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:
|Tibetan||English||Sanskrit / Pali||Definition|
|bag-chags||karmic constant habit||Skt: vasana|
A type of karmic aftermath, imputable on one's mental continuum as an unspecified (ethically neutral) noncongruent affecting variable after having committed a karmic action, and which ripens into a result every moment until a true stopping of it has been achieved. Some translators render it as "habit" or "instinct."
|bag-chags||karmic habit||Skt: vasana|
A synonym for "karmic latency."
|bag-chags||karmic latency||Skt: vasana|
A general term for all karmic aftermath -- namely, karmic potentials, karmic tendencies, and karmic constant habits.
|bag-chags-kyi kun-gzhi||alaya for habits|
In the dzogchen system, foundational awareness for the habits of grasping for truly established existence, for karma, and for memories. The type of limited awareness that basis rigpa functions as, when it is mixed with dumbfoundedness.
|bag-la nyal||dormant factor|
Literally, something that is "asleep to the taste of the mind." Affecting variables, associated with mental continuums, which are "lying down" and not rushing to manifest mind (consciousness). They include subliminal awareness, tendencies, and habits.
|bag-la nyal-gyi shes-pa||subliminal cognition|
A cognition in which the consciousness gives rise to a mental hologram of a cognitive object and, in which, the cognitive object appears, through that hologram, only to the consciousness of the subliminal cognition and only that consciousness cognizes it. The cognitive object of the subliminal cognition does not appear to the person and is not cognized by the person. Nor does it appear to or is it cognized by the consciousness of the manifest cognition that is simultaneously occurring and overpowering the subliminal cognition.
|bag-yod||caring attitude||Skt: apramada|
The subsidiary awareness (mental factor) that takes seriously the situations of others and oneself, and the effects of one's actions on others and on oneself, and which consequently causes one to build up as a habit constructive attitudes and behavior and safeguards against leaning toward tainted or destructive attitudes and behavior. Also translated as "carefulness."
The state of existence from the moment immediately after death until the moment immediately before conception. Translated as the "inbetween state."
|bar-do'i srid-pa||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.
To cut off, dismiss, or reject something. To logically cut off or eliminate the possibility that something is something else
The conceptual process through which sets and countersets are formulated. It implies previous apprehension of an object to be negated, in which the apprehension itself logically and automatically excludes the object to be negated from the set of either all validly knowable phenomena other than itself or all validly knowable phenomena in total. It is not a deliberate, conscious mental act.
One of the seven ways of knowing something: a nonfraudulent, but not fresh, cognition of an object. It is the second phase of a valid bare cognition or inferential cognition, and is asserted only by the Gelug Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Svatantrika tenet systems.
|bcas-pa'i kha-na ma-tho-ba||prohibited uncommendable action|
Ethically neutral (unspecified) actions that Buddha prohibited for certain types of practitioners, for instance monks or nuns, as detrimental to their spiritual practice.
To totally weaken the effectiveness of something, such as the positive force of a constructive act, such that it ripens into something far less and more distant in the future, but without completely eliminating its potential to ripen.
|bcom-ldan-'das||Vanquishing Master Surpassing All||Skt: bhagavan|
An epithet of a Buddha - one who has conquered (vanquished) all obstacles, attained (mastered) all good qualities, and gone beyond (surpassed) any of the Hindu gods for whom the epithet Bhagavan has also been applied. Some translators render the term as "Blessed One."
A state of mind mentally constructed through conceptual thought, such as by going through a line of reasoning. Also translated as "artificial."
A state of mind not mentally constructed by conceptual thought. Also translated as "unartificial."
|bdag||impossible "soul"||Skt: atman|
(1) With respect to the five aggregate factors of an individual being, something findable inside the aggregates that is static, a partless monad, separable from the body and mind, and self-sufficiently knowable. (2) With respect to all validly knowable phenomena, an impossible mode of existence that establishes the existence of a phenomenon by the power of something findable inside that phenomenon.
According to non-Buddhist Indian tenet systems, something findable, either with or without being a conscious phenomenon, inside the body of a person, and which is static, a partless monad, separable from the body, and self-sufficiently knowable.
|bdag-'bras||dominating result||Skt: adhipatiphalam|
(1) The type of environment or society in which one is born or enters and the way it treats one, or (2) objects, such as one's possessions, and what happens to them. Such results may ripen from destructive, tainted constructive, or unspecified actions and are called "dominating results" because they extend over and dominate everything that one experiences in a particular rebirth. Also translated as "comprehensive result," "overriding result" or "overlord result," it is synonymous with "commanding result."
