This glossary contains an alphabetical list of Buddhist terms that you may find on this website. Many of the terms now include phoneticized Sanskrit (Skt) as well as two forms of Tibetan—the phonetic version (Tib), which is a guide to pronunciation, and transliteration using the Wylie method (Wyl). Search for the term you want by entering it in the search box or browse through the listing by clicking on the letters below.
Also called the four complete purities. In tantra, the practice of transcending ordinary appearance and seeing place, body, enjoyments and action as pure. The place or environment is seen as the deity's mandala, the ordinary body is seen as the deity's, the sense enjoyments are offered to the deity and all actions are regarded as the actions of the deity.
Pu Tuo Shan, Wu Tai Shan, Emei Shan, Jiu Hua Shan.
The four basic tenets that define Buddhism. They are: all compositional phenomena are impermanent, all contaminated phenomena are by nature suffering, all phenomena are empty of self-existence and nirvana is true peace.
The four contemplations are: 1) the difficulties of finding a precious human rebirth; 2) the impermanence of life; 3) the sufferings of samsara; and 4) karma (cause and effect).
They are: grasping at sense pleasures, grasping at the wrong view of denying what exists, grasping at the wrong view of holding our own beliefs as superior and grasping at the wrong view of the sense of a self-existent I.
Taught by the Buddha shortly before showing the aspect of passing away, they are: 1) relying on the message and not the personality of the teacher; 2) relying on the meaning of the message and not just the words; 3) relying on definitive meaning and not the provisional; and 4) relying on wisdom and insight, and not the ordinary, judgmental mind.
The four types of very subtle ignorance that arhats and higher bodhisattvas still have that a buddha does not, due to the subtle imprints of delusions not yet fully eliminated. They are: the inability to see the secret actions of a buddha, the inability to see the subtle karma of sentient beings, the inability to see things that happened a very long time ago and the inability to see very long distances.
Four attainments of the union of clear light and illusory body, they are: the posture of the drop, retaining the drops while in union without emission; the posture of the wind, using the wind to block the channel by use of a syllable; the posture of the channel, the meeting of channels of the father and mother; and the posture of the body, the syllables that adorn the secret places at the time of unification.
One of the main techniques for meditating on emptiness. They are: 1) determining the object to be negated; 2) determining that a truly existent self must either be identical with the aggregates or separate from them; 3) determining that a truly existent self cannot be identical with the aggregates; and 4) determining that a truly existent self cannot be separate from the aggregates.
Four actions that speed your spiritual progress; they are: 1) never lying to your guru even at the cost of your life; 2) inspiring sentient beings to follow the Mahayana path; 3) respecting a bodhisattva just as you would a buddha; and 4) being honest to all beings. See also four black dharmas.
They are: that impermanent things are permanent, that suffering is pleasure, that the impure is pure and that the self has an independent nature.
Four practices considered best for accumulating merit and purifying obscurations. They are: 1) accumulating merit by making offerings to deities and spiritual teachers; 2) making offerings such as torma cakes to malevolent spirits; 3) making offerings to Dharma protectors for a successful Dharma practice; and 4) purifying negative karma by making charity.
The "sun-like" disciple of Milarepa and author of The Jewel Ornament of Liberation; also known as "The Physician from Dakpo"; guru of the first Karmapa.
The first of the three great Gelugpa monastic universities near Lhasa, founded in 1409 by Lama Tsongkhapa. It was badly damaged in the 1960s and has now been re-established in exile in south India.
"Holder of the Throne of Ganden," Lama Tsongkhapa's representative, head of the Gelug tradition.
A celestial musician, often depicted holding a sitar-like instrument and having a horse’s head.
Perfume; one of the offering substances.
A torma offering to harmful spirits or negative forces, often done at the beginning of an initiation.
A disciplinarian in a Tibetan monastery.
A Gelug lama and lharampa geshe from Drepung Monastery, Gelek Rimpoche was born in Tibet and was a friend of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Gelek Rimpoche was the founder and president of the Jewel Heart Dharma centers and programs. He passed away in 2017.
A probationary nun, between the novice (Tib: getsulma) with 36 vows and the fully-ordained nun (Tib; gelongma) with 364 vows.
A fully ordained Buddhist monk.
Literally, elder. A title of respect.
An ascetic meditator who was a close friend of Lama Yeshe and a guru of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
The first Dalai Lama.
The second Dalai Lama.
Literally, a virtuous friend; derived from the Tibetan ge wä she nyen. The title conferred on those who have completed extensive studies and examinations at Gelug monastic universities on these five topics: Abdhidharma, Vinaya, Madhyamaka, Pramana and Prajnaparamita. The highest level of geshe is the lharampa.