Site Map


Abhidharma (S): Tibetan: Chö-ngön-pa. One of the three baskets (tripitaka) of the Buddhist canon, the others being the Vinaya and the Sutra; the systematized philosophical and psychological analysis of existence that is the basis of the Buddhist systems of tenets and mind training. The scholastic system of metaphysics that originated in Buddha’s discourses regarding mental states and phenomena. Originally taking form at the first Buddhist Council, the final modifications took place between 400 and 450 ce.

abhisheka (S): Tibetan: wang. See: Empowerment.

accumulation of merit: Sanskrit: punysambhãra; Tibetan: sonam shok. Accomplishment of virtuous activities accompanied by correct motivation, which is a "reserve of energy" for spiritual evolution. This accumulation is done by very varied means: gifts, offerings, recitation of mantras and prayers, visualizations of divinities, constructions of temples or stupas, prostrations, circumambulations, appreciation of the accomplishments of others, etc. One of the "two accumulations," necessary for enlightenment, the other being the accumulation of wisdom.

accumulation of wisdom: Sanskrit: jñãnasambhãra; Tibetan: yeshe shok. Development of knowledge of the nature of the emptiness of all things; obtained by contemplating the profound truth of emptiness. One of the "two accumulations," the other being the accumulation of merit.

acharya (S): Teacher or spiritual guide. An honorific title denoting great spiritual attainment.

action seal: Sanskrit: karma-mudra. Tibetan: le kyi chag gya. A tantric consort in the sexual practices of highest tantric yoga.

action tantra: Kriya Tantra. First of the four classes of tantra. It emphasizes external ritual, purity in behavior, vegetarianism and cleanliness. The meditation deity is separate and other than onself. See Dzogchen; Atiyoga

Adibuddha (S): The original Buddha, eternal with no beginning and with no end. In Mahayana Buddhism, the idea evolved, probably inspired by the monotheism of Islam, that ultimately there is only one absolute power that creates itself. He is infinite, self-created and originally revealed himself in the form of a blue flame coming out of a lotus. Over time this symbol was also personified in the form of the Adibuddha. There are various forms and manifestations in which this supreme essence of Buddhahood becomes manifest.

advaita (S): Nondual; not two. Nonduality or monism. The Hindu philosophical doctrine that Ultimate Reality consists of one principle substance, Absolute Being or God. Opposite of dvaita, dualism. Advaita is the primary philosophical stance of the Vedic Upanishads, and of Hinduism, interpreted differently by the many rishis, gurus, panditas and philosophers. See: Vedanta.

affliction: Sanskrit: klesha; Tibetan: nyon mong. Any emotion or conception that disturbs and distorts consciousness. The six root afflictions are attachment, anger, self-importance, ignorance, wrong views and emotional doubt.

aggregates: Sanskrit: skandha. Tibetan: phung po. The components of the psycho-social personality by which beings impute the false notion of self; the five components of the individual existence:

agura (S): Sitting cross-legged, where neither foot is placed firmly on the opposite thigh. This is neither the half or full lotus position. It is the common cross-legged position used to sit on the floor in the West.

AH (S): Mantra seed syllable (bija) symbolizing great emptiness from which all forms arise, the speech of all the buddhas, or the "Vajra Speech of the Buddhas." Associated with the Sambhogakaya (Beatific Body or Body of Bliss, Rapture, Perfect Enjoyment), the color ruby and the throat chakra.

ahamkara (S): "I-maker." Personal ego. The mental faculty of individuation; sense of duality and separateness from others. Sense of I-ness, "me" and "mine." Ahamkara is characterized by the sense of I-ness (abhimana), sense of mine-ness, identifying with the body (madiyam), planning for one's own happiness (mamasukha), brooding over sorrow (mamaduhkha), and possessiveness (mama idam). See anava mala, ego

ahimsa (S): Harmlessness. Action that is non-injuring; non-violence.

Ajatasatru (S): Tibetan: Ma-kye-dra. Ajatasatrua was Prince of Magadha who plotted with Buddha’s manipulative cousin Devadatta, imprisoned and killed his father, King Bimbisara. Realizing the enormity of his sin he sought refuge in the Buddha, he made efforts to purify this negativity and some believe he became an arhat. King Ajatasatru sponsored the first Buddhist council. King Bimbisara of Magadha was imprisoned by his ambitious son and either starved to death or committed suicide. Ajatasatru ascended to the throne and expanded his territory by conquests. Ajatasatru also waged war with King Prasenajit of Kosala but was defeated. He married Prasenajit's daughter. Ajatasatru patiently schemed for 16 years to break the unity and strength of Vajjis. He quarreled with this strong confederacy led by Cetaka for reasons which are differently given by Buddhists and Jains. However it was not easy to break the solidarity of the Licchavis and other members of the confederacy. Ajatasatru resorted to foul methods, sowing seeds of discord among different classes of the confederacy through one of his ministers who settled amongst the Vajjis and became adept in destroying the social unity of the people. Ajatasatru eventually executed King Cetaka, (Mahavira's uncle) and took over the area which had been held by the Vajji confederacy.

Akashagarba (S): Tibetan: Namkhai Nyingpo, "Matrix of the Sky." Akashagarba is the principle Bodhisattva of the Jewel Family. He is associated with the Eastern wisdom through the dawning of light from that direction. He wears a white robe and holds a lotus with a large sword shedding that light in his left hand. He is known for his generosity and meritorious acts.

Akshobhya (S): Tibetan: Mi-kyö-pa. "Unshakeable One." Lord of the Vajra Family, one of the five dhyani buddhas, or heads of the five buddha families, representing the fully purified skandha, or aggregates of form. In the Natural Liberation, he represents the wisdom-mirror and the transmutation of the poison of aggression and hatred. Akshobhya is blue, and is associated with the east and the ground - Abhirati Buddha. He originates from the blue seed syllable HUM and represents the vajra family; immutable and imperturbable. The path to enlightenment through the Vajra family is one of breaking free of constraints and obstacles, transmuting negativity, and is generally more dynamic and proactive. He makes the earth touching mudra (S. bhumisparsa) with the tip of the middle finger touching the earth with palm drawn inwardly, while his left hand rests on his lap face . He faces the East and, is often depicted with his consort Lochana, She of the Buddha Eye, who expresses the mirror-like primordial wisdom.

alaya (S): Abbreviation of Alaya-vijanana. A division of the mind into eight consciousness was introduced by the Yogacara schools. Alaya is considered the eighth, a sort of ground or eternal matrix, a storehouse of creativity containing all karmic traces and phenomenal possibilities; ultimately, it is transpersonal and is the receptacle or totality of consciousness both absolute and relative. In the Yogacara school it is described as the fundamental mind or ground consciousness of sentient beings, which underlies the experience of individual life, and which stores the germs of all future affairs. It is the eighth consciousness which transforms into Mirror-like wisdom.

Amdo (T): Region of northeastern Tibet. Today, it includes the bulk of Qinghai Province as well as the Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province. Along with Kham and U-Tsang, it is one of Tibet's three historic regions. Each of these regions speaks its own distinctive dialect of Tibetan. Amdo is also known in Tibetan as Dotoh province.

Amitabha (S): Tibetan: Opame. "Boundless Light." The Buddha of Limitless Light, Lord of the Lotus Family (Padma); one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas, the fourth and most ancient of the five Transcendental Buddhas that embody the five primordial wisdoms. He presides over the Western Buddha realm Sukhavati (Tibetan: Dewachen, "Pure Ground of Great Bliss"), which is the expression of his own field of compassionate wishes, pure heart and nothing else. Having manifest a place of awakening accessible to all beings, it is the special vow of Amitabha that in order to benefit beings who are caught in the realm of their own confusion and suffering, one must only remember his name with faith at the time of their death to take rebirth in Dewachen. Through this birth they will easily achieve enlightenment and not again fall into a realm of suffering. This is due to the merit-power of Buddha Amitaba’s virtuous activities accumulated throughout countless lives as a bodhisattva.

Amitabha is the pure expression of the wisdom of discriminating awareness, which transmutes the poison of attachment and desire. He and the other Lotus family members support the gradual unfolding of one’s spiritual petals into enlightenment. The embodiment of compassion and wisdom, he is depicted as sitting in the lotus posture upon a great lotus blossom throne (symbolizing primordial purity), his body radiating the color of the ruby and clothed in monastic attire. His hands are in the Meditation Mudra, (the right hand rests on the left hand above the lap with the tips of the thumbs touching), and holding an alms bowl. Embodying the Wisdom of Discriminating Vision, he transmutes mundane perception into inner vision. In some mandalas, Amitabha is depicted in union with his Wisdom Consort Gokarmo, who embodies the pure element of fire. The eminent bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Chenrezig) the Bodhisattva of Compassion is an emanation of Amitabha.

In China, Amitabha and his Buddha land are described in the Smaller Pure Land Sutra and the Greater Sukhavati Sutra. A third Sutra was written in China, entitled the Visualizations of the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra. This pertains to another reflex of Amitabha known as Amitayus. These Sutras, as well as others such as the Aksobhya Buddha Sutra, served as the central scriptures for a populist practice intended for lay Indian Buddhists incapable or uninterested in delving into the intricate philosophies and meditations of monastic Buddhism. Although there is no evidence that they were the center of any organized sect of Indian Buddhism, when these Sutras were translated into Chinese, a cult soon developed around them which would blossom during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) into a full fledged sect of Chinese Buddhism, called the Pure Land. This sect has continued to influence Chinese Buddhism to this day, as it has been absorbed into the Ch’an schools. In Japan Pure Land adherents would remain independent from other traditions, competing with populist sects such as that of Nichiren, and splintering into several sub-sects.

Amitabha Sutra: One of the main sutras in the Chinese Pure Land sect. It is said to be the only sutra Shakyamuni preached without being asked, and one of the most popular sutras in China.

Amitayus (S): Tibetan: tse pa me, "Boundless Life." Particular or reflexive form of Buddha Amitabha, to which is attached the idea of longevity. The embodiment of infinite life and therefore the focus of the life practices that remove the possibility of untimely or premature death. He brings about a healing of sicknesses, degeneration and imbalances in the five elements of the body due to karma, excess and unclean living. He is often depicted as ruby red, less frequently depicted as white. His two hands rest in his lap in the mudra of equanimity with the palms facing each other holding the Vase of Life, that is filled with the nectar of immortality. It is only in the Tantric Buddhism of Tibet and Japan that Amitayus and Amitaba are considered different deities.

Amoghasiddhi (S): Tibetan: Donyo Drupa. Buddha of Unfailing Accomplishment; Lord of the Karma Family, the fifth of the Dhyani or Transcendental Buddhas that embody the five primordial wisdoms. Lord of the Karma Buddha family, he is seated upon a lotus supported by shang-shang birds (S. garuda). Associated with the wisdom that achieves all, the transmutation of the poison jealousy, the color green, and the aggregate of volition, Amoghasiddhi is associated with the north of the ground of Prakuta Buddha, or Karmasampat, (T. la rab zog pa) "success in evolution." His recognition symbol is the double dorje (visvavajra), representing the wisdom of all-accomplishing activity. His power and energy are both subtle, their dynamics often hidden from conscious awareness. Amoghasiddhi is Lord of the Supreme Siddhi — the magic power of enlightenment which flowers in Buddha Activity. In this way the inner and outer world, the visible and invisible are united as body is inspired and thegreat spirit of bodhicitta spontaneously embodies. Amoghasiddhi is depicted with emerald-green skin, his left hand resting in his lap in the mudra of equipoise and his right hand at chest level facing outwards in the fearless (S. abhya) mudra of granting protection. He is often depicted in union with his wisdom consort Damtsig Drolma -- Green Tara, who embodies the pure element of air.

amrita (S): Tibetan: dud’tsi. Nectar of Immortality. The visualized flow of divine bliss which streams down from the sahasrara chakra when one enters very deep states of meditation.

Angulimala (S): ‘Rosary of Fingers’ An incredible Dharma story illustrating - on the down side the danger of having great devotion to the wrong guru and on the up side the possibility of transformation for anyone. To fulfill his commitments under a perverse teacher, Angulimala murdered those unlucky enough to wander into his corner of the jungle on the outskirts of Sravasti. He killed 999 people and made a rosary out of their finger bones. He was prevented by the Buddha from killing his thousandth victim, which he believed would lead him to liberation. After his encounter with the Buddha, Angulimala was eventually able to purify his mind and become an arhat.

animal realm: One of the six realms of conditional existence, where consciousness is consumed by brute ignorance and the struggle for survival.

annuttara samyak sambodhi (S): Perfection of complete enlightment -- an attribute of every Buddha. In the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug schools, this the highest, correct and complete or universal knowledge or awareness, the perfect wisdom of a Buddha.

anuttarayoga (S): Tibetan: la me gyu. This term refers to the higher tantras of the Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug schools. Practiced as the Mahayoga in the Nyingma school. The highest of the four levels of Vajrayana teachings. The three lower tantra classifications are Kriya, Carya and Yoga (the three Outer Tantras of the Nyingma school.) There are three divisions:

1. Pitriyoga or Father (Method) tantra.
2. Matriyoga or Mother (Wisdom) tantra.
3. Advityayoga or non-dual tantra.

anuyoga (S): Tibetan: je su naljor. 'further union' Second of the Nyingma three inner tantras and eighth of the Nine Yanas (vehicles). Emphasis is placed on the Perfection Phase, especially practice on the channels and winds. Based in tantras associated with Vajrasattva, Vimalakirti and King Dza. These teachings also involve visualizations wherein the deity is generated instantly (as compared to gradually as is done in the lower tantras).

appearances: T. nang wa. Literally, ‘lighting up’ Phenomena. Every thing we perceive in the world, beings, situations - are projections of the mind and in essence no other than the expanse of pure awareness. All appearances (mental and sensory phenomena) arise from a single source clear of the mind - its dynamic power. Manifestation derives from the same root as mani. Ignorance and attachment of the real situation support the foment of dualistic views, the intertia of karmic obscurations and negative habit patterns; appearances, including the perceiver are viewed dualistically and not recognized for what they are. Pure appearances are an expression of the dynamics of primordial wisdom: undisturbed by the obscuring operations of duality and world-forming karmas.

Arhat (S): Tibetan: dra bcom pa. "Foe destroyer." A person who has destroyed his or her delusions and attained liberation from cyclic existence. The Arhat represents the Theravada ideal, one who has experienced the cessation of suffering by extinguishing all passions and desires and is thus free of the cycle of rebirth. According to Mahayana Buddhism, the arhat still has yet to achieve the ultimate goal; he has realized the emptiness of self, but has not yet refined this understanding to the point where he also realizes the emptiness of phenomena. By emphasizing his own salvation, the arhat has yet to attain full Buddhahood, as he has not yet awakened his compassion by working for the salvation of all beings. Stream-enterer, once-returner, and never returner are the first three stages on the path which lead to the realization of the arhat, which is considered the final goal of Sravakayana.

Aryadeva (S) noble shining one c. 375, Born spontaenously of a lotus (as was Padmasambhava) in Sri Lanka. Met Nagarjuna on pilgrimage and became his devotee. Matrceta, the poet, was a Brahman convert after debating Aryadeva at Nalanda. His student was Rahulamitra who taught Nagamitra who taught Samgharaksita who passed these teachings to Buddhapalita and Bhaviviveka.

Asanga: (S): Tibetan: Thok-me. "Without Attachment." Fifth century Indian pandit abbot of Nalanda who met Buddha Maitreya after twelve years of seemingly fruitless practice in a cave around Vulture Peak. Receiving the Method lineage teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha directly from the future Buddha, Maitreya, he re-transcribed them in the form of five works known as the "Five Treatises of Maitreya" Founder of the Cittamatra, or the "Mind Only School" of Buddhist tenets.

ashok: Rose.

Ashoka: Buddhist monarch, c. 300 BCE, the third emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty, who unified most of India under his rule and fostered the dissemination of Buddhism. It is said that the Third Council was held during his reign. Ashoka set the model for many other rulers who sought to govern in accordance with Buddhist philosophy.

asura (S): Evil spirit; demon. Tibetan: lha ma yin. Opposite of sura: "deva; god." Demi-gods. who do battle with the gods for the fruits of the wish-fulfilling tree. They do have access to the roots, from which they derive medicines to heal their wounds and continue fighting their lost cause. Also called the titans, these powerful beings embody the effects of prolonged envy. Non-physical being of the lower astral plane, Naraka. Asuras can and do interact with the human realm, causing major and minor problems in people's lives. Like sentient beings in the other five realms, asuras are not permanently in this state.

Atisha (T): [982-1054] Sanskrit: Dipamkara. Also, Jowo Atisha. Indian Buddhist Master and scholar who spent 12 years in Sumatra and in 1042 went to Nepal and Tibet, where he exerted enormous influence. A main teacher at the university of Vikramasila who after traveling to Indonesia, received bodhicitta teachings from Dharmakirti (Lord of Suvarnadvipa). He spent his last years in Tibet as a teacher and translator. His disciples founded the Kadampa school. Also known as Dipamkara (S) or Jowo Atisha (T).

Atiyoga (S): Tibetan: shin tu naljor. The highest of the Nyingma three inner tantras, the culmination of the Nine Yanas (Vehicles). Atiyoga corresponds directly to the Great Perfection. Atiyoga is said to be an expression of perfect harmony between appearance and openness (sunyata), the non-duality of space and awareness; it is about the direct realization of the intrinsic nature ofmind... pure and free from beginningless time. (Tarthang Tulku) Through Atiyoga, enlightenment can be achieved in a single lifetime by an ardent practitioner and results in a self-existent pristine awareness which recognizes the utter perfection of all experience. See Dzogchen

atman (S): In Hinduism, atman is the soul; the breath; the principle of life and sensation. The soul in its entirety as the soul body (anandamaya kosha) and its essence (Parashakti and Parashiva). One of Hinduism's most fundamental tenets is that we are the atman, not the physical body, emotions, external mind or personality.

Auspicious symbols (Eight Auspicious Symbols): In Tibetan Buddhism, a series of symbols associated with the Buddhas: a gold fish; a parasol; a conch shell; the Knot of Eternity; the Banner of Victory; a vase; a lotus; the wheel with eight spokes.

Avalokitesvara (S): Tibetan: Chenrezi. "The Lord Who Looks Upon All Suffering" The Buddha of Compassion. Avalokitesvara is the embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas and is regarded by the Tibetan people as the progenitor of the race and guardian of the country. As a monkey, he mated with a rock ogress and gave birth to the Tibetan people. He is one of the two chief Bodhisattva emanations of Amitabha. As a sambhogakaya emanation of the Lotus (Padma) Family, he is one of the Three Protectors of the Tantra; the other two being Manjusri and Vajrapani. Through his sharing of mankind’s misery, he positions himself to help those in distress and is considered a savior. Chenrezi is usually depicted with white wisdom-light skin; either two or four arms, sometimes in his 1,000-armed form. In his four-armed form, he sits in the lotus posture, with hands clasped in prayer over his heart; his other right hand holds a crystal mala upon which he counts mantras, and his other left hand holds an open lotus flower that radiates blessings to all beings. He rescues all beings by hearing their suffering and cries for help.

His thousand-armed form is depicted standing and has eleven heads with three levels diminishing in size as they face outward and to either side, representing his all-penetrating gaze. Upon these nine heads is the wrathful head of the Bodhisattva of Indestructible Power, dark blue Vajrapani, whose unfailing dynamic strength and power assist Avalokitesvara in the benefit of beings. Vajrapani’s head is crowned with that of Buddha Amitabha, the Lord of the Lotus Family of whom Avalokitesvara is an emanation. The 1,000 arms represent the appearance of 1,000 Buddhas during this Eon of Light, whose compassion will guide beings from the darkness of ignorance and delusion into the light of Great Awakening. The eyes on his 1,000 hands symbolize his all-seeing compassionate gaze upon every being in existence throughout the past, present and future. He symbolizes infinite compassion (Karuna) for his refusal of accepting nirvana, which he considers limited and beside the point and instead chooses to reincarnate so he can help mankind. He has appeared in this world numerous times (in both male and female forms) and therefore plays many roles depending on which strand of Buddhism one follows. The Dalai Lama is a manifestation of Chenrezi.

In China, Avalokitesvara was originally depicted in male form, later as a female in the graceful form of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion or Goddess of Mercy. In folk belief, she keeps people safe from natural catastrophe and in various forms traverses the realms of existence to aid all beings.

Avatamsaka Sutra: Flower Adornment, Flower Garland, Flower Ornament (Cleary) Sutra, a teaching of the tathagatabarbha class given by Buddha Shakyamuni soon after his attainment of Buddhahood. The sutra has been described as a link between Yogacara and Tantra (Conze), evoking a universe where everything freely interprets everything else. With such images as the Jewel Net of Indra, like a vast web of gems each of us, each thing reflects all other things. This was the principal text of the Chinese Hua-Yen Flower Adornement School. These teachings grew from a system of commentaries and were transmitted to Japan as Kegon.

Ayodhya: Situated on the south bank of the river Ghagra or Saryu, Just 6 km from Faizabad, Ayodhya is a popular place of pilgrimage and temple cities long standing. This town is closely associated with Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. One of the seven most sacred cities of India, the ancient city of Ayodhya, according to the Ramayana, was founded by Manu, the law-giver of the Hindus. King Dasaratha ruled there peacefully for ten thousand years, and still had no son to succeed him. After performing an elaborate puja and fire offering to the Gods, his wife Kausalya gave birth to Lord Sri Rama, who the Lord Brahma had sent to earth as a human incarnation of the god Vishnu. In contemporary Hinduism, Rama, who is also called Ram, is often worshipped as God. For centuries, Ayodhya was the pride of the kings of the Surya or Ikshavaka dynasty, also known as the Raghuvansh, of which Lord Rama was the most celebrated king. With the death of the last king of the Raghuvanshis, Ayodhya fell into decadence. Today, Ayodhya has many beautiful temples, although practically nothing of that age remains in the city, and none of the ancient structures survive. Of the present temples, 35 are dedicated to Lord Shiva and 63 to Lord Vishnu.The place where Lord Rama was born is marked by a small temple. The site where, according to legend, Lord Rama was cremated, Lakshman Ghat and Sita Ghat is still visible, and there are also ancient earth mounds, Mani Parbat, identified with a stupa built by Emperor Ashok and Sugriv Parbat, identified with an ancien monastery. Remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can still be found in Ayodhya. According to Jain tradition, five Tirthankaras were born at Ayodhya, including Adinath (Rishabhadeva) the 1st Tirthankar. MORE BUDDHISM


Bamboo Grove: Pali: Veluvana; Sanskrit: Venuvana, The first monastery (Bodhi-mandala) in Buddhism located in Rajagaha. It was donated by the elder Kalanda and built by King Bimbisara of Magadha.

bardo (T): Sanskrit: Antarabhava, "between two." In general, any interval. The Intermediate state, as between death and rebirth, as well as the space between thoughts or dream sequences. Bardo is usually used to indicate the transitions one has to pass through in approaching death and rebirth. A period of visions and dream-like experiences conditioned by non-physical resonances resulting from an intimate association with organic existence is part of the normal sequence of events preceding rebirth. However, bardo also stands for other special states of mind, not all of which are connected with death. In the west "bardo" is usually referred to only the first three of these, that is, the states between death and rebirth, during which an individual is believed wander for a period that lasts an average of - according to the Tibetan teachings - 49 days. These states are differentiated as follows:

These last three listed states are no more and no less illusory than dreams and ordinary waking consciousness.

bardo thödol (T): A text based on oral teachings by Padmasambhava and recorded in written form circa 760. After having been hidden as terma, the text was rediscovered (and extended) by the Terton Karma Lingpa in the 14th century. The text is part of the Kargling Zhi-khro collection of the Dzogchen tradition and shows traces of earlier and originally pre-buddhist Tibetan thought; indicated by symbolism and divinities that are part of the shamanic Bön religion. By way of misrepresentation of the text by Evans-Wentz (1878-1957), the Western reader has come to know this text as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead," a translation that has misguided many readers. A much better translation by Trungpa and Fremantle is entitled"Liberation by Hearing During One's Existence in the Bardo." The text is read aloud (i.e. "liberation by hearing") to someone in bardo, sometimes as pure instruction for meditation and, at the time of death, to guide the mind through the labyrinth of adventures ahead.

being: Sanskrit: bhava, lifer, becoming. Tibetan: srid pa; existence

believing faith: Sanskrit: abhisampratyaya.

bell: Sanskrit: ghanta. Tibetan: drilbu. Vajra handbell used in tantric practices symbolizing the all pervading wisdom-realizing emptiness. The bell is the female part of the Tantric polarity, symbolizing emptiness - boundless openness, the space of pure wisdom and the liberating sound of the Dharma. It is accompanied by another handheld object, a brass wand or dorje (Tibetan: diamond) - vajra in Sanskrit. The vajra scepter is the male part of the Tantric polarity, symbolizing effective means and Buddha's active compassion. Originally it was associated with divine authority and power as the thunderbolt weapon of the King of the gods and Lord of Storms, Indra. In Tibet it came to represent the indestructible nature of diamond.

Bhadanta (S): "Most virtuous." Honorific title apllied to a Buddha.

Bhadrayaniyah (S): A branch of the Hinayana sect Sthavirandin, developed from Vatsiputriyah.

bhaga (S): Luck, wealth, secret place, yoni.

Bhagavan (S): Tibetan: Chom Den De. An epithet frequently applied to the Buddha. It designates he who has vanquished the four demons, who possesses all the qualities and who is beyond the two extremes of existence and nihilism. This word designates then a perfectly accomplished Buddha.

Bhagavat (S): "World-Honored One." Also, "Lord," "Blessed One." Honorific names of the Buddha.

Bhaisajyaguru (S): Tibetan: Sangye Menla. Healing Buddha, Medicine Buddha, who quells disease and lengthens life. His realm is the Eastern Paradise or Pure Land of Lapis Lazuli Light.

bhakti (S): Devotion. Surrender. Bhakti extends from the simplest expression of devotion to the ego-decimating principle of prapatti, which is total surrender. Emphasizes emotional control; the way to the divine through love.

bhakti yoga (S): "Union through devotion." Bhakti yoga is the practice of devotional disciplines, worship, prayer, chanting and singing with the aim of awakening love in the heart and opening oneself to divine grace. From the beginning practice of bhakti to advanced devotion, called prapatti, self-effacement is an intricate part of Hindu, even all Indian, culture.

Bhante (P): Venerable Sir. A term of respectful address to an elder bhikkhu, used extensively in Theravadist communities.

bhava (P): State of existence of becoming, life.

bhavana (P): Cultivation.

bhavatanha (P): Craving, desire, thirst for being

bhiksu (S): Pali: Bhikku. Religious mendicant or monk of the order founded by Gotama Buddha. One of the four primary classes of Buddhist disciples, the male who has taken the monastic precepts. The other three are, bhiksuni (Pali: bhikkhuni), the monastic female; upasaka, the male who has taken the lay precepts; and upasika, the lay female. A ordained monastic who depends on alms for a living.

Bhrikuti (S): Tibetan: Jomo Khro Nye kan. A form of Tara, "she who has a wrathful frown."

bhumi (S): Tibetan: Jyang-sa. "Ground." One of the ten stages of realization and activity through which a Bodhisattva progresses towards Enlightenment. The ten bhumis are levels of awakening subsequent to the realization of emptiness: The Supremely Joyful; The Stainless; The Illuminating; The Radiant; The Difficult to Train For; The Manifesting; The Far Going; The Unwavering; The Excellent Intelligence; The Cloud of Dharma. Of the five paths, the first bhumi is identical with the path of seeing. Bhumis 2-9 are on the path of meditation. There are 10 bhumi levels which are distinguished in the Mahayana and 13 in the Mantrayana (Vajrayana) which represent the quintessence of buddhist teachings.

bija (S): Seed syllable. Mantra syllables, sounds that are symbols that enlightened beings use to communicate to Dharma practitioners, who also visualize them.

blessing: Sanskrit: adhisthana. Tibetan: Jin lap. Good wishes; benediction. Seeking and giving blessings. A more technical definition refers to a supplementary initiation into a specific deity practice based on having already received a major empowerment, e.g., the Vajrayogini initiation is a "blessing" based on the Chakrasamvara or Hevajra empowerments. An individual must receive the empowerment first before receiving the blessing initiation.

bliss: Tibetan: de nyam. In Vajrayana, there are four types of bliss:

When the experiences of clarity, non-thought and bliss appear, a practitioner can become attached to these, thus giving rise to a hindrance called the "defect of meditation." One who does not detach, strays into three states of existence (the realms of desire, form, and formlessness).

Blissful Pure Land: Sanskrit: Sukhavati. Tibetan: Dewachen.

Bod (T): The Ancient Tibetan word for Tibet, pronounced "Bo," or "Po." The word Bod may be derived from Bon.

Bodhgaya home of the (S): vajrasana (diamond seat) Tibetan: Dorje dan. Small town in northeast India where Shakyamuni Buddha’s six years of ascetic wandering culminated in full enlightenment. Present day site of the Mahabodhi Stupa. Formerly in the province of Magadha, today in the state of Bihar. The first Buddhas of each Dharma period manifest full enlightenment in Bodhgaya.

bodhi (S): Awakening. (T) Chang-chub. Traditionally translated as "enlightenment," Bodhi is the opposite of ignorance. A consummate insight into reality which destroys mental afflictions and brings peace. As such, it is the goal of personal practice for the Buddhist, and the nurturing of bodhi in society in general his foremost interest.

Bodhicaryavatara (S.) Tibetan: Jang-chub sem pai spyod pa la jug pa. Written by the Mahayana poet and scholar Santideva in the 7th century AD. Shantideva was an Indian Buddhist monk. According to legend he was born a crown prince and left his royal life to adopt the spiritual path. He received visions and teachings from Manjusri in person before studying at Nalanda where he was viewed as a lazy monk until he was called before an assembly where he spontaneously delivered the Bodhicaryavatara and disappeared into the sky during what has become the Ninth Chapter. The Bodhicaryavatara is one of the world's great masterpieces of religious literature. The work details the moral and spiritual discipline of one who wishes to become a bodhisattva. The Bodhicaryavatara contemplates the profound desire to become a Buddha in order to save all beings from suffering. In ancient times there were at least a hundred commentaries on the Bodhicaryavatara and its popularity has continued down to the present in Sri Lanka, India and in Tibet, where it is still widely read and studied. Santideva sets out what the Bodhisattva must do and become, what must be embraced and what is to be rejected; he also invokes the intense feelings of aspiration which underlie such a commitment, using language which has inspired Buddhists in their religious life from his time to the present.

Bodhicitta (S): Tibetan: Jang-chub sem. Also "bodhi mind." Awakened heart, awakened mind, enlightened thought. The mind or spirit of enlightenment. It is with this initiative that a Buddhist begins his path to complete, perfect enlightenment. There are various kinds of bodhicitta: 1) At the sutra level, Relative Bodhicitta is the aspiration to practice the six paramitas and free all beings from the sufferings of samsara. It involves two parallel aspects, aspiration and action: first comes the aspiration or determination to achieve Buddhahood. According to Longchenpa, the aspiration to awaken corresponds to contemplating the four immeasurables; desiring that all beings be sustained by awakening to boundless love, compassion, joy and equanimity. The second type of bodhicitta is called actualizing and consists of the practice of the six paramitas. The difference between the first and second kinds has been compared to the enthusiasm and preparation made before a journey and then the actual voyage, the action of putting this quality of compassion into practice. 2) Absolute Bodhicitta is an awakened mind that sees the uncompounded emptiness of phenomena. In Dzogchen terminlogy Bodhicitta is the original state, our True Nature. "Jang" implies purified, purity, clear and limpid since the beginning, meaning that nothing needs to be purified or altered. "Chub" means perfected or expanded and implies there is no need for further improvement. "Sem," or "mind," is the state of consciousness of which is the agency for the manifestation of this bodhi in the world. Thus bodhcitta is the original state, the true condition of which is immutable. The precepts associated with bodhicitta consist of three main points: 1) the ten non-virtues must be abandoned, 2) the ten virtuous actions that are antidotes must be applied, and 3) the ten paramitas are to be engaged.

