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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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lampathway levelSkt: marga

In the context of basis, pathway, and resultant levels of something being specified, the level of it in the context of someone engaged in the practices for attaining enlightenment. In some usages, the level of a Mahayana arya with a seeing or accustoming pathway mind.

J. Hopkins' translation: "path."

lampathway mindSkt: marga

A level or state of mind that acts or functions as a pathway toward liberation or enlightenment. Some translators render this term as "path," but it refers to mental states, not to a series of spiritual practices. Also called: pathway of mind.

J. Hopkins' translation: "path."

lam-bdentrue pathway mindSkt: marga-satya

Also called: true path

J. Hopkins' translation: "true path; true path{N}; truth of the path; true paths."

lam-lngafive bodhisattva pathway minds

Also called: five paths


Graded path; graded stages of the path; graded stage of motivation; graded stages of pathway minds. A course of training in the Mahayana sutra teachings through which one makes progress by developing graded stages of motivation, which act as pathway minds leading to enlightenment.

J. Hopkins' translation: "stages of the path."

laskarmaSkt: karma

(1) In all Tibetan Buddhist systems except Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika, equivalent to a subcategory of the mental factor (subsidiary awareness), an urge. It is the mental factor that brings the mind in the direction of a specific physical, verbal, or mental action. (2) In the Vaibhashika and Gelug Prasangika, with respect to mental karmic actions, it is the mental factor of the urge that brings the mind in the direction of that action. With respect to physical or verbal karmic actions, it is (a) the revealing form of the physical impulse of the physical action or the sound of the words of the verbal action, plus (b) the nonrevealing form of the subtle invisible "vibration" of the action, which continues during and after the action. Some translators render the term "karma" as "action." (3) A general term used loosely for behavioral cause and effect. Also called: karmic impulse.

J. Hopkins' translation: "action."

las-'brasbehavioral 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)."

las-kyi rlungwinds of karma

In the Kalachakra system, the subtle energy-winds that carry the impulses of karma -- either the karmic impulses that draw one into actions or the karmic impulses with which one carries out physical or verbal actions.

las-rungserviceability retreat

An intensive tantric meditation practice, done over many meditation sessions, during which one performs the sadhana and recites the mantra of a Buddha-figure ten thousand, one hundred thousand, or many hundreds of thousands of times, depending on the number of syllables in the mantra. When completed and finished off with the appropriate fire puja, this intensive practice makes the mind fit to be used (fit to be put into service) for more advanced tantric practices with that Buddha-figure.

ldan-min 'du-byednoncongruent affecting variable

One of the three types of nonstatic phenomena -- those nonstatic phenomena that do not share five things in common with the primary consciousness and subsidiary awarenesses of the cognition in which they occur, and which are neither forms of physical phenomena nor ways of being aware of something. Sometimes translated as "nonstatic abstractions." See: five congruent features.

J. Hopkins' translation: "non-associated compositional factors."

ldan-pa'i 'du-byedcongruent affecting variable

Ways of being aware of something that share five things in common with the primary consciousness and subsidiary awarenesses of the cognition in which they occur. See: five congruent features.

ldog-paconceptually isolated item

The type of "nothing-other-than" that arises in conceptual cognition and which represents the actual involved objects of the conceptual cognition. They are static phenomena, equivalent to conceptual representations. (1) According to Gelug, they are fully transparent static phenomena that are different from semitransparent conceptual categories. Equivalent to "items conceptually isolated by themselves" and "items conceptually isolated by categories." Also called "distinguishers" or "isolates."(2) Accordant non-Gelug, they are equivalent to semitransparent conceptual categories.

J. Hopkins' translation: "isolate/conceptually isolatable phenomenon."

len-paobtainerSkt: upadana

A set of four disturbing emotions and disturbing attitudes: (1) obtainer desire, (2) an obtainer deluded outlook, (3) holding deluded morality or conduct as supreme, and (4) asserting one's identity, and which, when occurring at the time of death, constitute the ninth link of dependent arising.