A tantric meditation practice in which one visualizes receiving the entire empowerment (initiation) ritual for a Buddha-figure, performed in order to renew one's tantric vows. It may only be performed if one has done the serviceability retreat of that particular Buddha-figure and the fire-puja afterwards.
Synonymous with "sadhana." A meditation method in which one visualizes and imagines oneself to be a Buddha-figure for which one has received empowerment. See: sadhana.
|bdag-gzhan brje-pa||exchanging self and others|
Instead of self-cherishing, cherishing others, and instead of ignoring the needs of others, ignoring one's own selfish needs.
|bdag-gzhan mnyam-brje||equalizing and exchanging self and others|
A method for developing a bodhichitta aim, consisting of (1) developing mere equanimity, (2) developing uncommon Mahayana equanimity, as a way to regard all others equally in the same way as one regards oneself, (3) thinking of the disadvantages of a self-cherishing attitude, (4) thinking of the advantages of cherishing others, (5) giving and taking, with attitudes of love and compassion, as a way of exchanging one's attitudes about self and others, (6) exceptional resolve, and (7) developing a bodhichitta aim.
|bdag-gzhan mnyam-pa||equalizing self and others|
Developing an equal attitude toward all beings, with the same regard as one has toward oneself.
|bdag-med||lack of an impossible "soul"||Skt: anatman|
(1) With respect to the five aggregate factors of an individual being, the total absence (voidness) of something findable inside the aggregates that is static, a partless monad, separable from the body and mind, and self-sufficiently knowable. (2) With respect to all validly knowable phenomena, 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" or "identitylessness."
|bdag-rkyen||dominating condition||Skt: adhipatipratyaya|
The nonstatic phenomena that produce the essential nature of something, such as the eye sensors for the visual consciousness and congruent mental factors of a visual cognition. This condition is called "dominating" – literally, the "overlord condition" – because it rules what the essential nature of its result will be.
|bdag-tu smra-ba||asserting one's identity|
The fourth of the four "obtainers" that constitute the ninth link of dependent arising. Equivalent to a deluded outlook toward a transitory network.
|bde-ba||blissful awareness||Skt: sukha|
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.
That feeling which, when it stops, we wish to meet with it again.
|bde-ba chen-po'i sku||Corpus of Great Bliss||Skt: mahasukhakaya|
In the dzogchen system, the blissful awareness aspect of a Buddha's omniscient mind.
|bde-bar gshegs-pa||Blissfully Gone One||Skt: sugata|
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.
|bden-'dzin||grasping for truly established existence||Skt: satyagraha|
(1) Both to cognize (literally, take as a cognitive object) the appearance of the world as having truly established existence, which the habits of this grasping cause the mind to fabricate and project, as well as believing this deceptive appearance to correspond to how things actually exist, (2) simply cognizing the appearance of the world as having truly established existence, without actually believing this deceptive appearance to correspond to how things actually exist. Gelug asserts both definitions, while non-Gelug asserts only the first. Abbreviated as "grasping for true existence."
|bden-pa||being true to one's word||Skt: satya|
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.
|bden-pa gnyis||two truths|
(1) In Hinayana, two types of validly knowable phenomena into which all existent phenomena can be divided: superficially true and deepest true phenomena. (2) In Gelug Mahayana, two true facts that can be validly known about any existent phenomenon. (3) In non-Gelug Mahayana, all existent phenomena cognized with dualistic appearance-making and cognized without dualistic appearance-making.
|bden-par grub-pa||true existence|
(1) An impossible mode of existence mistakenly considered to be true. Existence established or proven (a) merely by the power of something on the side of an object and not in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis, according to Gelug Svatantrika-Madhyamaka, or (b) by the power of something on the side of an object, either by itself or in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis, according to Gelug Prasangika-Madhyamaka. (2) A mode of existence that is true. Existence established or proven by (a) arising from causes and conditions, according to Jetsunpa and Kunkhyen Gelug Sautrantika, or (b) the power of something on the side of an object, according to Panchen Gelug Sautrantika and Gelug Chittamatra. Also translated as "truly established existence."
|bden-par grub-pa||true findable existence|
Existence established or proven by the power of something findable on the side of an object, either by itself or in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis. According to Gelug Prasangika-Madhyamaka, an impossible mode of existence mistakenly considered to be true. Also called "truly and findably established existence."
