true existence."

J. Hopkins' translation: "conception of true existence."

Tib: bden-'dzin
Skt: satyagraha
great approximation retreat

A three-year, three-month retreat focusing exclusively on one Buddha-figure (deity) system, in which one recites tens of millions of mantras and makes millions of offerings in fire pujas.

Tib: bsnyen-chen
great compassion

The wish for everyone to be free from suffering and from the causes for suffering.

Tib: snying-rje chen-po
Skt: mahakaruna
great completeness

See: dzogchen

Greater Vehicle

See: Mahayana

great love

The wish for everyone to be happy and to have the causes for happiness.

Tib: byams-pa chen-po
Skt: mahamaitri
great seal

See: mahamudra

gross detection

The subsidiary awareness (mental factor) that investigates something roughly, such as detecting if there are mistakes on a page. According to Asanga, one of the four changeable subsidiary awarenesses. Also translated as "investigation."

J. Hopkins' translation: "conceptual consciousness; thought; investigation."

Tib: rtog-pa
gross impermanence

The final destruction or disintegration of a nonstatic phenomenon.

Tib: mi-rtag-pa rags-pa
guideline instructions

Beneficial practical advice concerning spiritual practice.

J. Hopkins' translation: "instruction, preceptual instruction."

Tib: gdams-ngag
guideline teachings

Honorific for guideline instructions. See: guideline instructions.

Tib: zhal-gdams

See: relating to a spiritual mentor in a healthy manner

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