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The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

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Home > Glossary > Glossary Tibetan Terms

Tibetan 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 G K L M N P R S T Y Z everything

thabs-mkhasskill in meansSkt: upayakaushalya

The special discriminating awareness concerning the most effective and appropriate internal methods for actualizing the Buddha's teachings and the most effective and appropriate external methods for making limited beings ripe for attaining liberation and enlightenment. In Mahayana, when conjoined with a bodhichitta, the seventh of the ten far-reaching attitudes.

J. Hopkins' translation: "skill in means/skillful means."

thad-ka'i spyihorizontal mental synthesis

A kind mental synthesis that extends over many instances of the same type of phenomenon, such as many tables.


A subdivision of the Madhyamaka school within the Indian Buddhist tenet systems that uses absurd conclusions to bring about valid inferential cognition of something to be proven or established. Gelug adds to this definition that it also asserts that all phenomena lack existence established by an essential nature and even conventionally lack existence established by their individual defining characteristic marks.

J. Hopkins' translation: "PrAsaGgika; Consequentialist."

tha-mal 'du-'dziordinary commotion

The emotional ups and downs of overexcitement and depression in response to the eight transitory things in life: praise or criticism, good or bad news, gains or losses, things going well or poorly.

tha-mal-gyi shes-panormal 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.

Thams-cad yod-pa smra-baSarvastivada

One of the eighteen divisions of the Hinayana tradition of Buddhism and within which Vaibhashika and Sautrantika are subdivisions.

thar-paliberationSkt: moksha

The state of an arhat; the state in which one has attained a true stopping of true suffering and the true origins of suffering, and thus a true stopping of samsara; the state in which one has attained a true stopping of the emotional obscurations.

tha-snyadconventionSkt: vyavahara

A word or phrase, agreed upon by a society or an individual, and used in speech and thought to refer to something.

tha-snyad spyod-yulconventional commonsense object

Literally: conventional objects that one actually experiences when one cognizes them. An object of ordinary experience to which a word or concept refers, and which endures over time and extends over the sensibilia of one or more senses.

theg-chenMahayanaSkt: mahayana

Literally, a "Vast Vehicle of Mind" - levels or states of mind that, with a vast motivation of bodhichitta, employ vast methods for reach the vast goal of enlightenment. Some translators render the term as "Greater Vehicle."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Great Vehicle/Mahāyāna."

theg-dmanHinayanaSkt: hinayana

Literally, a "Modest Vehicle of Mind" -- levels and states of mind with a modest motivation - renunciation - and, with modest methods, lead to the modest goal of liberation. Some translators render the term as "Lesser Vehicle."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Lesser Vehicle/Hīnayāna."

theg-pavehicle of mindSkt: yana

A level of state of mind that acts as either (1) a vehicle for bringing one to the spiritual goal of either liberation or enlightenment, or (2) the resultant goal of liberation or enlightenment to which one is brought.

J. Hopkins' translation: "vehicle."

the-tshomsindecisive wavering

The mental factor (subsidiary awareness) that entertains two opinions about what is true – in other words, wavering between accepting or rejecting what is true. One of the six root disturbing emotions and attitudes. Sometimes translated as "doubt."

thig-lecreative energy-dropsSkt: bindu

Subtle forms of pure essence, found in the subtle energy-channels of the subtle body and which, through anuttarayoga complete stage practice, can function as the seed for generating of a blissful awareness.

J. Hopkins' translation: "drop."


The obtainment or gain of something, such as a vow or a spiritual attainment, imputable on the mental continuum of the one who has gained it. An acquirement or acquiring of something is a noncongruent affecting variable -- a nonstatic phenomenon that is neither a form of material phenomena nor a way of being aware of something.

J. Hopkins' translation: "acquisition; attainment; to attain; obtainer."

thob-pa'i mya-ngan 'dasacquired nirvana

States of release from all samsaric sufferings and their true causes, which are attained through the power of meditation.

thob-pa'i skyes-bu byed-pa'i 'bras-buman-made result that is an attainment

The reaching of a goal as the result of someone's effort, but which does not ripen from that person's karma.


The practice, and resultant stage of the practice, in dzogchen during which one "leaps ahead" from the attainment of break-through, and during which effulgent rigpa gives rises to and cognizes itself as a rainbow body. During this stage, effulgent rigpa becomes increasingly more prominent, while essence rigpa is also prominently maintained. This stage is equivalent to an accustoming pathway of mind (path of meditation).

J. Hopkins' translation: "Leap-over."

thos-palisteningSkt: shruta

At the time when the Buddhist teachings were only available in oral form, hearing the recitation of the teachings. Nowadays, also reading the teachings. By means of listening to the teachings, one learns about them.

J. Hopkins' translation: "hearing."


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.

thub-paAble OneSkt: muni

An epithet of a Buddha - one who has been able to reach the goal of enlightenment and is able to benefit all beings as much as is possible.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Subduer; Silent One [epithet for Buddha]; short for ShAkyamuni, conqueror [over the afflictions]."


The influencing nature of pure awareness (rigpa) - namely, that it responds to others effortlessly and spontaneously with compassionate communication. See: responsive awareness.

