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Glossary 

acharya a master's degree or a degree equivalent to master's degree
Avalokiteshvara [Tib. Chenrezig Jigten wangchuk] The bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, [he who sees in all directions, the all seeing one.]
bhiksu Buddhist monk
bodhisattva one who has taken the great vow to rescue all beings from suffering and guide them to enlightenment
Bodhisattvayana [Tib.] Changsem thegpa. The vehicle of bodhisattvas
Bon [Tib.] a Tibetan religious tradition claiming to have originated from the teachings of Tönpa Shenrab, who the Bonpo holds achieved enlightenment many centuries before the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. The orthodox Bonpo - the Black Bonpo (Bon nag) has ceased to exist in Tibet, but a reformed Bonpo or the White Bonpo (Bonkar) with substantial elements and framework of Buddhism, developed from the 10th century onwards and remained to this day. It emphasizes Tantric practices similar to the Old Tantra tradition but with different deities.
deity [Skt. devata Tib. yidam] tutelary deity, meditational deity; deities who are the focus of meditation and means for attainment, and who confer supreme accomplishments. A personal deity and the root of accomplishment among the Three Roots.
Dharma the doctrine, the teachings of the Buddha; the Law, nature, the Truth, Ultimate Reality.

Some senses of "dharma" (in lower case):