Bodhidharma (S) [470-543 c.e.] Indian monk and 28th Patriarch who left India for China in about 520 c.e. and became the First Patriarch of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism.

bodhi nana (P): Also "sabbannuta nana." Supreme Enlightenment; the all comprehending wisdom. Corresponds to bodhicitta.

bodhisattva (S): Tibetan: Jang-chub sempa. Awakened Being. Shakyamuni Buddha used this term to describe himself when he was seeking enlightenment. Bodhi means "Enlightenment" and sattva means "sentient" or "conscious. Thus "bodhisattva" refers to a "sentient being of great wisdom and enlightenment." The bodhisattva's goal is the pursuit of Buddhahood and the salvation of all. The bodhisattva cycles through rebirths to help liberate beings from suffering and further establish the Dharma in the world. The bodhisattva path and discipline, generally accepted by Mahayana practitioners, is based in the aspiration, generation and application of the bodhicitta. Bodhisattvas are awakening beings whose realization is not yet that of the Buddhas. The bodhisattvas develop the intention to reach the state of Buddha, in order to release all sentient beings from the suffering of the cycle of existence. They work with this intention while developing compassion and renouncing the stain of any personal interest. Accompanied by Joyful effort and the other paramitas, this altruistic attitude permits one to slice through the thick inertia of egocentric habit energy and constitutes the energy of awakening. The bodhisattva works for the good of beings until the end of samsara through the practice of the ten perfections - or paramitas. There are ten stages in the Bodhisattva process. A Mahasattva is one who has reached the tenth stage but delays entering complete Enlightenment so as to help others. See bhumi; Four Great Vows.

Bodhi tree: Also, Bo Tree. Tree beneath which the meditating Gautama sat before he achieved enlightenment. According to tradition this was an Asvattha tree, though there is no historical evidence to support this belief. It is widely believed to have been a Pipal tree, ficus religiosa, a large deciduous tree found in uplands and plains of India and Southeast Asia. To this day, Buddhists make rosaries (malas) from the seed and plant the tree outside of temples. Even the leaf is revered and sometimes carried as a charm. The fruit contains serotonin and may have been used as an entheogen, although it is currently revered but rarely consumed. Although a tropical tree, it can thrive as a houseplant, and is easy to grow as other ficus species. This fast growing tree usually begins as an epiphyte (air plant, grows on trees) but develops roots to support its height of 90-plus feet. Has purple figs, red flowers, and is different from other species, because of its slender, long leaf tip. See Pipal.

Bodpa (T): Tibetan word for "Tibetan," both as a noun and as an adjective.

body energy: In the Tibetan view, there are six types and are referred to as winds (T. rlung): All-pervading (kyab-yed); Ascending (gyen-gyen); Evacuating (tur-sel); Fiery (me-nyam); Life-supporting (rok-zin); body-speech-mind (go-sum).

Bon / Bonpo (T): invocation - recitation. Tibet's pre-Buddhist, animist religion. a general heading for various religious currents in Tibet before the introduction of Buddhism by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. The word Bonpo originally referred to shamanic priests who performed certain rites such as burial and divination. In the 11th century Bonpo became a name for an independent school that distinguished itself from Buddhism in claiming to preserve the continuity of the old Bön tradition. Tibetan history states that in pre-Buddhist times the kings were protected by three kinds of practitoners, the shamanic Bonpo's, the bards, and the riddle game pratictitoners. The Bonpo were responsible for the exorcism of hostile forces. Their roles grew and expanded over the years until three different aspects of their duties were distinguished.

Revealed Bon represents the first stage. Practitioners of the Bön tradition employ various means to "tame demons below, offer to gods above and purify the firehearths in the middle" using methods of divination to make the will of the gods known. With the murder of an important king named Trigum the stage called Irregular Bon came about. At this time the main duty of the Bon was to bury kings. This time also brought an elaboration of the philosophical system because of contact with non-Tibetan Bonpos from the west. In the phase known as Transformed Bon major portions of Buddhist teachings were taken into this system, still without giving up the elements of the folk religion. This took place between the 8th and the 10th centuries.

bumpa (T): Ewer or ritual vase used during special ceremonies, in particular during tantric empowerments.

Buton (T): [1290-1364]. Sakya scholar-historian and yogi who finalized the compilation of the Tibetan Buddhist canon. One of the lineage lamas of the Six Yogas of Naropa. Author of "The History of Buddhism in India."

Brahma (S): The creator god. One of the three major deities of Hinduism, along with Visnu (Vishnu) and Siva (Shiva). Adopted as one of the protective deities of Buddhism.

Brahma Net Sutra (Brahmajala Sutra): Sutra of major significance in Mahayana Buddhism. In addition to containing the ten major precepts of Mahayana (not to kill, steal, lie, etc.) the Sutra also contains 48 minor injunctions. The major and minor precepts constitute the Bodhisattva Precepts, taken by most Mahayana monks and nuns and certain advanced lay practitioners (upasakas).

Brahmin (S): The highest of the four Indian castes at the time of Shakyamuni. This priestly class served the original creator god Brahma through regular offerings and observances as the keepers of the Vedas.

Buddha (S): Awakened One. Title applied to the prince of the Sakya clan, Siddharta Gautama upon reaching perfect enlightenment. In everyday talk it is used as the name of the founder of Buddhism. 'Buddha' is the primary title of those who have entirely awakened to the Dharma, and especially those who awaken to it during an era when the Dharma is not presently manifest, and so function as the means for the introduction of the blessings of the Dharma into the world. In the cosmic vision of millions of world systems to be found in Mahayana scriptures, 'buddhas' refer to other buddhas who exist simultaneously throughout the universe, as well as the past and future buddhas of this world.

Buddha of Limitless Light: Sanskrit: Amitabha. Tibetan: Öpame. His western paradise is Dewachen (S. Sukhavati), the pure land of highest bliss where the faithful are reborn in conditions extremely conducive to accomplish their spiritiual aspirations. See Amitabha

Buddhadharma (S): "Teaching of Enlightenment." Originally apllied to designate the teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. Over time, this has been replaced by the term "Buddhism."

Buddhaghosa (P): A famous buddhist writer who visited Ceylon and wrote the famous Visuddimagga / (Path of Purification).

Buddha-ksetra (S): Buddhaland. In Mahayana, the realm acquired by one who reaches perfect enlightenment, where he instructs all beings born there, preparing them for enlightenment, e.g. Amitabha in Sukhavati-Dewachen (Western Paradise); Bhaisajyaguru (Medicine Master Buddha) in Pure Land of Lapus Lazuli Light (Eastern Paradise).

Buddha Nature: Sanskrit: tathagatagarbha. Tibetan: sangye kyi nyingpo. The potential every sentient being has to realize Buddhahood. The Buddha essence within each being which is uncovered through enlightenment. The mind’s innate potential to achieve enlightenment; the clear, originally pure basis for attaining enlightenment that exists in all living beings. The following (and many more) are synonomous: True Nature, Original Nature, Natural State, Dharma Nature, True Mark, True Mind, True Emptiness, True Thusness, Dharma Body, Original Face. The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen: According to the Mahayana view, [buddha-nature] is the true, immutable, and eternal nature of all beings. Since all beings possess buddha-nature, it is possible for them to attain enlightenment and become a buddha, regardless of what level of existence they occupy. The answer to the question whether buddha-nature is immanent in beings is an essential determining factor for the association of a given school with Theravada or Mahayana, the two great currents within Buddhism. In Theravada this notion is unknown; here the potential to become a buddha is not ascribed to every being. Having already been visited by a Buddha, they are of the opinion that the highest attainment possible is the mind of the arhat. By contrast the Mahayana sees the attainment of buddhahood as the highest goal; it can be realized through intense cultivation of the bodhicitta revealing the inherent buddha-nature of every being.

Buddhas of Confession: Or, the 35 Buddhas of Confession. Each of the 35 Buddhas has at the same time the capacity to eliminate negative actions and obstacles to the practice of Dharma. The recitation of the Sutra of Three Accumulations, the prayer of confession in front of 35 Buddhas is a particularly effective method to purify of any failures. This is usually accompanied by prostrations.

Buddhist cosmology: Original (Hinayana/Theravada) cosmology, there is only one world, in the center of which lies mount Meru with mountain ranges and four main continents. The southern continent, Jambu (India or Earth) is the place where we all live. The other continents are inhabited, but beings can mature best only in Jambudvipa. All world systems have a beginning and an end, and while beings' good karma can fill the world with good impressions, their karma creates the specific phenomena and ultimately destoys it. Mahayana cosmology also employs the model of Mount Meru surrounded by four major continents and eight lesser ones, but there are an infinite number of worlds, which are arranged in a hierarchical manner. These worlds are created by karma as well as by the compassion of the buddhas and the vows of the bodhisattvas. Worlds are created and destroyed until all beings are liberated from the sufferings of cyclic existence. Vajrayana offers two versions: The Kalachakra integrates macrocosm and microcosm into a coherent whole and includes an astrological system. Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings dismiss cosmology with "Non-Cosmology" and define the universe as primordial mind. All phenomena and experience are expressions of this.

buji (J): "No matter." Zen term describing an attitude acquired toward the Dharma, when a practitioner mistakenly believes that practice is not necessary since all sentient beings are originally buddhas. See eternalism

Bulug (T): Sub-school maintaining the tradition of Buton Thamche Khyenpa, more commonly known as the Zhalupa (no longer extant).

Buton (T): [1290-1364]. Sakya scholar-historian and yogi who finalized the compilation of the Tibetan Buddhist canon. One of the lineage lamas of the Six Yogas of Naropa. Author of "The History of Buddhism in India."


Caturmukha (S): Tibetan: Shalshipa. "Four-Faced-One." The form of Mahakala related to the Guhyasamaja Tantra and a principal protector of the Sakya School. Usually depicted as Brahmarupa (Dram ze) Mahakala.

chakra (S): Tibetan: Khorlo. "Wheel." Any of the nerve plexes or centers of force and consciousness located in the energy body of man. These are junctures of force where the three primary meridians tie into the secondary network of channels. In the physical body there are corresponding nerve plexuses, ganglia and glands which are dynamically related to the condition of these chakras. As per Hinduism, there are seven principal chakras which appear psychically as colorful, multi-petalled wheels or lotuses. In the Tibetan tradition, only five chakras are recognized as they consider the lower two (muladhara and svadhisthana) as well as the upper two (ajna and sahasrara) to be fused into one chakra apiece. They are situated along the spinal cord from the base to the cranial chamber. As seats of instinctive consciousness, they are the physical origin of emotions and states of meditation, etc. The seven upper chakras, from lowest to highest, are:

In Tibetan Buddhism there are usually five such chakras named, located at the top of the head, the throat, the heart, the navel and the secret center. They constitute the locations where the channels juncture as that the three principal channels are found to be in contact at each of these centers. Certain meditations utilizing seed syllables aim at provoking bliss fused with emptiness (i.e. the four joys) in these centers.

Chakrasamvara (S): Tibetan: Khorlo Demchog. Principal meditation deity of the Chakrasamvara cycle of tantras. He is a heruka, a wrathful yidam of the Lotus family and an important Buddha in the six yogas of Naropa. Chakrasamvara is the primary Yidam of the Kagyu tradition that finds its origin in the meditation of the 84 Mahasiddhis of India. It passed to Tibet from the great siddha Naropa, to his disciple Marpa, to Milarepa and spread throughout the various meditative traditions of the Gelug and Sakya. A tantric form of Avalokitesvara, his body is blue in color with four faces, each looking in one of the four cardinal directions and sporting 12 arms. He is often depicted in his more simple one-faced, two-armed form. He is in union with his wisdom consort Vajravarahi (Diamond Sow). She is as simple as he is complex. She holds a skullcap in her left hand and a vajra chopper (drigung) in her right, both behind his back. Their embrace symbolizes the union of wisdom and skillful means. They symbolize the sameness in the distinctions of relative truth and the non-distinctions of absolute truth.

Chakrasamvara Tantra: Tibetan: Khorlo Dompagyu. Principal anuttarayoga tantra of the wisdom (mother) classification.

Ch'an (C): Chinese development of Indian Mahayana Buddhism; deriving from the word dhyana or meditation, the Chinese abbreviated it to ch'an-na, "meditation." This became Zen when it was imported to Japan, and in Korea, Son. The Ch'an School was established in China by Bodhidharma, the 28th Patriarch who brought a Mahayana tradition of the Buddha-mind from India. Disregarding ritual and sutras, this school professes sudden enlightenment which is beyond any mark, including speech and writing. Probably the most common form of Buddhism in the West, Zen practitioners usually devote themselves to monastic life, as accomplishment requires extensive periods of meditation. It concentrates on making clear that reality transcends words and language and is beyond rational analysis and logic. To accomplish this, this tradition makes use of the koan, zazen and sanzen. This school is said to be for those of superior roots. See Zen

Chandrakirti (S): Tibetan: Lawarepa. Sixth century Indian pandit and disciple of Nagarjuna, who presented Nagarjuna’s exposition of Madyamika (Middle Way) in the Prasangika-Madyamika form which is still studied in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries today. When asked about present and future lives and the workings of karma. He replied, "Watch how you breathe."

ch'an-na (C): meditation

chang (T): Beer brewed from rice, millet or corn.

Changchub Dorje (T): [1703-1732] The twelfth Karmapa.

channel: Sanskrit: nãdi. Tibetan: tsa. A constituent of the vajra body through which subtle energy winds (lung) and drops (tigle) flow. The central, right, and left are the major channels. The central channel (Sanskrit: avadhuti. Tibetan: tsa dhuma) is the most important of the thousands of channels of the subtle body. During inner-fire meditation (tummo) it is visualized as blue, running just in front of the spine, starting at the brow chakra and ending four finger-widths below the navel. Various syllables are visualized, both seated at the chakras and travelling within the channel system Such practices should only be attempted after proper transmission and teaching, after completing preliminary practices and achieving stability in generation-phase practice.

Channels, Winds, and drops: Sanskrit: Nadi,(channel) Prana, (vital energy) bindu (or essence elements) // Tibetan: rTsa, (roots/channels) rLung (winds), tig-le (drops, essence elements). Also known as winds, drops and channels. The three principal channels of the body are known in Tibetan as Roma, Uma and Kyang-ma, and in (S. Lalana, Avadhuti and Rasana). The entire body is filled with a network of canals (72,000 by tradition) in which subtle winds circulate, that is to say the energy of solar and lunar forces, emotions, and mind. There are three principal pathways, the primary meridians which run the length of the torso and culminate in the crown chakra. Like branches off the main trunk, the other channels develop from these during the time of the formation of the fetus; these dynamics are reabsorbed into the primary meridians at the time of death. One of the goals of tantric meditation is the concentration of the winds and the fluids in the central canal (Tibetan: Uma), thus provoking the experience of the fusion of bliss with emptiness, which is the natural state of the mind of the Buddhas.

charity: Transcendent generosity, the first Paramita. There are three kinds of charity in terms of goods, doctrines (Dharma) and courage (fearlessness). Out of the three, the merits and virtues of Dharma charity is the most surpassing. Charity done for no reward here and hereafter is called pure or unsullied, while the sullied charity is done for the purpose of personal benefits. In Buddhism, the merits and virtues of pure charity is considered the best. See Paramita, Dana

Chenrezi (T): Also Chenresig, Chenrezig; and Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit). The Buddha or Bodhisattva of Compassion. The embodiment of the infinite compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is recognized as the human incarnation of Chenresig. See Avalokitesvara

chi (Chinese, "breath or energy"): Sanskrit: prana. Tibetan: lung. Subtle energy or life force. In Taoism, chi is the cosmic energy that permeates all things. Within the human body, chi is seen as the vital force closely associated with the breath. During the act of breathing, in addition to oxygenating the blood with the outer breath (wai chi), one breathes in with the inner breath (nei chi) the surrounding cosmic energy to resupply the inner chi or life force of the body. Chi, Ching and Shen are the three life energies that make up the human being. Ching is the reproductive energy, chi is the vital energy of the body, and the shen is the spirit or soul. Taoist practices seek to transform the ching to chi, and the chi into shen. See prana, lung, channel

Chinese Buddhism: Comes in ten flavors -- schools, traditions or sects. They are: 1. Kosa; 2. Satyasiddhi; 3. Madhyamika; 4. Tien Tai; 5. Hua Yen; 6. Dharmalaksana; 7. Vinaya; 8. Cha'an; 9. Esoteric; 10. Pure Land.

Chöd (T): "Cutting, Severance." The charnal ground practice in which the practitioners severs attachment to his or her corporeal form This practice originated in the eleventh century with the Indian adept, Padampa Sangye, and his heart student, the Tibetan woman Macig Labdron. a great Tibetan yogini, c. 1100. The teaching spread widely in India and is now practiced, to a greater or lesser degree by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Chöd practice always begins with Phowa in which the consciousness of the practitioner is visualized as leaving the body through the crown chakra and taking the form of the female deity Vajrayogini. In the form of Vajrayogini, the practitioner then visualizes the ritual purification offering of his/her own body to the Four Guests (the Three Jewels, Dakinis and Dharmapalas, beings of the six realms, and the ever present miscellaneous local spirits and demons). The ceremony can be long, involving separate offerings to each group or abbreviated; many variations exist. It is a very powerful practice when done correctly. Spirits are summoned by the blowing of the kha-ling, or

thigh-bone trumpet, and beating of the damaru (two headed drum). The complete practice of Chöd is very difficult, demanding a high degree of equanimity, compassion and renunciation.. Lineages: Shijed, or Zibyed, Zhi-je (zhi-byed-pa) "Pacifying Pain."

Chö-nyi (T): Dharmata, the Space of reality.

chorten: (T): Sanskrit: stupa. Symbolic representation of the Buddha's mind. Originally derived from cairns and burial mounds for great beings in ancient Asia, it became formalized during the Buddha’s time and is now a very common monument to the sacred seen throughout the Buddhist world, chortens often have a wide, square base, rounded mid-section, and a tall conical upper section topped by a moon and sun. They usually hold relics of enlightened beings and may vary in size from small clay models to vast, multi-storied structures which contain a temple. See stupa

Chö-ying (T): Spatial dimension, universal realm of phenomena or dharmadhatu. This term signifies the unobstructed play of Wisdom Mind in the limitlessness of Wisdom Space.

chu-len (T): Literally, "taking the essence." Chu-len pills are made of essential ingredients; taking but a few each day, accomplished meditators can remain secluded in retreat for months or years without having to depend upon normal food.

citta (S): (C. Hsin) Heart and mind, the terms being synonymous in Asian religious philosophy. 1) The Conditioned (compounded) mind describes all the various phenomena in the world, made up of separate, discrete elements, "with outflows," karmically interdpendent, with no intrinsic nature of their own. Conditioned merits and virtues lead to rebirth within samsara, whereas unconditioned merits and virtues are the causes of liberation from the round of unconscious birth and death. On the personal level, citta is that in which mental impressions and experiences are recorded. 2) Seat of all conscious, subconscious and superconscious states, and of the three-fold mental faculty, (Sanskrit: antahkarana) consisting of buddhi, manas and ahamkara. Also: thought, thoughtfulness, active thoughts, mind, state of consciousness. See Unconditioned Mind; consciousness

Cittamani Tara (S): The highest yoga tantra aspect of the female deity Tara.

circumambulations: A walking meditation in which the practitioner reapeatedly circles a sacred site while practicing a sadhana or mantra meditation. One might circumambulate a monastery or a temple, a sacred lake like Pema Tso in northern India, or even a sacred mountain like Kailash, in Tibet or Turtle Hill in southern middle Tennessee. Thouands of people make an annual pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Kailasha, some of them taking several days to circumambulate the mountain once.

clarity: The unobstructed, naked radiance of awareness. There are three types: Spontaneous Clarity, the state being free from an object; Original Clarity does not appear for a temporary duration; Natural Clarity, not made, unfabricated. Along with these three experiences of clarity, Non-thought and Bliss may naturally appear, although attachment to which these is considered a hindrance counted among the "Defects of Meditation" Leading one into the three states of existences (Realm of Desire, Form, Formlessness).

clear light: Sanskrit: prachãsvara. Tibetan: ‘od-sal. The mind’s intrinsic nature. The subtlest level of that which is fully revealed at the time of death but is usually not recognized unless the person has engaged in the practice of meditation and tantra. This primordial light illuminates the Universe at its deepest level. Perceiving the Clear Light is the most fundamental level of consciousness. Arriving at this level, one can view all phenomena as a manifestation of this pure energy. This clearness or luminosity is one of the two essential characteristics of the unborn, uncreated nature of the mind, with a quality of natural irradiation which projects and simultaneously knows the constantly arising energy display we call mind. The other characteristic is emptiness of anything that could be said to exist. Clariy and emptiness are indissociable in the ultimate nature of the mind.

Clear Light Meditation: One of the Six Teachings of Naropa.

cognitive base: Sanskrit: ayatana. Tibetan: kye-che. The six senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, mental consciousness) and the six objects of the senses (forms, sounds, odors, sensations, thoughts) that act as the bases for consciousness. KPSR has described the dynamic nature of the ayatanas as being like an eruption or a bursting forth. See Six Consciousnesses

compassion: Sanskrit: karuna. Tibetan: nying je. The wish that all beings be released of their physical and mental sufferings and afflictions. Preliminary to the development of non-dual bodhicitta, it is symbolized by Avalokiteshvara, who embodies the infinite compassion of a buddha. Counted among the Four Immeasurables.

completion stage: Also Perfection Phase. Sanskrit: sampanna krama. Tibetan: dzog rim. The second of the two stages of highest yoga tantra, during which, control is gained over the vajra body through such practices as inner heat (tumo) and disciplines involving the winds, drops and channels (T. tsa-lung).

concentration: Sanskrit: dhyana. Tibetan: sam tan. A state of mind without distraction. Capacity to fix and maintain one's mind on the object of meditation of its choice. Although vital to all meditative practices, it is morally neutral and not sufficiently effective by itself without the correct motivation and view as defined by bodhicitta. See Four Concentrations

conceptual thought: Tibetan: mig-pa, tog-pa. Any notion involving a subject, an object, or an action. Carelessly dwelling in these thoughts foments conceptual obscurations which prevent one from realizing one's true nature.

conditioned dharma: Refers to all phenomena and law in the world. The worldly dharma is governed by the Law of Cause and Effect and the Law of Dependent Origination (S. pratitya samutpada, T. Ten-drel).

Confucius: Romanized name of K'ung Fu Tse. His teachings set the social framework for Chinese society. This framework was copied by other countries in East and Southeast Asia.

conscience: The inner sense of right and wrong, sometimes called "the knowing voice of the soul." However, conscience is affected by the individual's training and belief patterns, and is therefore not necessarily a perfect reflection of dharma.

conscious mind: The external, everyday state of mundane consciousness. The sixth consciosness. See: mind.

consciousness: See Six Consciousnesses, citta.

contemplation: Sanskrit: cinta. Tibetan: sam-pa. Reflection upon what has been learned which precedes single-pointed concentration. The first of four levels through which the mind frees itself from all subjects and objective hindrances and reaches a state of singularity and spontaneous annihilation of irrelevant thought, perception, and will. Not synonomous with meditation insofar as it entertains thought.

Cunda (P): Blacksmith who gave a meal of mushrooms to the aging Buddha, causing him to become terminally ill.

cyclic existence: Sanskrit: samsãra. Tibetan: khor-wa. Lit; going round in circles. The six realms of conditioned existence. It is the beginningless, recurring cycle of death and rebirth under the control of delusion and karma and fraught with suffering. Also refers to the contaminated aggregates of a sentient being. See karma, cause and effect.


Daka / Dakini (S): "Sky-Dancer." In Tibetan, "pawo // khadro." kha: sky and dro: to go. Daka is male. pawo in Tibetan.; dakini, is female. Dakinis are female beings that travel in space, and are linked with giving birth to the full range of expansive potentialities. In Vajrayana Buddhism, the inspiring power of awakening consciousness; female wisdom holder. These are accomplished female spirits who have attained the Clear Light and assist practitioners in removing physical hindrances and spiritual obstacles. They are companions of Buddhas and meditators who can transmit special understanding when the recipient is properly prepared. Usually depicted in the iconography as a wrathful naked female. As a semi-wrathful or wrathful "yidam," the dakini has the task of integrating the powers liberated by the practitioner in the process of visualization (sadhana) and in response, grants the four enlightened dakini actions of pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and subjugating. In Tibetan, "Kha" means "celestial space" or "emptiness" (sunyata becoming an image). "Dro" indicates a sentient being moving about or dancing. "Ma" indicates the feminine gender in substantive form. Thus the "khadroma" is a female figure that moves on the highest level of reality; her nakedness symbolizing knowledge of truth unveiled. The homeland of the dakinis is said to be the mystic realm of Orgyen. There are many different types of dakini: wisdom dakinis, activity dakinis, and mundane dakinis, unenlightened and enlightened dakinis. An example of a worldly unenlightened dakini is a human practitioner that has accomplished some insight but who is not yet released from her suffering.

Enlightened dakinis are Wisdom Dakinis, and have passed beyond sorrow into liberation such as Yeshe Tsogyal, Madarava or any of the consorts of the five Dhyani Buddhas such as Mamaki or Tara. The absolute wisdom dakini is the empty quality of luminous wakefulness. On the relative level, the five aggregates of perception (S. skandhas/T. Phung-po nga) are the male aspect, while the elements of earth, water, fire, air and space are the female qualities. On the absolute level, the males are the subjective end of skiffull means and compassionate activity while the females are the wisdom realizing emptiness, the timeless, serene expanse of objective suchness. Thus the great mother of dharmakaya, Prajnaparamita, is the source of all buddhas and dakinis. Dakinis are born in three manners, spontaneously, in heaven realms, or through the power of mantra. They are a guiding light along the path removing physical and spiritual hindrances, awakening dormant spiritual impulses. Embodying the inseperability of bliss/emptiness and ego-annihilating wisdom, dakinis can appear in many different ways and forms, some of them quite outrageous or extremely repulsive in order to arrest conceptual thinking and wrong perception.

Dakini Teachings: A collection of teachings by Guru Rinpoche, oral instructions on Dharma practice given during his stay in Tibet in the eighth century. The advice was recorded by his main disciple, wisdom dakini Yeshe Tsogyal, Princess of Kharchen. She was Guru Rinpoche’s consort during his stay in Tibet and wrote these oral instructions down in a secret code language called ‘dakini script’ before concealing them as terma treasures to be revealed in future ages. These precious teachings were instructions in general Dharma practice, relating to the three levels of Buddhist doctrine, with detailed commentaries on how to personalize and actualize bodhicitta. Terma teachings include instructions regarding the means to ascend with the conduct while descending with the view. Guru Rinpoche taught his disciples with the power of truth and encouraged them to give up all non-virtue and misdeeds, to apply the great remedy that works against the pollution of disturbing emotions, and put manly effort into the performance of meritorious actions. He also made many predictions and with the help of Yeshe Tsogyal, buried many of his teachings to be revealed to generations in the future. He blessed his close disciples so that they would be inseparable from himself. In future rebirths these beings would reveal the Master's hidden teachings to benefit practitioners of future generations.

Dalai Lama (T): "Ocean of Wisdom." Dalai is a Mongolian word, conferred on this lineage when after the days of Genghis Khan, the Mongols and the Tibetans enjoyed a patron/priest relationship. The political and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, HHDL is also considered an emanation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara (T: Chenresig). The present Dalai Lama is the 14th incarnation. The Dalai Lama has always been a combination of spiritual leader and political chieftan of Tibet. Since 1959 he has lived in exile in Dharmasala, India and remains spiritual leader of his people, even under their oppression by the Chinese government. The Dalai Lamas of Tibet:

damaru (S): A double-headed hand drum traditionally made from the joined backs of two skulls, the juncture symbolizing the joining of samsara (cyclic existence) and nirvana (emptiness). The point where the skulls connect is hollow – samsara and nirvana are of the same nature. Two ball-on-string strikers beat the leather drum skins as the damaru is "played" by twisting it back and forth in the right hand. The strikers symbolize the compassionate aspirations of those who have not yet directly realized

damtsig: See samaya

Damzigpa, damtsigpa (T): Protector, one who upholds and re-strengthens the bond of samaya.

dana (S): The practice of generosity or charity; one of the Paramitas, implying Giving, alms-giving, benevolence, and liberality. As well as one of the All-Embracing Virtues, dana is the act of giving others what they want just to lead them towards the truth.

darshana: (S) "Vision, sight." Seeing the Divine. Beholding, with inner or outer vision, a temple image, Deity, holy person or place, with the desire to inwardly contact and receive the grace and blessings of the venerated being or beings. Also: "point of view," doctrine or philosophy.

Dasabhumi (S): The ten stages of Bodhisattva realization. See Bhumi

death: A rich concept for which there are many Sanskrit words such as mahaprasthana, "great departure;" samadhimarana, "dying consciously while in meditation"; mahasamadhi, "great merger or absorption," in reference to the departure of an enlightened soul. Hindus see death as the soul's detaching itself from the physical body and continuing on in the subtle body (sukshma, sharira) with the same desires, aspirations and occupations as when it lived in a physical body. Buddhists? See:bardo, reincarnation, suicide.

Dechen Gyalmo (T): "Queen of Great Bliss." The principal dakini, she is an expression or manifestation of compassion and wisdom. Her human incarnation is Yeshe Tsogyal. Thus, she embodies primordial purity and emptiness-awareness. The Nyingma root text or liturgy (Yumka Dechen Gyalmo, The Queen of Great Bliss of the Longchen Nyingthig) is a terma (treasure) discovered by 18th century terton Jigme. It is the essential teaching of the Dzogchen Anuyoga and Atiyoga. She is described as naked (having overcome obscurations to liberation), red-skinned (passionate dedication to training disciples), has one face and two arms; three eyes; feet are evenly on the ground, one foot facing forward, ready to act for others; her face bears an expression of great passion; she is desirous and cheerful. In her right hand she upholds a damaru (a small double-headed drum). In her left, she holds the handle of a curved ritual chopping knife, which rests at her left side. The Great Bliss Queen ritual is a guru yoga, i.e., the practitioner merges with the "deity," an expression of enlightenment or true nature. The purpose of the sadhana is to enhance mindfulness, compassion and wisdom that prepare one to become the Great Bliss Queen, that is to directly realize the true-nature state, compassion and wisdom unified. Traditionally, the sadhana (or another dakini liturgy) is performed on dakini days (25th day of the lunar month) as the liturgy for Tsog, or offering practice and meditation. In the Dzogchen practices, the Great Bliss Queen sadhana enhances the likelihood of discovering and enhancing one’s experience of innate awareness – discovering that one is (we are) Dechen Gyalmo. See Dzogchen, Padmasambhava, Vajravahari, Yeshe Tsogyal

dedication: Dedication of Merit: The Mahayana practice of devoting time and energy to a precise goal and accumulating the merit produced by our positive acts. One can thus work toward the quality of merit which enables us to reach temporal or timeless objectives in this or future. By the power of our merit we can obtain worldly pleasures or obtain the from samsara; of course, the highest form of dedication will garner merit for use in catalyzing the awakening and ultimate benefit of all beings.

deity: (S) deva, lit. shining one, Tibetan: Yidam yid/mind dam, derived from Damtsig, vow or commitment. Meditational deities, male or female, representing a particular means of illumination widely visualized in Tantra to assist in the development of concentration and samadhi.

demi-god: Sanskrit: asura, titan Tibetan: lha ma yin. See Asura

demons: Sanskrit: mara. Tibetan: dud. Negative influences that hinder spiritual cultivation. These can take an infinite number of forms, including evil beings or hallucinations. Disease and death, as well as the three poisons of greed, anger and delusion are also equated to demons, as they disturb the mind. The Nirvana Sutra lists four types of demons: i) negative emotions such as greed, anger and delusion; ii) the five skandhas, of our physical and mental functions; iii) death; iv) the demon of the Sixth Heaven (Realm of Desire) also known as the Golden Child Complex. Our True Nature has been described in Mahayana sutras as a house full of gold and jewelry. To preserve the riches, i.e., to keep the mind calm, empty and still, we should shut the doors to the three thieves of greed, anger and delusion. Letting the mind wander or carelessly shop, opens the house to demons, that is, hallucinations and harm. Thus, Zen practitioners are taught that, while in meditation, "Encountering demons, kill the demons, encountering Buddhas, kill the Buddhas." Both demons and Buddhas being relative illusions of the mind. See Yogacara, or Mind-Only.

dependent origination, (S: Pratitya samutpada/T: Tendrel) Interdependent origination: the crown jewel of the Buddha's doctrine, a deep understanding of this concept is no different than the realization of nirvana. See Twelve Links of Dependent Origination.