|bden-par grub-pa||true unimputed existence|
Existence established or proven merely by the power of something on the side of an object and not in conjunction with being something imputable on a basis. According to Madhyamaka, an impossible mode of existence mistakenly considered to be true. Also called "truly and unimputedly established existence."
|bden-snang||appearance-making of true existence|
The aspect of a limited being's mental activity that gives rise to (makes) a mental hologram of seemingly true existence. It makes the mental holograms of objects of cognition appear to be truly existent, in the sense in which the Madhyamaka schools define true existence. In the non-Gelug systems, it occurs only with conceptual cognition and it makes appearances of objects of cognition to be truly "this"s and "that"s.
|bdud||demonic force||Skt: mara|
Something that harms limited beings or causes interference and obstacles to constructive actions.
The collection of the Tibetan translations of the enlightening words of the Buddha.
One of the New Translation Period traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. It has two branches, Shangpa Kagyu deriving from Kyungpo Neljor and Dagpo Kagyu deriving from the line Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa.
A follower of one of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
One of the New Translation Period traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, deriving from Atisha's visit to Tibet. After its branches were merged and reformed, it continued as the Gelug tradition.
A follower of the Kadam tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
|bKa'-gdams-pa dge-bshes||Kadampa Geshe|
A spiritual master and friend from the Kadam tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, especially one who is an extremely humble, down-to-earth master of attitude-training.
|bla-med rnal-'byor||anuttarayoga tantra||Skt: anuttarayoga tantra|
In the Sarma (New Translation Period) Tibetan Buddhist schools, the fourth or highest class of tantra practice, emphasizing special internal methods for actualizing oneself as a Buddha-figure.
A mental factor that takes its cognitive object by regarding it from a certain point of view.
The mental activity that gives rise to conceptual cognition -- most commonly, to verbal conceptual thought.
|blo'i gzhan-sel||mental exclusions of something else|
Static implicative negation phenomena, including audio categories, meaning/object categories, and conceptually isolated items.
The ability to discriminate between what is correct and what is incorrect, and between what is helpful and what is harmful.
Descriptive of meditation with verbal thoughts based on conceptual schemes.
A spiritual training in which one cleanses disturbing attitudes from one's mind and trains to replace them with constructive attitudes. Also called: cleansing of attitudes, mind-training, Lojong.
The pre-Buddhist spiritual tradition of Tibet.
A follower of the Bon tradition.
|bral-'bras||result that is a state of being parted||Skt: visamyogaphalam|
A static state that is attained by means of effort, but which is neither produced by nor ripens from that effort.
Also translated as: separation
A name applied to the knowable objects that the name signifies – whether or not those objects are validly knowable. Compare: name.
|brdar-btags-pa'i chos dkon-mchog||nominal Dharma Gem|
Printed Dharma texts, representing the Dharma that is an actual source of safe direction and serving as a basis for showing respect to the actual Dharma Gem.
|brdar-btags-pa'i dge-'dun dkon-mchog||nominal Sangha Gem|
Four or more people from any of the four groups of the monastic sangha (full or novice monks or nuns), representing the Sangha that is an actual source of safe direction and serving as a basis for showing respect to the actual Sangha Gem.
|brdar-btags-pa'i dkon-mchog||nominal gem|
Representations of the Three Rare and Supreme Gems, which themselves are not actual sources of safe direction, but which serve as a basis for showing respect to them.
|brdar-btags-pa'i sangs-rgyas dkon-mchog||nominal Buddha Gem|
A painting or statue of a Buddha, representing a Buddha that is an actual source of safe direction and serving as a basis for showing respect to an actual Buddha Gem.
|brten||something that is supported by something else|
Something that rests upon or is contained within something else, for instance the people in relation to the house in which they live. Also translated as "what is supported" or simply as "supported."
|brten-pa'i dkyil-'khor||supported mandala|
The set of Buddha-figures residing inside the immeasurably magnificent palace of a symbolic world system visualized in tantra practice.
The subsidiary awareness (mental factor) with which one not only wishes others to be happy and to have the causes for happiness, but with which one also acts towards others in a helpful manner.
|brtson-'grus||joyful perseverance||Skt: virya|
(1) In Mahayana, the mental urge that leads one to have zestful vigor for being constructive, without becoming lazy. With this mental factors, one takes joy in being constructive. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, it becomes a far-reaching attitude. (2) For Theravada, see: "perseverance."