  1. phenomenon, thing, existence, [a truly real predicate, event, entity, element or ultimate constituent of existence]
  2. Dharma [the Precious Dharma with eight qualities], religion.
  3. quality, attribute, property, characteristic, ability
  4. a teaching, doctrine, text, scripture, sacred text
  5. right, virtue, duty, moral law, tenet, precept
  6. truth, order, law
  7. practice: dharma ~, religious ~
  8. mental object
  9. religion, religious system, way of belief
Dzogchen great perfection, great completeness
epistemology fundamental themes that coordinate the theory of knowledge with developing scientific thought
Gelugpa the latest of the four main schools of Buddhism in Tibet. This reformed school, founded by Tsongkhapa, puts special stress on studying the scriptures and on the monastic tradition. It flourished in Tibet after it gained political power in Tibet.
guru master; supreme spiritual teacher with abundance of qualities. A tantric, yogic teacher; highest one, spiritual master, preceptor
initiation / empowerment [Skt. Abhisheka; Tib. wang] ceremony which introduces the practitioner to the powerfield of a certain Buddha aspect. It may be given as a blessing or at the start of a practice. For practice, one also needs a "lung" - a reading of the text, and a "thri" - the instructions on how to use it. The effectiveness of these methods in developing one's awareness cannot be overestimated. Abhisheka literally means "sprinkling".
Kadampa a person who sincerely practises Lamrim, and who integrates all the teachings of Buddha that he or she knows into their Lamrim practice.
Kagyupa the yogic transmission among the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the lineage that holds the yogic teachings of the siddhas of the four directional transmissions of India. Being heavily practice-oriented, it is called the "oral" or "meditational" school. It was brought to Tibet by the Great Translator Marpa around year 1050 and derives its power from the close bond between teacher and student.
kalpa aeon, age, period, cosmic period
Kamala Sutra Kamala Sutra is named after the people to whom the Buddha gave the teachings. Kalamas were inhabitants of Kesaputta, in the Kosala State. (Kosala or Kausala: Tib. Gewacen.) One of the four great states (i.e., Kosala, Magadha, Vansa & Avanti) in ancient India. The Shakya tribe to which Shakyamuni belonged was under the power and influence of Kosala. The capital of Kosala was Savatthi where the famous monastery Jetavanna Grove was located.
Lamrim stages of the path, gradual path, graded path
Madhyamika The Middle Way. This is the highest of the four Buddhist schools of philosophy. The Middle Way means not holding any extreme views, especially those of eternalism or nihilism.
Mahamudra [Tib. Chakgya chenpo] Great seal, Great symbol, one of the four mudras (gya zhi), the most direct practice for realizing one's buddha nature. A system of teachings which is the basic view of Vajrayana practice according to the Sarma or 'new' schools of Kagyu.
Mahayana [Tib. Thegchen] the greater vehicle. One with the motivation and practice to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. Its very basis is the development of compassion and ransworldy wisdom.
Mantrayana [Tib. Nga-gyi thegpa] Mantra Vehicle. The scriptures are ascribed to Buddha Shakyamuni and his different manifestations. They describe the Mandala and practice connected with an enlightened being. Mantra literally means "mind guard".
nagas [Tib. lu] water-deities, gods of the underworld, water spirits, serpents, demi-gods with human heads and serpent bodies generally living in fountains, rivers, and lakes.
nirvana [Tib.] nyangde. passing beyond grief
Nyingmapa the earliest of the four main lineages of Buddhism in Tibet, the "old school". Its origins go back to the first spreading of Buddhism in Tibet in the eighth century. The outer structure and transmission were destroyed by King Langdharma shortly after, but the hidden treasures have remained until today.
ordained having formally become a monk or nun through ordination. Ordination as a Buddhist Bhikshu (monk) or Bhikshuni (nun) can be seen both as the culmination of a period of intense preparatory cultivation and as the beginning of a new and fuller life in the Dharma
Padmasambhava / Padmakara the Lotus Born Guru, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the master who established Buddhism in Tibet in the eighth century. He spent more than fifty-five years in Tibet. Guru Rinpoche is known as an emanation of the Buddha Amithaba. He manifested an exciting life and countless wonders and is highly revered in Tibetan Buddhist tradtions. His lineage is later known as Nyingma lineage. His special day is the tenth day after new moon.
Prajnaparamita [Tib. sherchin] transcendent knowledge
Pramana [Tib. Tsema] Logic - epistemology, dialectics, valid means of knowing normal perception that is either direct or indirect, proof, logical work, authority reasoning, true, proven, genuine; ideal, validity, authentic standard of authenticity; valid cognition; validating; authenticity, proof, logic, ideal, valid proof of three kinds: direct perception (Ngon sum), inference (Je pak), trustworthy scripture or testimony (yid ches pa'i lung); the study of pramana.
Pratyekabuddhayana [Tib. Rangsangye thegpa] the vehicle of self-centered realizers, one of the Hinayana [Tib. Thegman] or Lesser Vehicles [now prefered to be called Theravada (Skt. Sthiravada Tib. Neten Depa)].
reincarnate intentionally take rebirth by some distinguished Dharma practitioner to practice and help others. Tulkus are reincarnated practitioners.
Remay movement impartial or non-sectarian movement, which promotes the respect for all traditions without bias. The movement came to its height in the 19th century Tibet, with the intention to minimize sectarian rivalry and revitalize spiritual practice by making use of the texts, commentaries and procedures from many different Tibetan Buddhist traditions
