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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:

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
balanced sensitivity

The mental state of being neither overly or underly attentive and neither overly, underly, or inappropriately responsive, both with feelings and actions, to either the situation of others or oneself, or the effect of one's behavior on others or on oneself.


The state of existence from the moment immediately after death until the moment immediately before conception. Translated as the "inbetween state."

J. Hopkins' translation: "intermediate state."

Tib: bar-do
Skt: antarabhava
bardo existence

The period of time in the mental continuum of an individual limited being starting from the moment immediately after death until the moment immediately before conception.

Tib: bar-do'i srid-pa
bare absence

The natural state of being without concepts or conceptual cognition, which is the natural state or nature of awareness (mind). Also translated as "bareness."

J. Hopkins' translation: "clear emptiness; [empty-pure]."

Tib: stong-sang
bare cognition

Cognition of a cognitive object without that cognition being through the medium of a concept, universal, or category.

J. Hopkins' translation: "direct perception."

Tib: mngon-sum
Skt: pratyaksha

See: bare absence

bases for conceptually isolated items

In Gelug, equivalent to individually characterized object exclusions of something else, which serve as the bases for imputation of the corresponding conceptually isolated items. For instance, the nonstatic negation phenomenon "nothing other than 'this,'" implicitly apprehended when explicitly apprehending "this" and which serves as the basis for imputation of the static negation phenomenon "nothing other than this," which is the mental representation of "nothing other than 'this'" in the conceptual cognition of "this."

J. Hopkins' translation: "basis-isolate, illustration-isolate, illustration simpliciter."

Tib: gzhi-ldog
basis for all

A synonym for rigpa (pure awareness), used primarily in treasure texts of the mind division.

J. Hopkins' translation: "basis-of-all."

Tib: kun-gzhi
Skt: alaya
basis for designation

See: basis for labeling

basis for imputation

See: basis for labeling

basis for labeling

A phenomenon on which another phenomenon is mentally labeled. Also translated as "basis for imputation" or "basis for designation."

J. Hopkins' translation: "basis of designation."

Tib: gdags-gzhi
basis level

In the context of basis, pathway, and resultant levels of something being specified, the level of something - for instance, the level of Buddha-nature -- that occurs in general, whether or not one has achieved some attainment on the Buddhist spiritual path.

J. Hopkins' translation: "base/foundation."

Tib: gzhi
basis rigpa

Pure awareness (rigpa) from the point of view of it being a type of Buddha-nature or working basis for attaining enlightenment.

Tib: gzhi'i rig-pa

See: link of further existence

behavior, tamed

See: tamed behavior

behavioral cause and effect

The principles of karma, whereby certain actions produce certain effects. The cause is one's behavior – how one acts, speaks, and thinks – and the effect is what one experiences. Behavioral cause and effect is about the connection between one's behavior and what one experiences as a result.

J. Hopkins' translation: "effect(s) of action(s); action(s) and effect(s)."

Tib: las-'bras
being, divine

See: divine being

being, individual

See: person

being, limited

See: limited being

being, ordinary

See: ordinary being

being, sentient

See: limited being

being true to one's word

The mental state with which, once one gives one's word to do something to benefit others, one does not break one's promise. The seventh of the ten far-reaching attitudes developed by bodhisattvas according to the Theravada tradition.

J. Hopkins' translation: "truth."

Tib: bden-pa
Skt: satya
belief in a fact, clearheaded

See: clearheaded belief in a fact

belief in a fact based on reason

A constructive emotion that considers a fact about something to be true, based on having thought, with logic, about the reasons that prove it. Also called "confident belief."

J. Hopkins' translation: "faith of conviction."

Tib: yid-ches-kyi dad-pa
belief in a fact with an aspiration

A constructive emotion that considers true both a fact about something and a wish one holds about that object, such as that one can attain a positive goal and that one will attain it.

J. Hopkins' translation: "faith of wishing [to attain]."

Tib: mngon-'dod-kyi dad-pa
belief in facts

See: believing a fact to be true

believing a fact to be true

A constructive emotion that focuses on something existent and validly knowable, something with good qualities, or an actual potential, and considers it either existent or true, or considers a fact about it as true. Some translators render the term as "faith."