J. Hopkins' translation: "grasping."

lhadivine beingSkt: deva

A limited (sentient) being in the rebirth state that, out of the six states of rebirth, has the least amount of suffering. This class of being includes some that are on the plane of sensory desires, and all beings on the plane of ethereal forms and the plane of formless beings. Also called a "god."

J. Hopkins' translation: "god."

lha'i mig-gi mngon-shesadvanced awareness of the divine eye

One of the six types of advanced awareness gained as a byproduct of the attainment of an actual state of the first level of mental constancy (the first dhyana). (1) According to the Karma Kagyu explanation, cognition of the different effects of karma on different beings, such as their future rebirths. (2) According to Gelug, cognition of gross (obvious) forms and subtle forms, including those at great distances in space and time.

lha'i rna-ba'i mngon-shesadvanced awareness of the divine ear

Cognition that is able to hear sounds at any distance and to understand them, regardless of language. One of the six types of advanced awareness gained as a byproduct of the attainment of an actual state of the first level of mental constancy (the first dhyana).

lha'i spyanextrasensory 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).

lhag-bcas-kyi mya-ngan 'dasnirvana with residueSkt: sopadhishesha-nirvana

(1) According to the Hinayana tenet systems, the state of nirvana that a shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhat, or a Buddha, attains during his lifetime and which lasts only so long as the person is alive. This is so called because the person still has left a residue of tainted aggregates. (2) According to the Mahayana tenet systems other than Gelug Prasangika, the same as asserted by the Hinayana systems, but in reference only to shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats. (3) According to Gelug Prasangika, in reference to shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats, their state either during subsequent attainment (post-meditation) periods, when meditating on something other than voidness, or when not meditating at all. In reference to Buddhas, their Corpuses of Form.

lhag-bsamexceptional resolveSkt: adhyashaya

The full determination with which one takes the responsibility to lead all limited beings to liberation and enlightenment. Sometimes translated as "pure wish."

J. Hopkins' translation: "unusual attitude."

lhag-bsamexceptional sincerity

Exceptional sincerity has, in addition to the factors comprising sincerity, two more factors: 3) nonattachment (ma-chags-pa), 4) going forward in a special way (khyad-par-du 'gro-ba).

J. Hopkins' translation: "unusual attitude."

lhag-med mya-ngan 'dasnirvana without residueSkt: nirupadhishesha-nirvana

(1) According to the Hinayana tenet systems, the state of nirvana that shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhats, or a Buddha, attains immediately upon their death from the lifetime in which they attain nirvana with residue. No longer having a residue of tainted aggregates left, their mental continuum extinguishes, like a spent candle. (2) According to the Mahayana tenet systems other than Gelug Prasangika, the state that shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhats attain immediately upon their death from the lifetime in which they attain nirvana with residue. Although they no longer have a residue of tainted aggregates left, their mental continuums now go on in a purified form. (3) According to Gelug Prasangika, in reference to shravaka and pratyekabuddha arhats, their state during total absorption on voidness, when there is no appearance-making of truly established existence. In reference to Buddhas, their Deep Awareness Dharmakayas.

lhag-mthongexceptionally perceptive state of mindSkt: vipashyana

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."

J. Hopkins' translation: "special insight."

lha ma-yinwould-be divineSkt: asura

A class of limited beings characerized by extreme jealousy toward the divine beings, with whom they continually fight. Also translated as "quasi-divine beings," "anti-gods," or simply as "asuras."