Deshin Shegpa (1384 - 1415): The fifth Karmapa.

desire: Sanskrit: raga. Tibetan: do chak. See attachment

desire realm: Sanskrit: kamadhatu. Tibetan: do kham.

Devadatta (S): Adopted son of Dandapani, father of Yasodhara. Cousin and boyhood rival of the Buddha. Devadatta was ordained as a follower of Shakyamuni Buddha, but later left him and repeatedly attempted to kill him.

devas (S): "Shining ones." Beings living in the higher astral plane, in a subtle, nonphysical body. Deva is also used in scripture to mean "god or deity" in the class of the least painful existence of samsara. The gods are alotted a very long happy life as reward for good deeds performed in the past; however this happiness is often a hindrance on the path since it obscures recognition of the first noble truth. A deva's life is completed in great sufferings because the gods have the capacity to clearly see their inevitable future rebirth in one of the lower realms. In Buddhist tradition, existence in in any dimension is understood to be impermanent. See: Mahadeva

development stage: The creation or development stage practices (T. kye rim) in Vajrayana meditation which involves the visualization of a deity and the repetition of mantra as one concentrates on a clear and detailed vision of the deity from whom one receives blessings. After developing stage practice is accomplished, it is complemented by completion or perfection stage practices (T. dzog rim) involving subtler yogas which relate directly to the channels, winds, and drops. (T. tsa, lung, tig-le)

devotion: An essential quality for all Vajrayana practitioners. As realization of the true nature of mind will not occur without receiving the grace of the Master, one must respond to the presence of this opportunity with great energy, humor and intelligence.. If the source of blessings is always active, it is up to the disciple to open their heart and mind in true devotion, which involves qualities such as respect, confidence, humility, love, enthusiasm and perseverance.

Dewachen (T): "Land of Bliss." Sanskrit: Sukhavati. "Pure Ground of Great Happiness." The pure realm of Buddha Amitabha. This is the world of utmost joy without suffering where beings may practice under conditions which are extremely conducive to great realization.

dharani (S): A chanted incantation held to bring spiritual benefit or serve as an aid to furthering one's progress towards awakening; short sutras of symbolic syllables. The earliest documented emergence of Vajrayana found in Mahayana sutras are those chapters devoted to dharani, long sequences of symbolic syllables to which are attributed various powers. These are clearly related to both the Mahayana mantras and to the paritta – texts, such as the Metta Sutta, recited for protection by non-Mahayana Buddhists. The earliest tantras, from the kriya tantra class or "action tantras," center around the visualization of one of the many buddhas and bodhisattvas. The kriya tantras for a large category of texts which appeared between the 2nd and 6th centuries CE. See kriya, tantra.

dharma (S): "That which subsists or supports." Tibetan: Chö. 1. The teachings of the Buddha (buddhadharma) and the underlying meaning of the teachings. That truth upon which all Buddhist practices, scriptures, and philosophy have a foundation. The Buddhas' appear to establish the manifestations of the Dharma in the world. 2. Any object, idea, or phenomena which can be defined as an entity of some sort. In this usage within Buddhist texts, dharma resembles the English word "thing" while having a wider and more inclusive meaning than physical objects. 3. The object of the sixth sense faculty: the conceptual mind. In this specific use, dharma represents any mental object (thought, image, memory, sensation) which is recognized by the conscious mind.

dharmadhatu (S): Tibetan: Chö kyi ying. The realm of all pheneomena; the space in which all transpires; the container and its contents, everything that is and is not; all phenomena, all noumena and their underlying nature; everywhere and everything; the existence of the animate and the inanimate, all things material and immaterial, all physical and mental events..

dharmakaya (S): "Truth body." Tibetan: Chö-ku. The open essence of the mind. The formless source condition, the unborn wisdom body of all beings, realized most directly by a Buddha. The primordial core of a fully enlightened one, which, free of all conceptual coverings, remains meditatively absorbed in the co-emergent perception of emptiness while simultaneously cognizing all phenomena. One of the three bodies of a buddha (see also nirmanakaya and sambhogakaya).

Dharma Kings: The three great Tibetan Dharma Kings: Srongsen Gampo, Trisrong Detsen, and Ralpachen. Seventh-century Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo, believed to be an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, created the Tibetan script. Trisong Detsen, an incarnation of Bodhisattva Manjushri, is the eighth-century king who invited Guru Padmasambhava and Abbot Shantarakshita to bring the Dharma to Tibet. Vajrapani, appearing as the ninth-century King Ralpachen, summoned Indian and Tibetan scholars to translate the Tripitaka, the Commentaries, and the Ancient Tantras into the Tibetan language.

dharmapala (S) Tib. "chö kyong" Protector of the Dharma. Special buddha aspect, both male and female, usually fierce in appearance, purposed to assist practitioners in overcoming obstacles encountered along the way to enlightenment. Ekajati is considered. the main protectress in the Nyingma lineage.

Dharmata (S): The fundamental nature of all phenomena, the essence of reality. Inscrutable fusion of form and emptiness.. At the sutra level, dharmata implies external or observable phenomena. At the tantric level, it denotes the primordial condition of consciousness where there is no separation of inner and outer dimensions.

Dharma Wheel: T. chö-khor. The 'Dharma Wheel' is a metaphor for the unfolding and maturation of the Dharma in the world, once it has been revealed by a Buddha. "Setting the Dharma Wheel in motion" is another way of saying 'revealing and propagating the teaching of the truth underlying all phenomena'. The eight spokes are a symbol of the Eightfold Path, leading to perfection. See: Eightfold Path.

dhyana (S): Meditation. Also, more specifically, the four concentrations in the realm of form beginning with the level where investigation and ananlysis are present, up through the four formless concentrations culminating in the level called neither perception nor non-perception. As fifth among the six Paramitas, it is associated with the accumulation of wisdom. .

Dhyani Buddha (S): The five Dhyani Buddhas are: Amitabha, Akshobya, Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, and Vairocana. On the relative level, this pentad represents the skandhas, while on the absolute level, they represent the five wisdom families. See Five Buddhas.

divinity: pathways of the non-mundane, transcendent purity which pervades all things. Expression of the awakening and support of meditation by which this awakening is approximate. In Buddhism, the essence of the divinity is identical to the unobscured mind of the practitioner, i.e. non-existing and non-separate; the presence or reflection of primordial awareness in the world.

Drolma (T): She who liberates. Tibetan for Tara. see Tara

dorje (T): Do. means stone, rJe means lord or king. Sanskrit: Vajra. Adamantine, impenetrable, invisible, unbreakable reality which can cut through anything else. Literal translations of vajra (a word cognate with English "vigor") are "thunderbolt" and "diamond". The dorje or vajra is a highly stylized Vajrayana ritual implement symbolizing the supreme method which is boundless compassion..In Vajrayana teachings, the dorje expresses and symbolizes the perfect purity, hardness and clarity of a diamond, conjuring notions of indestructibility, brilliant clarity, striking beauty and the incorruptible truth. As a ritual object, a dorje has five or nine spokes (symbolizing the nirmanakaya), attached to a lotus (sambhogakaya) which emerges from a central sphere (dharmakaya). It also appears also as a part,usually the handle, of many other Tibetan ritual instruments. A synonym for both vajra and dorje is mani (Skt., "jewel"), and these terms are often used as a code for the lingam, still carrying the associations of fertility, power, hardness, and great worth. Mani therefore appears with Padma (Skt. "lotus"; i.e. yoni) in the famous chant "Om Mani Padme Hum", a celebration of the primordial union of form and emptiness. The corresponding female equivalent to the male dorje-mani-vajra is ghanta (Tib. "drilbu), the bell. Images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Vajrayana dignitaries often show them with one or both of these implements in their hands. Dorje/Vajra is the primary symbol of the Buddha Family in the eastern direction. Each detail of the Dorje represents a Bodhisattva. It represents the immutable and the indestructible power of Buddha Nature to overcome all obstacles.

Dorje Chang (T): Sanskrit: Vajra Dhara. "One who holds the Dorje." The first movement of Buddha Kuntuzangpo towards the world; Vajrasattva at midnight. The form in which the Buddha or the Lama manifests when giving Vajrayana Teachings. The golden ornaments of Dorje Chang attract the eye into a profound depth; it is in this form that we encounter the ultimate source of all Buddhist and tantric teachings. The primordial Buddha which is the source of all the tantras; the expression of ultimate buddhahood. Vajradhara personifies the awakening of the thirteenth bhumi, the highest in Vajrayana. He is the symbol of the Buddha nature inherent in every living being, the sign of indestructible mind because he is beyond all dualistic bias. Dorje Chang is the essence of the perfect Guru, the reflection of the spiritual completeness within the reach of everyone. He is generally represented as being dark blue, with or without a consort, holding in his two crossed hands the dorje and the bell, representing the union of method and wisdom.

Dorje Drolo (T): "Crazy Wisdom Vajra." A wrathful manifestation of Padmasambava and a subduer of demons. Guru Padma arose in the wrathful form of Dorje Drolo in the famous Tagstang or Tiger’s Nest Cave in Bhutan to subdue the negative and demonic forces of these degenerate times. Ferocious in expression, amidst a mass of primordial wisdom fire, he stands upon the back of a pregnant tigress who is the wrathful form of his Wisdom Consort of enlightened activity, Tashi Kye Dren, whose ferocity is unpredictable and wild. Dressed in a robe of brocade, his hair is red and curly, he has an overbite and fangs and wears a garland of severed heads representing the cutting of the 52 levels of dualistic mental-events. In his right hand he holds aloft a vajra emitting lightning bolts, and in his left a kila-phurba, a three-sided ritual dagger which severs the three poisons that are the source of all suffering. The ferocious expression he wears while riding a pregnant tigress who is munching on a corpse makes for a menacing figure. His body is dark brown and surrounded by a halo of flames.

Dorje Khandro (T): Sanskrit: Vajradaka. A deity who functions to purify negativities through his specific fire puja (jin-sek). See also ngondro.

Dorje Phagmo (T): Diamond Sow. Sanskrit: Vajravarahi. The main Yidam of the Kagyu tradition. She is the embodiment of Wisdom. Also known as Dorje Naljorma.

Dorje Sempa (T): Sanskrit: Vajrasattva. "One whose being is of the nature of the Vajra." Lord of all Buddha families, Vajrasattva is the Buddha of purification. Dorje Sempa meditation, one of the four preliminary practices, involves acknowledging all one's unskillful negative actions and attitudes, vowing not to repeat these things and through adopting the appropriate remdies, aims to eradicate the habitual tendencies from which they arise. See Vajrasattva

dosha (S): "Bodily humor; individual constitution." Refers to three bodily humors, which according to ayurveda regulate the body, govern its proper functioning and determine its unique constitution. These are vata, the air humor; pitta, the fire humor; and kapha, the water humor. Vata has its seat in the intestinal area, pitta in the stomach, and kapha in the lung area. They govern the creation, preservation and dissolution of bodily tissue. Vata humor is metabolic, nerve energy. Pitta is the catabolic, fire energy. Kapha is the anabolic, nutritive energy. The three doshas (tridosha) also give rise to the various emotions and correspond to the three gunas, "qualities:" sattva (quiescenceÑvata), rajas (activity Ñpitta) and tamas (inertia Ñkapha). See: ayurveda.

Drukpa Kagyü The Kagyü Lineage was founded in India by the wild yogi Tilopa (988-1069) and was brought to Tibet by Marpa (1012-1096), the great translator and principle disciple of Naropa (1016-1100). Marpa translated many important works of both Sutra and Tantra. The principle disciple of Marpa was Milarepa (1052-1135), who attained Enlightenment in one lifetime and became a key inspiration for genertations of Dharma practitioners. Milarepa's chief disciple was Gampopa (1079-1153) whose coming was prophesied clearly by the Buddha. Gampopa composed the "Jewel Ornament of Liberation," "The Precious Garland of the Excellent Path" and other works. Gampopa gathered an extraordinary number of disciples and through them the Buddha's teachings flourished like the rising sun. From Gampopa there came the four elder lineages which are: Barom Kagyü, Tshalpa Kagyü, Kamtshang or Karma Kagyü, and Phagdru Kagyü. His principle disciple was Phagdru Dorje Gyalpo (1110-1170) who gathered together 80,000 disciples and thus benefited many sentient beings. From Phagdru Dorje Gyalpo came the eight younger Kagyüpa schools which are: Drikung Kagyü, Taklung Kagyü, Trophu Kagyü, Yelpa Kagyü, Martsang Kagyü, Yasang Kagyü, and Drukpa Kagyü. Drukpa Kagyü was the founder of the Drukpa Kagyü lineage, 1128-1188/9. He was a disciple of Phagmo Drubpa, master of Tsangpa Gyare. The Kagyü teachings were transmitted from Gampopa through Phagmo Drubpa to Lingje Repa. Jigten Sumgon (1143-1217) was the successor of Phagdru Dorje Gyalpo and because of this the Drikung Kagyü school is considered both an elder and a younger school.

dualism: Opposite of monism. Any doctrine which holds that there are two eternal and distinct realities in the universe, e.g., god-world, good-evil, self-other. A confused representation of reality, resulting from the ordinary mind which separates the subject from its experience. Partial or contextual knowledge founded on the concept of a subject and an object, which are innately assumed to be truly existent.

Dudjom Lineage Practices: Practices declared by 20th century Nyingma Terton Dudjom Rinpoche to be uniquely suited to practitioners in this age. These are the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro; Vajrakilaya, his own treasure revelation; and T'hröma Nagmo, the revelation of his previous incarnation, Dudjom Lingpa. See Dudjom Tersar Ngondro, Vajrakilaya Sadhana, Throma Nagmo

Dudjom Tersar Ngondro (T): Treasure (terma) revealed by Dudjom Lingpa, a previous incarnation of Dudjom Rinpoche. A concise but powerful set of preliminary practices for turning the mind to dharma, purifying obscurations, accumulating merit, and opening the door to mind’s true nature through guru yoga. This is the preferred method to prepare Nyingma students to receive Dzogchen teachings. See Dudjom Rinpoche; Ngondro, Dzogchen

Dukkha (S): Stress; suffering, impermanence. one of the Four Noble Truths). Misery, woe, pain, ill, sorrow, trouble, discomfort, difficulty, unsatisfactoriness.

Dzogchen / Dzogpa Chenpo (T): Sanskrit: Mahashandi. Also, Atiyoga. Great Perfection or Great Completion. The highest teaching of the Tibetan Nyingma sect; the innermost teaching that transcends tantra, ritual and symbol. This is a means to liberate the meaning of primordial buddhahood into its own state, and it is the nature of freedom from abandonments and acceptances; expectations and fears. Through this accomplishment, one recognizes the purity of mind that is always present and realizes the union of emptiness and wisdom. Dzogchen is not merely another practice or technique; it is the mind's original and fundamental state. In this approach, all the phenomena are regarded as being originally pure. Thus any distinction between Samsara and Nirvana is an illusory contrivance constructed by the obscured mind. 2) The view of non-duality practiced by followers of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism; 3) The practice of spontaneous insight meditation.

Dzogchen is sometimes translated as 'Great Fulfillment,' and is said to utilize Ch'an like teachings of the 'sudden school' which were rejected in Tibet during the Samye debates of the 8th century in favor of a more graduated path of Indian Buddhism represented by Kamalasila (a great Indian master) and Hwa Shang Mahayana (who stood for sudden enlightenment that comes of immediately and directly cutting through all mental discrimination). According to tradition, Trisong Deutsen made his decision with an eye as to what would work best for the majority of people, over what was intrinsically valid as a path. In any case, the Nyingmapa, never being much persuaded or involved in politics, incorporated this 'sudden school' approach into its highest yana, that of ati-yoga or Dzogchen.

At the heart of the Nyingma tradition, Dzogchen is held to be the most ancient and direct stream of wisdom within the teachings of Buddhism. Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912), one of Tibet's greatest scholars and masters, wrote: "Crowning the banner of the complete teaching of the Buddha, is the beautiful ornament of the clear light teachings of Dzogpa Chenpo." Accomplished masters of Dzogchen are reported to attain, upon their death, the 'rainbow body' leaving behind nails and some hair as the only evidence of their corporeal life, while their elemental body is completely transmuted into spiritual energy and light.

Dzogchen (Atiyoga) Categories of Transmission: The 6,400,000 verses of Dzogchen/Atiyoga scriptures are divided into three categories by Manjushrimitra (Jampal Shenyen). The first two were introduced into Tibet by Vairochana; the third by Vimalamitra. Associated with the primordial Buddha Samantabhadra (S) or Kuntuzangpo (T.) who is depicted as naked, midnight blue, unadorned, representing the dharmakaya, or truth body which is beyond the dualism of space and time. Dzogchen teachings originally transmitted by Padmasambhava and hidden for later discovery as terma, or "treasures," began to be discovered from the 13th century onwards. Dzogchen teachings originally came down from Samantabhadra to Vajrasattva (a sambhogakaya buddha) and then to the nirmanakaya Garab Dorje (a prodigy born of a virgin shortly after the time of Christ) who dictated these instructions to dakinis who wrote them all down in over six million verses. Texts which have been orally transmitted from the time of Garab Dorje are known as kama, or "oral tradition." The three major categories are:

1) Sem-de (T): Nature of the Mind series.

2) Long-dé (T): "Primordial Space" or "Vast Expanse" series. These deal with subtle-sensation as the focus of meditative absorption, and employ a great variety of yogic postures and corresponding physical pressure-points to stimulate flow of wisdom winds in the vajra-body. Details of such practices are kept highly secret and can only be received through transmission from a qualified Lama.

3) Men-ngak-de (T): Innermost Oral Instructions or Direct Transmission series. For those who can make use of a more direct approach. There are two major categories of Men-gag-de training: Trekchod, or "Cutting Through" - emphasizes the clear-light aspect of primordial knowledge, empty of any concept or image.. Thogal, or "Direct Approach" also know as Leaping Over, a more advanced practice which requires prior mastery of trekchod techniques and goes on to the practice of working with the vibrations of sound and light in sparking both recognition and liberation while directly seeing through the samsaric cycle and intimately knowing the "naked" mind of the Buddhas or True Nature.


eight Sufferings: Birth; aging; illness; separation from loved ones; being with the despised; not getting what one wants; the flourishing of the Five Skandhas.

Eight Worldly Dharmas, the Winds of Eight Directions. Most people are regularly moved by the worldly winds of the eight directions: Praise; Ridicule; Suffering; Happiness; Benefit; Destruction; Gain; Loss.

Eightfold Path: Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path prescribed eight steps by which a person can achieve liberation from suffering. This is the path by which one ceases to desire happiness through experieince and thereby ceases to suffer. The eight stages are:

ego: The external personality or sense of "I" and "mine." Broadly, individual identity.

Ekajati (S): Tibetan: Tse-chik-ma or Ral-chik-ma. "Single-plaited Mother." Also known as Ngag Sung-ma, Mother Protectress of Mantra. Ekajati is the supreme protectress of the Dzogchen Atiyoga teaching, and a guardian of the tantric path, protecting it from the unworthy. She removes obstacles to the life and accomplishment of those who do practice on the Secret Mantra path. She is a guardian of mantras who keeps them from those who are unworthy of using them and ensures those who have been empowered to use them, do so for appropriate purposes. She is wrathful and can assume a number of different forms and colors and the personal protector of the Dalai Lama. She is wrathful and can assume a number of different forms and colors. She can hold various implements and weapons. She wears a wreath of severed heads, usually has one eye in the middle of her forehead, one fang and one breast. She is nearly naked and menacing as she stands amidst a mass of wisdom fire. Ekajti is the highest of protectors. She guides those whom she protects upon the single path of unity of the innate Buddha nature. This is symbolized by the single open eye of wisdom upon her forehead, while her two eyes are sunken and dried, symbolizing the exhaustion of dualistic perception; by the single plait of hair that flows straight upward, symbolizing the single unified path of the Ati Great Perfection; by her single tooth of the realization of the single nature of all that pierces the aorta of dualistic demonic forces; and by her single breast that nutures the pure practioner upon the spiritual attainments of the single essence of ultimate truth.

 elemental: Of or like a force of nature in power or effect. An intelligent being of the antarloka connected with the basic elements of nature: rocks, the soil, plants, wind, etc. In the Tibetan tradition, these beings are classified with the gods and propitiated through fire offerings and torma.

empowerment: Tibetan: Wang kur. Tibetan ritual wherein the guru transmits to a student the energy of a particular deity or practice so that the student's efforts may quickly bear fruit. Ritual initiation into a particular practice of meditation, conferred by a Lama who is part of a lineage, and thus himself a recipient and practitioner of such transmissions. Authorization to engage in the meditative practice is not complete without the formal instruction and textual transmission. This opens a particular spiritual path wherein one takes a specific tantric deity as support. The ritual plants the seed of realization in the disciple and provokes spiritual maturity. Tantric initiation is the actual moment and basis for the unbreakable bond which unites master and student from that time forward. In addition, both master and disciple should possess certain prequisite qualifications. For the disciple, the principles and qualities are faith, compassion and aspiration for liberation for the benefit of others. As for the master, he should have united a great number qualities: faith, compassion, one who has engaged the three disciplines of study, contemplation and meditation to the degree where they hold the lineage of transmission for the teachings, accomplished in the necessary practices, having been trained in the performance of the rituals, etc. In every initiation, there is a committment of obedience (S. Samaya/T. Damtsig) and of faith on the part of the disciple towards the Lama as well as towards the Dharma of the Great Vehicle. Initiations called "great" with the support of a Mandala all prescribe the keeping of fourteen tantric root vows. Simply keeping these committments with faith will steer one towards the obtaining of buddhahood within 16 successive births. If, in addition, one puts the path of meditation in practice, the results can be obtained much more quickly. The more expanded rituals comprise four successive consecrations giving the power on the particular paths of meditation while each produces a respective purification and fruit, the entirety bringing the realization of ultimate buddahood.

emptiness: Tibetan: Tong pa nyi; Sanskrit: Sunyata. A word signifying that nothing exists in itself or by itself. Obvious enough at some levels. Whatever appears, is interdependent with everything else, ultimately inseparable from the infinite field of relations within which all events and entities occur/transpire. Everything arises in an ocean of prior causes and conditions. One of the key concepts in Buddhism. emptiness is not an entity or a space, but a useful abstraction representing the truth of no-self, impermanence, the principles of unreality, instability, transience and relativity which pervade the nature of all existence. The doctrine states that phenomena and self have no absolute reality, but are compounded, composed of the skandhas or psycho-physical elements, which when conditions ripen, will aggregate for a time and then disintegrate. Everything is in flow and only relatively invariable. All is unstable in this way, possessing no eternal self-essence or permanent self-nature, i.e. the reality of any apparent self existence is dependent or causally inseparable from roots and supportive conditions which are themselves compounded and impermanent. Emptiness is not nothing or a lack of anything, but indicates the true mode of existence for all and everything. As such, it permeates phenomena. Emptiness is the central theme of Prajnaparamita texts and Madhyamaka philosophy, commonly associated with descriptions of Enlightenment. To the western mind, this is often difficult to understand, leading to the idea that emptiness is a big intellectual "nothing," and therefore quite unattractive and pointless. Two ideas may help correct this view. First, "emptiness" can be understood as the Buddhist way of saying that Ultimate Reality is incapable of being indicated through symbols such as words, much the way that many Christian theologians view the Christian God as infinitely beyond human attempts at description. Second, "emptiness" should not be thought of as another place. Instead, what is being referred to as empty of inherent existence is identical to the world or universe which humans and other sentient beings experience in this very life. In this way, it has something in common with the Hindu notion that this world is simply maya (illusion), the veil of appearances which prevents humans from seeing the true unity of the cosmos (which in Hinduism means the identity of Atman and Brahman). Thus emptiness and the true nature of all interdependent phenomena of this world are the same thing, or as the Heart Sutra says, "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form."

enlightenment: Complete enlightenment is a state of realization in which the most subtle traces of ignorance about the nature of reality are eliminated; sometimes called "the embodiment of the "Three Kayas". There are degrees or stages of enlightenment. See Bhumi.

É-yül (Tib.): Land of primordial awareness.

EVAM (S): Sanskrit bija, or seed syllable. Adverb, lit., "thus," or "so." It is said that all true tantric texts contain this syllable.


First Council: Also known as the Council of 500, Theravada Council, and The First Compilation. After the death of the Buddha, when literally thousands of arhats were inspired to enter nirvana, Mahakasyapa was moved to do something to preserve the Buddhadharma. An assembly of 500 leading Bhikhus gathered for 3 months after the Buddha's death to compile the Buddhist Tripitaka. It was held at Cave of the Seven Leaves near Rajagaha. In the assembly, Ananda recited the Sutra-pitaka, Upali recited the Rules of Disciplines of the Order (Vinaya-pitaka) and Kassapa recited the Abhidharma. Thus, the Tripitaka was adopted as a unity of doctrines and opinions within the religious order, and also an orthodox teaching for the Buddhists to follow.

Five Great Treasures of Jamgon Kongtrul Predicted by the Buddha, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye was a brilliant master of the Rimé (non-sectarian) movement of Buddhism in Tibet. Born December 14, 1813, to Sonamphel and Tashitso in front of Mount Pema Lhatse, one of the eight sacred places in Kham (eastern Tibet), in a place called Kongpo. That is how he got his name: Kong as in Kongpo and trul from trulku, for he was recognized as the Tulku of Kongpo. Lodro Thaye became learned in the ten ordinary and extraordinary branches of knowledge, and it became his responsibility to explain and compose texts, which incorporated a great number of teachings from both the old and new traditions, including the lineages of oral teachings, hidden treasures (terma), and teachings of pure vision. These were all brought together in Lodro Thaye's compilation of the most important teachings of the Buddha common to all the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism; these teachings are called "Five Great Treasures (mDzod-lnga) of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great." They include: Rinchen Terzo in 60 volumes plus Gyachen Kardzo of 5 volumes, Ngadzo Dam Ngadzo Sheja Dzo of 3 volumes. In these Five Great Treasures Kongtrul has provided very clear and complete commentaries. He also went through the painstaking task of making sure that all these teachings maintained an unbroken line of empowerment, instructions and other forms required in a continuous lineage of transmissions. During his lifetime he maintained an immensely important role in the preservation of the Kagyu Lineage and became teacher to His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa.

Five Ornamental Causes: Space, air, fire, water and earth. These are associated with the qualities of energy in the state of pure awareness.

Five Paths: Tibetan: Lam-nga. The five paths on the way to full enlightenment are:
1. Accumulation: The practitioner here focuses on purification of obscurations and the accumulation of merit.
2. Application: The teachings of the Dharma are applied here where the focus is cutting desire at its root through a growing insight into emptiness.
3. Seeing: Here one has understood emptiness directly through deep insight and gone beyond the cycle of existence. This is the first bhumi, The Joyous
4. Meditation: The phase between the second and ninth bhumi.
5. No More Learning: Full enlightenment. Cloud of Dharma, the tenth bhumi.

Five Precepts: Praktimosha, or Five Commandments for layman, essential for rebirth as a human. Based on the concept of ahimsa (harmlessness), they are: no killing; no stealing; no sexual misconduct, no lying; no use of intoxicants.

Five Skandhas (or Five Aggregates): Tibetan: Phung-po-nga. The five aggregates that comprise the constitution of sentient beings. They are: Form; Feeling; Perception; Conception; Consciousness.

Five Works of Maitreya According to Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese Buddhists, Maitreya authored five great treatises, using Asanga as a scribe. These Tathagatagarba Scriptures serve as the basis for the idealistic school of Mahayana philosophy, the Yogacara or Vijnana-vada school. According to tradition, Buddha Maitreya is also the author of some commentarial work, known as the Five Books of Maitreya. These include Abhisamaylankara, a brilliant summary of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 25,000 lines. Modern scholars attribute these five works to Asanga or another master, Maitreya-natha, however, there ís no reason why the writer should not have been directly inspired by Buddha Maitreya to compose these. Tradition has it that through deep meditation Asanga had a pure vision of Tushita devaloka during which he received from Maitreya the teachings contained in the Five Books. Asanga had been experiencing difficulty in gaining an unmistaken understanding of the Prajnaparamita sutras and felt that only from Maitreya himself could he receive the instructions he needed. So he entered into intensive retreat, occupying a cave on the outskirts of Rajgrha in hopes of gaining a direct vision of Buddha Maitreya. After three years with no success he quit this retreat. On his way back home he saw an old man trying to remove a huge stone which threw a shadow on his house by gently brushing it with a feather. Asanga took this as a sign that with enthusiastic perseverance, anything could be accomplished, so he reentered the retreat. More time passed, without results. After 12 years, Asanga was prepared to give up his practice for good. This time on his way home, he saw a starving dog on the ground, its wounds being eaten by maggots. Moved by compassion for both dog and maggots, he cut off a piece of his own flesh and bent down to transfer the worms to the meat with his tongue so he would not hurt them. He closed his eyes, but although he leaned over very far, almost to the ground, he felt nothing. When he opened his eyes to see what was wrong, the dog had disappeared and in its place stood Maitreya in all his glory. Asanga was shocked and even a little pissed when he asked: "Where were you all those years I was meditating in the cave?" Maitreya replied that he had been there next to him all that time and only delusions had prevented Asanga from seeing him. Maitreya took Asanga and transported him to Tushita. They spent the morning there, during which Asanga received detailed instructions from Maitreya on the Perfection of Wisdom sutras in the form of five texts. These are: Ornament of Realizations, Ornament of Universal Vehicle Scriptures, Analysis of the Jewel Matrix, or Peerless Continuum (Uttaratantra), Discrimination between Center and Extremes, & Discrimination between Phenomenon and Noumenon

Flower Adornment Sutra: A Mahayana sutra that describes the entire Buddha Realm. See Avatamsaka Sutra.

forbearance: Self-control; responding with patience and compassion, especially under provocation. Endurance; tolerance. See yama-niyama.

Four All-Embracing Virtues: 1. Dana: giving to others what they want in order to lead them to become receptive and to be draw toward the truth. 2. Priyavacana: affectionate and beautiful speech employed for the same reasons. 3. Arthakrtya: conduct profitable to others which is used in the same way. 4. Smanarthata: cooperation with and adaptation to the patterning of others for the sake of leading them to the truth.

Four Awarenesses, Four Thoughts Which Turn the Mind Towards the Dharma:
1. Meaningful appreciation of the importance of this human birth: The freedoms and advantages of a well-endowed human existence 2. Impermanence 3. Inviolable nature of karma; and 4. Samsara and the truth of Suffering.

Four Buddha Activities: Tibetan: "Trin Le Zhi" The four enlightened activities that embody the active compassion of buddhas. Also known as the Dakini Actions, they are: Pacifying; Enriching; Magnetizing; Subjugating

Four Great Vows: The four vows held by all Bodhisattvas. These vows are called great because of the wondrous and inconceivable compassion involved in fulfilling them. They are as follows:

Four Immeasurables: Means to achieving our own happiness and that of others. Called "immeasurable" because cultivating these qualities brings an infinite amount of merit, and because each is to practiced without bias or limit. They are: 1. Loving-kindness; 2. Compassion; 3. Joy 4. Equanimity.

