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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:

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nang-gi dkyil-'khorinner mandala

A world-system represented by parts of the human body and used as an object of offering.

nang-mchodinner offering

An offering made of the flesh of various animals and various bodily fluids and wastes, representing either the five tainted aggregates and five bodily elements or the ten energy-winds, and which are specially "elevated" and transformed into pure nectar.


An attitude of thinking only about oneself, as if one were the only one in the world, and not thinking about anyone else; narcissism.

J. Hopkins' translation: "the conception as/of I; conception of [an inherently existent] I."

nges-'byungrenunciationSkt: naishkramya

(1) The definite determination to be free of samsara and to gain liberation, and with which one is willing to give up true suffering and true causes. Also translated as "determination to be free." (2) In Theravada, the mental factor to give up all attachment to worldly possessions, social status, and even one's body. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, it becomes a far-reaching attitude.

J. Hopkins' translation: "thought definitely to leave cyclic existence."

nges-dondefinitive teachingSkt: nitartha

A passage in a sutra text that discusses the most profound view of voidness, and to which all other passages in all other sutra texts eventually lead or point. Such passages do not need to be explained as indicating anything more profound.

J. Hopkins' translation: "definitive meaning."

nges-donimplicit suggested meaningSkt: nitartha

One of the six alternative meanings. When an expression in a root tantra text has two dissimilar meanings, the meaning that is dissimilar to the literal, evident, or face value meaning of the expression. It is the meaning suggested by the literal (explicit suggestive) meaning and to which one is led by that literal meaning.

J. Hopkins' translation: "definitive meaning."

nges-padecisively determine

To know with certainty what something is, as opposed to what it is not, or how something exists, as opposed to how it does not exist. Also called: determine, ascertain.

J. Hopkins' translation: "ascertainment, definiteness."

ngo-boessential nature

The general type of phenomenon that something is -- for instance, a sight, a sound, and so on.

J. Hopkins' translation: "entity."

ngo-bo'i rig-paessence rigpa

Pure awareness (rigpa) from the point of view of it being primally pure and serving as the open space within which effulgent rigpa functions.

ngo-bo gcigsame essential nature

The relationship between two facts about the same attribute of a phenomenon. In a sense, the two facts are referring to the same phenomenon from two points of view. The two facts may be naturally inseparable, such as the two truths about the phenomenon, or they may constitute a joined inseparability arising from the power of meditation, such as a blissful awareness and an awareness of voidness. Some translators render the term as "one by nature."

J. Hopkins' translation: "one entity; same entity."

ngo-bo-nyid skuCorpus of Essential NatureSkt: svabhavakaya

(1) In the Gelug non-Kalachakra system, the voidness of a Buddha's omniscient mind and its state of being parted from the two sets of obscurations. (2) In the Gelug Kalachakra system, the blissful awareness aspect of a Buddha's omniscient mind. (3) In the Non-Gelug systems, the inseparability of all the Corpuses of a Buddha - equivalent to the inseparability of the two truths. Also called: Body of Essential Nature, Nature Body.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Nature Body, Nature Truth Body."

ngo-tsha med-pano sense of moral self-dignity

See: no moral self-dignity

J. Hopkins' translation: "non-shame."

ngo-tsha shes-pamoral self-dignitySkt: hri

As defined by Asanga, the sense to refrain from negative behavior because of caring how one's actions reflect on oneself.

J. Hopkins' translation: "shame."

nyamsboon 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."

nyan-thosshravakaSkt: shravaka

Literally, "listeners" to Buddha's teachings - practitioners of the Hinayana vehicle who, motivated by renunciation, strive to attain liberation from uncontrollably recurring rebirth (samsara) and to become an arhat (liberated being) of either the shravaka or pratyekabuddha class. They practice, based on having listened to Buddha's teachings. Some translators render the term as "hearer."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Hearer."

nyan-thos 'phags-paarya shravakaSkt: arya shravaka

A shravaka that has attained nonconceptual cognition of the four noble truths. See also: shravaka.

nyan-thos dgra-bcomshravaka arhatSkt: shravaka arhat

A shravaka that has attained liberation. See also: shravaka.

nye-ba'i rgyuimmediate causes

The causes that are very close in time to bringing about a result.

nye-brgyudnear lineage

The lineage of a teaching that did not begin with Buddha himself, but began with an Indian or Tibetan master, usually through a pure vision.

nye-nyonauxiliary disturbing emotionsSkt: upaklesha

A set of twenty disturbing emotions that derive from one of the three poisonous emotions of longing desire, hostility, or naivety. See: disturbing emotions and attitudes.

J. Hopkins' translation: "secondary afflictions."

nyer-len-gyi phung-poobtaining aggregates

Aggregate factors of a limited being that include the causes that will obtain for that being further samsaric rebirth.

J. Hopkins' translation: "appropriated aggregates."

nyer-len-gyi rgyuobtaining causeSkt: upadanahetu

The cause from which a result is obtained and which transforms into the result. For example, a seed is the obtaining cause for a sprout, and a network of positive force (a collection of merit) is the obtaining cause for a Corpus of Forms (Form Body) of a Buddha. Some translators render the term as "material cause," but this term does not refer to the physical elements that make up something.

J. Hopkins' translation: "substantial cause."

nyer-len-gyi yan-laglink of an obtainerSkt: upadana-anga

The ninth link in the twelve links of dependent arising. The set of four obtainer disturbing emotions and disturbing attitudes, any one of which, together with craving, activates throwing karma at the time of death and thus brings about the "obtaining" of a future samsaric rebirth. For the list of the four, see: obtainer. Most other translators render the term as "link of grasping."

nyer-thobapproximating vacuum

See: threshold

J. Hopkins' translation: "near attainment; near-attainment."


Also translated as: near attainment, black appearance

J. Hopkins' translation: "near attainment; near-attainment."

nyes-byasfaulty actions

A set of forty-six actions that one vows to avoid and which, if committed, would be detrimental to one's practice of either one of the six far-reaching attitudes or to one's benefiting others. Also called: secondary bodhisattva vows.

J. Hopkins' translation: "misdeed."

nyon-mongsdisturbing emotion or attitudeSkt: klesha

A subsidiary awareness (mental factor) that, when it arises, causes oneself to lose peace of mind and incapacitates oneself so that one loses self-control. An indication that one is experiencing a disturbing emotion or attitude is that it makes oneself and/or others feel uncomfortable. Some translators render this term as "afflictive emotions" or "emotional afflictions."

J. Hopkins' translation: "affliction, afflictive emotion."

nyon-mongs kun-brtagsdoctrinally based disturbed emotions and attitudes

Disturbing emotions and attitudes that arise based on having been taught and having accepted a non-Buddhist Indian tenet system or a less sophisticated Indian Buddhist tenet system.

nyon-mongs lhan-skyesautomatically arising disturbing emotions and attitudes

Disturbing emotions and attitudes that arise on a person's mental continuum without being based on that person having been taught an incorrect tenet system.

J. Hopkins' translation: "innate afflictions; innate afflictive emotion."

nyon-sgribemotional obscurationsSkt: kleshavarana

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."

J. Hopkins' translation: "afflictive obstruction."

nyon-yiddeluded awareness

A primary consciousness that is aimed at the alayavijnana in the Chittamatra system, or at the alaya for habits in the dzogchen system, and grasps at it to be the "me" to be refuted.

J. Hopkins' translation: "afflicted mind."

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