J. Hopkins' translation: "demigod."

lhan-cig 'byung-ba'i rgyusimultaneously arising causeSkt: sahabhuhetu

A cause that arises simultaneously with its results, such as the elements that make up a material object.

lhan-cig byed-pa'i rkyensimultaneously acting conditionSkt: sahakaripratyaya

An item that must exist prior to the arising of something and which assists in making the arising happen, but which does not transform into what arises, for instance water for a sprout.

lhan-skyesautomatically arisingSkt: sahaja

Naturally arising or occurring on a mental continuum from time to time, without being based on previously having been taught an incorrect tenet system. When something, such as a constructive or a disturbing emotion automatically arises, it does so from a tendency for that emotion, built up from previous occurrences of the same emotion, and does not entail the occurrence or production of an emotion that has never occurred before.

J. Hopkins' translation: "innate."

lhan-skyesco-arisingSkt: sahaja

Arising simultaneously with each moment of experience, for example a blissful awareness itself or a blissful awareness of voidness, attained with complete stage practice of anuttarayogatantra.

J. Hopkins' translation: "innate."

lhan-skyessimultaneously arisingSkt: sahaja

Two items simultaneously arise if, when one of them arises or happens, the other does also, at the same time. The two items may arise simultaneously either naturally or through the power of meditation. Also called: innate.

J. Hopkins' translation: "innate."

lha-yuldivine realm

A place where divine beings (gods) dwell. Also called a "heaven."

lhun-grubspontaneously establishing appearances

The functional nature of rigpa (pure awareness), which is that it automatically, without any effort, gives rise to pure appearances.

J. Hopkins' translation: "spontaneity."

lhun-grub sbubs-kyi rig-parigpa of all-embracing spontaneous presence

Pure awareness (rigpa) from the point of view of its resultant level as the Dharmakaya of a Buddha.

lkog-gyurobscure phenomenon

A validly knowable phenomenon that cannot be apprehended through the force of personal experience, but can be apprehended through the force of a line of reasoning.

J. Hopkins' translation: "subliminal, hidden, hidden phenomenon."

log-'tshowrong livelihood

A dishonest means of earning a livelihood or procuring offerings.

log-ltaattitude, distorted antagonistic

See: distorted antagonistic thinking

J. Hopkins' translation: "wrong view."

log-ltadistorted antagonistic thinking

The action of thinking with a distorted outlook and, in addition, wishing to repudiate, with hostility, anyone that disagrees with one's view. Also called: "thinking with a distorted, antagonistic attitude.

J. Hopkins' translation: "wrong view."

log-ltadistorted outlook

The disturbing attitude that regards an actual cause, an actual effect, an actual functioning, or an existent phenomenon as not being actual or existent. According to Tsongkhapa, it may also regard a false cause, a false effect, a false functioning, or a nonexistent phenomenon as true or existent. Also translated as "distorted view," other translators render it as "wrong view" or "false view."

J. Hopkins' translation: "wrong view."

log-shesdistorted cognition

A way of being aware of something that takes its object incorrectly. Conceptual distorted cognition is deceived with respect to its conceptualized object; nonconceptual distorted cognition is deceived with respect to its involved object.

J. Hopkins' translation: "wrong consciousness."

longs-spyod rdzogs-pa'i skuCorpus of Full UseSkt: sambhogakaya

(1) According to sutra, the network of subtle forms, which make full use of the Mahayana teachings, and in which a Buddha appears in order to teach arya bodhisattvas. (2) According to non-Kalachakra anuttarayoga tantra, the network of all the speech of a Buddha. (3) According to Kalachakra, the network of both the subtle forms and the speech of a Buddha. Also called Body of Full Use. Some translators render this term as "Enjoyment Body."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Complete Enjoyment Body; Enjoyment Body."


A way of regarding and understanding objects, for instance as "me" and "mine."