Four Laws of the Dharma: The condensed essence of the Buddha's teaching - All compounded things are impermanent; all that is corrupt is suffering; all conditioned things are without self; nirvana is peace

Four Noble Truths
: Four fundamental principles of conscious existence emerging from the Buddha's penetrating assessment of the human condition which serve to define the entire scope of Buddhist practice. These Truths are not fixed dogmatic principles but deep insights into the nature of existence which are to be repeatedly studied, contemplated and discussed, but above all, their meaning must be explored individually in the heart and mind-stream of the sincere spiritual seeker:

The Four Truths are arranged in the style of ayurvedic analysis so that the effect of the disease is stated and then a consideration cause, followed by a description of the state of health and the means of its realization. The first two truths describe samsara and its cause; the second two refer to liberation and its cause. Each of these Noble Truths implies a specific task which the practitioner is to carry out: the first Noble Truth is to be comprehended; the second is to be renounced; the third is to be directly realized which is only possible on the basis of the cultivating the truth of the path. The fullness of the third Noble Truth is the realization of peace, the transcendent freedom of nirvana that is the final goal of all the Buddha's teachings. The last of the Noble Truths -- the Noble Eightfold Path -- contains a detailed prescription for the relief of our unhappiness and for eventual release, once and for all, from the painful and wearisome cycle of birth and death (samsara) to which -- through our own ignorance (S. avidya/T. Ma-rigpa) of the Four Noble Truths -- we have been bound for countless aeons. The Noble Eightfold Path offers a comprehensive practical guide to the development of those wholesome qualities and skills in the human heart that must be cultivated in order to bring the practitioner to the final goal, the supreme freedom and happiness of Nirvana. See Eightfold Path.


Gampopa (1079-1153): Heart son (main disciple) of Milarepa and root guru of the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. He was prophesized by the Buddha to spread the Dharma widely in Tibet and is the source of the monastic Kagyu transmissions. Gampopa was trained as a physician who devoted himself to the Dharma after the death of his wife and children. It is his synthesis of the traditions of Dharma teachings (the Kadampa lineage of Atisha) melded with the experiential meditative teaching (Mahamudra) of Milarepa that formed the Kagyu tradition, as we know it today. At Taklha Gampo he founded the first Kagyu Monastery in Tibet. Gampopa is the source of the four great and eight lesser lineages (schools) of the Kagyu lineage. He is also known as Takpo Lharja, the physician from Takpo. He wrote the "Jewel Ornament of Liberation" and is usually depicted wearing robes and a red hat, which has become synonymous with the Kagyu School.

Garab Dorje (T): Sanskrit: Pramodavajra, Prahevajra, Surati Vajra. Indian yogin and tantric adept who lived somewhere between 184 BCE and 57 CE. His life story is full of miraculous events and powers, yet Tibetans regard him as an historical figure, who like Padmasambhava, was born in Oddiyana from the virgin womb of a royal nun. He is generally regarded as the first human teacher of Dzogchen. As a nirmanakaya-emanation of the Buddha Vajrasattva, Garab Dorje received all the 6.4 million tantras and oral instructions of Dzogchen directly from the heavenly realm and thus became the first human vidyadhara (Skt., Knowledge Holder/T. rig-dzin) in the Dzogchen lineage. Having reached the state of complete enlightenment, he then transmitted these teachings to a retinue of exceptional beings, among who was Master Manjushrimitra, one of the greatest debaters of his day, who is regarded as the chief student of Garab Dorje who in turn passed them on to Sri Singha. Centuries later, Padmasambhava and Vairocana received the transmission of the Dzogchen tantras through Garab Dorje's wisdom form; i.e. through a pure vision on Lake Dhanakosa in Oddiyana. Garab Dorje composed the "Natural Freedom of Ordinary Characteristics" and the "three words that strike the essence" his last testament in the form of three essential points given to Manjushrimitra; summing up the teachings of Dzogchen: a direct introduction to one's own nature, deciding that there is nothing other than this and the capacity to abide in this unique state with confidence in liberation.

garuda (S): (T. shang-shang) An ancient Indian mythological bird, large and powerful, that hatches full-grown from the egg and thus symbolizes the awakened state of mind. Natural enemy of nagas.

gau (T): An amulet box, sacred reliquary, some of which are small enough to be worn around the neck.

Gelong (T): An ordained monk.

Gelugpa (T): The yellow hat sect, last to form of the four major Tibetan Buddhist Schools. A reformed order stressing scholarship and the monastic code, founded by the intellectual visionary Je Tsongkhapa in the 14th century. Je Tsongkhapa also tutored Gendun Drub who later became the first Dalai Lama. The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is also the current head of the Gelugpa order.

Gesar of Ling (T) Mythical Tibetan messianic hero whose cult was encouraged in Mongolia by the Manchu. Gesar seems to manifest in various traditions, for some as an emissary of the Rigden Kings of Shambhala, In the Buddhist tradition Gesar is an emanation of Padma Sambhava, while in the case of the Tibetan Bön tradition, Gesar is sent by Shen Lha Okar. He is believed to have incarnated from Guru Rinpoche to protect and propagate the dharma during the dark times after the persecution of the dharma by King Langdarma, and before the reviving of the dharma once again in Tibet which formed the scholastic and meditative traditions of the Sarma or new schools, as opposed to the original influx of teachings during the time the Great Three (T. Khen Lob Chö Sum), of Khenpo Shantirakshita, Guru Rinpoche (Lobpon Padmasambava), and King Trisong Deutsun, which became known as the Nyingma tradition. Amidst a mass of wisdom light, Gesar is depicted wearing the armor of a warrior of that period, riding a horse, holding a spear aloft in his right hand and a lasso in his left. He is most often propitiated as a protector of the dharma, but is also meditated upon as Guru. The epic tales of his heroic deeds are very popular and he is a national hero whose battles against enemies of Tibet and Mongolia have become synonymous with the defending and spreading of the Dharma itself. In this way, he is similar to the western legends of King Arthur. He is said to have ruled the kingdom of Ling, also known as Phrom. " The country of Phrom, where King Gesar ruled over the Turks (eastern Turkestan)." etymological connections: Gesar, Kesar, Caesar, Kaiser, Tsar, Shah, etc. ... ancient Persian word for sovereignity is "Sahr." See Shambhala.

Geshe (T): Sanskrit: Kalyanamitra. "Virtuous friend." Academic title given to accomplished Gelugpa scholars; similar to a Western doctoral (Ph.D.) degree.

Ghandharvas (S): "Odor Eaters." Celestial musicians who are nourished by odors. The name which designates a category of gods in the sphere of desire.

ghee: Hindi for clarified butter; ghrita in Sanskrit. Butter that has been boiled and strained. An important sacred substance used in temple lamps and offered in fire ceremony, yajna. It is also used as a food with many ayurvedic virtues.

Golok (T): Northern Kham, a very wild area of eastern Tibetan which is notorious for brigandry. There are many nomads in this area, and yogic encampments as well as tent monasteries.

Gomchenma (T): Greatly accomplished female meditator.

gomden (T): A meditation cushion.

gompa (T): Literally "to meditate." 1. Phase of practice which follows upon receipt of teachings and instruction and effort made to comprehend them. Gompa is the actual pursuit of meditational practice. 2. Buddhist monastery, temple, or dharma hall.

Gonpo (T): A protector.

Green Tara: The gentle and heartfelt Bodhisattva Tara, born from the tears of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. She offers us a hand to lift us up to a mountain of enlightenment qualities. Tara belongs to the Karma family of unobstructed compassionate activity, symbolized by her green color. She is the Wisdom Consort of the Dhyani Buddha Amogasiddhi. In a previous eon, in the presence of the Buddha Nga Dra, the Beat of the Drum, she took the vow to only incarnate in a female form to ceaselessly protect beings from the fears of samsaric life and to guide them upon the path of enlightenment. She is known as the Swift One, due to her immediate response to those who request her aid. She is none other than the mother of the Buddhas of the past, present and future; the Great Mother, Prajnaparamita, the matrix of ultimate truth itself, Shunyata. Appearing to be about sixteen years old, she sits on a lotus flower with her left leg drawn in as her right leg steps down gracefully out in front of her. Her left hand is held in front of her heart with palm outward, thumb and ring finger touching so the other three fingers point upwards in the mudra of granting refuge. Her right hand rests on her right knee with the palm facing upward in the mudra of generosity.

Guhyagarbha: One of the old tantras coming from the period of early translations. It has been looked upon (by some early Tibetan monks and scholars) as being inauthentic. When Sakya Pandita discovered a Sanskrit manuscript of this work at Samye Monastery and compared it with the existing Tibetan translations, it was determined that indeed, this was authentic. This Sanskrit version of The Guhyagarbha Tantra is the original and contains the principle Mahayoga scripture, involving sexual practice with a consort and the 'liberation' of evil-doers through magical rites without incurring any negative karma.

'The thoughts of believing in a self-entity persistently tie knots in the sky. Beyond bondage and beyond liberation -- These are the primordial attributes of the spontaneously perfect buddha.' - from the Guhyagarbha Tantra

guru (S): "heavy or weighty one," indicating a being of full of good qualities, great knowledge and skill. In Tibetan, the word for "guru" is "lama."

Guru Mantra: In Tibetan Nyingma practice, "guru mantra" refers to the Vajra Guru Mantra of Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche, the Twelve Syllable Mantra: Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum.

guru-shishya system: Hindu master-disciple system. An important education system of Hinduism whereby the teacher conveys his knowledge and tradition to a student. The principle of this system is that knowledge, especially subtle or advanced knowledge, is best conveyed through a strong human relationship based on ideals of the student's respect, commitment, devotion and obedience, and on personal instruction by which the student eventually masters the knowledge the guru embodies.

Guru Yoga (S): Tibetan: Lamai Naljor. One of the Four Preliminary Practices in Tibetan Buddhism. A meditation in which the meditator receives the blessing of the Lama and the lineage. Unification with the state of the teacher, the natural condition of the dharmakaya where its quality naturally manifests for the sake of those who require training. The Buddha taught on many occasions, that in the future time period called "degenerate," he would take the form of the Lama (Skt. Guru). One should therefore perceive the Lama with this view. This is the way Guru Yoga is to be understood most effectively: to realize the Great Perfection (T. Dzogchen), one must arrive at the union of one’s own mind with that of one’s root Lama, that one who is the essence concentrating all the Great Lamas of the lineage and the Yidam deity in a form which has compassionately manifested in this place for your liberation. Where the tantric process is alive, cultivating devotion to the Lama is a natural response to the blessings of initiation: gratitude for the opportunity manifesting through one’s thoughts, words and actions; the most important point is to develop the firm conviction that the Lama is the Buddha Dorje Chang himself. To see only these qualties in ones Lama is the best way to obtain them oneself. On the contrary, if one focuses on insufficiencies or faults, no realization can be obtained.

Gyalwa (T): Victorious One. The honorific name of the Karmapa, one of the most respected of the Tibetan tulkus, or reincarnated lamas.

Gyalwa Gyamtso (T): A red, four-armed form of Chenrezi. See Avalokitesvara

Gyüd (T):continuity/S. Tantra, associated with the art of weaving; the shuttle thread. Tantrayana, Vajrayana or Secret Mantra. The vehicle which derives from Long-ku (Samboghakaya) Visionary transmission. The path of transformation - in distinction to the Sutric path of renunciation.



Hatha Yoga (S): Forceful Practice. Hatha yoga is a system of physical and mental exercise developed in ancient times as a means of preparing the body and mind for meditation. See: kundalini, nadi, yoga.

Hayagriva (S): Tibetan: rta mgrin One of the Great Protectors, and one of the most popular yidams among the Gelug sect. A manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, his imagery combines the Hindu god Visnu and the savior horse Balaha Hayagriva. Practicing on Hayagriva is one of the five Classes of Means for Attainment of Pristine Cognition. One of four gate keepers, Hayagriva is a Tantric deity always depicted with a horse's head within his flaming hair. There are Three Neighs of Hayagriva (rta mgrin gyi rta skad thengs gsum): [the continuum of ground, path and result ] or alternatively 1) the neigh which arouses the world to the unborn identity of samsara and nirvana 2) the neigh which offers animate and inanimate worlds as a feast offering to repay karmic debts {gsod} and 3) the neigh which then enlists the support of beings and binds them under an oath of allegiance. Black Hayagriva is an extremely wrathful aspect of Buddha Amitabha and Red Hayagriva is Avalokiteshvara in wrathful form.

Heart Sutra: Sanskrit: Prajnaparamita Sutra. The Teaching on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom. This short sutra is the extremely concise statement of the doctrine of Emptiness, regarded as the heart or essence of the vast Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) Literature. Associated with the Second Turning of the Wheel, this sutra is primarily delivered by the Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Avalokitesvara and occurs in the presence of the Buddha on Vulture Peak. In many Buddhist traditions, the sutra is chanted regularly.

Heruka: Buddha Heruka is a manifestation of Buddhas enlightened compassion, and thus represents our ultimate nature. A heruka is a male deity of meditation in higher tantra yoga. By relying upon heruka, beings can swiftly attain a pure selfless joy and bring true happiness and peace to others. To practice the sublime visualizations of the Heruka body mandala will gradually transform our ordinary world and experiences into the transcendental reality of a fully enlightened Buddha. The completion stage practices of Heruka lead to the supreme bliss of full enlightenment in this lifetime.

Hevajra (S): A yidam of lightning (vajra) considered to represent the eternal. In Tantric Buddhism, the fearful aspect of Vajrasattva. Favored by the Tibetan Sakya school.


Hinduism: India's indigenous religious and cultural system, followed today by nearly a billion adherents, mostly in India, but with large populations in many other countries. Also called Sanatana Dharma, "eternal religion" and Vaidika Dharma, "religion of the Vedas." Hinduism is the world's oldest religion and encompasses philosophies ranging from pluralistic theism to absolute monism. It is a family of myriad faiths with four main denominations: Saivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. These four hold such divergent beliefs that each is a complete and independent religion. Yet they share a vast heritage of culture and belief in karma, dharma, reincarnation, all-pervasive Divinity, temple worship, sacraments, manifold Deities, the guru-shishya tradition and a reliance on the Vedas as scriptural authority.

Hinayana (S): The little vehicle. One of the three "vehicles" of Buddhism; the vehicle, or way of the Arhat. In Tibetan tradition, the name identifies an incomplete quest for a purely personal liberation from samsara. Vajrayana practitioners study the entire Hinayana teachings, while simulataneously learning Mahayana and tantric practices.

HUM (S): Tibetan: Hung (pronounced as in hoong). Mantric syllable (S. bija, or seed syllable) known as the seal of the "vajra mind" of all buddhas, symbolizing the integration of the universal, absolute and divine within the particular individual, the timeless in the manifest moment. This one syllable mantra is regarded as the quintessence of all Buddhas. It symbolizes integration of the individual with the universal, absolute.

Hundred Syllable Mantra: Sanskrit mantra of Vajrasattva to remove klesas and karmic hindrances. Recitation of this mantra 100,000 times is one of the four preliminary practices, or Ngondro in all Vajrayana lineages.

Hwa-shang: Buddhist influences in Tibet came from India but also from other places, like China. By the time of King Trisong Deutsen, it is said that the discussion between 'gradual' and 'sudden' approaches to awakening came to a head in a famous debate held at Samye Monastery. The Indian viewpoint was expressed by Kamalasila who held a gradualist approach to Enlightenment; whereas the Chinese tradition was presented by a monk called Hwa Shang Mahayana who put forth a view from the Ch'an teachings pointing to a more sudden form of enlightenment. Whether on the basis of the merits of their arguments or because of underlying social and political considerations, Kamalasila was declared the victor and Hwa-shang was banished. This did not end these kinds of teachings; in fact similar ideas occur among the Nyingmapa in their Dzogchen teachings. The Ancient Ones may never have dismissed the views of the Chinese sage. These teachings flourished among the Ch'an schools during China's T'ang dynasty.


ignorance: Sanskrit: avidya. T. Ma-rigpa

initiation: The formalized permission and introduction to the practice of deity yoga. There are three main types: Empowerment (Tib., Wang-kur); Blessing (Tib., Jin-lob); Permission (Tib. Je-nang). When pertaining to empowerment, initiation means one must enter directly into the knowledge, the immediate experience. This can be either a direct, oral or symbolic tranmission or a combination. Initiation can also refer to an intellectual introduction to a meaningful field of study.

insight meditation Sanskrit: Vipashyana. T: lha-tong. Meditation that develops insight into the nature of mind. The other main type of meditation is shamatha (T. zhi-ne) meditation.


Jai (S): Victory; T. gyal: as in Lha Gyal Lo! -victory to the gods! a phrase typically shouted by KPSR at the end of fire pujas.

Ja lu (T): Rainbow body. Dzogchen practitioners who have mastered the Trekchod phase of Dzogchen in which pure and total presence is stabilized are able to practice Tho-gal. Tho-gal is the final practice of Dzogchen, which enables the yogi to dissolve his or her physical body into the essence of the elements at the time of death. The yogi then disappears into a body of light, leaving only hair toe & finger nails, and nasal septum behind.

Jambhala (S): Tibetan: Dzambhala. Buddhist deity and member of the Jewel family who bestows wealth and personifies abundance. His fat belly shows his prosperity and he holds a mongoose on his left thigh that vomits jewels as he squeezes it. In his right hand he holds a flaming wish-fulfilling jewel which is symbolic for the riches one attains with the wealth of spirituality. He is primarily black in color and has the stunted, thick form of a dwarf with a potbelly. He is seated sideways on a dragon with his right foot down and his knee up. In his white form, he is holding a trident and a scepter. He is related to a number of Indian deities signifying prosperity, the best known being Kubera. In Tibetan art, Jambhala is often the peaceful, wealth-bestowing aspect of Vaishravana, protector of the north.

japa (S): Recitation. Practice of concentratedly repeating a mantra, often while counting the repetitions on a mala or strand of beads. It is recommended as a cure for pride and arrogance, anger and jealousy, fear and confusion. It fills the mind with divine syllables, awakening the divine essence of spiritual energies. The same practice in Buddhism would is called "Mantrayoga."

Jataka (Jataka Tales): Sutras narrating the birth stories of Shakyamuni in past lives, and effects related to the past and the present lives.

Je Tsongkhapa is the founder of the Gelug-pa school and is the central figure in their Refuge Tree. He is dressed as a monk and wears the yellow pandita hat this lineage has become associated with. After studying with a reported 45 masters, he founded the Gelukpa school in 1409 which emphasized monastic discipline. One of his students, Gedundrup, was retrospectively recognized as the first Dalai Lama, an emanation of Avalokitesvara. He is an emanation of Manjusri and is often depicted with Shakyamuni Buddha in his heart. The Gelukpa order has the largest and most politically influential school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Jetsunma (T): Reverend Mother. Tibetan honorific title.

Jewel Family: The family headed by Ratnasambhava.

jhana (P): Sanskrit: dhyana. Mental absorption. A state of strong concentration focused on a single physical sensation (resulting in rupa jhana) or mental notion (resulting in arupa jhana). Development of jhana arises from the temporary suspension of the five hindrances (see nivarana) through the development of five mental factors: vitakka (directed thought), vicara (evaluation), piti (rapture), sukha (pleasure), and ekaggatarammana (singleness of preoccupation). See dhyana.

Jigme Lingpa (1729—1798): Jigme Lingpa is one of the greatest and, even today, one of the most important teachers of the Dzogchen lineage. He received three visionary transmissions from Longchen Rabjam and realized his teachings, which were to become famous throughout Tibet under the name of Longchen Nyingthig. He kept them secret for about seven years, until the time had come to teach them since it is very important that a terton practises the teachings himself, before passing them on to others. Jigme Lingpa had many excellent students. The first Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Jigme Trinle, became his main lineage-holder. Among Jigme Lingpa's reincarnations are many famous lamas such as Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje (his mind-emanation), Patrul Rinpoche (his speech-emanation) and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (his body-emanation, Phowa Lineage).


Kadampa (T): lit. 'the school of oral instruction', ‘Bound by command" school of Tibetan Buddhism. Tradition transmitted by Atisha's students, c. 1050. Among its most important teachings were the lo-jong, a course in mind training which continues strong to this day. While this school no longer exists, its wisdom and transmissions were absorbed by other schools especially the Gelugpas. Among two of the best known texts associated with the Kadampa masters are "Eight Verses on Training the Mind" and "Seven Points of Mind Training" (Geshe Langri Thangpa). The Kadampa lineages: Lamrim; Menga; Shung; and Gelug, the "Virtuous Doctrine, from about 1409.

Kagyu (T): Kagyü-pa. Oral Transmission Lineage. One of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, headed by His Holiness Karmapa. One of the three Sarma, or New Translation Schools, that is closest in practice to the Nyingma School The pinnacle teachings of this order is the Mahamudra (S. 'great seal' T. Chagya Chenpo) transmission in the same way that the Dzogchen teachings are at the peak of the Nyingmapa transmissions. The teachings came to Tibet around 1050 and were in the following century organized into the Kagyu Sect. It descended from Vajradhara Buddha through the Indian Masters Tilopa and Naropa, who passed it on to Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa. After Gampopa, the Kagyuü lineage was also called Takpo Kagyu and divided into the so-called four great and eight lesser lineages. The four great lineages date back to Gampopa's main students :

Kalu Rinpoche was an eminent spiritual leader of the Kagyu sect in the late 20th Century. He was an incarnation of the famous Tibetan scholar, Jamgon Kongtrul.

The Kagyu lineages:

A. Shangpa - c. 1050
B. Dagpo (the "Four Golden Lineages") - 1125

Orgyanpa, or Ugyen Nyendrup - 14th/15th century
Rimay, i.e. non-sectarian - 19th century

Kailash Mt. Kailas (lit. 'silver mountain') is a the sacred mountain venerated by half a billion people in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. It is variously considered as the abode of a deity, the source of great rivers, a cosmic axis and a planetary temple. To the Hindus it has long been held to be a dwelling place of Lord Shiva. Standing 22,028 feet near the source of four major rivers (including the Indus, Brahmaputra.) To Tibetan Buddhists, it stands at the center of a huge mandala and is regarded as the most sacred mountain on Earth. It is the scene for Milarepa's climbing contest with Naro the Bön priest. Tibetans regard it as a place of deities or saints, and modern pilgrims circumambulate the mountain clockwise, taking three days to walk completely around it, making offerings at the many shrines along the way.

Kalachakra (S): Wheel of Time. Both the name of a deity (Tibetan: Du-kyi Khorlo or Dukhor) and the name of one of the four Highest Tantra Yoga practices. Among the most complex practices of the Buddhist Tantra, it contains a complex cosmology, including an apocalyptic theory of social reality involving a great war at the end of history, and triumph in the mythical Kingdom of Shambhala. The deity Kalachakra is a yidam of the Highest Tantra. In the hidden Land of Shambhala, it is said the inhabitants practice Tantric Buddhism based on the Kalachakra system. He fuses time and timelessness into a non-dualistic view of absolute reality. This Tantric practice is most important to the Gelukpa sect with whom it is most closely associated. He embraces his consort Visvamata who is yellow in color with four faces and eight arms.

Kali Yuga (S): Dark Age. The Kali Yuga is the last age in the repetitive cycle of four phases of time the universe passes through. It is comparable to the darkest part of the night, as the forces of ignorance are in full power and many of the subtle faculties of the mind are obscured.

Kalinga The name of the people that King Asoka conquered just before he became a Buddhist. In 260 BC King Asoka's armies attacked Kalinga (modern Orissa) in an attempt to expand the already huge Mauryan empire. It was the brutality and extreme violence of this campaign that turned the King's mind toward the Dharma.

kalpa (S): An aeon, world cycle, vast stretch of time.

Kanjur (T): The major section of the Tibetan Buddhist canon containing the words of the Buddha Shakyamuni. The 108 volumes were translated from Sanskrit. The Kanjur contains nine sections of 1,115 teachings by Buddha. These sections are:

karma: (S): Tibetan: ley. Action, or deed. One of the most important principles in Hindu and Buddhist thought, 1. any act or deed; 2) the law of cause and effect; 3) consequence or "fruit of action" (karmaphala) or "after effect" (uttaraphala), which sooner or later returns upon the doer. Selfish, hateful acts will bring suffering. Benevolent actions will bring loving reactions. Karma is a neutral, self-sustaining law of the inner cosmos, much as gravity is an impersonal law of the outer cosmos. Karma is threefold: accumulated actions (sum of all karmas of this life and past lives); actions begun; in motion or ‘thrown karma’ (karma bearing fruit and shaping the events and conditions of the current life, including the nature of one's bodies, personal tendencies and associations); and karma being made added in this life by thoughts, words and actions, or in the inner worlds between lives. Some of this bears fruit in the current life, others are stored for future births.

Karmamudra This has been concisely defined as "the practice performed with a maiden possessing the physical attributes of a woman, such as beautiful hair and so forth, with whom one has a strong karmic link" - written by Gendun Drub, the First Dalai Lama (one of Tsongkhapa's direct disciples). Je Tsongkhapa says that both oneself and the yogic "partner" must have received initiation, keep all the vows and pledges, and have mastery of all the 64 arts described in the Indian Kamasutra. As well, Tsongkhapa says: "All the authoritative tantric scriptures and treatises point out that the practice of Karmamudra is only to be performed by those who are qualified. To engage in it on any other basis only opens the door to the lower realms. The practice itself should be learned from a qualified master holding the authentic oral tradition." The physical application of sexual practice was largely internalized in adapting to the primarily monastic traditions of Tibet.

Karmapa (S): Literally, "Buddha-Activity Man." The spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu branch of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Also known as the Black Hat lama. The first Karmapa was born in 1110, making this the longest lived line of Tibetan Tulkus. The Karmapas' traditional residence is at Tsurphu Monastery near Lhasa. Presently, he is in his 17th incarnation. The 16th Karmapa died in a Chicago hospital in 1981. A successor was enthroned at Tsurphu in 1993, although some Karma Kagyupa members still support a rival candidate. The Karmapas embody all buddha activity. This is expressed in the name itself, since karma means "activity." The first Karmapa, Tsum Khyepa (1110-1193) was Gampopa's main disciple. Before his death, he left behind a letter explaining the precise circumstances of his next rebirth. In accordance with his description, the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1206-1283) was born deliberately as an incarnation of the first. He was the first incarnation to be recognized in Tibetan history. Since that time, the Kagyu lineage has been transmitted by the Karmapas, with each successive Karmapa leaving behind specific instructions concerning his next incarnation.

Still central to the transmission of the Kagyu lineage,the present Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje is the 17th incarnation of the Karmapa. This was the first time the Communist government allowed the recognition of any reincarnate lama. On January 1, 2000, as the Western calendar marked a new millennium, His Holiness had begun a new journey. Just a few days earlier, on December 28, the fourteen year old Ugyen Trinley Dorje, left Tolung Tsurphu Monastery with a handful of attendants, and traveling on foot escaped from Tibet. On January 5, 2000, he arrived safely in Dharamsala, India where he was met by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. In February 2001, he was granted refugee status by the government of India.

karma yoga (S): Union through action. The path of selfless service. One who does such acts of service while seeking no rewards, following the Hindu karma yoga path is a karma yogi.

karmic pattern: One's individual pattern of living based on all experiences from this and previous lives, the culmination of which is the shape of present and future circumsatnces.

karuna (S): Compassion. T: thug-je. The will to free others from suffering, based on an empathetic sensitivity to that suffering.

kata (T): Long white honorific silk scarf which one offers to ones teacher, or on great occasions.

kayas (S) Tibetan: Ku The three bodies of the Buddha: the nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya and dharmakaya. The dharmakaya (Tibetan: chö ku) also called the "truth body," or "enlightenment body" is complete wisdom of the Buddha which is unoriginated wisdom beyond form; it is the nature of mind, or emptiness, and is meaningful for oneself. Form manifests in the sambhogakaya (Tibetan: long ku) and the nirmanakaya (Tibetan: trul- ku) . The sambhogakaya, also called the "enjoyment body," is a realm in which the Buddha manifests only to bodhisattvas. The Buddha manifests in the world as a seemingly ordinary being who became known as the historical Buddha. These buddhas manifest out of compassion for the benefit of beings and are meaningful for the liberation of others. Sambhogakaya buddhas such as Vajrasattva can only be experienced directly by realized bodhisattvas, whereas nirmanakayas such as Shakyamuni Buddha manifest as human and can be perceived by beings with no particular realization. The unity of the three kayas is called the svabhavikakaya (Tibetan: Ngo wo nyi-kyi ku).

Khadroma (T): Sanskrit: Dakini. Sky-dancer.

Kham (T): Region of eastern Tibet. Also known to Tibetans as the province of Domae. Western Kham is now in the Tibetan Autonomous Republic, while eastern Kham is in China's Sichuan (Szechwan) province.

Khandro Nyingtig (T): Heart Essence of the Dakinis. A Nyingma transmission lineage of Dzogchen teachings that goes back to Padmasambhava who passed these teachings to princess Pema Sal and to his consort Yeshe Tsogyal. Also known as Heart-Drop of the Dakinis, the Khandro Nyingtig constitutes a terma revealed by Pema Ledrel Tsal which was later included in the famous Nyingtig Yabshi by Longchenpa. These Nyingtig teachings based on Padmasambhava are sometimes called Padma Nyingtig. The expression "Mother and Son Khandro Nyingtig" refers to the combination of the Khandro Nyingtig text (the mother) and the commentary (the son) known as Khandro Yangtig, the latter of which is by Longchenpa and part of the Nyingtig Yabshi.

Khenpo (T): Title of the chief instructor or spiritual authority in a monastery. Though the word is often translated as "abbot," the khenpo is not usually the administrator of the monastery. The title is also accorded to Lamas of great learning. A khenpo in charge of more than one monastery is referred to in the plural-indicative form, "Khenchen."

khorde rushan (T): "Khor," transmigration; "de," beyond, which is understood as nirvana; "rushan" means to separate or distinguish. In this context it means to go beyond the relative condition, i.e., the mind (transmigration) and its fundamental nature (nirvana). There are specific practices of khorde rushan.

Khyungpo Naljor (978-1127): Mastered both Ancient Tibetan lineages and had more than 150 teachers. He founded the Shangpa lineage.

koan (J): A riddle, tale, or short statement, often intellectually confounding, used by Zen masters to bring insight to their students. According to one old master, this practice leads to a condition which is somewhat like a mosquitoe attempting to bite an iron bull.

kriya (S): Action. In a general sense, kriya can refer to doing of any kind. Specifically, it names religious action, especially rites or ceremonies. In yoga terminology, kriya refers to involuntary physical movements caused by the arousal of the kundalini.

Kusinagara After teaching for forty-five years, at the age of eighty, in the year 543 B.C. the Buddha fell ill while on his way to Kusinagara, capital of the Malla State. Even in the face of death his mind moved towards others. He told Ananda, his faithful attendant, to console Cunda, the poor blacksmith from whose house the Buddha ate his last meal of indigestible pork, (some accounts say it was not pork, but poisonous mushrooms), that his food-offering was of great merit and that he should not blame himself for the Buddha’s indigestion. On his deathbed under two Sala trees in the Grove of the Mallas, he explained to his disciples that they would not be left without the Teacher for "The Doctrine and Discipline I have taught you, that shall be your Teacher, when I am gone." His last words were; "Behold now, monks, I exhort you. Subject to decay are all component things. Work out your salvation with diligence."

Under the oversight of Ananda, the Buddha's favorite disciple, the body was cremated by his friends in Kusinagara castle. Seven of the neighboring rulers under the lead of King Ajatasatru demanded that the ashes be divided among them. The King of the Kusinagara castle at first refused and the dispute even threatened to end in war, but by the advice of a wise man named Dona, the crises passed and the ashes were divided and buried under eight great monuments. Even the embers of the fire and the earthen jar that had held the ashes were divided and given to two others to be likewise honored. The Buddha mentioned that those who shall die with a believing heart, in the course of their pilgrimage to this, one of four sacred places, will be reborn in a heavenly state on the

dissolution of their body after death.

ksanti (S): Patience or forbearance, one of the six Paramitas.

Ksitigarbha (S): Earth-Store Bodhisattva and guardian of the earth. Depicted with the alarum staff with its six rings, he is accredited with power over the hells and is devoted to the saving of all creatures between the Nirvana of Shakyamuni and the advent of Maitreya. He vows that while the hell is not empty, he will not attain Buddhahood. As his vow is the greatest, he is also known as The Great Vow Bodhisattva.

Kuan Yin (C): "She Who Hears the Cries of the World." Derived from Avalokitesvara, the Indian Bodhisattva of Compassion (Tibetan: Chenrezi) depicted as a young male, and emanation of Amitabha Buddha. In Chinese Buddhism, Kuan Yin (an Amitabha emanation and the Bodhisattva of Compassion) is among the most important Bodhisattvas.. Kuan Yin is usually depicted as female in China and Japan, and as male in other parts of Asia. In Southeast Asia, she is QuanAm; in Japan, Kannon.