(1) In Theravada, the mental factor to exert effort, constantly and courageously, in helping others and in being able to help. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, it becomes a far-reaching attitude. (2) For Mahayana, see "joyful perseverance."
Ethical behavior with which one both restrains oneself from destructive actions and engages in constructive ones.
|bsam-gtan||mental stability||Skt: dhyana|
Single-pointed placement of the mind on any constructive focal object, without any mental wandering -- a stable state of mind that is not only free of flightiness and dullness, but is also not distracted by any disturbing emotion of the plane of sensory desires. In Mahayana, when conjoined with bodhichitta, a far-reaching attitude. Some translators render the term as "concentration."
|bsam-gtan dang-po'i dngos-gzhi||actual state of the first level of mental stability|
A state of mind attained on the basis of the attainment of a stilled and settled state of shamatha and which temporarily blocks all disturbing emotions and attitudes directed at phenomena on the plane of sensory desires (the "desire realm"). The various types of advanced awareness arise as a byproduct of the attainment of this state of mind. Also called: "actual state of the first dhyana."
|bsam-pa||motivating mental framework|
A state of mind that accompanies a karmic urge or impulse and which is a cluster of three mental factors (subsidiary awarenesses): distinguishing an object on which to focus the action, the motivating aim of what one intends to do with or to that object, and a motivating emotion or attitude.
Sincerity has two factors included in it: (1) lack of hypocrisy (g.yo-med) – not hiding our own faults, (2) lack of pretension (sgyu-med) – not pretending to have qualities that we do not have.
|bsdud-pa-las gyur-pa'i gzugs||forms of physical phenomena that make up other things by amassing together|
Forms of physical phenomena included only among the cognitive stimulators that are all phenomena and which are the invisible objects, such as atoms and subatomic particles, that make up visible objects.
|bsdus-grva||set theory||Skt: dura|
Set theory has to do with the logical pervasions between two or more sets -- mutually exclusive, totally congruent, overlapping, etc. A set is a collection or a group of many items, like the set of all nonstatic phenomena.
|bsgribs-pa'i lung ma-bstan||obstructive unspecified phenomenon||Skt: nivrta-avyakrta|
A phenomenon that Buddha did not specify as being either constructive or destructive, and which hinders the attainment of liberation.
|bsgrub-byed-kyi yan-lag||causal links that actualize|
In the twelve links of dependent arising, the three links of craving, an obtainer, and further existence, which activate the karmic aftermath of throwing karma in the moments preceding death so that the karmic results will actualize. Thus, they serve as the simultaneously acting conditions for the aggregates of a next rebirth.
|bshes-gnyen bsten-pa||relating to a spiritual mentor in a healthy manner|
Entrusting oneself, through mind and actions, to a fully qualified spiritual mentor. Also called: relying on a spiritual mentor, entrusting oneself to a spiritual mentor, whole-hearted commitment to a spiritual mentor. Often translated as: guru-devotion.
|bskyed-pa'i skyes-bu byed-pa'i 'bras-bu||man-made result that is produced|
Something material, such as a vase, a bruise, or a profit, that arises from someone's effort or actions, but which does not ripen from that person's karma.
The first stage of anuttarayoga practice, during which one uses the powers of imagination to generate oneself in the form of a Buddha-figure and performs a sadhana.
|bsngo-ba||dedication prayer||Skt: pranidhana|
A prayer for the attainment of a spiritual goal or of the circumstances conducive for reaching that goal, in which the person making the prayer directs the positive force (merit) from a constructive action that he or she has done toward ripening into that attainment.
|bsnyen-chen||great approximation retreat|
A three-year, three-month retreat focusing exclusively on one Buddha-figure (deity) system, in which one recites tens of millions of mantras and makes millions of offerings in fire pujas.
|bsnyen-sgrub||approximate and actualize oneself as a Buddha-figure|
Intensive tantric meditation practice entailing visualization of oneself as a Buddha-figure and recitation of the appropriate mantras.
|bsod-nams||positive karmic force||Skt: punya|
The type of karmic force associated with a constructive action and which ripens intermittently into transitory happiness. Some translators render it as "merit." See: karmic force.
|bsod-nams-kyi tshogs||network of positive force||Skt: punyasambhara|
A constructive noncongruent affecting variable imputable on the positive force on the mental continuum of a limited being, when dedicated with bodhichitta, and which functions as the obtaining cause for the Form Corpus of a Buddha. Also called: "bountiful store of positive force." Some translators render the term as "collection of merit."
