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|
|effulgent rigpa||Tib: rtsal-gyi rig-pa|
|eight sets of realizations|
also translated as: eight phenomena.
|Tib: dngos-po brgyad|
|eight transitory things in life|
Praise or criticism, good or bad news, gains or losses, things going well or poorly -- or, more specifically, the emotional ups and downs of overexcitement and depression in response to these eight. Also called the "eight worldly dharmas."
|Tib: 'jig-rten-pa'i chos-brgyad|
|eight worldly concerns|
|eight worldly dharmas|
|eliminations of something else|
|embodied being||Tib: lus-can|
See: definite emergence
Fleeting stains that temporarily "cover" or accompany mental activity (more precisely, clear light mental activity), thereby preventing the mental activity from cognizing phenomena without accompanying disturbing emotions or attitudes. They include the disturbing emotions and attitudes, as well as their tendencies (seeds), and prevent the attainment of liberation from samsara, Also translated as "obscurations that are the disturbing emotions and attitudes"and "obscurations preventing liberation."
A tantric ritual that activates and empowers Buddha-nature factors to grow so that, through repeated, sustained tantric practice, they will eventually transform into the Three Corpuses (Bodies) of a Buddha. An empowerment also plants new seeds, or potentials, that will likewise grow in the same manner. The term is often translated as "initiation."
|empowerment, discriminating deep awareness|
See: fourth empowerment
See: secret empowerment
|empowerment, vajra deep awareness|
See: vase empowerment
See: word empowerment
See: karmic energy
See: central energy-channel
See: left energy-channel
See: right energy-channel
Also called: energy-wind breaths
See: subtle energy-winds
A mind of bodhichitta which, when focused on one's own individual not-yet-happening enlightenment, imputable on the basis of the Buddha-nature factors of one's mental continuum, is committed to attaining that enlightenment by having taken bodhisattva vows and which then enters into the type of behavior that will bring one to enlightenment.
See: cognitive engagement
Also translated as: secret, hidden
|enlightening deeds||Tib: mdzad-pa|
The unceasing, unending, effortless activity of a Buddha, which helps bring all limited beings to higher rebirth, liberation, and enlightenment. Such activity does not require a Buddha actually doing anything: a Buddha's attainment itself exerts a positive influence on others to pacify disturbance, stimulate the growth of good qualities, bring disorder under control, and forcefully end any harm. Also translated as: "Buddha-activity."
|Tib: Tibetan |
A truly existent "thing," either objective or metaphysical, that exists as a findable "thing" on its own, established as that "thing" by its own power from its own side.
See: objective entities
Presentations of the vast and profound aspects of such topics as the six far-reaching attitudes (six perfections) and ten arya bodhisattva levels of bhumi-mind (ten bhumis) of The Basket of the Mahayana or Bodhisattva Sutras. One of the twelve scriptural categories.
|Tib: shin-tu rgyas-pa|
|equalizing and exchanging our attitudes about self and others|
|equalizing and exchanging self and others|
A method for developing a bodhichitta aim, consisting of (1) developing mere equanimity, (2) developing uncommon Mahayana equanimity, as a way to regard all others equally in the same way as one regards oneself, (3) thinking of the disadvantages of a self-cherishing attitude, (4) thinking of the advantages of cherishing others, (5) giving and taking, with attitudes of love and compassion, as a way of exchanging one's attitudes about self and others, (6) exceptional resolve, and (7) developing a bodhichitta aim.
|Tib: bdag-gzhan mnyam-brje|
|equalizing deep awareness|
One of the five types of deep awareness that all beings have as an aspect of Buddha-nature. The deep awareness that is aware of several items as belonging equally to the same category, or as fitting into the same pattern. Also called: deep awareness of the equality of things.
|Tib: mnyam-nyid ye-shes|
|equalizing self and others|
Developing an equal attitude toward all beings, with the same regard as one has toward oneself.
|Tib: bdag-gzhan mnyam-pa|
|equal status cause||Tib: skal-mnyam-gyi rgyu|
(1) The mental factor (subsidiary awareness) of having an equal attitude toward everyone. (2) In Theravada, when conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, the tenth of the ten far-reaching attitudes -- the attitude with which one does not expect anything in return for one's help, being indifferent to pleasure and pain, and to any benefit or harm one might receive.
See: uncommon equanimity
See: mere equanimity
|equanimity, uncommon Mahayana|
See: uncommon equanimity
See: total absorption
A pathway of mahamudra practice concerning the nature of the mind in which specially qualified disciples receive the inspiration of the realizations all the lineage masters through receiving a vajra deep awareness empowerment and thereby achieve realization of mind-itself, equivalent to a seeing pathway mind. As "those for whom it happens all at once," they achieve enlightenment simultaneously with this realization. Also known as "the singular sufficient white panacea."
|Tib: snying-po'i phyag-chen|
|essence rigpa||Tib: ngo-bo'i rig-pa|
|essential nature||Tib: ngo-bo|
|essential nature, same|
|ethical narratives||Tib: gleng-bzhi|
(1) In Theravada, the subsidiary awareness (mental factor) to avoid doing any harm to others, by keeping one's vows, free from anger or ill-will even if others harm one. (2) In Mahayana, the mental urge to safeguard the actions of one's body, speech, and mind, which comes from having turned one's mind away from any wish to cause harm to others and from the disturbing and destructive mental factors that had motivated one to harm others. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, it becomes a far-reaching attitude.