Kum Nye (T): "Mind-Body-Emotions Balancing." A holistic healing system discovered in 8th century Tibet which vitalizes body, mind and senses by means of breathing exercises, massage and movement. Derived from Indian hatha yoga, Kum Nye originated in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.

kundalini (S): "She who is coiled; serpent power." In Hinduism, the primordial cosmic energy in every individual which, at first, lies coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine and eventually, through the practice of yoga, rises up the sushumna nadi. As it rises, the kundalini awakens each successive chakra. Nirvikalpa samadhi, enlightenment beyond forms, occurs as the force pierces through the door of Brahman at the core of the sahasrara and enters.

Kurukulla (S): Tibetan: Rikjema. An aspect of Tara who represents the perception of enlightened power overwhelming and overpowering all dualistic perception. This binds and resolves mind and mental events into the unity of pure enlightened perception and experience. She causes negative action to become powerless and repatterned into wholesome, virtuous activity. She is bright red in color and like a tantric Cupid, her primary symbol is a drawn bow and flowery arrow which causes ordinary perception to be concentrated, piercing the experiential unity of the primordially pure nature. In the Mahakala teaching, Kurukulla is one of the Three Great Red Deities central to the lineage of the Sakya tradition.


Lama (T): Literally, "superior one." Teacher. Title for experienced and learned religious teachers, often casually used for members of the clergy in general. Tibetans take the word as "la na me pa" (insurpassable), plus "ma," (mother), alluding to the compassion a mother has for her only child. A person who, by virtue of entensive practice, study and devotion to accomplished teachers, is able to teach and transmit the Dharma. The word Lama pertains not only to the external teacher, but to the inner teacher or enlightened nature. The Lama, therefore, is one who reflects the beginingless enlightened nature of their students.

Langdarma In its first diffusion in Tibet during the time of Trisong Deutsen, the Buddhadharma was supported by the royal court. His descendant, King Ralpacan, was a tantric practitioner who was assassinated in 838 ce and replaced by his brother, Langdarma who nearly destroyed the first wave of dharma transmission in Tibet. He vigorously persecuted Buddhist monasteries throughout his realm. Monks fled and had to go underground to persist. He was finally assassinated by the arrow of a Buddhist monk named Palgyi Dorje during a Black Hat dance performance. He concealed his bow in the dance costume until the moment that he let the arrow fly, after which he escaped into the hills on a horse. After Langdarma's death, the 'second diffusion' or a re-spreading of the Dharma in Tibet was spearheaded by teachers like Atisha and the translations referred to as gSarma.

Law of Cause and Effect Also expressed as the "Law of Causality" This is a fundamental doctrine of Buddhism: That all phenomena in the universe are produced by causation. Since all phenomena result from the complicated causes and effects, all existing things in the universe are interdependent, i.e., all self-natures or seeming independent entities are merely relative and impermanent. Moreover, all phenomena and nominal things are impermanent (i.e. constantly changing). When Shakyamuni awakened he had a great insight into the workings of karma. The law of Karma, is the doctrine which explains how cause and effect creates all phenomena in the universe.

Law of Dependent Organization: S. pratityasamutpada/T. Tendrel States that all phenomena arise depending upon a number of casual factors. Ilustrated on the outer rim of the Wheel of Life, (S. bhavachakra) There are 12 links (S. nidanas) in the chain:

Lhasa (T): Capital and largest city in Tibet, pop. 170,000. Lhasa is a shortened form of "lha sacha," which means "gods' place."

Lha tong (T): Sanskrit: Vipashyana. Pali: Vipassana. Tibetan: lhag thong. Meditation that develops insight into the nature of mind and mental events. It is sometimes described as analytical meditation. One of the two types of meditation found in all Buddhist traditions, the other being tranquility meditation (Skt., Samatha, Tib., Shinay).

liberation: Sanskrit: moksha, abhimukti/ T. tharpa. In Vajrayana Buddhism, liberation from the involuntary cycle of existence occurs when one recognizes the emptiness of mind and is liberated from all perturbing thoughts and feelings. However, it is also considered a state where you have not reached complete Enlightenment and have not gained complete understanding of "the way things are."

liberation of thoughts: see self-liberation

lineage: Line of succession of preceptors, each one initiating the next.

Lingam (S): Also, linga. Phallus. A Sanskrit term of reverence for the statues and images of the god Shiva’s genital organ, lingam is also used as a technical term for the male phallus. The thousands of lingas one finds throughout India and Nepal, on almost every street corner and in every village square, are worshipped even today as sacred symbols of Shiva (the "Destroyer" aspect in the all-male Vedic trinity); most especially the twelve sacred jyotirlinga. People kiss and touch the statues, which are generally sculpted from stone; they offer rice, flowers, or fruit to them and will often color them with red ocher. The Gupta-sadhana Tantra states that "infinite result is obtained by worship of a Sivalinga that should be made of crystal etc., but never of clay". Sometimes a lingam is represented together with its female equivalent, the yoni, and such an image then is called yonilinga.

Lojong (T): Mind training. The mental discipline of the 59 proverbs associated with tonglen (taking and sending) practice and help to keep the practice on track and in balance. A particular way of looking at the world with total acceptance and joy.

Long-chen Nying-thig The Longchen Nyingthig cycle of teachings translates as "The essence of the heart" and they became very popular in Tibet, being widely studied among the Nyingmapa. Teachings of Vimalamitra and Guru Rinpoche were brought together by the great master Longchenpa. They were later revealed (as hidden teachings, termas) and elaborated on by Jigme Lingpa who carried the Longchen Nyingthig teachings to their highest level and popularity. Containing the essence of previous Nyingthig teachings, this lineage traces back to Kuntuzangpo, the primordial or 'All-good Buddha', down through great masters like Garab Dorje, Manjushrimitra, Shrisinga, Vimalamitra, Longchenpa, and into our modern age, through Jigme Lingpa to last century's Tibetan Buddhist masters such as Dudjom Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse. Longchen Nyingthig includes sadhanas, commentaries, roots texts and tantras. The scope, power and clarity of this round of teachings made them easy to comprehend and powerful to practice and thus they have become a mainstay among Nyingmapa practitioners.

Longchenpa: Longchen Rabjam, 1308-1363. The most eminent 14th-century Nyingma master of special importance in the transmission and development of Dzogchen. He combined the teachings of the Vima Nyingtig lineage with those of the Khandro Nyingtig, making way for the fully unified system of teachings that became known as the Longchen Nyingtig (by Jigme Lingpa). Longchenpa, credited with more than 250 written Dzogchen teachings, among them the famous Seven Treasures (Dzo-dun), the Trilogy of Natural Freedom (Rangol Korsum) and his compilation of the Nyingtig Yabshi. He also wrote a commentary to the Kunje Gyalpo Tantra, "The King Who Creates Everything," a text belonging to the Mind Class (Tibetan: Semde) of the Ati Yoga Inner Tantras. Seven Treasures is a reformulation of Dzogchen and an encyclopedia of inspiring thought and practice. These seven texts teach about each of The Treasures: Philosophy; The Sublime Vehicle; Wish fulfillment; Secret Instructions; The Dharmadatu; The Natural State; Word and Meaning. Excerpts have been translated in "Buddha Mind: An Anthology of Longchen Rabjam's Writings on Dzogpa Chenpo" by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche. Publication of the complete seven-volume text began in 1998. The first volume to have appeared is entitled "The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding." (Padma Publishing)

Apart from Longchenpa's names given below, he is sometimes refered to by the honorary title Second Buddha (Tibetan: Gyalwa Nyi) a term usually reserved for Padmasambhava, showing the high regard for his work has received. A reincarnation of Pema Ledrel Tsal, Longchenpa is also regarded as an indirect incarnation of the princess Pema Sal. During a stay in Bhutan (Tibetan: Mon), Longchenpa fathered a daughter and a son, of which the latter, Trugpa Odzer (b. 1356), also became a holder of the Nyingtig lineage. A detailed account of the life and teachings of Longchenpa is found in Buddha Mind by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche. Various forms and spellings of Longchenpa's full names, in which "Longchen" means Great Expanse, Vast Space or Immense Knowledge: Longchen Rabjam (realization of vast knowledge); Longchen Rabjampa; Longchenpa Drimey Özer; Künkhyen Longchenpa (The Omniscient Longchenpa) ; Künkhyen Longchen Rabjam; Künkhyen Chenpo (Omniscient Great One) ; Künkhyen Chenpo Drimey Özer; Künkhyen Chökyi (All-knowing Dharma King) ; Gyalwa Longchen Rabjam; Gyalwa Longchen Rabjam Drimey Özer.

Losar (T): Tibetan New Year. In February.

lotus: Sanskrit: Padma. The sacred lotus (nelumbo nucifera) is the Indian or Oriental lotus. Native to southern Asia, it is found at altitudes of up to 1,600 metres. The lotus is a perennial plant growing from a thick rhizome, usually sprouted in the silt bottom of a still pond. The first few leaves that appear are flat and float on the surface, followed by thicker leaves that stand above the water. The flower stalk rises above the leaves, ending in large, sweet-smelling, white or pink blooms which appear one at a time. Each flower lasts from 2-5 days. After blooming, the petals fall, leaving a cone-shaped seed head that resembles the rose of a watering can. Each of its 15 to 20 openings contains a fruit.

Iconographic Types: White, pink or blue lotuses can represent three types of humans since they either stand on the surface, slightly above, or up and out of the water. Emerging from slime and decay, they grow up through progressively clearer water to emerge in the sunlight, where they are seen in all their glory. This habit of growth has led to the lotus becoming a common metaphor for the development of individuals towards enlightenment. The flower stands for renunciation of the entanglements of samsara, the pure aspiration that is the desire for enlightenment for the sake of all beings. Thus the stylized lotus seat of buddhas and bodhisattvas is an indicator of their dharmakaya origins. It shows that the figure is not being presented as an ordinary person, but as a timeless manifestation of that ultimate reality. The style and color of the petals of this lotus corresponds to certain characteristics of the depicted being. One of the best-known figures in Tibetan Buddhism associated with the lotus flower is Padmasambhava. The biographies of Guru Rinpoche tells how he manifested in this world, in the midst of a lake in Oddiyana, as an 8-year old boy sitting on the pollen bed of a great lotus. It is for this reason he is called Padmasambhava (S. lotus born). Another famous figure associated with the lotus is Chenrezi, the bodhisattva of compassion, whose epithet is Padmapani or, lotus-bearer and whose mantra (in rough translation) refers to the jewel of primordial awareness contained within the lotus of space. Green Tara is so eager to help in any situation that she is depicted on a lotus seat with her right foot on a small lotus cushion, as if she were in the process of standing up. In the Pure Land of Amitabha, pratyekabuddhas are reborn in lotus buds which open after a certain time measured in ages, depending on the individual's karma. The lotus is one of the eight auspicious symbols not only to Tibetans, but also to the Chinese where they are called "pa hsi-hsiang."

The lotus in sadhana/practice: The chakras (wheels) or energy vortices of the body are depicted as various lotuses. Their petals range in number from two to a thousand at the crown of the head. The number of these chakras varies according to the tantric/yogic system; five are referred to in Tibetan Buddhism but there are said to be seven in the Hindu version. On a torma, a ritual offering cake, we often see only two wheels represented. The seated meditation posture [asana] in which the legs are crossed and feet placed on the thighs is called padmasana, or lotus seat or posture (also called Vajrasana or diamond seat Lotus (Padma) Family: This Buddha Family symbolizes the Speech of the Buddhas and the development of spiritual potentials, the evolution from the ground of confusion to full awakening in the light of discriminating wisdom, gradually unfolding one's spiritual petals in the process of revealing the Buddha Nature. Associations include the western direction, evening twilight, springtime, the color red, the element fire, all of which communicate the warmth of passion, the play of light, feeling and other qualities of the heart. The spontaneous perfection of all things is discovered through recognition of the Original Purity. This is the path of discriminating wisdom, love and compassion. Members include Shakyamuni, Avalokitesvara, Amitaba, Padmasambava, White Tara, Hayagriva and Padmanarteshvara.

Lotus Sutra: Sanskrit: Saddharma Pundarika Sutra. Short name of the "Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law," a Mahayana sutra c. 1st century CE. It consists of a series of sermons delivered by Shakyamuni towards the end of his life. The Lotus Sutra became exceedingly popular in 6th century China among the Tien Tai sect, becoming that sect's primary teaching. This was maintained by Tien Tai's Japanese counterpart, the Tendai. According to the Tien Tai/Tendai traditions, the Lotus Sutra encapsulates all the Buddha's teachings and that no other teachings are needed. The Sokka Gakai movement of contemporary Japan is centred on this teaching, partly for that reason. Recitation of Om Namu-myoho-renge-kyo, the Lotus Sutra mantra, is alone considered a complete form of Buddhist practice by followers of Nichiren (13th century Japanese teacher).

rLung T. -rlung - air; wind (element); breeze; breath; psychic energy; vital current of energy or air; In the terminology of Vajrayana 'rLung' refers to specific energy currents that regulate bodily function.


Ma (T): The country of Ma in Kham, eastern Tibet. Also: "Ma-yang Chugmo," the Land of Ling; and "Ma Thama," Happy Valley. One ancient reference reads, "In the great land of Ma is the snowy mountain Mar-yal-pom-ra."

Machig Labdron (T): Considered to be an incarnation of Yeshe Tsogyal, the Wisdom Consort and primary disciple of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambava). She was a learned Tibetan who was known for the clarity and beauty by which she read scriptures aloud to patrons. Through her experience she gained merit and insight into the Prajnaparamita, the teachings upon the Perfection of Wisdom, Shunyata. In a Pure Vision of Tara, she was bestowed the teachings of the Chöd rite, a practice which cuts or severs the ego at the root. She became so famous due to the profundity of her realization and teachings, her tradition of practice spread throughout all of Tibet and the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, Nepal and India. She is the only Tibetan teacher whose teachings were spread back into India, the motherland of the Dharma. She is white in color, depicted in the dancing posture on her left foot, with her right foot raised and the ball of her right foot suppressing the corpse of ego. She holds a chöd drum (damaru) in her right hand and rings a bell in her left.

Madhyamika (S): Tibetan: Uma. Middle Way. A philosophical school based on the Prajnaparamita Sutras and their doctrine of Emptiness; the Middle Way philosophy expounded by Nagarjuna. The Madhyamika is concerned both with the transcendence of logical affirmation and negation, and stresses the dependent origination of all things and the limitations of rational constructs. It represents a great philosophical tradition of Mahayana buddhism, which was expounded in detail by the great Master Nagarjuna, which adopts a middle position between two extreme views of eternalism and nihilism. Madhyamika is a response to essential questions concerning the existence or the nonexistence of things (phenomena) as well as beings. Nagarjuna states that in the final analysis of any conventionally established object, it is an error either to affirm or deny its existence, nonexistence, to say it possess attributes of the two at the same time, or neither, are all insufficient to describe its true nature. To claim otherwise is an extreme view which is a symptom of ego-clinging to the assumption of inherent existence. Since the Buddha taught the emptiness of appearance, nowhere will one find substance, essence or ontological foundation; with proper analysis, the problem disappears on its own since there is no further referenceto an ego or real things. Nagarjuna equated emptiness with interdependent origination, thecausally-conditioned, relative nature of all compounded phenomena. He posited two levels of truth, the absolute and the conventional. His immediate disciple Aryadeva carried on his teaching. About A.D. 500 Bhavaviveka, heading the Svatantrika school of the Madhyamika, held that the Buddhist position can be put forward by positive argument. The Prasanga school, championed by Chandrakirti, opposed him and reaffirmed the simple refutation of opponents by reductio ad absurdum as the true Madhyamika position.

Magadha (S): One of the four great kingdoms (i.e. Magadha, Kosala, Vansa, and Avanti) in ancient India, ruled from its capital Rajagaha. The king of Magadha, Bimbisara, became a follower of Shakyamuni.

maha (S): "Great." A prefix in terms such as mahatma, mahasiddha, mahayana.

Mahakala (S): One of the most prominent guardians or protector deities in Tibetan Buddhism; especially idenitified with the Sakya Order, but common to all orders. An emanation of Chenrezi (Skt., Avalokitesvara), Mahakala is the wrathful deity that destroys mind chatter and brings our minds back into attentive focus. There are many different colors and forms of Mahakala, but he is recognized universally as one of the great protectors of the Dharma. According to the Vajrakilaya teachings, a powerful demon named Rudra, Black Liberation (T. tharpa nagpo) was transformed by Vajrikilaya into the protector of the teachings of the 1002 Buddhas of this Fortunate Aeon, Mahakala. There is a prophecy that in the future, Mahakala will become a Buddha in the subterranean world system.

Mahakaruna (S): Great compassion.

Mahamaya (S) The mother of Prince Gautama who became Shakaymuni Buddha. A Koliyan Princess married to King Suddhodana, Chieftan of the Sakyan Clan. Together they resided in the city of Kapilavastu.

Mahamudra (S): Tibetan: Chag gya Chenpo. Great Seal or Symbol. The highest meditative transmission/teaching in the Tibetan Kagyu school as is "Dzogchen" or Great Perfection in the Nyingma school. Lineages proceed through Tilopa, Naropa and Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa. The Mahamudra Sutra emphasizes dwelling in tranquility and insight, and progressing along the Five Paths (which starts with the beginning of Dharma practice and the accumulation of merit and ends with complete Enlightenment).

Mahasamadhi (S): Great Meditative Equanimity. The death, or dropping off of the physical body, of a great soul, an event occasioned by tremendous blessings. Also names the shrine in which the remains of a great soul are entombed. Mahasamadhi day names the anniversary of a great soul's transition.

Mahasiddhas (S): Great Accomplished One. Tibetan: Drub-chen. A practitioner who has achieved great realization. Forerunners of the tantric lineage in Tibet, the 84 Indian tantric masters were largely non-monastic and renowned for effecting miraculous changes in both themselves and the phenomenal world through spiritual power. They came from all walks of life, and developed the means by which the Dharma could be effectively practiced by people of widely varying capacities and inclinations.

Mahayana (S): The Big Vehicle. A main limb of Buddhism that spreads into many different branches.  What all have in common is that they accept the authority of texts that the Shravaka branch explicitly rejected as being the teachings of the historical Buddha, now the tradition of Theravda Buddhism. Mahayana emphasizes working, studying and practicing meditation for the benefit of all sentient beings. A universal love leads to freedom from the sufferings of the world. The Buddhist begins to arouse the wish in herself to release all beings from suffering. The number of Mahayana texts is so large that no one can hope to read them all within a single lifetime, so usually Mahayana Buddhists specialize by focusing on just a few texts or sometimes only one text. Mahayana Buddhism was basis of the Buddhism practiced in pre-Islamic Northern India; Tibet, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

The Zen school finds its origins based on the transmission of one text, the Lankavatara Sutra (the full title of which, "Introduction of True Dharma into Sri Lanka," a country that had both Theravada and Mahayana branches of Buddhism. The Chinese Pure Land schools were based on texts describing beautiful realms into which one could be reborn to more easily pursue dharma than is possible in this lifetime. Another Chinese school, "Lotus," is entirely based on the "White Lotus of the True Dharma Sutra," which tries to reconcile all the branches of Buddhism into one; this tradition gave rise to the Japanese Nichiren school, which begat Saka Gakkai, known for its energetic proselytizing. Mahayana Buddhism once thrived in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia. Also called the Northern Buddhism, it is now weak in China and has been for most of this century.  It has completely disappeared from Indonesia, now a Muslim country. Only about one-third of the population of Korea is still Buddhist; the majority of Koreans are now Christians. In Vietnam, there is now one single form of Buddhism, which resulted from combining Theravada and Mahayana into a single school. It has been considerably weakened by all the wars and revolutions in that country, and by the recent passion for modernization, but it survives in the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. In Japan, interest in Buddhism is rapidly declining in most sectors of the population and is being displaced by hundreds of so-called New Religions (some of which pay at least a token respect to something vaguely Buddhist in character).

Mahayoga A division of the Doctrine of Result or phalayana, another epithet of the tantra. The first of three vehicles of inner tantra, predominantly centering on the generative, creative or developing phase. There are two sections of mahayoga: tantra and sadhana. The sadhana section is divided into two sections as well; kama (the Buddha's word) and terma (or treasure). The basic mahayoga view is to realize the "inseparability of phenomena, or appearance, and great emptiness". This is the absolute truth. The skillful means to attain this realization is to meditate on everything as the pure appearance of the mandala of deities. This is the relative truth. The activity involves acceptance of the 'Five meats', the 'Five nectars' as well as the non-differentiation between impure and pure. The result is the attainment of the transcendent integration of the mandala in this life or in the bardo.

Mahottama (S): The Greatest, The Best. Nyingma tutelary deity, a Heruka (Dharma Protectors or Vajra Protectors, S., ishta-devata; T. yidam). Heruka deities are enlightened beings that adopt fierce forms to express their liberation from the world of ignorance. The central paired-deity, Mahottama and his prajna consort, are a peaceful/wrathful manifestation of enlightenment and a form of the Adi Buddha Samantabhadra. Mahottama Heruka may also serve as a personal protective deity. Despite the fierce appearance, the practitioner recognizes that it is the peaceful nature of Mahottama Heruka that serves as a guide and protector.

maithuna (S): Sexual union in a ritual context, as is practiced in vamacara. In dakshinacara, the term is mostly used for the mere visualization of such.

Maitreya (S): from maitri, loving-kindness. Tibetan: Jampa. The Buddha To Come, prophesied to be the Teacher of the next age, and one of the most popular bodhisattvas. He resides in Ganden (S. Tushita) a heavenly paradise until his incarnation. Especially popular in Mongolia and worhsipped in major annual festivals. He is often a seated Bodhisattva whose devotion spans both Theravedic (Hinayana) and Mahayana countries. He is supposed to reappear on earth in human form, for the deliverance of all sentient beings to enlightenment by revealing that which time and ignorance have covered. He will be the last of the five Buddhas to gain supreme enlightenment in this aeon. He holds a lotus stalk in his right hand and may be represented either standing or sitting.

mala (S): T. treng-wa. A string of beads for counting prayers and other spiritual practices. The ideal number of beads is said to be 108.

mandala (S): Circle; sacred space. Tibetan: Khyil-Khor. Lit. circle-surround. A support for a meditating person, a mystical diagram of energy within which deities or their emblems are portrayed in a symmetrically arrange diagram arranged in a basically circular pattern. It represents symbolically the diverse stages that the disciple should go through to arrive at the realization of ultimate buddhood. One uses the Mandala in the transmission of iniations and the practice of tantric rituals. They can also act as an offering in which the disciple offers to the Lama and to the Buddhas, an idealized universe. The mandala is often illustrated as a palace with four gates, facing the four corners of the Earth. A mandala is a representation or symbol for various energies or particular enlightened states of mind. A mandala may be in two dimensions, as in a painting, in three dimensions, such as in the placement of sacred objects, or symbolized by a mudra. The body, a conscious gathering of initiates or even the world at large may be interpreted as a mandala, as they symbolize various aspects of universal energies. A mandala may also be the throne of a particular deity.

mandorla (S): Halo behind an auspicious figure that conveys an added spiritual aura.

mani stone: stone inscribed with the Chenrezi mantra (Om mani padme hum) in Tibetan script and built into walls or cairns on paths in the Himalayan countries.

Manjusri (S): "He who is noble and gentle." The Bodhisattva of Transcendent Wisdom, typically depicted with the Prajnaparamita Sutra, the book of transcendent wisdom, and a sword which cuts through the clouds of ignorance. He is the Prince of Wisdom who confers mastery of the Dharma–retentive memory, mental perfection and eloquence. With Avalokitesvara and Vajrapani, he is one of the three primary protectors, hailing from Variochana’s Tathagata family.

Manjushrimitra (S): Tibetan: Jampa Shenyen. Buddhist scholar, and possibly a king of Singhala (now Sri Lanka), who is said to have been a student of Garab Dorje, and who was given the Nyingtig teachings both in personal contact and during visionary appearance after his teachers passing. Manjusrimitra classified the teachings he received and transmitted this Dzogchen material to Sri Singha. The problem with this story is that it covers a few centuries in time. If Manjushrimitra knew Garab Dorje, he must have lived in the 2nd or 1st century BCE; placing his disciple Sri Singha not much later. But Sri Singha is also supposed to have had personal contact with Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra (as is also reported in the mid-8th century.

mantra (S): thinking tool. Tibetan: nyak. "Mind protector." Sanskrit words signifying a sacred word, verse or syllable which embodies in sound the energy of some specific deity or primordial power. Sound tools that guard the mind, protecting it from all intrusion of perturbing thoughts or emotions which dilute meditation. A series of syllables invoking a spiritual power or blessing; a creative sound expressing the innermost essence of understandings. A mantra may be directly meaningful, expressing a wish or affirmation ("Lama, please think of me") or quite abstract (om mani padme hum). Some are a single or couple of syllables (bija, or seed) containing the germ of a deity or exalted consciousness. Each deity has one or several mentras which corresponds to him/her. Some reflect words spoken by the Buddhas which hold great blessings. The Vajrayana is frequently called Mantrayana or "Vehicle of secret Mantras."

Mantrayana S. Vehicle of Awareness Spells. also known as Vajrayana or 'Diamond Vehicle', symbolizing indestructibility. The Mantrayana had its origin in small groups of practitioners gathered around an accomplished master or guru. The path based on teachings of the Tantras, known as the Mantrayana, emphasizes the practice of sadhana, the development and completion stages of meditation, and the skillful use of a great many transformational techniques. It is elaborately structured in stages: preliminary practices, study of commentaries, formal initations, and receiving profound oral instructions. The skillful means are taught to fulfill the vision of the Bodhisattva and accelerate the process of awakening. Because of the use of certain sacred syllables or mantras it is referred to as the Mantrayana. From the perspective of the Mantrayana, fully awakened reality abides primordially and intrinsically. This is nature of the ground, our spiritual potential, as pervasive as the sky. It is also the path that brings about recognition and removal of the clouds of emotions and ignorance. It is necessary to receive an empowerment from a lineage holder to practice the secret Mantrayana. There are numerous mantras and skillful means available which have been empowered by the lineage gurus' wisdom to enable practitioners to move beyond emotional reactivity and be released into the all-encompassing primordial awareness. Vajradhara is the super-human Teacher of the Secret Doctrine upon which the Vajrayana and Mantrayana are based. Asanga founded the Yogacara or contemplative School which developed into the Mantrayana or 'Path of the Mantra' about A.D. 700.

Mara (S): Literally, "murderer". The Evil One who "takes" away the wisdom-life of all living beings.

marga (S): Way or path.

Marpa (1012-97): The "Great Translator" of Tibet, Marpa traveled from Tibet to India three times to bring back various Tantric Buddhist teachings, especially those of his main teacher, Naropa. As a farmer, he lived an ordinary householder's life, yet was a very accomplished yogi. His most famous student was Jetsun Milarepa. Among the most renowned Tibetan masters and one of the main gurus of the Kagyu lineage.

Mayadevi (S): The mother of Siddhartha Gautama who became the Buddha, and the wife of King Suddhohana. Eldest daughter of the Sakyan King Suprabuddha, she dreamed of a white elephant as she conceived, gave birth while holding on to the branch of a plaksa tree in the garden of Lumbini. She died seven days after giving birth to Gautama. The prince was raised by Mayadevi's sister, Prajapati who was among the first women to be accepted into the order. Buddha's cousin Ananda was the son of the youngest of Suprabuddha's daughters.

Medicine Buddha: the Healing Buddha. Traditionally, there are eight medicine buddhas with their chief portrayed as a powerfully built, dark-blue being, who has promised to help all those who are sick and dying. Bhaisajya-guru is depicted holding a bowl continuing the five kinds of medicines. The puja, performed monthly, helps to clear and avert obstacles due to sickness and diseases. The blessings from Medicine Buddha prevents one from falling into the lower states of rebirth. Those already in a lower state of rebirth will be quickly liberated and will take rebirth in a precious human body. The Healing Buddha mantra is "Om Bhekandze Bekanzhe Maha Bhekandzhe Randza Samungaté soha." See Myrobalan

Milarepa (1025-1135): The most beloved yogi of Tibet. After killing his abusive relatives through black magic, Milarepa performed hard labor for his teacher, Marpa, to remove the negative karma of murder. After receiving instruction from Marpa, Milarepa diligently performed meditation in the icy caves of the Himalayas. His disciple, Gampopa, founded the Kagyu School. Although Milarepa is considered a forefather of the Kagyü, he was a holder of Nyingma lineage who counted numerous 'ngakpas' among his disciples -- great Lamas such as Réchungpa. He was a disciple of Marpa the translator and his sangyum, Dagmèma. Milarépa was a ngakpa, who specialised in the practices of the Tummo and Dzogchen Long-dé. In art, Milarepa may be seen wearing the white shawl, representing his practice of Dzogchen Long-dé. He wears the yogi's earrings and the uncut hair of the gö-kar chang-lo'i dé.

mind: In Buddhism, the mind in its profound nature is clarity-emptiness, bliss-emptiness, that is to say the very essence of buddhahood. For beings who are not liberated, this nature is obscured by conditional veils which have been there from beginningless time; the veils of negative impulses and deluded consciousness. Through the pursuit of an authentic spiritual quest, these veils can be purified and the true nature of the mind, will then reveal itself in Buddhahood.

Mindroling Mindroling Monastery was founded in the 17th century by Orgyen Terdag Lingpa, who made a great collection of ancient Nyingma Kama texts. It was originally a branch of the monastery founded by the father of gTerdag Lingpa, Sang-dag Thrin-le Lhundrup. Over the years the Mindroling grew to have approximately 111 branch gompas in Tibet.

Mongols: "Kublai Khan told Marco Polo: 'The Christians worship Jesus, the Saracens worship Mohamed, the Jews worship Moses and the idolaters worship Sakyamuni Burkhan (Buddha)." (Marco Polo in Waugh: 1984...pg 69) MORE ON MONGOLS

monk: The masters of Buddhism can be separated into several categories according to the vows that they have taken. The lay practicioners (Tibetan: Ge Nyen. Sanskrit: Upasaka) have at least the vow of refuge and perhaps one or several of five precepts which forbid murder, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and indulging in intoxicants. Novices (Tibetan: Getsul) have taken vows of celibacy and chastity by maintaining ten vows. Fully ordained monks (Tibetan: Gelong. Sanskrit: Bhiksu) are subject also to chastity, and respect a code of discipline explained in the Vinaya by the Buddha himself and which is comprised of 253 diverse vows regulating in the smallest details, the attitude, the behavior, the clothing, the walk, nourishment, etc. of the monks.

moksha (S): Liberation, Release. T. tharpa. Release from transmigration, samsara, the round of births and deaths, which occurs after karma has been resolved and samadhi, or realization of the Self, is attained. Originally developed from Upanishadic teachers. By leading a highly spiritual life (or several lives), a soul could be reunited with Brahman, the Ultimate Reality. Same as mukti.

mudra (S): Seal, attitude. Esoteric hand gestures which express specific energies or powers. Usually accompanied by precise visualizations, mudras are a vital element of ritual worship (puja), dance and yoga. Among the best-known mudras are: 1) abhaya mudra (gesture of fearlessness), in which the fingers are extended, palm facing forward; 2) anjali mudra (palms brought together before the heart, gesture of reverence); 3) jnana mudra (also known as chin mudra and yoga mudra), in which the thumb and index finger touch, forming a circle, with the other fingers extended; 4) dhyana mudra (seal of meditation), in which the two hands are open and relaxed with the palms up, resting on the folded legs, the right hand atop the left with the tips of the thumbs gently touching. Mudra also designates the spiritual spouse which serves as support in the practice of realization in the Tantras. The "Flaming Mudra" is the gesture which commands the deity being invoked to remember the sacred bond which unites him with the initiated practioner and, in respect of this bond, to come and manifest himself to the practioner.

mukhya (S): Head; foremost. From mukha, "face, countenance." Leader, guide; such as the family head, kutumba mukhya (or pramukha).

mula (S): Root. The root, base or bottom or basis of anything, as in muladhara chakra. Foundational, original or causal, as in mulagrantha, "original text."

muladhara chakra (S): Root-support wheel. Four-petaled psychic center at the base of the spine; said to govern memory.

myrobalan (S): Tibetan: men chog gyal po (King of Medicines). The Medicine Buddha, Sangye Menla [Bhaisajyaguru], is usually depicted holding a sprig of the arura or myrobalan plant (terminalia chebula), which bears the nectar of immortality that fills the Medicine Buddha's bowl. In the Ayurvedic tradition, myrobalan is believed to be a panacea; in Tibetan medicine, the most supreme of drugs.