J. Hopkins' translation: "faith."

Tib: dad-pa
Skt: shraddha
believing a fact to be true based on reason

See: belief in a fact based on reason

J. Hopkins' translation: "faith of conviction."

Tib: yid-ches-kyi dad-pa

The mental factor of wishing to benefit others, wishing others well. Often translated by others as "altruism."

Tib: phan-sems

A naive state of mind of not know what is happening.

J. Hopkins' translation: "obscuration; delusion; confusion; ignorance; dullness."

Tib: rmongs-pa

See: Vanquishing Master Surpassing All


A level of mind of an arya bodhisattva with either a seeing or an accustoming pathway mind. Some translators render the term as "bodhisattva stage" or simply as "stage" or "ground."

J. Hopkins' translation: "ground/earth."

Tib: sa
Skt: bhumi
binding factors, four

See: four binding factors

Blessed One

See: Vanquishing Master Surpassing All


See: inspiration


See: blissful awareness

blissful awareness

A state of mind, either tainted or untainted, characterized by varying levels of intensity of happiness. Some of the untainted ones can be utilized in anuttarayoga tantra practice as the type of awareness with which to focus on voidness, and as an aid for dissolving the energy-winds in the central channel in order to gain access to clear light awareness.

J. Hopkins' translation: "bliss, happiness, pleasure."

Tib: bde-ba
Skt: sukha
Blissfully Gone One

An epithet of a Buddha - one who has reached the blissful goal of enlightenment through methods that produce happiness along the way to reaching that goal.

J. Hopkins' translation: "One-Gone-to-Bliss."

Tib: bde-bar gshegs-pa
Skt: sugata

See: purified state


Usually used in the meaning of relative bodhichitta: A mind or heart focused first on the benefit of all limited beings and then on one's own individual not-yet-happening enlightenment, validly imputable on the basis of the Buddha-nature factors of one's mental continuum, with the intention to attain that enlightenment and to benefit others by means of that attainment. Alternative Tibetan: byang-sems.

Tib: byang-chub-gyi sems
Skt: bodhicitta
bodhichitta, aspiring

See: aspiring bodhichitta

bodhichitta, conventional

See: conventional bodhichitta

bodhichitta, deepest

See: deepest bodhichitta

bodhichitta, engaged

See: engaged bodhichitta

bodhichitta, pledged aspiring

See: pledged state of aspiring bodhichitta

bodhichitta, pledged state of aspiring

See: pledged state of aspiring bodhichitta

bodhichitta, relative

See: conventional bodhichitta

bodhichitta, ultimate

See: deepest bodhichitta

bodhichitta, unlabored

See: unlabored bodhichitta

bodhichitta aim

The type of aim, goal, or focus that a bodhichitta mind has. Used as a synonym for bodhichitta.

bodhichitta motivation

The kind of motivation that bodhichitta is. Used as a synonym for bodhichitta.


Someone who has developed unlabored bodhichitta.

Tib: byang-chub sems-dpa'
Skt: bodhisattva
bodhisattva arhats of definite lineage

Bodhisattvas who have been definite about their lineage as bodhisattvas from before attaining arhatship and thus who have attained arhatship as bodhisattvas and not as shravakas or pratyekabuddhas before developing bodhichitta.

Tib: rigs-nges-pa'i byang-sems
bodhisattva bhumis

See: bhumi-mind

bodhisattva vows

The set of restraints from committing certain actions (eighteen root downfalls and forty-six faulty actions) that, if committed, would be detrimental to achieving enlightenment and benefiting all others.

Tib: byang-sems sdom-pa
body, rainbow

See: rainbow body

body, subtle

See: subtle body

body, subtlest

See: subtlest body

body, vajra

See: vajra-body

Body Encompassing Everything

See: Corpus Encompassing Everything

body mandala

A network of Buddha-figures arranged inside the body of a Buddha-figure.

Tib: lus-dkyil
Body of Deep Awareness' Enlightening Influence

See: Corpus of Deep Awareness' Enlightening Influence

Body of Deep Awareness Encompassing Everything

See: Corpus of Deep Awareness' Encompassing Everything

Body of Essential Nature

See: Corpus of Essential Nature

Body of Forms

See: Corpus of Forms

Body of Full Use

See: Corpus of Full Use

Body of Great Bliss

See: Corpus of Great Bliss

Body of Manifest Enlightenment

See: Corpus of Manifest Enlightenment


The pre-Buddhist spiritual tradition of Tibet.