A tranquil state of mind that stays in the middle with regard to being either happy or unhappy, in all circumstances, such as when meeting with or parting from friends. Literally, "a state of standing in the middle."
|ever-functioning mental factor|
|ever-functioning subsidiary awareness|
According to Asanga, a set of five subsidiary awarenesses that accompany every moment of cognition: feeling a level of happiness, distinguishing, an urge, contacting awareness, and paying attention or taking to mind.
(1) In the Chittamatra system, the tendencies (seeds) that, newly gained by listening, contemplating and meditating on Buddha's teachings, are imputable on the basis of the stained minds of each limited being and which serve as factors allowing that being to attain arya pathway minds. (2) In the Svatantrika-Madhyamaka system, the factors, imputable on the basis of the stained mind of each limited being, that are fit to become the essential nature of a deep awareness Dharmakaya. (3) In the Prasangika-Madhyamaka system, the factors imputable on the basis of the stained mind of each limited being that are fit to become the essential natures of a Corpus of Forms and a deep awareness Dharmakaya of a Buddha.
|Tib: rgyas-'gyur-gyi rigs|
|exceptionally perceptive state of mind|
A state of mind that, in addition to being stilled and settled (shamatha), is accompanied by an additional sense of fitness -- the subsidiary awareness of feeling totally fit to discern and understand fully the subtle details of anything. Vipashyana is not necessarily focused on voidness or on the four noble truths, although most commonly in sutra it is. Other translators render the term as "special insight."
|exceptional resolve||Tib: lhag-bsam|
|exceptional sincerity||Tib: lhag-bsam|
|exchanging one's attitudes about self and others.|
|exchanging self and others||Tib: bdag-gzhan brje-pa|
|exclusions, nonimplicative negation|
|exclusions of something else|
Phenomena specified in terms of the conceptual cognition that cognizes the phenomenon explicitly precluding an object to be negated. Synonymous with negation phenomena, they include both implicative and nonimplicative negation phenomena. (1) According to Gelug, they may be either static or nonstatic. (2) According to non-Gelug, they are all static phenomena.
See: true existence
|existence established as true|
See: true existence
|existence established by self-nature|
Existence of something established or proven by the fact that the referent object of the imputation of it can be found upon searching for it. For example, the existence of a table established or proven by the fact that when one searches for the object that the mental label "table" refers to, one can find the object, a "table." Also translated as "self-established existence," it is often translated by others as "inherent existence."
|Tib: rang-bzhin-gyis grub-pa|
|explicit apprehension||Tib: dngos-su rtogs-pa|
|explicit suggestive meaning|
One of the six alternative meanings. When an expression in a root tantra text has two dissimilar meanings, the literal, evident, or face value meaning of the expression. It suggests or leads one on to the second meaning (the implicit suggested meaning), which is dissimilar to what is actually said on face value.
|expositions on themes of practice|
See: external phenomenon
A nonstatic phenomenon that arises from a natal source different from the natal source of the consciousness that cognizes it -- namely, from a natal source that is not connected with the mental continuum of the individual who cognizes it.
Physical bodies having abilities that are beyond the usual capacity of the body -- such as the ability to run great distances at an incredible speed, to fly, to increase or decrease in size, to multiply, to walk on water, to pass beneath the earth, and so on -- which are produced (emanated) from karma, recitation of mantra, the power of specially consecrated substances, or the power of an actual state of the first level of mental stability (the first dhyana).
|extrasensory divine eye|
Cognition that is able to "see" in the sense of know, future rebirths. One of the five extrasensory eyes gained as a byproduct of the attainment of an actual state of the first level of mental stability (the first dhyana).
|Tib: lha'i spyan|
|extrasensory eye of deep awareness||Tib: ye-shes-kyi spyan|
|extrasensory eye of discriminating awareness|
Cognition that is able to "see" voidness nonconceptually. One of the five extrasensory eyes gained as a byproduct of the attainment of an actual state of the first level of mental stability (the first dhyana)..
|Tib: shes-rab-kyi spyan|
|extrasensory eye of the Dharma|
One of the five extrasensory eyes gained as a byproduct of the attainment of an actual state of the first level of mental stability (the first dhyana). (1) According to the Gelug explanation, cognition that is able to understand the mental capacities of others, in order to be able to teach them appropriately. (2) According to the Karma Kagyu explanation, a Buddha's omniscient awareness that possesses the ten forces that enable a Buddha to lead all beings to enlightenment.
|Tib: chos-kyi spyan|
|extrasensory flesh eye|
Cognition that is able to see great distances without obstruction, to see through solid objects such as walls, to see in all directions at the same time, and so on. One of the five extrasensory eyes gained as a byproduct of the attainment of an actual state of the first level of mental stability (the first dhyana).
|Tib: sha'i spyan|
See: advanced awareness
|extremely obscure phenomenon|
A validly knowable phenomenon that can be apprehended through authoritative texts or speech, such as the enlightening words of the Buddha, or that can be apprehended through the words of persons who are valid sources of information.
|Tib: shin-tu lkog-gyur|
The disturbing attitude that regards one's five samsara-perpetuating aggregates in either an eternalist or nihilistic way. (1) According to Vasubandhu, an extreme outlook that views the samsara-producing aggregate factors themselves as either lasting eternally or ending totally at death, with no continuity in future lives. (2) According to Tsongkhapa, a disturbing, deluded discriminating awareness that focuses on the conventional "me" and considers it either as having a truly existent identity permanently or as not having continuity in future lives.
|Tib: mthar-'dzin-pa'i lta-ba|
|eye of deep awareness, extrasensory|
|eye of discriminating awareness, extrasensory|
|eye of the Dharma, extrasensory|