Nada (S): Sound; tone, vibration. Metaphysically, the mystic sounds of the Eternal, of which the highest is the transcendent or Soundless Sound, Paranada, the first vibration from which creation emanates. From Paranada comes Pranava, Aum, and further evolutes of nada. These are experienced by the meditator as the nadanadi shakti, "the energy current of sound," heard pulsing through the nerve system as a constant high-pitched hum, much like a tambura, an electrical transformer, a swarm of bees or a shruti box. Most commonly, nada refers to ordinary sound. See Shabda.

nadi (S): Conduit, or channel. Nerve fiber or energy channel of the subtle (inner) bodies of man. It is said there are 72,000 in a human being. . See channels, winds and drops; chakra, kundalini, raja yoga

Nagarjuna (S): Traditional founder of the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) of Buddhism. According to Buddhist literature, Nagarjuna traveled to the undersea palace of the Dragon Kings (Nagas) where he discovered important documents left there by Shakyamuni Buddha, notably, the Prajnaparamita literature.

nagas (S): Naga goddesses and gods are a mystical, primeval race of divine serpent people that play an important role in religion, mythology, and fairy tales worldwide. They live in oceans, lakes, rivers, springs or wells. Considered as protectors and keepers of the treasures of the water element (magical gems and precious stones) they are often portrayed holding a gem in their hands, being adorned with jewels, or wearing a gem in their crown. Possessing these magical gems (crystallized wisdom-power) exposes them to many enemies, who would like to steal this huge source of power. An arch-rival, the mythological birds called Garudas (T. Shang-shang) fight the Nagas. This fight is the essential force or polarity which creates the worlds of existence. Half-human and half-snake they are associated with having strong magical powers (siddhis), vast esoteric knowledge, and a capricious character which can quickly change from friendly and helpful to angry and malicious. Worshipped in southern India as bringers of fertility and rain, they are also thought to bring disasters such as floods, diseases and drought. In Buddhism Nagas and Naga kings (Nagarajas) play a very important part. Beside the folkloristic beliefs, often mixed with superstition and being more down to earth (Naga offerings are left near lakes, wells, trees etc. for rain, fertility, etc.) there are the higher esoteric levels of meaning for the advanced tantrika. It is said that before the final enlightenment can take place, bodhisattvas of the 9th and 10th level take rebirth in the mystical Naga worlds to get all final necessary empowerments and hidden teachings. It is also stated that the historical Buddha Shakyamuni took rebirth in the Naga realm just before his last incarnation on earth. In the weeks following his enlightenment , Shakyamuni was magically protected by a Naga from the seasonal rains. Rebirth in a Naga realm is auspicious in that one has great potential to reach buddhahood in a very short time without needing further rebirth. These so-called Naga-Buddhas are often invoked to grant special insights and siddhis for the Buddhist practitioner.

Nalanda: Nalanda Monastic University was a center of higher buddhist studies located in north-eastern India. It was founded around the second century by King Shakraditya of Magadha and quickly became a renowned university with a vast library. It is estimated that some ten thousand monks studied there at a time, not just Buddhist teachings of the Hinayana and Mahayana, but also medicine, math, logic and other religions as well. For centuries this was one of the best known places in the world for higher learning; among its notable abbots were Saraha, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Naropa, Dharmapala, Dignaga and others. The great middle way philosophy (Madhayamaka) was honed to its highest form here and close connections were developed between Nalanda and Tibet where a center of learning with the same name was started in 1351. Nalanda was said to have been destroyed, it's library sacked and burned by Muslim raiders, somewhere between the 12th and 13th century.

naljor (T): Yogi; naljorma: yogini.

namah / namo (S): Lit., "Adoration (or homage) to."

namaste (H): "Reverent salutations to you." Traditional Indian greeting.

Naropa (1016-1100): A scholar at the famous Nalanda University who left to follow the noted yogi, Tilopa. After undergoing severe hardships under Tilopa, Naropa received teachings and became a renowned yogi. Later some of these teachings became known as the Six Yogas of Naropa and formed a major part of the practices of the Tibetan Kagyu School.

negative attachment: Fear, worry or doubt of the future or a lingering regret about the past that keeps one from flowing with the river of life and living fully in the moment as a compassionate and impartial, spiritual being, facing each experience in the light of understanding.

ngakpas: Tibetan term referring to one who works with mantra. The present day ngakpa tradition consists of ordained, robe wearing members who are neither 'lay', nor 'monastic', but represent a parallel stream of practice to the better known monastic sangha, and represent an opportunity for western people to establish the highest possible commitment to the Buddhist path without having to become celibate.

ngöndro (T): The preliminary or foundational practices of Tibetan Buddhism, or Vajrayana. Four are general and four are special. First comes a thorough self-motivation through the understanding of four basic facts about life: 1) The rarity and preciousness of our present existence, which can be utilized to reach liberation and enlightenment; 2) Impermanence, that one should use it now as the time of death is uncertain; 3) Karma - cause and effect - that we create our own lives on the basis of our actions; 4) the fact that enlightenment is the only lasting joy. Meditation on the latter in the form of a set of four repetitive but intensely rewarding phrases helps create masses of good imprints in one's subconscious. These work deeply in the mind, giving increasing joy, and removing the causes of future suffering. Ngondro is the basis for purifying mental habits and recognizing mind both through its nature as energy and as awareness. There are four other distinct practices involved, each a step that leads to specific results. The performance of each phase is to be engaged 100,000 times: Prostrations and Refuge practice; Vajrasattva Mantra Meditation; Mandala Offering Meditations; and Guru Yoga (Meditation on merging with the Teacher).

nilopala: Multi-bloomed flower found in Buddhist iconography, much like the anemone.

Nirmanakaya (S): The Creation Body, the worldly form of a Buddha or other enlightened being.

Nirodha (S): Cessation of suffering, one of the Four Noble Truths.

Nirvana (S): Transcendence of suffering; cessation of birth in Samsara.

Nyingma / Nyingmapa (T): "School of the Ancients" or "Early School," the Buddhism brought to Tibet by great Indian teachers and translators, also the "Early Translation School." Founded by Padmasambhava, this is the oldest and second largest of the four Tibetan Buddhist Schools. "The early translation school of the King of the Victorious Ones, Padmasambhava; the Conquerer's Doctrine; The Sole Swift Path of All the Buddhas; The Supreme Vehicle, The Great Perfection ... The Great Tradition of Khenpo Shantarakshita, Lobpon Padmasambhava; and Dharma King Trison Detsen." It maintains a sophisticated system of study and practice, and its special tantric training is Dzogchen. The Nyingma teachings are uniquely categorized in nine yanas, or vehicles. The main practices are emphasized in the three inner tantras of Maha Yoga, Anu Yoga, and Ati Yoga. Ati Yoga is also known as the Great Perfection (Dzogpa Chenpo or Dzogchen). This is the heart of the Nyingma tradition and is the most ancient and direct stream of wisdom within the Buddhist teachings. Dzogchen incorporates Ch’an-like teachings from Chinese and Central Asian sources of a type rejected after the Samye debates of the 8th century. Nyingma teachings also preserve many tantras derived from India during the first transmission but thought to be apochryphal (and thus non-canonical) by second-transmission schools. The order also gave to Tibetan Buddhism a wealth of terma (treasure texts) hidden by Padmasambhava and discovered by later generations.Nyingma lamas and yogins are not usually required to be celibate. The order’s rituals include many elements that were derived from Tibet's pre-Buddhist Bon religion.

Nyingthig (T): Heart Essence. A category or class of teachings and its related texts that form the essential part of what is better known as Dzogchen, the "Great Perfection" lineage of teachings at the apex of Vajrayana (also known as 'Esoteric Tibetan Buddhism' or 'Tibetan Tantra'). All Nyingtig teachings are traced to Indian teachers and adepts -- Garab Dorje, Manjushrimitra, Sri Singha, Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra; with the latter two actually passing the tradition into Tibet.

The term Nyingthig actually pertains solely to the Mengak-De (pith instructions) group of Dzogchen teachings. Moreover, it often refers in particular to the innermost or most profound and secret core of those pith-instructions, known as Yangsang Lame. They were brought to Tibet separately by both Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra in the 9th century. Padmasambhava, though miraculously born from the compassion of Amitabha and self-realized, received these teachings from Garab Dorje, the first human Dzogchen master. Garab Dorje also taught them to Sri Singha, who passed them on to Manjusrimitra, at least in some versions. The latter’s disciple, Vimalamitra, was later invited to Tibet and also gave transmission there. The form transmitted from Vimalamitra is call the Vima Nyingthig.

Padmasambhava transmitted the Nyingthig teachings to several of his heart students and then had them buried for future discovery. Around the end of the 13th century, Pema Le Drel Sal, an incarnation of Dharma King Trisong Deutsen’s daughter, discovered terma. Because it was transmitted through a female teacher, or khandro, this lineage is called the Khandro Nyingthig. In the early 14th century, the scholar, Kun Khyen Longchen Rabjam (1308-1363) wrote commentaries on each version. In the mid 18th c., after a period of decline, the Nyingtig tradition was once more revitalized by the visionary Jigme Lingpa, who received the wisdom mind of Lonchenpa while meditating in a cave. He combined the two sets of Nyingthig teachings into what is now called the Longchen Nyingthig, or Heart-essence of the Vast Expanse.

Since then, these teachings have continuously grown in importance; especially through the efforts of the 19th century, non-sectarian Rimé movement. The various collections of texts, transmission lineages and teaching cycles are known as: Vima Nyingtig: lineage of Vimalamitra; Khandro Nyingtig: lineage of Padmasambhava; Nyingtig Yabshi: 14th century compilation and commentaries mainly by Longchenpa; Longchen Nyingtig: 18th century terma revealed by Jigme Lingpa. Practitioners of the Nyingtig teachings are variously known as independent, shamanic yogis (Tibetan: Naljor-pa) and yoginis (Naljor-ma) of the Nyingma ("Old School"), rather than the domesticated nuns or monks of most later New School monasteries. These extraordinarily profound teachings explain various essential methods for directly actualizing the innermost teachings of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo, the Great Perfection, which is the direct method for swiftly realizing the ultimate nature of mind and attaining Buddhahood in the Rainbow Body. The Longchen Nyingthig is the main practice at the center of all Dzogchen teachings and pith-instructions.

Nyung-ne (T): Ritual which consists of prayers, recitations of mantras, prostrations and which is accompanied by fast. It is related in general to the practice of Chenrezi with thousand arms, a powerful practice to purify negative karma. 


Obaku (J): The smallest and least known of the three remaining schools of Zen in Japan.

Oddiyana (S): Also, Uddiyana. Tibetan: Orgyen. A kingdom northwest of India to which tradition ascribes the origin of the Dzogchen teachings of the Buddhist tradition. For a long time, Oddiyana was regarded as a legendary and mythical place, a symbolical realm of the dakinis; divine/demonic "sky dancing women" of the Hindu and Tibetan pantheon. But as with the Greek city of Troy, Oddiyana has been located. This ancient kingdom was in the Swat Valley, west of Kashmir and now part of Northern Pakistan. In contemporary maps and non-Buddhist publications, the name is often written as Udyana. The mountainous kingdom may have also bordered on Turkestan and may have extended from Western Tibet to Afghanistan. It is widely believed that in the country of Oddiyana there was a great lake named Danakosha. Eight years after the death of Shakyamuni, an extraordinarily large lotus flower appeared in this lake, upon which the great Lotus born Guru, Padmasambhava, appeared in this world in the form of an eight year old boy. Uddiyana was the homeland of Tibet's most beloved teachers (Garab Dorje, Padmasambhava, King Indrabhuti , Luipa, Tilopa) and the Vajrayana Buddhism's most influential teachings, including Dzogchen. Before the Muslim invasion in the 12th century, Oddiyana seems to have been a center of tantric theory and practice that attracted adepts and masters from different backgrounds; and from here they also went forth to teach their newly found insights elsewhere. Oddiyana's close proximity to the famous Silk Road, then the most important trade route between China, Afghanistan, the Near East and Europe, aided this constant traffic in ideas, and it also helps explain the traces of Chinese influence often said to be present in Dzogchen. The language of Uddiyana was different from Tibetan and many of the originating texts were translated, passing into the tradition of the early Nyingma school during the "first dispersion" (c.600-836). This was a period during which many Buddhist scriptures were translated into the then newly improved Tibetan alphabet and grammar; a language strongly influenced by Sanskrit and more or less designed in c. 645 by Thonmi Sambhota. Note: One of the lesser known schools of Vajrayana is known as Orgyenpa.

(courtesy of Rupert C. Camphausen)

Om (S): Sanskrit bija, or seed syllable, "the Vajra body of all Buddhas." Alternate transliteration: Aum (the sounds A and U blend to become O). It invokes the power of universal creativity and resonates with current of the all-pervading divine energy of being, thus is used at the beginning of many mantras.

Om Mani Padme Hum (S); Om Mani Peme Hung (T): Famous Six-syllable Mantra used most often by practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, invoking the wisdom and power of the Buddha of compassion, Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara). This is the mantra typically found in prayer wheels. Literally translated: "OM - the jewel in the lotus - HUM," the jewel being the primordial reality of awareness and the lotus being organic existence.

Opame (T): Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light.

Orissa: A state on the eastern coast of India which flourished as a center of Buddhism from the 3rd century b.c.e. to the 12th or 13th century c.e. In the 3rd century b.c.e., Orissa was considered within or adjoining the Mauryan Empire and was known in part as Kalinga. The third king of the Maurya Empire, Asoka, undertook to conquer Kalinga and succeeded at the cost of much bloodshed. Seeing the horrors of war, Asoka repented and decided to devote his life to spiritual achievement. He seriously embraced the study and practice of Buddhism and began to incorporate the Dharma into his reign. Reflecting this change throughout his kingdom, Asoka had stone monuments inscribed with edicts covering law and administration, morality, and tolerance for religious practice that were the result of his newfound spirituality. Two such monuments were inscribed with edicts specifically written for the people of Kalinga. The following centuries saw the creation of Buddhist monasteries, stupas, shrines and statues in various locations throughout Orissa. Around the 8th-9th centuries Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism developed in the area as indicated by the sculptures of the time.


padma (S): lotus

Padmapani Avalokitesvara: the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. The supreme emanation of Amitabha Buddha who took the vow to save all human beings from inconceivable suffering. A Bodhisattva is one whose essence is perfect knowledge, who works for the sake of liberating others. The name Padmapani means "the bearer of the lotus of compassion", and Avalokitesvara "he who gazes over all the realms".Avalokitesvara is the patron deity of Tibet, known as Chenrezig in Tibetan, emanating through the incarnations of the Dalai Lama. His pure land is known as Potala. From his tears of compassion were born the two goddesses of compassion and mercy, Green and White Tara. With the spread of Buddhism into Central Asia and China the forms of Padmapani and Tara were often united into the form of Kuan-yin, merging both male and female aspects of compassion. Avalokitesvara is invoked by his six syllable mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum.

Padmasambhava (S): "Lotus Born." Tibetan: Guru Rinpoche. Precious Guide., ca. 730 - ca. 805. One of the Mahasiddhas, commonly referred to as the "Second Buddha," Padmasambhava was among the great Indian Tantric masters renowned for effecting changes in the phenomenal world through spiritual power. He is regarded as an incarnation of three holy personalities: Gautama Buddha was his body, Amitabha Buddha his speech, and the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara his mind. Padmasambhava is described as a tantric adept, an enlightened yogi, meditation master and healer who established the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition in Tibet and founded it’s first monastery. Padmasambhava was supremely accomplished in the esoteric arts and used his powers to defeat many demons and black magic practitioners in Tibet in the 8th century. He is the principal founder of the first school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingma. He was invited by the Tibetan King Trisong Detsen to bring his knowledge to Tibet and he stayed 50 years, founding monasteries and teaching tantric doctrine. According to tradition, Guru Rinpoche flew to the Og-Min Heaven and met the Adi Buddha, from whom he received the main doctrine of the Nyingmapa School, the Great Perfection or Dzogpa Chenpo. He was received by a dakini who gave him a Body Initiation, proving that his body was the result of three holy incarnations: Buddha Gautama (Shakyamuni), Buddha Amitabha, and the great Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Further, he obtained the fourth initiation of Great Perfection from Sri Singha, the true Manjusri. Sri Singha pointed up to the sky and said, "I have accomplished Buddhahood without any other teaching but only this sky. Since then my mind has never been disturbed." After saying this, Sri Singha flew to the Five-Peaked Mountain in China where, as foretold by Buddha, was the holy place of Manjusri. Guru Rinpoche also obtained blessings and teachings from Bhaisajyaguru (Medicine Buddha) and learned astrology from Manjusri. All of these teachings have been preserved in the Nyingma teachings and doctrines, handed down through several lineages of teachers and yogis, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

He has many forms including an important set of eight that are depicted in Tantric art. He is seated on a lotus with a red cap, the legs crossed, the right hand holding a dorje (vajra) and the left resting in his lap. He is said to be the son of Indrabhuti, another famous sage involved with the spreading of Tantra and the establishment of Vajrayana in Tibet. When battling demons of the then-prevalent shamanic Bön religion, Guru Pema -- as he came to be called -- sometimes resorted to female "manifestations" of himself, for example as the lion-headed Simhamukha. At other times, the hero himself felt that he needed certain initiations and knowledge that was possessed by Tibet’s female adepts, and he did not shrink from actually begging for it, as he does in the fascinating story of Surya Chandrasiddhi. As a true Tantric, the master initiated, made love to, and in turn was initiated by a number of ladies; and he took care that all the countries he wanted to enlighten (i.e. turn to Buddhism) were represented in his choice of women. These five partners or consorts, each of whom is regarded as an emanation/incarnation of Vajravarahi, were the following:

The year of his birth is not on record but must have been quite some time before 757, the year of his arrival in Tibet (after his departure from India's famous Nalanda University). Of course, it is said that he was born eight years after the Buddha, which would put it somewhere around 477 bc. He left Tibet in 804, after having founded the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery at Samye. His biography, written by Yeshe Tsogyal, is known as Padma Kathang and has been published as The Lotus Born in English.

Padma Kathang (T): A collective name for several (slightly different) versions of the biography of Padmasambhava (c.730-c.805), a work that was originally written by his consort and student, Yeshe Tsogyal (757-817). It is a beautiful and poetic work that allows the reader to form a rather detailed picture of the main characters, Guru Rinpoche and his intimate students, and of life in Tibet during the coming of Buddhism and its initial struggle with the indigenous Bön religion. The texts are especially valued among members of the Nyingmapa school and the practitioners of Dzogchen. The Kathang literature consists of several terma, each of which was revealed by a different terton at a different time. One of these is generally known as the Sheldrakma, a text discovered by terton Urgyan Lingpa (b.1323). Another version, a terma revealed about 200 years earlier by terton Nyang Ral Nyima Öser (1124-1192), is the Sanglingma.

Palden Lhamo (T): Sanskrit: Shridevi. The female companion of Mahakala and his equal in power. She is depicted in a peaceful form as Machig Palden Lhamo, sitting on a lotus, wearing a crown of jewels, holding a bowl of jewels in her left hand and holding a standard of rainbow colors in her right. In her wrathful form, she rides a mule, has flaming red hair, three red eyes and sharp fangs.

Pali: The canon of texts preserved by the Theravada school and, by extension, the language in which those texts are composed.

Palyul: The Palyul lineage began in 1665 when the Vidyadhara Kunzang Sherab (1636-1699) assumed the position of head of the newly built Palyul Monastery. His root guru, the hidden treasure revealer Min-gyur Dorje had instructed Kunzang Sherab to take charge of the monastery and work for the welfare of sentient beings. Under his guidance, the monastery grew and over one thousand branch monasteries were founded in China and Tibet by adepts of the Palyul Lineage. A strong focus on discipline and meditation has led to its fame as the tradition of accomplishment.

Panchen Lama (T): "Guru who is a great scholar", an honorific title conferred by the Great 5th Dalai Lama on his master, the abbot of Tashi Lhumpo Monastery. The title of successive incarnations of Sakya Pandita who reside in Tashilunpo. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be incarnations of Avalokiteshvara, but the 5th Dalai Lama declared his teacher was on an even higher level, a manifest incarnation of the Dharmakaya Buddha Amitabha. The Panchen Lamas were the teachers of the Dalai Lamas, and were considered to be incarnations of Amitabha. His spiritual authority is second only to that of the Dalai Lama within the Gelugpa sect. The Panchen Lama reincarnates again and again, but, unlike the Dalai Lama he has no political responsibilities. In case of the death of the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama holds the position of HHDL's spiritual representative. As a result of the socio-political machinations of the Chinese in the mid-twentieth century the Panchen Lama did begin to hold political office. The Panchen Lama is now a title like Vice President or Prime Minister that Tibetans identify with the second greatest leader of Tibet. The current Panchen Lama was 6 years old when he and his parents were kidnapped from their home in Tibet by the Chinese government. He is the world's youngest political prisoner and has been missing for over four years. Visit this site to find out more about the Panchen Lama:


pandit / pandita (S): Master of the Buddhist arts and sciences. Specifically, the pandit masters the five principal and secondary categories of traditional indian knowledge. Medicine; sound and psychoacoustics; the Dharma (interior knowledge); reasoning; religious art; astrology; poetry; periphrasis or circumlocution; harmonious composition; the applied arts.

Pang Mipham Gonpo: Disciple of the great translator Vairocana. Although in his 80s when he met his teacher, Pang Mipham Gonpo was able to manifests the rainbow body.

paramita (S): Lit. gone-beyond, ie, Perfection. The paramitas are the framework of the bodhisattva's religious practice, usually consisting of six categories, sometimes ten. The six are:

The 10 paramitas feature the same six with the additional being phases in the maturation of prajna. These are the perfection of skillful means (upaya), vows, powers, and transcendent wisdom (S. jnana, T. ye-she). This tenth paramita is also referred to as Cloud of Dharma.

Patanjali (S): A Saivite Natha siddha (c. 200 bce) who codified the ancient yoga philosophy which outlines the path to enlightenment through purification, control and transcendence of the mind. One of the six classical philosophical systems (darshanas) of Hinduism, known as Yoga Darshana. His great work, the Yoga Sutras, See: raja yoga, yoga.

Pemako (Padma Ko) (T): A "beyul" or "hidden land" located on the border between Kham and northeastern India, one of the 108 beyul scattered throughout the Himalayan region. These remote areas were empowered by Padmasambhava as sacred environments where the outer elements are in harmony and blessings are ever present. Spiritual realization is easily attained in such places and, in some cases, the beyul also act as sanctuaries providing protection in times of war or famine. Guidebooks on how to get to the hidden lands were written by Padmasambhava and concealed as terma to be revealed when the appropriate conditions arose. In the case of Pemako, the terma regarding its location was first revealed by Rigdzin Jetsun Nyingpo (1585-1656). Another guidebook was later discovered by Rigdzin Dudu1 Dorje (1615-1672) who then opened up the area although it was not until the late 18th century that it became a place of pilgrimage.

Phowa (T): "Transference of Consciousness." A meditation practice based on transferring one's consciousness out of the body. This practice enables one to have confidence in reaching liberation at the time of death, even if one has not had the opportunity to devote large amounts of time and energy to the practice of meditation beforehand.

Phrom: The country of Phrom, where King Gesar ruled over the Turks (Eastern Turkestan). King Gesar ruled from Rum (Byzantium or Anatolia), the ancient Rome of the Near East. Known as Gesar of Ling, note that "Ling" is a Tibetan abbreviation of the term denoting the whole world, (as in 'Dzam-ling, Skt., Jambudvipa). Gesar conquered most of western-central Asia in the 7th Century CE, probably ruling Anatolia from Byzantium.

Phurba (T): Nail or wedge. A magical tent-stake or dagger derived from Bön for ritually subduing demons. Originally associated with necromancy, the use of the phurba was introduced into the practice of Tibetan Buddhism by Padmasambhava. As a system for the direct transmutaton of negative forces, it plays a central role in a system of meditative practice that was also transmitted by Yeshe Tsogyel. The actual phurba is a three-edged knife with a handle often in the shape of half of a dorje or bearing the images of the countenance of a wrathful deity. They are usually made of either made of wood, iron, bronze or brass. Phurbas are used in tantric ceremonies to exorcise demons (physical and psychological obstacles) or as a spiritual nail to pin down the distractions of greed, desire and envy. The origin of the phurba is associated with a long Tantra presented by Padmasambhava at the beginning of his journey to Tibet. Vajrakilaya, a deity sometimes personified as a winged phurba plays an important role as a yidam in both the Sakya and Nyingma schools.

Pipal: The pipal is a fig tree (Ficus religiosa) of India, also know as a Bo tree. The Latin name reflects the story that Gautama Buddha received enlightenment under a Bo tree at Bodh Gaya. A slip of this very tree was planted at Anuradhapura in present day Sri Lanka by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns in the 3rd centuryb.c.e. It is now considered one of the oldest living trees on the earth. The pipal tree can grow very large, up to 100 feet high. The fallen leaves are often decorated with drawings and prayers and sold to pilgrims.

pitta (S): Hot bile. In Ayurvedic medicine, pitta is bodily heat-energy that governs nutritional absorption, body temperature, and intelligence. It is one of three bodily humors (doshas); the fire humor.

practices of liberation: The main practice is to continue in the state of naked awareness, or rigpa. Its secondary practices can be varied and act as a support if one understands and applies the significance of Bodhicitta . The key function is to overcome self-impossed limitations and dualistic conceptualization.

prajna (S): discriminating wisdom, T. she-rab. Fundamental wisdom or insight; the sixth Paramita.

Prajnaparamita (S): Literally, 'wisdom gone beyond' also called Mahaprajnaparamitra, and the name given to one of the most important collection of texts in Mahayana Buddhism. Know as the Great Sutra of Perfect Wisdom That Reaches the Other Shore, it refers to a series of about 40 Mahayana sutras which all deal with the realization of Prajna or Transcendent Wisdom and the Doctrine of Emptiness. They are part of the Vaiputiya-sutra of the Mahayana and are said to have been composed around the beginning of the common era. Some of vthese works were written in Sanskrit and then translated into both Tibetan and Chinese before the originals went up in flames, torched by Islamic fanatics near the end of the 13th century. The sutras in this collection that are best known in the west are The Diamond Sutra (Vajrachechedika) and the Heart Sutra (Mahaprajnamitra-hridya-sutra). Their most important interpreter was Master Nagarjuna. Most of these sutras are dedicated to the Arhat Subhuti and are said to have been delivered on Vulture Peak . The oldest part is probably the Ashtasahasrika. It contains 8,000 verses and is composed of discussions the Buddha had with several of his students and constitutes the basis of all the other Prajnaparamitra sutras.. *** Also, Prajnaparamita is the name of the four-armed female Buddha who represents perfect wisdom. Her mantra, TADYATHA OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA is part of the Heart Sutra.

praktimosha (S): The code of five ethical precepts taken for either a specified length of time or permanently, by both layman and monks. These consist of vows not to kill, lie, steal, engage in sexual misconduct or intoxicants.

Pramana In the tradition of buddhist logic, pramana is concerned with sources of knowledge, the means of valid cognition and how we know what we know. Masters Dignaga (5th-6th c.) and Dharmakirti (6th-7th c.) elaborated a system of pramanas which taught that there are two sources of knowledge; inference and direct perception. What is valid knowledge of perception is commonly established by the 3 analyses 1) investigating perception. e.g.; by looking we can see that there is a tree. But not all knowledge is perceptual; one may employ valid inference using reliable signs- e.g.; you hear a bird outside, and by that you infer that a bird is there. This is not just unsupported opinion. 2) Inferential investigation shows that we have a justification for our conclusion although it is not the highest certainty either. Wisdom could have direct perception of the bird, just as when we directly see a sparrow in front of us. It sees the nature of things as they are, e.g.; emptiness, impermanence etc. Things that are very hidden and hard to discover and cannot even be known by reasons can still be known by 3) investigation of true words. For example the Buddha predicted certain events that later actually occurred. He predicted that various good things would happen if certain practices were followed. Those who believed him eventually verified this. Such teachings are beyond ordinary thought. They cannot be immediately verified by normal mental processes, but later can be by wisdom. For example, in the beginning we cannot verify that all beings have Buddha nature. We must take it on trust. But if we become enlightened, we can see the truth of this for ourselves. It becomes direct perception. Therefore, through these three investigations, we can eventually verify for ourselves with certainty that the Buddha's teaching is reliable. Pramana, tshad ma, means perfect, reliable, valid, authentic, and non-erroneous. It can be applied to perfect persons, correct perception, valid logical inference, trustworthy scripture, and so forth. Of course we must give reasons why this is so, since no one thinks their own doctrine is invalid.

"Attaining pramana is not simply that one has true ideas or perceptions, but that one becomes a genuine being as a whole."

-the above comments on Pramana are based on the teachings and words of KPSR

Pramodavajra (S) Tibetan: Garab Dorje. Indestructible Joy. Also called Prahevajra, and Surati Vajra. Early yogin and tantric adept who apparently lived in the century when BCE turned into CE; with dates ranging from 184 BCE - 57 CE. His life story, according to the tradition, is full of miraculous events and powers, yet Tibetans regard him nevertheless as a historical figure as well. Born in Oddiyana from the womb of a royal nun, Garab Dorje is generally regarded as the actual originator of Dzogchen. Regarded as a nirmanakaya-emanation (see Trikaya) of the Buddha Vajrasattva, Garab Dorje received all the 6.4 million tantras and oral instructions of Dzogchen directly from the heavenly realm and thus became the first human vidyadhara (Skt., knowledge holder, T. rig-dzin) in the Dzogchen lineage. Having reached the state of complete enlightenment, he then transmitted these teachings to his retinue of exceptional beings, among whom Manjushrimitra is regarded as the chief who in turn passed them on to Sri Singha. Centuries later, also Vairocana and Padmasambhava are known to have received the transmission of the Dzogchen tantras from Garab Dorje's wisdom form; i.e. through a direct vision on Lake Dhanakosa in Oddiyana. Garab Dorje composed a text known as "The Natural Freedom of Ordinary Characteristics," yet is especially famous for his "three incisive precepts" or "Three Lines that Strike at the Vital Point"; his last testament in the form of three essential statements given to Manjushrimitra; summing up the teachings of Dzogchen:

prana (S): Vital Air. Tibetan: rLung, "vital wind." Chinese: Chi, "vital energy ." Life Force. From the root "pran," to breathe." Prana in the human body moves in the pranamaya kosha as five primary life currents known as vayus, "vital airs or winds." These are prana (outgoing breath), apana (incoming breath), vyana (retained breath), udana (ascending breath) and samana (equalizing breath). Each governs crucial bodily functions, and all bodily energies are modifications of these. Usually prana refers to the life principle, but sometimes denotes energy, power or the animating force of the cosmos.

pranayama (S): Breath control." See: Raja Yoga.

Prasanga: This word refers to the undesired consequences or contradictions revealed through reasoning and 'reductio ad absurdum' logic employed to dismantle concepts, theories and philosophical propositions. Thus Prasangika means making use of contradiction to reduce fallacious thinking to absurdities. Among the Madhyamika schools, the Prasangika Madhyamika continues what was set into motion with Nagarjuna, Aryadeva and Chandrakirti, who were among its early proponents, and persists today as the predominant philosophical view of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, as ably propounded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

prayer wheels: Cylinders filled with copies of the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum," as many as possible, printed on very thin tisssue paper (or these days on microfilm). The paper is wound around a spindle and covered with the free-floating protective cylinder. The wheels are made to be turned by hand, wind or water.

preta (S): Hungry ghost; T. yi-dvags. A lower dimensional being subject to intense suffering being plagued by deep attachments with manifest an immense hunger and thirst which are impossible to satiate.

prostrations: Whole bodily gesture of devotion and submission performed before the teacher or an empowered shrine. In the Tibetan preliminary or "foundational" practices, called 'ngondro,' practitioners chant or recite 100,000 purification mantras; mentally creates 100,000 offerings (mandalas); 100,000 mantra repetitions of the guru while mentally realizing that the teacher is a reflection of one's true nature; and 100,000 prostrations, while seeking refuge in the Three Jewels; Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. When doing prostations, the practitioner touches the crown of the head, the throat, and the heart (standing for body, speech, and mind), lies down full-length on the floor, then comes back to a standing position and starts over. Most Tibetan Buddhists also prostrate three times on entering any sacred space such as a temple, to show respect for the teachings and let go of mundane concerns.