Tib: bon
bonding practice

A type of behavior or a state of mind, which, when practiced, maintains a close connection with either a certain tantra or a certain spiritual master. Also called: closely bonding practice, close bond.

J. Hopkins' translation: "[promise-word]; promise; pledge; vow."

Tib: dam-tshig
Skt: samaya
bonding practices, auxiliary

See: auxiliary bonding practices

bonding substances

Substances, such as alcohol and meat, purified, transformed, and consecrated during a tantra ritual and offered to a Buddha-figure in order to maintain a close bond (close connection) with that figure, as one has promised to do.

Tib: dam-rdzas

A follower of the Bon tradition.

Tib: bon-po
boon experience

In mahamudra meditation, an experience of bliss, clarity, nonconceptuality, and bareness that arises as a bonus result of the attainment of a stilled and settled state of shamatha. With this experience, the meditator still has a dualistic sense of there being the meditator on the one side and, on the other, these four as things to be meditated on or experienced.

J. Hopkins' translation: "visionary experience."

Tib: nyams
bountiful field

A bountiful field for growing positive force, and that is shortened to bountiful field. It is usually translated as merit-field by others. Bountiful here means that it gives abundant crop.

Tib: tshogs-shing
bountiful store of positive force

See: network of positive force


The practice, and resultant stage of the practice, in dzogchen during which one "breaks through" the level of limited mind (sems) and both recognizes and accesses essence rigpa, thereby attaining a seeing pathway of mind (path of seeing) and becoming an arya.

Tib: thregs-chod

A fully enlightened being; someone who has totally eliminated, forever, from his or her mental continuum both the emotional and cognitive obscurations.

Tib: sangs-rgyas
Skt: buddha

See: enlightening influence

Buddha-Bodies, Five

See: Five Corpuses of a Buddha

Buddha-Bodies, Four

See: Four Corpuses of a Buddha

Buddha-Bodies, Three

See: Three Corpuses of a Buddha

Buddha-Bodies, Two

See: Two Corpuses of a Buddha


See: Corpus of a Buddha


A non-samsaric realm in which the circumstances are the most conducive for uninterrupted intense spiritual practice for gaining Buddhahood. It is a field in the sense of being a place in which one can grow or develop a tremendous amount of positive force (merit). It is synonymous with a pure-land.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Buddha field."

Tib: sangs-rgyas-kyi zhing
Skt: Buddhakshetra

An emanated form of a Buddha, often with multiple faces, arms, and legs, which tantric practitioners visualize themselves as. This is done in order to create a close bond with the figure so as to be able to attain enlightenment, in the form of that figure, through such practice.

J. Hopkins' translation: "[mind-firm]; personal deity; tutelary deity; promise; vow; one who has a vow; deity."

Tib: yi-dam
Skt: ishtadevata
Buddha Gem, apparent

See: apparent Buddha Gem

Buddha Gem, deepest

See: deepest Buddha Gem

Buddha Gem, nominal

See: nominal Buddha Gem


Literally: Buddha caste-trait, Buddha family-trait. A factor imputable on the stained mind of a limited being (sentient being) that transforms into or allows for the attainment of enlightenment.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Buddha lineage."

Tib: sangs-rgyas-kyi rigs
Buddhism professor

A teacher, either lay or monastic, Western or Asian, who imparts information about Buddhism gained from scriptural knowledge and/or scholarly research.

building-up pathway mind

The level of mind with which shravakas, pratyekabuddhas, or bodhisattvas build up, among other good qualities, the joined pair of a stilled and settled state of mind (shamatha) and an exceptionally perceptive state of mind (vipashyana) focused conceptually on voidness -- or, in general, on the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths. It only pertains to shravakas and pratyekabuddhas once they have attained an unlabored determination to be free, or to bodhisattvas once, in addition, they have attained unlabored bodhichitta. Others often render this term as "path of accumulation."

J. Hopkins' translation: "path of accumulation."

Tib: tshogs-lam
Skt: sambharamarga

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