J. Hopkins' translation: "compassion."

Thun-drug rnal-'byorSix-Session Yoga

In Gelug, a practice, recited six times daily, required of those who have received an anuttarayoga empowerment, through which they keep the nineteen closely bonding practices for the five Buddha-families.

thun-mong ma-yin-pa'i btang-snyomuncommon equanimity

The mental factor of an equal attitude toward everyone, with which one has no feelings of close or far in the thoughts or actions involved in benefiting and helping all limited beings and eliminating their problems. The type of equanimity developed specifically in Mahayana in the context of equalizing and exchanging one's attitudes about self and other, and not taught in common with Hinayana. Also called "distinguished equanimity."

ting-nge-'dzinabsorbed concentrationSkt: samadhi

Perfect concentration fully absorbed or sunk into an object of focus.

J. Hopkins' translation: "stabilization, meditative stabilization."

ting-nge-'dzinmental fixationSkt: samadhi

The mental factor (subsidiary awareness) of maintaining mental placement on any object of cognition taken by any type of cognition, including sensory cognition. Also called "mentally fixating" and "concentration," it accompanies all cognitions and varies in intensity from very weak to very strong. When perfected, it becomes "absorbed concentration."

J. Hopkins' translation: "stabilization, meditative stabilization."

ting-nge-'dzin-gyi mchod-paofferings of absorbed concentration

Offerings made of various aspects of one's Dharma practice, visualized in the form of the outer offerings. Also called: offerings of samadhi.


Only this, without anything more.

J. Hopkins' translation: "only."

tshad-mavalid cognitionSkt: pramana

(1) According to Gelug Sautrantika, Gelug Chittamatra, and Gelug Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, a fresh, nonfallacious cognition. (2) According to Gelug Prasangika and all tenet systems according to non-Gelug, a nonfallacious cognition.

J. Hopkins' translation: "valid cognition, prime cognition, epistemology and logic."

tshad-mininvalid cognition

(1) According to Gelug Sautrantika, Gelug Chittamatra, and Gelug Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, a cognition that is not fresh, or one that is fallacious, or one that is both not fresh and fallacious. (2) According to Gelug Prasangika and all tenet systems according to non-Gelug, a fallacious cognition.

tshigs-su bcad-pametered versesSkt: gatha

Two-to-six-lined verses composed by Buddha. One of the twelve scriptural categories.

J. Hopkins' translation: "verses; stanza."

tshogsritual bountiful feast

A specially consecrated torma offered to one's tantric master, inseparable from the Buddha-figure, during a tantra ceremonial round of offering.

J. Hopkins' translation: "collection; stock; assembly; gathering; group; accumulation; community."


(1) Equivalent to "ceremonial round of offering a ritual feast." (2) The food offerings presented at a ceremonial round of offering a ritual feast.

J. Hopkins' translation: "collection; stock; assembly; gathering; group; accumulation; community."

tshogs-'khorceremonial round of offering a ritual feastSkt: ganacakra

A tantra ritual, part of a puja, in which specially consecrated offerings, usually including a torma, are made to one's spiritual master inseparable from a Buddha-figure. In anuttarayoga tantra, the offerings include consecrated alcohol and meat. Often refered to by the Tibetan "tsog."

tshogs-lambuilding-up pathway mindSkt: sambharamarga

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."

tshogs-shingbountiful 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.

tshogs-spyicollection mental synthesis

A whole imputed on spatial, sensorial, and/or temporal parts.

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

tshor-bafeeling a level of happinessSkt: vedana

One of the five ever-functioning subsidiary awarenesses (mental factors). The subsidiary awareness that accompanies each moment of sensory or mental cognition of a limited being before attaining liberation and with which that being experiences the ripenings of its own karma in the form of something within the spectrum of extreme unhappiness, through neutral, to extreme happiness. Also called "feeling."

J. Hopkins' translation: "feeling."

tshor-ba'i phung-poaggregate of feelings of levels of happinessSkt: vedana-skandha

One of the five aggregate factors of experience. The network of all instances of the subsidiary awareness (mental factor) of feeling a level of happiness or unhappiness that could be part of any moment of experience on someone's mental continuum. Also called "aggregate of feelings." See: feeling a level of happiness.

tshor-ba'i yan-laglink of feeling a level of happinessSkt: vedana-anga

The seventh of the twelve links of dependent arising. The subsidiary awareness (mental factor) of feeling a level of happiness starting at the time in the development of a foetus, and continuing for the rest of that lifetime, during which the person experiences happiness in response to pleasant contacting awareness, unhappiness in response to unpleasant contacting awareness, and a neutral feeling in response to neutral contacting awareness.

tshul-bcas yid-byedpaying attention in a concordant manner

The subsidiary awareness (mental factor) that engages mental activity with a specific cognitive object and considers it in a way that accords with its actuality. Also called "correct consideration."

tshul-khrimsethical self-disciplineSkt: shila

(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.

J. Hopkins' translation: "[system-law]; ethics; morality."

tshul-khrims-dang brtul-zhugs mchog-tu 'dzin-paholding deluded morality or conduct as supreme

The disturbing attitude that regards as purified, liberated, and definitely delivered some deluded morality, some deluded conduct, and the samsara-perpetuating aggregate factors that give rise to the deluded morality and conduct.

J. Hopkins' translation: "conception of ethics and modes of conduct as supreme."

tshul-min yid-byedpaying attention in a discordant manner

The subsidiary awareness (mental factor) that engages mental activity with a specific cognitive object and considers it in a way that does not accord with its actuality, such as considering something nonstatic to be static. Also called "incorrect consideration."

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