J. Hopkins' translation: "view."


In the description of a Buddhist system in terms of the view of reality, a way of meditating, and way of behaving that it espouses, the main way for regarding and understanding reality. See also: outlook.

lta-ba bka'-btags-gyi phyag-rgya-bzhifour sealing points for labeling an outlook as being based on enlightening words

See: four hallmarks of the Dharma

lta-ba mchog-tu 'dzin-paholding a deluded outlook as supreme

(1) According to Asanga, the disturbing attitude that regards as supreme any one of the three deluded outlooks -- a deluded outlook of a transitory network, an extreme outlook, or a distorted outlook -- and the samsara-perpetuating aggregates based on which the deluded outlook is produced. (2) According to Vasubandhu, the disturbing attitude that regards the samsara-perpetuating aggregates, based on which any of the three above-mentioned deluded outlooks is produced, with the discordant attention that they are totally clean by nature or a source of true happiness.

lta-ba ngan-pa drug-cu re-gnyissixty-two wrong views

A set of sixty-two incorrect positions regarding the past, present and future of the self, the universe, and so on, propounded by the eighteen non-Buddhist extremeists and refuted in Buddhism. Sometimes translated by others as the sixty-two bad views.

lta-ba nye-bar len-paobtainer deluded outlook

A set of three disturbing deluded outlooks on life that constitute the second of the four "obtainers" that constitute the ninth link of dependent arising: (1) a distorted outlook, (2) an extreme outlook, (3) holding a deluded outlook as supreme.

lta-ba nyon-mongs-candeluded outlook

One of a set of five disturbing attitudes that view their objects in a certain way, for example as "me" or "mine." They seek and regard their objects as things to latch on to, without they themselves scrutinizing, analyzing, or investigating them. They are accompanied by either an interpolation or a repudiation, but they themselves do not interpolate or repudiate anything. Also called in full: "a disturbing, deluded outlook on life." Equivalent to the coined term "disturbing attitude." See: disturbing emotion or attitude.

J. Hopkins' translation: "afflicted view."

lta-min nyon-mongsdisturbing emotions without an outlook on life

Among the disturbing emotions and attitudes, those that do not regard and understand their objects in a certain way, for instance as "me" or "mine." Abbreviated as "disturbing emotions," in contrast to "disturbing attitudes," which is used for a disturbing deluded outlook on life.

lta-sgom-spyod gsumview of reality, way of meditating, and way of behaving

A way to describe a Buddhist system that specifies it in terms of its main way for regarding and understanding reality, its main topic of meditation, and its main manner of acting in the world.

lungoral transmission

A ceremony during which a spiritual teacher reads aloud or recites from memory, without any mistakes, a Buddhist text or mantra to disciples who listen attentively. The teacher needs to have heard, himself or herself, the words of the text or mantra recited faultlessly by his or her own teacher, who likewise heard it in this manner in an unbroken lineage tracing back to Buddha or to the author of the text. The ceremony insures the accurate transmission of the words, although neither the teacher reciting them nor the disciple hearing them need to understand their meaning.

J. Hopkins' translation: "scripture; oral transmission; passage; precept; injunction; spiritual instruction."

lung-bstan-parevelatory accountsSkt: vyakarana

One of the twelve scriptural categories. (1) Buddha's revelations of what has happened in the past or prophesies of what will occur in the future. (2) According to some explanations, scriptures of definitive meaning.

J. Hopkins' translation: "prophesy; prophesied{BJ 8.3}; taught in scripture; scriptural teaching."

lung ma-bstanunspecified phenomenonSkt: avyakrta

A phenomenon that Buddha did not specify as being either constructive or destructive. Also called "ethically neutral."

J. Hopkins' translation: "not indicated in scripture; not prophesied; neutral."

lus-canembodied beingSkt: dehin

A being with a limited body. Any being other than a Buddha. Synonymous with "limited being," "sentient being."

J. Hopkins' translation: "the embodied."

lus-dkyilbody mandala

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

lus phra-mosubtle body

Within the gross body of humans, the invisible system of energy-winds, energy-channels, energy-nodes (chakras), and creative energy-drops.

lus shin-tu phra-mosubtlest body

The subtlest life-supporting energy-wind that accompanies each moment of subtlest mind.

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