The validly knowable phenomena that the names and concepts for them, imputed on a basis for labeling, refer to.
The actual "thing" referred to by a name or concept, corresponding to the names or concepts for something, and which is findable, establishing its own existence by its own power, on the side of the referent object of the name or concept. In Gelug, according to Prasangika it is nonexistent and according to lower tenet systems it is existent.
|btags-yod||imputably knowable phenomenon|
A validly knowable phenomenon that, when actually cognized, does rely on actual cognition of or by something else, specifically the object's basis for labeling.
(1) The mental factor (subsidiary awareness) of having an equal attitude toward everyone. (2) In Theravada, when conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, the tenth of the ten far-reaching attitudes -- the attitude with which one does not expect anything in return for one's help, being indifferent to pleasure and pain, and to any benefit or harm one might receive.
|btang-snyoms||neutral feeling||Skt: upeksha|
That feeling which, when it arises, one neither wants to be parted from it, nor, when it stops, one wishes to meet it again.
|btang-snyoms tsam||mere equanimity|
An equal attitude toward everyone that is devoid of attachment to loved ones, repulsion from enemies, and indifference toward strangers, developed in common in both Hinayana and Mahayana.
|bya-grub ye-shes||accomplishing deep awareness|
One of the five types of deep awareness that all beings have as an aspect of Buddha-nature. The deep awareness that goes out to a cognitive object and which has the willingness to accomplish something with it, or to do something with it or to it, or to relate to it in some personal way. Also called: deep awareness to accomplish things.
|bya-grub ye-shes||awareness, accomplishing|
See: accomplishing deep awareness
(1) The wish for someone to be happy and to have the causes for happiness. (2) In Theravada, when conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, the ninth of the ten far-reaching attitudes -- the attitude to work to bring about the welfare and happiness of others, even when doing so requires self-sacrifice.
|byams-pa chen-po||great love||Skt: mahamaitri|
The wish for everyone to be happy and to have the causes for happiness.
|byang-chub||purified state||Skt: bodhi|
The state of a shravaka arhat, pratyekabuddha arhat, or a Buddha, in which the mental continuum of the person attaining this state has been purified of either the emotional obscurations or both the emotional and the cognitive obscurations.
|byang-chub-gyi sems||bodhichitta||Skt: bodhicitta|
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.
|byang-chub sems-dpa'||bodhisattva||Skt: bodhisattva|
Someone who has developed unlabored bodhichitta.
|byang-sems 'phags-pa||arya bodhisattva||Skt: arya bodhisattva|
A bodhisattva that has attained nonconceptual cognition of voidness. See also: bodhisattva.
|byang-sems sdom-pa||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.
A Hinayana school of Indian Buddhism that does not assert reflexive awareness and does assert external phenomena; a subdivision of the Sarvastivada school of Hinayana. One of the four Indian Buddhist tenet systems studied by all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
The person who commits an action.
|byed-pa rgyu-mthun-gyi 'bras-bu||result that corresponds to its cause in one's behavior|
The subsidiary awareness (mental factor) of liking or wishing to do an action, in a particular moment, similar to what one has done in the past. Also translated as "result that is similar to its cause in one's behavior" and "result that is similar to its cause in one's instinctive behavior."
|byed-rgyu||acting cause||Skt: karanahetu|
All phenomena, other than the result itself, which do not impede the production of the result.
A mental factor (subsidiary awareness) faulting the appearance-making of mindfulness's mental hold on an object of focus. Some translators render the term as "sinking."
|byin-gyis rlabs||inspiration||Skt: adhishthana|
(1) A transformation that someone or something confers, literally by means of a "brightening," into a state of heightened power and ability resembling the position or status of the person or thing that confers it. (2) In the meaning of "elevation," transformation of one's body, speech, and mind, or offering substances, into pure aspects, done during a tantric ritual. Some translators render the term as "blessing."
One of the ten far-reaching attitudes in the Theravada tradition. An attitude of determination with which a bodhisattva never abandons what he or she needs to do in order to benefit others.
(1) In Theravada, the mental factor of not becoming angry at others' shortcomings, mistakes, or cruel deeds. (2) In Mahayana, the mental urge that leads one to be unperturbed by those who do harm and by suffering, so that one never becomes angry. When conjoined with a bodhichitta aim, patience becomes a far-reaching attitude.