rinpoche precious one, [Tib.] the title for highly repectable Dharma teachers. It is used for someone identified as the rebirth of an earlier distinguished Dharma practitioner, also called tulku (Skt. Nirmanakaya) or incarnate lama.
sadhana [Tib. Dupthab] method of accomplishment. Tantric liturgy and procedure for practice usually emphasizing the development stage. The typical sadhana structure involves a preliminary part including the taking of refuge and arousing bodhichitta, a main part involving visualization of a Buddha and recitation of mantras, and a concluding part with dedication of merit to all sentient beings
Sakyapa one of the four main schools of Buddhism in Tibet, the tradition derived from the Path & Fruit teachings of Virupa through Drogmi Lotsawa. There are both hereditary and incarnate successions. This school has contributed some of the most important philosophical commentaries.
Sambhogakaya Tib. longchoe dzoku. Enjoyment Body, dimension of the full richness of being.
samsara [Tib. khorwa] "cyclic existence", "vicious circle" or "round" of birth, death and rebirth within the six realms of existence, characterized by suffering, impermanence and ignorance; the state of ordinary sentient beings fettered by ignorance and dualistic perception, karma and disturbing emotions; ordinary reality, an endless cycle of frustration and suffering generated as the result of karma.
Sangha Community, a chapter of (not less than four) Buddhist monks, the Order
sastra treatise, a type of Buddhist text; generally a philosophical treatise or a commentary; scriptures composed by accomplished or learned masters
sentient being sattva. A sentient being is generally defined as any living creature which has developed enough consciousness and awareness to experience feelings, particularly suffering. This generally includes all animal life and excludes botanical life forms. These then are the object of Buddhist ethics and compassion. The religious order exists in a larger sense not simply to aid its membership in their own personal liberation but also to function within the world to improve the conditions of life for all sentient beings.
shamatha [Tib. Zhiney] "calm abiding" or "remaining in quiescence" after thought activity has subsided; the meditative practice of calming the mind in order to rest free from the disturbance of thought, tranquility meditation; peaceful abiding, resting in calmness, serenity quiescence.
Shastri a bachelor's degree or a degree equivalent to bachelor's degree
Shravakayana [Tib.] Nyenthoe thegpa. The vehicle of the "listeners" one of the Hinayana [Tib. Thegman] or Lesser Vehicles [now prefered to be called Theravada (Skt. Sthiravada Tib. Neten Depa)]
Smriti [Tib. trenpa] mindfulness, remembrance, recollection; to think; be mindful; recall, remember with longing.
sramanera [Tib. Getshu] novice monk, novitiate. The vow includes the five basic vows, plus refraining from afternoon food, singing and the wearing of ornaments, the ten to be renounced by novice. They are bound by a somewhat less severe version of the bhiksu's discipline.
Sutrayana [Tib. Doyi thegpa] Sutra Vehicle. Sutra means: a discourse by or inspired by the Buddha; a scripture of the Sutra pitaka within the Tripitaka; all exoteric teachings of Buddhism belonging to Hinayana and Mahayana, the causal teachings that regard the path as the cause of enlightenment, as opposed to the esoteric, tantric or mantric teachings. Sutra literally means "thread" or a "concise sentence".
Theravada [Skt. Sthiravada ("Theravada" is Pali), Tib. Neten depa] The division of elders (sthavira) of the sravaka school; firm in his place; elder; Buddhist monk of Sthavira school. The Sravaka school was branched into eighteen divisions with only a few remaining now.
Terma concealed and rediscovered treasure or teachings
Terton treasure-revealer, revealer of treasure texts concealed mainly by Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal in the 9th century
Tripitaka literally "Three Baskets". It is believed that during the first council for compiling the teachings of the Buddha, the scriptures were stored in three baskets, dividing Buddha's teachings into the code of discipline for monks, his sermons and discourses, and the higher doctrines (Buddhist philosophy and psychology), therefore it is called "Three Baskets".
Usnisa prominence above the crown of the head; cowl, protuberance on the head of a Buddha. This is one of the hirty-two major marks of a Buddha.
Vajravarahi [Tib. Dorje Pamo, Skt. Vajravarah] the highest wisdom of the Buddhas. The pig represents basic ignorance which is transformed into highest wisdom.
Vajrayana [Tib. Doje thegpa] vehicle of indestructible reality - Diamond vehicle, indestructible approach to the teaching, Indestructible Reality Way. The "vajra vehicle". The practices of taking the result as the path. Same as "Secret Mantra".
Vajrayogini name of a female deity
Vinaya discipline, one of the three parts of the Tripitaka: the Buddha's teachings showing ethics, the discipline and moral conduct that is the foundation for all Dharma practice, both for lay and ordained people; disciplines; taming, conversion, cultivation; monastic discipline.
vipashyana [Tib. lakthong] superior seeing, higher insight. "wider seeing", usually referring to insight into emptiness; seeing something extra, the emptiness, that is not seen otherwise.
Zen meditation. "Zen" is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Ch'an, Skt. Dhyan, which means "meditation".

It has its origin in the esoteric teachings of the Buddha, when the Buddha stood on Vulture Peak holding a lotus and remained silent before his disciples. Through the silence, the disciple Mahakasyapa achieved nirvana, or enlightenment, and from him the "lamp of enlightenment" was passed on to the twenty-eighth patriarch, Bodhidharma, who carried the "lamp" to China and founded the Ch'an (Zen) tradition.


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