Protectors, Dharma Protectors: Tibetan: Cheu Chyong. There are three kinds: Jigtenpa, unenlightened energy-fields believing in a "self" are better avoided, they may be very difficult customers. If controlled by yogis like Guru Rinpoche, they become Damzigpas, held positive by the promise not to harm beings. They often look somewhat "unusual" and, gradually becoming Bodhisattvas, manifest a vertical wisdom-eye in their foreheads. The most important protectors are direct emanations of the Buddhas: male Mahakalas and female Mahakalis. They are harmonious in outer appearance and are always from the eighth Bodhisattva-level and up. From the taking of Buddhist Refuge they ensure that every experience becomes a part of the practitioner's way towards Enlightenment. The Dharma Protectors are a category of deities whose rituals aim at the destruction, of all internal and external adverse forces which arise to menace either ones own spiritual practice, or that of another or the Dharma in general. These deities are tied to the Buddhas by oath to defend the Dharma and its practioners under all circumstances. They present unpleasant and wrathful aspects with the goal of repelling harmful beings that require such an appearence for their taming.

provisional and definitive meaning: Tibetan: trangdon [and] ngedön. On a general level, provisional meaning is for general, or relative, communication. A teacher teaches in provisional terms to a disciple because the audience could only understand duality or dualistic terms. Listeners who understand the essence can experience definitive meaning.

Pudgalavadin: See Vatsiputriya

psychic powers: Sanskrit: siddhis, T. ngo-drub. Also, the Six Psychic Powers: the heavenly eye; the heavenly ear; power with regard to past lives; power with regard to the mind; spiritually based psychic powers; the extinction of outflows.

puja (S): Worship, adoration. A ceremony in which prayers are offered to the deities to draw down their blessings or invoke their help. Pujas are performed to avert and clear the three types of obstacles, conditions which prevent us from achieving our worldly and spiritual goals. There are three types of obstacles: Worldly obstacles: those affecting day to day life, relationships, business, finances. Inner obstacles: emotions that affect health or mental state. Secret obstacles: subtlest patterns obstructing the attainment of innate wisdom. Pujas are also performed for the dying, to help pacify their mind, and for the deceased to bless and guide their mind to a higher state of rebirth and liberation. The type of puja performed depends on the type of affliction and the individual's connection to the deity.

punya (S): Virtue or merit.

pure land: A land purified of evil, suffering, and difficulties through the work of a bodhisattva, or bodhisattvas. Pure lands are the subject of a genre of Mahayana scriptures, the most widely known being the Sutras discussing the pure land of the Buddha Amitabha, called Sukhavati ('Blissful'), or Tibetan "Dewa-chen," land of great bliss. In Indian Buddhism, these sutras seem to have been a minor current of devotional theology geared towards the less philosophically inclined, a current which would blossom into a major trend in China and Japan. This culminated into the Pure Land Sect of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, which aimed to be a 'populist' sect catering to the spiritual needs of those lay Buddhists who were not able or willing to tread the highly disciplined and philosophical paths typical of the monastically oriented Buddhist sects. In China, the Pure Land Sect would be eclipsed by the Ch’an (J. zen) sect, who succeeded in becoming the dominant 'populist' sect (and which would literally absorb the Pure Land sect and adopt many of its practices, such as the chanting of Amitabha's name). In Japan, the Pure Land sect would be more successful, splintering into a number of sub-sects. Its core methods were plagiarized to some extent by Nichiren, who would found a Tendai-oriented sect which chanted the title of the Lotus Sutra, rather than the name of Amitabha Buddha. Because of their populist character, both Nichiren and Pure Land Buddhism continue to thrive in Japan.


Rahula (S): Literally, "fetter" or "impediment." The son of Siddhartha Gautama born shortly before he chose to leave the palace as a homeless wandere and seek enlightenment. Rahula later became a buddhist monk.

Rainbow body: This term relates to one of the highest attainments when, upon dying, the corporeal form is transformed into a body of light, primordial awareness, a 'light without shadow.' At the time of death the adept's physical body and mind are dissolved into the pure radiance of deathless awareness. The only worldly remains left behind are bits of hair and nails. Reports of the attainment of rainbow bodies persist throughout the history of Vajrayana Buddhism up until the present time, both in Tibet and India.

Raja Yoga: "King of yogas." Also known as ashtanga yoga, "eight-limbed yoga." The classical yoga system of eight progressive stages to Illumination as described in various yoga Upanishads, the Tirumantiram and, most notably, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight stages are: yama (restraints), niyama (observances), asana (posture), pranayama (breath control) pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (enstasy, mystic oneness).

Ratnasambhava (S): Jewel-born. Tibetan: Rinchen Jung-né. The third of the five Transcendental Buddhas, associated with the southern direction. With his right hand he makes the mudra of generosity. Seated upon a throne supported by horses, his body is a rich golden yellow and represents the primordial wisdom of equality. He is associated with the skandha of feeling-sensation and the transformation of pride.. His consort is called Mamaki, (T. She who makes mine).

Refuge: Tibetan: kyab. A reorientation towards values that can be trusted. One takes refuge in the state of Buddha as the goal, in the Dharma - the teachings - as the way, and in the Sangha - the practitioners - as one's friends and companions on the way. These are called the Three Jewels. To practice Vajrayana, one needs the additional Refuge in the Three Roots, which are Lama, Yidam and Protector. They are the sources of blessing, inspiration and protection along the way.

reincarnation: Sanskrit: Punarjanma. "Re-entering the flesh." In the Hindu systems, it is the process wherein souls take on a physical body through through the birth-death cycle. In Hinduism, the cycle ends when karma has been resolved and the Self God (Parashiva) has been realized. This condition of release is called moksha (liberation). The soul continues to evolve and mature, but without the need to return to physical existence. In Buddhism, the cycle ends when one awakens to one's true nature, also called "enlightenment." Technically though, in Buddhadharma, there is no actual being who moves in and out of the flesh, but rather a continuity (S. santana) of causes and effects which is sometimes expressed physically. Therefore, the term rebirth (as a step in a cyclic process) rather than reincarnation (implying an entity who is returning to the flesh) is preferred. In Mahayana Buddhism, practitioners vow to seek enlightenment and take rebirth in the cycle until all other sentient beings have been liberated. Such practitioners are termed Bodhisattvas.

Rimé : Lit. "unbiased" -the term applied to the current in Tibetan Buddhism that originated in eastern Tibet in the 19th century. It arose from the need to overcome closed-minded sectarian biases in the evaluation of the doctrinal traditions of the various schools and to accept each tradition on its own merits, emphasizing the generally broad common ground shared by all the schools. The movement was initiated by Jigme Lingpa and championed by the Sakyapa teacher Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892). Among his students, the most important were Chögyur Dechen Lingpa (1829-1870) and Jamgon Kongtrul the Great (1811-1899). The fundamental attitude of unbiasedness in this movement was most evident in the person and work of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. The rimé movement attracted several outstanding scholars whose writings comprise the authoritative texts used by many modern Tibetan teachers, especially those of the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions. The influence of the Rimé teachers and succeeding generations of their students was a clear structuring of doctrinal and practical materials, based on the example of the Gelugpa school. The process within the Rimé movement of reviving transmissions of teachings that had been thought lost and providing them with fresh commentary also embraced the traditions of the other schools. Works of the Kagyüpa, Sakyapa, Kadampa (a.k.a. Gelugpa) and Chöd lineages are also found in the Rimé collection of texts. Additionally, the Rimé teachers advocated revival of the Bön teachings. Besides their religious activities, they also found time to be politically active as mediators with the central government in Lhasa.

rinpoche (T): Honorific title used by Tibetans for highly respected spiritual teachers; literally, "Precious Jewel," or "Great Precious One." Reserved properly for incarnate lamas and eminent spiritual teachers. It is used as both a term of address, and as the last element of the name.

Rinzai (J): One of the three remaining schools of Zen in Japan, it was founded by Rinzai Gigen in China during the Tang Dynasty. It is known for the use of koans as a way to enlightenment.

Riwoche (T): A non-sectarian monastery in Kham (eastern Tibet) where both Kagyu and Nyingma traditions were practiced. The original Riwoche Monastery in the Riwoche region of Kham in eastern Tibet was home to 1,000 resident monks and was famous for the strength of its teaching and practice, its history filled with many wondrous and miraculous events. Trinley Jampa Jungne, the seventh Jedrung Rinpoche, was a high-ranking teacher at Riwoche Monastery and an important Nyingma lama. Jedrung Rinpoche also was a terton -- his terma name was Dudjom Namkhai Dorje - and was one of the three principle root gurus of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, the late Jigdral Yeshe Dorje. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche was trained at Riwoche. Riwoche was occupied in 1911 and temporarily served as a garrison for Chinese troops during a short-lived invasion of Tibet. The monastery was greatly damaged in the early 1960s during Red Chinese occupation.

Root Lama: Or root guru, root teacher. Tibetan: Tsa-wai Lama. Teacher from whom one has learned the most about ; from whom one has received empowerments, instructions, and precepts which form the core of one's own practice.

Roots, Three Roots: Tibetan: tsa-wa sum. Guru, yidam, and dharmapalas; an expanded form of refuge invoked in the vajrayana. The guru is the source of inspiration and enables one to experience the nature of one's own mind. The yidams are the source of siddhis. Yidams are sambhogakaya forms - subtle manifestations of dharmakaya - only directly experienced by realized bodhisattva. In the vajrayana they are visualized as objects of meditation. As meditational deities, yidams embody the practitioner's enlightened nature. The dharmapalas and dakinis are also sambhogakaya forms. They are the source of actions and protect the practitioner from obstacles along the way to buddhahood. Both yidams and dharmapalas are in their essence inseparable from the guru.

Roshi (J): An honorific title given to a Zen Buddhist master. Literally "old man," this title is also denotes a lineage holder.

Rudra : The word rudra is sometimes used for wrathful herukas in the Akanistha pure realm who appear standing on top of the bodies of different beings in order to subjugate them, or for emanations of buddhas or bodhisattvas in the fields of those needing training, in accordance with that particular field. It is more commonly used to designate a being born in a malignant form as a result of broken tantric commitments in previous lives. This type of rudra is usually accompanied by a retinue of other beings of less power but similar karma. Their main activity is to cause obstacles to the propagation of the teaching of the secret mantrayana. For this reason, special practices to slay and liberate rudras are performed before important ceremonies. The practices to subjugate rudras are always wrathful, as peaceful means are ineffective in this regard. The Vajrakilaya tantras were given to us by Guru Padmasambhava because he realized we would experience obstacles to our practice of the secret mantrayana by these malignant forces.

rudraksha (S): "Eye of Rudra; or red-eyed." Refers to the third eye, or ajna chakra. Marble-sized, multi-faced, reddish-brown seeds from the Eleocarpus ganitrus, or blue marble tree, which are sacred to Siva and a symbol of His compassion for humanity. Garlands, rudraksha mala, of larger seeds are worn around the neck by monks, and nonmonastics, both men and women, often wear a single bead on a cord at the throat. Smaller beads (usually numbering 108) are strung together as a mala, or rosary, for mantra meditations and chanting. Rudrashka malas are also used by Tibetan Buddhists.

rupa (S): Tibetan: zug. Body. Also Buddharupa. Statue or image of a buddha or other enlightened being. Also, in the system of interdependent origination, rupa is half of the fourth nidana, the other being name, together comprising nama-rupa or name and form, a reference to the five skandhas, one of which is form (rupa), the other four being mental faculties (nama).


sadhaka (S): practitioner

sadhana (S): Tibetan: Drub-tob, method of accomplishment. 1. Religious or spiritual disciplines, such as puja, yoga, meditation, japa, fasting and austerity. The effect of sadhana is the building of willpower, concentration, faith and confidence in oneself and in the guru. 2. A highly structured technical text focussing on Deity Yoga using various meditation and recitation techniques. The basic tool for practicing the Two Stages of Yoga - Generation and Perfection. The stages of a practice guiding one to realization.

Saha world: Refers to the realm of existence where sentient beings must suffer the results of great delusion. Saha translates as "bearing" and "enduring." The world where beings endure immense suffering. The opposite of a Pure Land. "Our way of appearance is to wander about in the cycle of existence, driven by the attachment to a self. We perceive as a self what does not exist as a self, as mine what doesnot exist as mine, and experience manifold suffering under the sway of this perception." -Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.

Sakya (T): Also Sakyapa - "School of the Gray Earth." One of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Stressing the study of philosophy, this school has contributed some of the most important philosophical commentaries. Founded by Kunga Nyinpo of the Khon family, c. 1073, student of of the Indian yogi Virupa. Principal leaders of the Sakya Sect are still Khon family members. Three lineages: Zhalu, or Bupa - c. 1350; Jonang - c. 1350; Ngor - 1459.


Sakya (S): Also Saka, Shaka, Shakya. The clan or tribe to which the historical Gautama Buddha belonged, in northern India and Nepal. Observers of the Vaisnava (Hindu) religion that preserved its literature in Sanskrit. In the sixth century bce, north India was home to a dozen or more kingdoms and oligarchies, including the kingdom of Kosala, which in the Ramayana is described as being ruled by Dasaratha and his son Rama at one time, their capital located at Ayodhya. The Sakya tribe, which ruled over Kosala in the sixth century, had its capital at Sravasti in the Himalayan foothills. The Shakya clansmen dwelt along the river Rohini that flowed among the southern foothills of the Himalayas and it is at nearby Lumbini (now in Nepal) that Siddhartha Gautama was born in or around 563 bce on a full moon night. King Suddhodana Gautama had transferred his capitol to Kapila and there had built a great castle. His young wife Mayadevi died seven days after giving birth to her first son, the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who left the palace at 29. Six years later he had attained his goal. After enlightenment, the Buddha returned to his people to share the teachings with them. King Suddhodana, suffering inwardly from his son's choice to abandon the throne, held aloof, but afterward became his faithful disciple; Maha-Prajapati, the Buddha's step-mother, Princess Yasodhara, his wife, Rahula, his son and all the members of the Shakya clan, had great devotion to the Buddha and followed him. Foremost among these was the Buddha's cousin and attendant, Ananda. After Shakyamuni's father died as a lay disciple, he declared that a lay disciple, whose mind is free from the poisons of lust, attachment, false views, and ignorance, is no different than anyone else who is free.

King Virudhaka, son of King Prasenajit of Kosala made war against the Sakyas during the lifetime of the Buddha. Sagarhawa is believed to be the site where thousands of Sakyas were massacred, marking the end of their republic. Since both Gautama and his son Rahula became monks, King Suddhodana had no heir. (It is not clear whether dynastic rule prevailed in the republic.) General Bhadraka succeeded Suddhodana, followed by Mahanama, who also became a monk. Sakya power weakened and Kapilavastu became a feudatory of the powerful kingdom of Kosala and then of Kasi. There had been repeated incidents of military aggression between the Kosalans and the Sakyans. Fearing a famine the Shakya warrior chiefs agitated for a war with the Kolyas over water rights to the Rohini River. The Kolyas had built a dike to conserve water; when they refused the Shakyas' demand to dismantle it, both sides prepared for war. Just before the battle was to begin, the Buddha spoke to both sides, asking them to compare the value of earth and water to the intrinsic value of people and the human blood they were about to spill. King Prasenajit asked the Sakyas for a bride. The Sakyans were resistant to this, considering the Kosalans barbarians. Instead, they decided to deceive them and offered a beautiful Sakyan slave girl to the Kosalans. Unaware of her non-royal roots, the King married her and had a son, Prince Virudhaka. As a young man, Virudhaka was sent to Kapilavastu to train in the use of weapons. One day he was insulted by a Sakya military officer who made reference to the low origins of Virudhaka's mother. When he grew older, after he had usurped his father's throne at Sravasti and murdered his half-brother Prince Jeta, he invaded the Sakya country. The Buddha interceded a few times, but eventually Virudhaka had his way. Survivors fled to various places, including Vaisali and Rajgriha in Magadha. Some went to Vedi from where Asoka, three centuries later, got his bride. That perhaps explains the initial Buddhist influence on him.

samadhi (S): Tibetan: Ting nge dzin, deep meditation. State of profound mental absorption."Sameness; evenness, contemplation; union, wholeness; completion, accomplishment." Samadhi is the state of true yoga, in which the meditator and the object of meditation are one. Samadhi is of two levels. The first is savikalpa samadhi (enstasy with form), identification or oneness with the essence of an object. Its highest form is the realization of the primal substratum or pure consciousness, Satchidananda. The second is nirvikalpa samadhi ("enstasy without form or seed"), identification with formless bliss, in which all modes of consciousness are transcended. This brings in its aftermath a complete transformation of consciousness. See kundalini, Parashiva, raja yoga, Self Realization, trance.

Samantabhadra (S): Tibetan: Kuntuzangpo, "All Good." The primordial Buddha associated with originary wisdom, and compassion. He is the antecedent of all and the expanse of reality. He holds sway over existence and quiescence in their entirety. He is naked and blue in color, and is most often pictured embracing his white consort Samantrabhhadri. They are another emanation of Adibuddha, the ever-present potential for Buddhahood, that has always been and always be. He symbolizes Dharmakaya, or "state of Truth." A form of Vairocana and a dhyanibodhisattva (spiritual meditation buddha), who is depicted sitting on a throne carried by a white elephant. Also called Visvabhadra Bodhisattva, Universally Worthy Bodhisattva. In Chinese Buddhism, Samantabadhra is one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas, the Bodhisattva of Great Conduct, representing the Law and proclaiming the "Ten Great King Vows" -- guidelines for cultivating dharma.

samaya (S): Tibetan: dam-tsig. A bond; to be bound by an oath, vow or promise. The sacred vow which binds tantric practitioners to their practice and the basis for rapid psychological and spiritual growth in Vajrayana Buddhism. Through the unbroken connection to the teacher, meditation forms and co-disciples, students quickly manifest their bodhi-potential. The bond to one's first teacher is considered very important.

Sambhokakaya (S): T. longs-ku. Second of the three bodies of a Buddha. The body of perfect enjoyment, the illuminating potential of mind. The visionary and communicative aspect of Buddha nature directly perceivable only by high bodhisattvas

samsara (S): Tibetan: khor-wa. Going round in circles. The phenomenal world experienced dualistically, from the viewpoint of ego-clinging. Transmigratory existence, fraught with emotional reactivity, deluding notions, impermanence and change. The cycle of birth, death and rebirth; the total pattern of successive earthly lives until the moment of awakening in which one realizes the true nature of appearances.

samudaya (S): Cause of suffering. Second of the four noble truths.

Samye: This was the first great monastery built in Tibet and was the work of King Trisong Deutsen, Shankarakshita and Padmasambhava. Samye, 'The Inconceivable One,' was built in the shape of a great mandala modeled after a monastery in India featuring Mt. Meru as the center temple and four temples in each of the four directions. Samye became the most important place of meditation, worship, teaching, translation and research and included a great library, museum, and a vast treasury of Buddhist scriptures. In later years it was open to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and served as a refuge for Indian pundits troubled by the decline of Buddhism in India.

sandalwood: Chandana. The Asian evergreen tree Santalum album. Its sweetly fragrant heartwood is ground into the fine, tan-colored paste distributed as prasada in Saivite temples and used for sacred marks on the forehead, tilaka. Sandalwood is also prized for incense, carving and fine cabinetry.

Sangha (S): inseparable (T) Gendun. Lit. virtuous aspiration. The community of those who practice the dharma.

Sangye (T): The Tibetan word for Buddha. It combines the notions of complete purification (sangs) and rgyas, expansion (that is, of knowledge and beautiful qualities).

Sangye Menla (T): The Medicine Buddha, Healing Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru.

sannyasin: "Renouncer." One who has taken sannyasa diksha. A Hindu monk, swami, and one of a world brotherhood (or holy order) of sannyasins. See: swami.

Sanskrit: "Well-made; perfected." The classical Aryan language of ancient India, systemized by scholars. A sacerdotal language, Sanskrit is considered a pure vehicle for communication with the celestial worlds. It is the primary language in which Hindu and Buddhist scriptures were written, including the Vedas and Agamas. Employed today as a liturgical, literary and scholarly language, but no longer used as a spoken tongue. With the exception of a few ancient translations probably from Pali versions, most of the original texts in Buddhism used in China were Sanskrit.

Sarasvati (S): Indian goddess of sound and music, the muse of learning and literature, patron of the arts and sciences. She manifested in human form as Yeshe Tsogyal. In India, was regarded as the source of the Sanskrit language and its Devangari script.

Sariputra (S): One of the 10 great disciples and right hand attendant to Shakyamuni Buddha, renowned for his deep wisdom. A former incarnation of Dudjom Rinpoche, Sariputra figures prominently in certain sutras. He is represented as standing on one side of the Buddha with Maudgalyayana on the opposite side. He is to reappear as Padmaprabha Buddha.

Sarma: After an initial dissemination of teachings during the Royal Dynastic period (7th through 9th centuries), there was a "dark period" during which central political control broke down. With the re-establishment of some political centralization in Central and Western Tibet, a second dissemination of Buddhism began. Initially, Buddhism had come into Tibetan regions from India, China, and Central Asia; during the second dissemination, India was the primary source. In India, there was never any division of Buddhism into old and new. In Tibet, however, as some translations occurred earlier and some later, we find such a division. Those involved in the new movements which developed during the second dissemination came to refer to themselves as the new ones (gSar Ma), while those who felt themselves to be continuing directly from lineages beginning during the Dynastic Period and the Dark Period gradually referred to themselves as the ancient ones (rNying Ma). Any translations which came before the time of Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055) came to be called rNying.ma, and texts translated by Rinchen Zangpo and the majority of translations which followed, came to be called gSar.ma or 'new ones'. Almost all texts of the Vinaya, Sutra, Abhidharma and of the three outer tantras (Kriya, Carya and Yoga) were translated into Tibetan during the early flourishing of Buddhism in Tibet, (old translation period). The majority of the texts of Highest Yoga Tantra, such as Chakrasamvara, Hevajra, Kalachakra, Yamantaka, etc., were 'new' translations, although a great quantity of translations of Highest Yoga Tantra texts were also prepared during the old translation period. Two main systems of dividing the tantras exist in Tibet. The Nyingmapa employ a nine level system, the upper six being divided into the inner and outer tantras while the second is upheld by the new schools which divide the tantras into four classes.

Sarvastivadin: During King Asoka's reign, a group of Bhiksus in Mathura developed certain convictions about the Buddha's teachings concerning existence that distinguished them from the rest of the sangha. They became known as Sarvastivadins, Those Who Hold That Everything Exists. This school systematized the doctrine of the six perfections as the basic outline of the path. This definition is still primary in all Mahayana schools. Also evolving through this tradition is the masterpiece of buddhist iconography, theWheel of Life, which was painted on the walls of their monasteries, as per the injunctionof the Buddha. 300 years after the Buddha's Parinirvana, the Sarvastivadin master Katyayana composed the Jñañaprasthana, one of the seven basic Abhidharma texts. The isolated valley of central Kashmir nurtured the development of the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma. Vaibhasika and the Sautrantika are offshoots of the Sarvastivadin school.

satguru (S): "True weighty or heavy one." In the Hindu systems, a spiritual preceptor of the highest attainment, one who has accomplished Self Realization (Parashiva) and is able to lead others securely along the spiritual path. He is always a sannyasin, an unmarried renunciate. All Hindu denominations teach that the grace and guidance of a living satguru is a necessity for Self Realization. He is recognized and revered as the embodiment of God, Sadashiva, the source of grace and of liberation. Explain Upa-guru.

sati (P): Mindfulness. T. dran-pa

sattva (Skt.): T. sem chen. see sentient beings.

Sautrantika: Hinayana school that developed out of the Saravastivada around 150 C.E. The origin of the Sautrantikas can be traced back to Kumaralata, who appeared about one century after the Buddha’s Parinirvana. He is said to have authored the Drstantamala-sastra, the Garland of Similes, as well as hundreds of other widely circulated texts. Kumaralata was one of the first to explain the teachings of the Buddha through the use of simile. In literature of this period, the Drstanta (example or illustration) is set against sutras for which it serves as a complement or illustration. The followers of this school draw their support only from the Sutra-pitaka and reject the Abidharma-pitaka of the Sarvastivada. Adhering strictly to the original discourses of the Buddha as primary, Sautrantikas accepted the Sutras as the only authoritative source of the Buddha's teachings.

The Sautrantikas posit the existence of a refined consciousness that constitutes the basis of a human life and that persists from one rebirth to the next. In contrast to the Vatsiputriyas, who postulate the existence of an entire 'person' that persists from one life to the next, Sautrantikas see the consciousness as no more than the bearer of the cycle of existence, the ticket into samsara. Into this consciousness the remaining four skandhas are absorbed at the time of death. This notion of a continuously existing consciousness had a strong influence on the Yogacara school. The theory of the instantaneity of everything existing is very pronounced in the Sautrantika school. It sees in each seemingly concrete existent nothing more than an uninterrupted succession of moments; duration is only a semblance, an illusion that is produced by the density of succession of individual moments (S. ksanika). Nirvana for the Sautrantikas is a purely negative spiritual event - it is nonbeing. He who has attained release is annihilated. For the Sautrantika, akasa or space is the same as the ultimate atom, since both are notions and nothing else. Sautrantikas assert the continuum of the aggregates to be the person

self-liberation: Libertation of thoughts and emotions by becoming aware of them in the very instant they arise. According to Garab Dorje: "If a thought arises, one liberates oneself in that which arises."

Senge Dongchenma (T): Sanskrit: Simhamukha or Simhavaktra. Known as "the lion-headed one", a powerful guardian dakini emanation of Padmasambava. She is most often dark blue but she can be red, as she dances with a vajra chopper and skull cup.

sentient beings: Sanskrit: Sattva. T. Sem-chen. The sentient being is generally defined as any living creature with a mind, one which has developed enough consciousness 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.

seva (S): Service. The purpose of Karma Yoga. An integral part of the spiritual path, where the aspirant strives to serve without thought of reward or personal gain. The central practice of the charyapada.

seven treasures: Seven precious materials, representing material wealth. The list varies somewhat from text to text. It usually includes gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, agate, pearl, mother-of-pearl and carnelian. Seven qualities listed by Jigme Lingpa in a famous prayer found in Mipham’s Shower of Blessings. The seven treasures are faith and devotion, morality, generosity, knowledge of dharma, respect for others, self-respect, and wisdom.

Shakyamuni (S): "Silent Sage of the Shakya Clan." The founder of Buddhism; born as the Prince of the Sakyans, a tribe of warriors (near today's Lumbini, in Nepal), and was called Siddhartha Gautama. After six years of wandering and ascetic practice, at the age of 35, he attained the supreme Enlightenment, became the Buddha called Shakyamuni. The name is also translated as "capability and kindness."

shamatha (S): Phonetic rendering of Samatha. "Dwelling in tranquility," T. zhi-ne. Referring to calming and training the mind to concentrate on the meditative focus. It is the foundation of Vipassana meditation.

Shambhala (S): Phonetic rendering of Sambhala. From the Skt. sam, or happiness. Tibetan: de-byung (source of happiness). An ancient, perhaps mythical, kingdom. The historical period ranges from 4000 BCE with the emergence of equestrian warriors from the north, to 624 CE with the Arabic/Moslem incursions. The premise is that there was a very advanced spiritual kingdom in Northern Central Asia 6,000 years ago that had a tremendous influence on the origins of many "Eastern" and "Western" spiritual traditions. This would include the Semitic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as the "outgrowths of the Aryan culture" -- Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Shankara: Shankara lived in 8th century India and is regarded as the greatest proponents of Vedic Dharma of his time. He was born of a humble but devout Brahman couple and early in life developed the desire for renunciation and devotion to spiritual life. Shankara was accepted as disciple by Govinda Bhagavatpada, who recognized his ability and instructed him to expound the philosophy of Vedanta. He lived as a wandering monk as he fulfilled his guru's instructions while still a young man. He is known for his scholastic and debating attainments as well as for many miraculous activities. Shankara studied Buddhist teachings as well as Vedic and debated with proponents of many different schools. He acquired many disciples and established several monasteries. When Shankara took the sannyasi vows, he promised his mother he would return to perform her funerary rites, as she had no other living relatives to do them. Since this was against the rules for a sannyasi, he could get no one to help him carry her body to the cremation grounds or to help with the lighting of the fire. Finally he built the pyre himself and cremated his mother in her own backyard, igniting the fire through yogic power.

shanti (S): Peace. T. Zhi-wa

Shantideva (S): 685-763. Master of Indian Buddhism, particularly famous for his work, "Bodhicharyavatara," or The Way of Life of the Bodhisattva. Perhaps the most poetic and powerful expression of teachings on bodhicitta in Mahayana literature. Author of Siksa-sammuccaya, a compendium of scriptural excerpts.

shastra (S): A treatise upon or exposition of a sutra; a Mahayana texts that expounds the meaning of the sutra or group of sutras. The Indian Mahayana schools grew from an attempt to systemasize the teachings of two groups of sutras. The Madhyamaka school clarifed and categorized the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) sutras, while the Yogacarin school did the same for the "idealist" sutras, the earliest being the Samdhi-nirmocana (c. 2nd c.) and later the Lankavatara (4th c.). A number of the shastras are traditionally attributed to Maitreya, as received by Asanga, founder of the Yogacarin school. These texts include the Uttaratantra Shastra (Ratnagotravibhaga-mahayana-uttaratantra-shastra, or "Analysis of the Jewel Matrix, Supreme Tantra of the Universal Vehicle." Other shastras attributed to Asanga include the Madhyantavibhaga, Mahayanasutra-lamkara, and the Abhisamaya-lamkara. These and shastras attributed to his brother Vasubhandu would be preserved, mostly in Tibet, but also in China where they would influence the doctine of the Fa-hsiang, or Chinese Yogacarin school.

Both Yogacarin and Madhayamaka shastras were transmitted to China, largely due to the efforts of Central-Asian scholar/translator Kumarajiva. Several Indian Buddhist schools were entirely transplanted to China with their Indian form more or less intact, including Kumarajiva’s "Three-Shastra School," based on Madhyamaka shastras by Nagarjuna and Aryadeva and a Yogacarin shastra by Vasubhandu.

1.Madhyamaka Shastra
2.Dvadashamukha Shastra
3.Shatika Shastra: 100 verses, 32 words each. By Vasubhandu.

The Satyasiddhi Shastra, written by Harivarman and translated by Kumarajiva,was the text upon which on which the Hinayana Satyasiddhi sect based its doctrine. It was a Hinayana variation of the Sunyata (emptiness) doctrine. The term is defined as perfectly establishing the real meaning of the Sutras.

Sherpas: Ethnic group that originally migrated from eastern Tibet and settled in the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal. They are often employed by trekkers as guides (sirdars), cooks and porters. In recent times the term refers to anyone of any ethnic group who does these tasks.

Shinay (T): zhi-ne. Sanskrit: Shamatha. Tranquility, or "calm-abiding" meditation, which develops calmness and concentration. One of the two basic meditations in all traditions of Buddhism, the other being Vipashyana (S. Vipassana, T. Lhag-tong), or insight meditation.

shunyata (S): Emptiness. T. tong-pa nyid. The fact that nothing inherently exists in and of itself. Everything arises from prior conditions, the ultimate nature of which is perfectly groundless. See Sunyata

shishya (S): Pupil or disciple, especially one who has proven himself and has formally been accepted by a guru.

siddha (S): "Perfected one" or accomplished yogi, a person of great spiritual attainment or powers. T. ngo-drub pa See siddhi.

