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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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chags-paattachmentSkt: sanga

The disturbing emotion that exaggerates the good qualities of an object that one possesses and does not wish to let go of it.

chags-pasticky attachmentSkt: sneha

The disturbing emotion that exaggerates the good qualities of an object that one possesses, that clings to it like glue, and does not wish to let go.

J. Hopkins' translation: "attachment."

chags-pa med-padetachmentSkt: asanga

The constructive mental factor of bored disgust with and thus lack of longing desire for compulsive existence and objects of compulsive existence. Also translated as "nonattachment."

J. Hopkins' translation: "non-attachment; unattached."

ched-du brjod-paspecial versesSkt: udana

Praises that Buddha uttered with joy for the sake of the long life of his teachings, and not for the sake of specific individuals. One of the twelve scriptural categories.

J. Hopkins' translation: "saying; sayings; purposeful expressions."

chosdharmaSkt: dharma

(1) Preventive measures which, if one puts into practice or achieves, prevent the experience of future suffering. (2) Buddha's teachings. (3) Any phenomenon or "thing."

J. Hopkins' translation: "Phenomenon, attribute/quality, religion/practice."

chosphenomenonSkt: dharma

A validly knowable object that holds its own individual self-nature.

J. Hopkins' translation: "Phenomenon, attribute/quality, religion/practice."


A member of the set of phenomena possessing a certain property, such as voidness as its actual nature.

J. Hopkins' translation: "subject/ substrata."

chos-dbyings ye-shesdeep awareness of realitySkt: dharmadhatu-jnana

One of the five types of deep awareness that all beings have as an aspect of Buddha-nature. The deep awareness of the superficial truth of something -- namely, awareness of what it is. When developed on the spiritual path, this deep awareness may also be of the deepest truth of something -- namely, its voidness. Also called: deep awareness of the sphere of reality.

J. Hopkins' translation: "exalted wisdom of the element of qualities; exalted wisdom of the sphere of reality; exalted wisdom of the nature of phenomena."

chos-kyi bdagimpossible "soul" of all phenomenonSkt: dharma-atman

An impossible mode of existence that establishes the existence of a phenomenon by the power of something findable inside that phenomenon.

J. Hopkins' translation: "self of phenomena."

chos-kyi bdag-medlack of an impossible "soul" of all phenomenaSkt: dharma-anatman

The total absence (voidness) of an impossible mode of existence that establishes the existence of a phenomenon by the power of something findable inside that phenomenon. Often translated by others as "selflessness of all phenomena" or "identitylessness of all phenomena."

J. Hopkins' translation: "selflessness of phenomena."

chos-kyi sdom-pa bzhifour hallmarks of the Dharma

Four points which, if contained in a system of teachings, indicate that the system is a Buddhist one: (1) all affected (conditioned) phenomena are nonstatic (impermanent), (2) all tainted phenomena are problematic (suffering), (3) all phenomena are devoid and lacking an impossible "soul," while (4) a nirvana release is a pacification and something constructive. Also called "four sealing points for labeling an outlook as being based on enlightening words."

chos-kyi skye-mchedcognitive stimulators that are (all) phenomena

All validly knowable phenomena, all of which may be validly cognized by mental consciousness.

J. Hopkins' translation: "phenomenon-sense-sphere."

chos-kyi skye-mched-pa'i gzugsforms of physical phenomena included (only) among the cognitive stimulators that are (all) phenomena

Forms of physical phenomena that are not knowable by sensory consciousness, but are only knowable by mental consciousness. These include (1) those that make up other things by amassing together, (2) those existing in actual situations, (3) those arising from clearly taking them on, (4) totally imaginary forms, and (5) those arising from gaining control over the elements.

J. Hopkins' translation: "form for the mental consciousness."

chos-kyi spyanextrasensory 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.

J. Hopkins' translation: "eye of doctrine."

chos-nyidactual natureSkt: dharmata

A synonym for voidness (emptiness) or, in some mahamudra and dzogchen systems, the nature of everything as the play of inseparable awareness and voidness.

J. Hopkins' translation: "final nature/real nature/noumenon."

chos-skuCorpus Encompassing EverythingSkt: dharmakaya

The omniscient mind of a Buddha

J. Hopkins' translation: "Truth Body/Body of Attributes."

chos-skyongDharma-protectorSkt: dharmapala

A class of forceful beings, tamed by Buddha or a spiritual lineage master such as Guru Rinpoche, and made to take an oath to protect the Dharma and its practitioners. They may be either ordinary worldly beings (non-aryas) or highly realized aryas. In some cases, they are emanations of a Buddha, appearing in the form of a Dharma-protector.

' A B C D G K L M N P R S T Y Z everything