Siddhartha Gautama (S): The Northern Indian noble, son of Prince Suddhodana, who became Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. The name means "wish fulfilled."

siddhi (S): Power, accomplishment; perfection; blessing. T. ngo-drub. This refers to the accomplishments that come with spiritual practice. Two kinds: Ordinary and extraordinary, ranging from the different worldly powers to the supreme power of attaining the state of the Buddha, the transcendental siddhi of attaining complete Enlightenment (nirvana. At lower levels, more mundane abilities come with spiritual practice (clairvoyance, invisibility, etc.). Extraordinary powers of the mind, developed through consistent meditation and deliberate, grueling, often uncomfortable practices, or awakened naturally through spiritual maturity and yogic sadhana. Through repeated immersion in samadhi, siddhis naturally unfold according to the needs of the individual. Even ordinary Siddhis may carry with them certain supernormal faculties such as clairvoyance, clear audience, telepathy, levitation... These can be attained by accomplished beings having obtained a certain degree of spiritual realization; one finds them also among others who aren't in this category but who have developed high levels of concentration associated with certain particular practices. These powers aren't always signs of spiritual realization; one should neither seek to cultivate them nor demonstrate them if acquired, except in exceptional occasions. The supreme accomplishment emerges throuhg the non-differentation of Samsara and Nirvana — this is the entryway to the Great Perfection, Dzogchen or Mahamudra, the 13th land (bhumi) of Dorje Chang. Thus, the Siddhas have powers and supernatural capacities which are a result of their practice of the path. See psychic powers

Sigalovada Sutra: The sermon taught to Sigala by the Buddha; how to achieve harmony, security and prosperity both within the family and in the society as a whole.

siksamana (S): A lay disciple who maintains the eight precepts, either temporarily or as preparation for leaving home. The Eight Precepts are: 1) not killing; 2) not stealing; 3) celibacy; 4) not lying; 5) not abusing intoxicants; 6) not using such adornment as jewelry or perfumes, and refraining from entertainment; 7) not sleeping on high or broad beds; 8) not eating food after noon.

sila (S): Morality, ethics. T. tsul-khrim. The mind-set of doing no harm either to oneself or to others. Often accompanied by precepts and vows for practical purposes. These number 5, 8, 10, 250 or 350. Also, one of the Paramitas.

Six Spheres: Tibetan: tig-le dug. The six fundamental aspects for understanding and practising the Dzogchen Semde (Mind Series).

six syllable mantra: (OM MANI PADME HUM) is the mantra of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The six syllables represent liberation from various negative states of mind. With OM releasing one from the realm of the Gods (Pride) , MA form the realm of the Asuras (Jealousy), NI from the realm of humans, PAD from the animal realm (Ignorance), ME from the Hungry Ghost realm (Desire), and HUM from the realm of Hell (Anger). Each of the mantra's syllables also represents different aspects of one's True Nature and of the Path. OM (AUM) is the Buddha's Body (A), Speech (U), and Mind (M) MANI is the jewel which symbolizes the primordial reality of mind and one's intention to become enlightened through revealing this jewel. Just as a jewel provides wealth that fullfills the wishes of beings, the altruistic intention to become enlightened is the means to fullfill the wishes of all beings. PADME means lotus. It symbolizes wisdom, mainly the wisdom of realizing emptiness. Just as a lotus grows from the slime and mud, so does wisdom raise one outof ignorance. HUM symbolizes indivisibility, the unity of intention (or means) and wisdom.

skandhas (S) heaps. T. phung-po. The five aggregates that constitute the personality: form, sensation, perception (recognition), mental formations, and conciousness.

soma (S): elixir of immortality; Since early Vedic times, soma remains a mysterious substance. Among the many theories: 1. Psychedelic substance used by the ancient dwellers in the civilizations of the Indus and Ganges River basins and said to be pressed from a plant, prossible fly agaric (Amanita muscaria); 2. a subtle fluid (neurotransmitter) released in pineal and/or pituitary gland during ecstasy. 3. According to some archeologists, some is to be identified with refined gold. 4. Cannibis, hashish, or marijuana.

Somapuri: Built in the 8th century, was the largest Buddhist university built in India. It was the home to Atisha, before he went to Tibet in the eleventh century. The excavation of its ruins revealed a structure more than eighty feet high. There were 177 rooms for 6-800 monks surrounding a courtyard, where the ruins of a stupa, still 66 ft high, stands above the surrounding land. The temple's foundation is laid out in the form of a visva-vajra, a cross with arms projecting at equal distances from the center. The image of a sixteen armed Hevajra and his prajña, and accounts of siddas who were Vidyadharas of the Hevajra teachings, indicated that it was a center for Mantrayana study and practice. It was destroyed by Muhamad Bhakhtyar Khalji (1197-1206), along with the other great monastic centers in Magadha, Anga, Nalanda, Vikramasila and Otantapuri.

somaraja (S): Tibetan: so ma ra dza. "King of Soma." Cannibis, hashish, or marijuana.

sangyum (T): Female practitioner of ritual sexuality.

Soto (J): One of the three schools of Zen in Japan, the other being Rinzai. It is most concerned with the practice of sitting meditation without koan.

sound: A form of energy and means to communicate among ourselves and with a specific power or source. Reciting mantra refines the mind and activates spiritual energy impluses. The traditional tantric advice of "entering into the state of the sound" suggests we go into the state of energy, to use it as a means of communication, healing and purification while present with clear awareness. One is asked to integrate with all energy manifestations and practices with sound.

space-gazing: Tibetan: rigpa namharte. Dzogchen technique to integrate one's vision with space.

Sravaka (P): Sanskrit: Shravaka, listener, hearer. Early main branch of Buddhism. These people chose to base their practice on doctrines that were believed by everyone to be the public teachings of the Buddha to his monks and lay disciples. At one time there were many limbs of this Savaka branch, but only one of them has lived to modern times.That is the limb known as Theravada, which means "way of the elders." According to Ngakpa Chogyam Rinpoche, seeing as this term was formed when the major style of communication was oral, the modern equivalent of this term in our culture of literacy would be ‘readers’.

Sri Singha (S): Also Sri Sinha, Shrisingha, Sri Simha): Indian teacher for whom no dates are known. He is said to have received his initiation into the Nyingtig teachings from Manjusrimitra, another early adept with an uncertain biography. The problem here is that Sri Singha is regarded as the teacher of people who lived more than 200 years apart in time (see Jnanasutra); a feat rather unlikely even for an accomplished master of secret (alchemical/sexual) Tantra. All lineages of the Innermost Essence are based in the work of Sri Singha (Four Cycles of Nyingtig) and reached Tibet by way of his 8th century successors Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra and through a group of 25 Tantras given by Sri Singha to his student Vairocana.

stupa: (S): Tibetan: Chor-ten. Sacred structure built to physically embody and preserve the spiritual power of a great lama. A physical representation of perfect enlightenment. It symbolizes the transformation of all emotions and elements into the five enlightened wisdoms associated with the five Buddha families. Its symmetrical form is usually filled with relics, mantras, etc. There are basically eight different forms which symbolize the awakening of the Buddhas.

Sudhana (S): A young boy mentioned in the scriptures who practised the perfection of energy by learning tirelessly from every situation and person he met.

Suddhodana (S): "Pure Rice Prince," the father of Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni Buddha). He ruled over the Sakyans at Kapilavastu on the Indian/Nepalese border. Son of King Singhahanu who was renowned as the best archer in the world. As a young prince, Suddhodana was successful in leading military expeditions to suppress raids by hill tribes (S. Pandavas). For his accomlishments, the Sakyan laws which stated that a man may only take one wife were changed so that Suddhodana was able to marry both daughters offered by King Suprabuddha, another Sakyan who ruled over Devadha. Mahamaya became the mother of the Buddha and her sister Maya also known as Mahaprajapati, cared for the Buddha after his mother's death.

sukha (S): A range of contentment, from mild happiness to spiritual bliss. The opposite of "dukkha,"or suffering.

Sumedha (S): The young Bodhisattva who received the prediction from Dipankara Buddha that he would become a Buddha.

Sumeru (S): "Wonderful high mountain." Mythical mountain composed of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and crystal, central to the four main continents which comprise our world-system. Abode of all classes of gods.

Sunyata: (S.) lit.,"emptiness, void"; T. tong-pa nyid. A central notion of Buddha’s Dharma. Ancient Buddhism recognized that all composite things are empty, impermanent, devoid of an essence, characterized by psycho-physical suffering, decay and death. In the original schools, emptiness is only applied to the "person" and not the elements of expereince; in the Mahayana, on the other hand, all things, including all phenomena are regarded as without a true essence; i.e. empty of self-nature. All dharmas are fundamentally devoid of an unchanging core or any independent lasting substances or self-identity, and are nothing more than mere apperances upon which mind imposes an identitiy through perceived continuity. None of these objects exist outside of the mind which perceives them and altogether, both subject and object are of the nature of emptiness. Sunyata is experiential realization, nondual, beyond conceptual extremes, and not communicable in conventional language. For beings used to discriminations and language, pointing is often done through negation. Sunyata is no-thing, unreal, non-self, insubstantial, not-originated, not produced, neither real nor unnreal. One should not, however, take this view of the emptiness of everything existing simply as nihilism. It does not mean that things do not exist in any way at all but rather that they are interdependent and only conceptually reified. Shunyata is often equated with the absolute in Mahayana, since it is without duality and beyond empirical forms. Personified as the goddess Prajnaparamita in the Mahayana Sutras, sunyata is know as the Mother of All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Individual schools present different intepretations of sunyata.

Surya: (S.)"Sun." One of the principal divinities of the Vedas, also prominent in the epics and Puranas. Saivites revere Surya, the Sun God each morning as Siva Surya. Smartas and Vaishnavas revere the golden orb as Surya Narayana. As the source of light, the sun is the most readily apparent image of Divinity available to man. As the giver of life, Surya is worshiped during harvest festivals everywhere. Esoterically, the sun represents the point where the manifest and unmanifest worlds meet or unite. In yoga the symbolism is opposite that used in the tantras. In Hindu yoga, the sun represents the masculine force, pingala, while the feminine (Ida) is associated with the moon Surya (chandra). Surya also signifies the Splendor of the Self within.

Suryachandrasiddhi (S): "Sun-Moon Accomplished One." The great adept Padmasambhava is often said to have subdued those demons and dakinis that were fierce and demoniac, yet at other times it is clear that he himself was initiated by such female adepts and received special, magical knowledge from these Great Mothers. Of special interest in this regard is canto 34 of the Padma Kathang (Sheldrakma version), where the hero "prostrated himself to the enthroned dakini" (Suryacandra-siddhi) and "begged her for teachings; outer, inner and secret." Also known as Laygyi Wangmo or "Great Sovereign Dakini of Deeds," she then changes her new disciple in true magical/shamanic fashion into the sacred syllable HUM, swallows him whole, and lets him pass through her body. In the process, Padmasambhava is purified; he is initiated into certain teachings, and obtains a number of magical powers before being reborn and "ejected through her secret lotus"; that is, her yoni. The power and sublimitiy of this Magical Mother of Padmasambhava is emphasized in the text by the fact that even her servant Kumari (Sanskrit "young one; virgin") was a woman of wonder: "With a crystal dagger she cut open her breast, within which appeared the many-colored splendor of the gods of the calm Diamond Plane." Both Suryachandrasiddhi and Kumari lived in the Castle of Skulls, a term signifying that they were ancient Tibetan deities turned dharmapala; i.e. "Guardians of the Faith."

sutra (S): Pali: sutta. "Thread." T. do; meeting or juncture. An aphoristic verse; the literary style consisting of such maxims. A discourse by the Buddha or one of his major disciples. The Sutra collection is one of the three divisions of the Buddhist scripture adopted at the First Council.. This style was widely adopted by Indian philosophical systems and eventually employed in works on law, grammar, medicine, poetry, crafts, etc. Each sutra is often accompanied by a commentary called bhashya.

Swat: Region and River, now in the frontier province of northern Pakistan (35N..72E), between Afghanistan and Kashmir. Formerly the kingdom of Uddiyana (Tib: Orgyen), it is a largely inacessible region. Conquered by Alexander and became a stronghold of Buddhism. "Birthplace of Padmasambhava and also the region where Tilopa resided."(Nalanda: 1980...pg 371) ... Suvastu is the Swat River in the Rigveda...Oddiyana (Swat in modern Pakistan).


tanha (S): craving, desire, thirst

Tanjur (T): Also "Tangyur." Part of the Tibetan canon, comprises about 225 volumes of commentaries on the Kanjur and related Buddhist literature translated from the Sanskrit. The Tanjur contains 17 sections of 3,387 commentaries by 700 scholars.

tantra (S): Loom, weave, T. gyu; continuity. The Tibetan word for tantra is "gyud," which means continuum, transmission, and secret teaching. The term Tantra has two clearly defined ways of usage: 1, a particular religious tradition with its roots in 5th century India; spreading soon to Tibet, China, and Japan -- and more recently to Europe and the North America in the form of "neo-Tantra;" 2, a sacred text of that tradition. The Tibetan tantric writings give advanced, often cryptic directions of advanced yoga and meditation.

Tara (S): Tibetan: Drolma. "The Liberator" or "One Who Saves." Tara, the "Wisdom Mother," embodies the compassionate activity of all the Buddhas, and is invoked in times of personal difficulties, health problems, travelling and when there is need for quick, wise action. She manifests in 21 different forms to benefit all beings. To recite the Praises to the 21 Taras is considered helpful in all adverse circumstances. In the aspect of Cittamani Tara (the Green one, also called She of the Rosewood Forest) she quickly benefits quickly the minds of those who pray to her. White Tara is especially associated with long life and wisdom. Unlike the green form of this deity, White Tara has seven eyes -- one in each hand and foot, and a third eye on her face -- to show that she sees and responds to suffering throughout the universe; and she sits in full lotus posture. Her right hand is held in the mudra (gesture) of giving, and her left hand holds the stem of a pink-tinged white lotus in a gesture signifying the Three Jewels. The third eye on Tara's forehead symbolises her realisation of non-duality and her ability to see past, present and future. Her expression is maternally gentle and loving.

Tashi Lhunpo : (T: bKra shis lhun po) is a major Gelugpa monastery founded in 1447 near Shigatse by Gendun Drupa, one of Tsongkhapa's disciples. He served as abbot, and was posthumously appointed HHDL I. This monastery came to be the principal residence of the Panchen Lamas, the second highest spiritual leader of Tibet.

Tathagata (S): Thus Come or Thus Gone One. Moving as Thatness (T. de kho na nyid), name of Buddha; one who comes forth Thus, One who is of Suchness (T. de bzhin nyid), having realized What Isness, etc., the nature of a buddha who has followed in the steps of his predecessors.

Tathagatagarbha (S): The seed, germ or womb of Enlightenment, the potential for Buddhahood in every sentient being.

Tathatgatas (S): Also Transcendental Buddhas. Most commonly referred to as Dhyani Buddhas; they are emanations of Adi buddha and serve as the meditation Buddhas, occupying the cardinal directions in the primary tantric mandala. These Tathagatas are the Lords of five buddha families which are ultimately inseparable, representing different aspects of the relative world as well as the wondrous qualities of Buddhahood. Each Buddha is related to one of the skandhas or an emotional poison as well as an aspect of wisdom by which these can be transformed. These five Buddhas are also known as Jinas (Conquerors). They are invariably seated and each displays a different body color and hand gestures (mudras) reflecting their respective dispositions. Variochana occupies the center with Akshobya in the East, Ratnasambhava in the South, Amitabha in the West and Amogasiddhi in the North.

tattva: "That-ness" or "essential nature." Tattvas are the primary principles, elements, states or categories of existence, the building blocks of the universe. Rishis describe this emanational process as the unfoldment of tattvas, stages or evolutes of manifestation, descending from subtle to gross.

Ten Directions: The 10 directions of space -- the eight points of the compass plus the nadir and zenith. A term used in scripture to indicate all-pervasiveness.

Ten Powers.: T. stobs bcu. Those powers developed by bodhisattvas are 1) reflection, {bsam pa'i stobs} or aashayabala 2) superior reflection, {lhag bsam} or adhyaasa 3) acquisition {sbyor ba} or pratipatti 4) discriminative awareness, {shes rab} or prajnaa 5) aspiration {smon lam} or pra.nidhaana 6) vehicle {theg pa}. or yana 7) conduct {spyod pa}. or charyaa 8) transformation {rnam par 'phrul pa} or vikurvana 9) enlightenment {byang chub kyi sems} or bodhicitta, and 10) turning the doctrinal wheel {chos kyi 'khor lo bskor ba} or dharma-chakra-pravartana. The ten powers of a tathagata: 1) power of knowing what is possible and impossible; 2) power of knowing how actions will ripen; 3) power of knowing the different dispositions of human beings; 4) the power of knowing different elements; 5) power of knowing the supreme and lesser powers of human beings; 6) power of knowing the path that leads everywhere; 7) omniscience regarding the original of all suffering and which leads to dhyana, liberation, samadhi, and samapatti; 8)-power of knowledge that remembers former abodes 9) power of knowing death, transmigration, and birth 10)?

Terdak Lingpa c.1640-1714: Born Minling Terchen Gyurme at Dargye Choling monastery in Dranang, central Tibet. An incarnation of Vairocana, he began his religious training at four, attained realization at nine, and discovered his first terma at 17. A year earlier he became a disciple of the Fifth Dalai Lama, later to become one of his teachers. In this way a strong spiritual tie developed between them. It is said that once while giving His Holiness esoteric initiation, flowers fell from the heavens, and upon another occasion, was healed on advice of His Holiness to take a consort. He died amid auspicious signs at 68. Uniting kama and terma lineages, he revitalized and restored Nyingma teachings to their original prominence.

Terma (T): "Mother treasure." A name for so-called "secret treasures" in the form of hidden teachings, texts or objects; intended to be re-discovered at a future time by an inspired terton (see below). According to the Vajrayana tradition, such texts were most often prepared, sealed and hidden by Padmasambhava and/or Yeshe Tsogyal during the time that monastic Buddhism, after a relatively short flowering, was outlawed in Tibet. Termas are subdivided into different types: Sa-Ter (earth-treasure): a text or sacred object actually discovered as a material treasure; for example in caves, lakes, trees, temple pillars, and even the sky where they are stored to be discovered at the right time by a qualified person, a terton. Tertons are special individuals who were once students of Padmasambhava and having already received these instructions, they are merely re-presenting it in this time and space for the benefit of those who require training.; and Gong-Ter (mind treasure): a text revealed to a terton by a non-human agency, usually a Dakini or Buddha. The Nyingmapas possess the most voluminous terma literature derived mainly from Padmasambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal. They left thousands of teachings for future times, which have been revealed again and again by many great teachers. During the 10th and 14th centuries many terma were discovered through dreams and visions.

terton (T): "Revealer of treasure." Term for an individual who discovers or reveals one or more previously hidden terma ("treasures"), hidden for the sake of future generations and/or because certain teachings were judged too advanced for the then living. Althought there are examples of this process at earlier times in Indian Buddhism, it became especially associated with the early Nyingmapa who used this "hide and recover" method for the transmission of advanced teachings.

thangka (T): A thangka is a complicated, composite three-dimensional object consisting of: a picture panel which is painted or embroidered, a textile mounting; and one or more of the following: a silk cover, leather corners, wooden dowels at the top and bottom and metal or wooden decorative knobs on the bottom dowel. Thangkas are intended to serve as a record of, and guide for contemplative experience. For example, you might be instructed by your teacher to imagine yourself as a specific figure in a specific setting. You could use a thangka as a reference for the details of posture, attitude, colour, clothing. etc., of a figure located in a field, or in a palace, possibly surrounded by many other figures of meditation teachers, your family, etc.

Theravada: Main Branch of Buddhism. Means "teachings of the elders," but is also called Hinayana "the little vessel" by the followers of Mahayana. According to Theravada Buddhism, the individual has been given the teachings which allow one to work toward freedom from the suffering in the world. An elder is a monk who has been ordained for a minimum of 10 years and who is acknowledged to have attained insight. Officially, the Theravada school is based only on what has been transmitted by these elders down through the ages. This body of teachings have been preserved in a Pali, a word that means a straight line. The English word "canon" comes from a Greek word meaning a straight line or a straight-edge, so early translators of Buddhist texts translated the word "pali" as "canon" and redundantly named the works of this school the Pali Canon. The language in which that canon is preserved is called the Pali language. While many Theravadin teachers admire and study and refer to individuals and writings that are not in the Pali canon, the framework within which all teachings are interpreted is provided by the Pali canon.  Theravada school exists nowadays in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and parts of Vietnam. Theravada is therefore also called the Southern Buddhism.

third eye: The inner organ of psychic vision associated with wisdom, located above and between the two physical eyes at the location of the ajna chakra. See: chakra.

Thousand Buddhas Empowerment: Shakyamuni Buddha prophesied that in this eon of time, a thousand Buddhas would arise to relieve sentient beings from suffering and guide them to enlightenment. This empowerment creates a karmic connection such that those who receive it will be present during the lives and teachings of the future Buddhas of this eon. The transmission takes place through the mandala of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who embodies the active compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout time. This connection matures through the intention to do no harm to other beings and the commitment to hold all life as sacred.

Three Marks: Impermanence, suffering and no self, which are the characteristics which pervade conditional existence and serve as the foundation of the Abidharmapitaka.

Three Times: The past, present and future.

Three Poisons: Craving, aversion and delusion; symbolized respectively by the cock, snake and pig in the center of the Wheel of Life. also, these are termed the three roots of unskillfull actions.

Three Realms of Samsara: Tibetan: Kham Sum. The desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. To the realm of desire belong the hell, hungry ghost, animal, human, jealous god, and "lower" god realms; in these realms, sensations are the most important element of one's existential experience. The other two realms correspond to the higher levels of the god realms. In the form realm, one still experiences the illusion of a subtle body, as opposed to the formless realm which is purely mental.

Throma Nagmo (T): The practice or sadhana of the wrathful black dakini T'hröma Nagmo was revealed by Dudjom Lingpa as a treasure of Guru Padmasambhava Rinpoche and Saraha inseparable. In a vision, Yeshe Tsogyal was told by a dakini that Guru Rinpoche held the lineage of the T'hröma practice. Yeshe Tsogyal requested the practice from Guru Rinpoche and then concealed it as a terma (hidden treasure teaching).

Tibetan Buddhism - Schools, Lineages, or Traditions:

Tibetan calendar: The Tibetan calendar is divided into major cycles of 60 years duration. These cycles are further divided into five minor 12-year cycles, each year of which is identified by the name of an animal, bird or reptile. Moreover, each year in the 12-year cycle is consecutively paired with one of five distinguishing elements, which changes every two years. This yields a cycle of sixty years ie; Isaiah (b. 1975) and Gertrude (b. 1915) are both earth-rabbits. Each of the elements has alternating male and female attributes. Based on the lunar month, the Tibetan year consists of 355 days. LOSAR? SEE LUNAR CALENDAR

T'ien T'ai: Sect of Chinese Buddhism, initiated by Hui Man in the dynasty of Bei-Chai, and promoted by Chi-Hai in Tsui Dynasty. Mainly based on the Lotus Sutra, Tien Tai explains all universal phenomena with the "Three Dogmas." Its practices emphasize cutting off the "Three Delusions," and advocate the "Three Meditations of One Mind."

Tilopa (988 - 1069): Wild yogin (mahasiddha) who lived like a beggar; Tilopa collected the full Vajrayana transmissions. Passing them to his main disciple, Naropa, he thus planted the seeds of the Kagyu Lineage.

tingsha (T): A pair of small brass cymbals (2-3 inches diameter) united by a leather tong. Tingshas are a sonorous aid to relaxation and a centered, balanced state of mind. The edges of the tingsha are struck together to produce a pure, resonating sound.

tonglen (T): Sending and taking. A meditation practice in which the practitioner takes in all the world's sorrow on the in-breath and sends out light and happiness to all beings on the out-breath.

torma (T): Sanskrit: Balingta. Ritual figurine made of flour and butter which is used to either represent a deity or to be used as offering. Torma are usually formed in the shape of a cone and adorned with small and large 'buttons' and of various colors. During certain Vajrayana initiations the torma is used to represent the deity. This most often refers to an offering, very ornate and colored. It is made from a mixture of butter and barley flour, and is offered to the deities which are invoked during a ritual. The Torma is therefore like food of which the form and the colors are supposed to particularily please such and such a type of deity. In other rituals, such as iniation, they can also be the symbolic form of the very deity. By its use, the Lama transfers to the disciple protection and security against adverse forces.

training: There are three principal trainings or disciplines in which the teachings of the Buddha are regrouped according to the three vehicles. These are the discipline of ethics, the discipline of samadhi and that of wisdom.

tranquillity and insight: S. samatha/vipassana, T. zhi-né/lhag tong. All meditative practice can be categorized as one or the other of these disciplines. Asanga defined tranquillity as "Close contraction or binding of the mind, tranquillity, unification, and composure." The qualities he associated with insight are inquiry, search, complete thought, and investigation of mind and mental activities. "By the power of calm, thought becomes unshakeable in relation to its own object, like a lamp in still air. By the power of insight, the light of right knowledge arises as a result of understaning the reality of dharmas as they are. All obstructions are thereby removed, just as darkness is removed by the appearance of light." -Kamalasila, heart-student of Khenpo Santarakshita

tri-gug (T): Sanskrit: Dargu. Skull chopper. An elaborate ritual chopping knife, the hooked knife of the Dakinis that represents the power of wisdom to cut through ego-clinging.

Tripitaka: Literally, (S.) 'Three Baskets' canon of Buddhist scriptures. Tripitaka

These three collections are the parts of the Buddhist canon and, in one form or another, used by all Buddhists:

Trisong Deutsen (790 — 858): One of the Three Religious Kings, young Tibetan monarch who invited the scholar Shantarakshita to Tibet, and with his help sought to establish the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Shantarakshita was a bit too scholarly for local tastes and was naturally disturbed by local suspicions, ghosts and demons throughout the project. He therefore advised the King to invite the Indian master Lobpon (T. teacher) Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) to help. King Trisong Deutsen followed his advice. With the aid of Guru Rinpoche who was able to convert some of the local demons into a labor force, they were finally able to build Samye (T. inconceivable) monastery. Trisong Deutsen invited many Indian scholars to Tibet. Under his regime Tibetan translators were well educated and he undertook the translation of all important Buddhist texts available into Tibetan. Believed to be an emanation of Vajra Manjusri, King Trisong Deutsen was a great devotee of Guru Rinpoche. Wisdom Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal was offered as a gift from King Trisong Deutsen to his teacher, the Buddha of the Three Times.

Troma Nakmo (T): Dakini, wrathful form of Vajrayogini and Yeshe Tosgyal, principal meditiational deity of the Chod teachings. With great splendor of original nature, she suppresses demonic forces as the Black Dakini, the female wisdom energy who severs attachment and cuts through extremes. In some texts, the dakini is red or black, or at first red and then black; sometime she holds the curved blade in her right hand; sometimes the damaru in her right hand and a thigh bone in her left; sometimes she is holding a curved blade in her right hand and a skull in her left. See Chod, Vajrayogini, Yeshe Tsogyal

tsampa (T): Roasted barley flour; a Tibetan staple food.

Tsang-tsen (T): One of the protective deities in the Nyingma tradition, who has the reputation of being easily irritated.

tsok (T): Literally, gathering -- a gathering of offering substances and a gathering of disciples to make the offering.

Tsongkhapa (T): 1357-1419. One of Tibet's greatest lamas; founder of the Gelug order.

tulku (T): A reincarnated lama who is confirmed after certain tests. Although these sages do not need to be reborn again, they do so out of compassion for sentient beings. Some tulkus have reincarnated many times. The Dalai and Panchen Lamas are Tibet's best-known tulkus.

tulkuma: Female incarnation.

Tummo (T): Inner fire. Practice of tsa-lung yoga associated with the pot-shaped (S. kumbhak) generating an intense internal heat associated with a blissful experience.

Turning the Wheel of the Dharma: Shakyamuni Buddha turned the wheel of dharma three times; the second and third turnings represent Mahayana teachings, the latter of these being a further articulation known as Tathagatagarbha texts. Turning the "Wheel of the Dharma" means that the Buddha not only taught those disciples who were able to meet him personally, but that his teachings from that time onwards would remain available in ages to come.

Close to Varanasi, India there was a Deer Park in a suburb called Sarnath. In his first turning of the wheel, explained to five old friends how to practice positive actions and avoid negative actions; the Four Noble Truths, etc. He spoke of the relationship between cause and effect, and how it functions to create samsara or is understood to realize nirvana. The path to enlightenment was indicated. During the second turning at Vulture Peak, the Buddha emphasized the concept-free, sky-like emptiness (sunyata) of ultimate reality. During the third turning, the Buddha revealed the absolute nature, the luminous quality of the ground awareness and via the tantric transmissions, he taught the inseparability of emptiness and appearances.

The second turning of the wheel is identified with the Prajnaparamita teachings which emphasize the emptiness not simply of self, but of all conditioned things. The resultant Mahayana path is characterized by great compassion and a deeper understanding of emptiness. One is able to work effectively for the benefit of all beings. By means of the original turning one is able to purify grosser obscurations and reach a state of peace, but this is mainly concerned with one's own benefit. It is very difficult to change this way of thinking, i.e. to think of others before oneself, but at least, as an arhat, one has removed the primary obscurations, the gross suffering. Furthering beyond this way station in the foothills, a bodhisattva goes on to the greater range where he accomplishes the liberating actions (paramitas), and develops beyond this initial wisdom where he knows the emptiness, not only of self but also of all conditioned phenomena which would otherwise limit or define the scope of what is truly possible. This insight into the true nature gives rise to a confidence and fearlessness that sustains bodhisattvas working in the depths of samsara, fulfilling their vow to work for all suffering sentient beings.

The third turning of the Wheel of Dharma took place at various locations (including Vaisali and Sravasti). The Buddha gave teachings according to the capacities of his listeners and only taught Secret Mantra to very advanced students - those who had great confidence in his realization and were familiar with the nature of their own minds. When turning the wheel the first two times, the Teacher gave only the provisional or relative meaning. At the third turning, he taught the definitive or absolute meaning, explaining the Buddha-nature which is present within all beings, replete with all the perfected qualities of enlightenment. These teachings enable us, by means of identification with the Buddha - to develop those qualities in ourselves, and with the necessary causes and conditions being present, to reach full enlightenment within one lifetime.

SUMMARY: At the first turning of the Wheel of Dharma, the Buddha taught how to accumulate merit, to practice harmlessness (S. ahimsa) how to give up negative actions, etc., in order to attain liberation. In this context he talked about existence as if karma existed. Having initiated certain actions, one will experience certain results. The second turning addressed the emptiness of all phenomena in order for beings to overcome any attachment to sublte forms of existence and formulas of knowledge. Here he spoke about the ground of non-existence, the fact that phenomena arise interdependently are individually empty of a true or permanent self-nature. In order to avoid falling into the extremes of either existence (first turning realism) or non-existence (second turning nihilism), he turned the Wheel of Dharma a third time. Here he explained the ultimate meaning, the Buddha Nature, Sugatagarbha, Tathagatagarbha, free from all extremes, the primordial wisdom beyond concepts which is the ultimate reality of self and world.

Twelve Links of Dependent Origination: S: Pratityasamutpãda. T: ten drel. Interdependent Arisings. The way that the self and all phenomena exist conventionally. They come into being in dependence upon: (1) causes and conditions, (2) their parts, (3) most subtly, the mind imputing or labelling them. Dependent origination means that the arising or the becoming of a phenomenon is dependent on the coming together of conditions and/or other phenomena. When conditions are ripe, a phenomena arises; when these conditions change, the phenomenon ceases to be. The 12 phenomena (links) of dependent origination illustrate the causal relationship and interdependence of the 12 links, which together constitute the existence and continuation of life. The forward cycle of these 12 links is the unending transmigration of a living being in the cycle of rebirth. On the other hand, the backward cycle implies that once this interdependent chain is broken, liberation is attained. These 12 links are: Ignorance; Volition; Consciousness; Body/mind; the six senses; Contact; Sensation; Desire; Attachment; Existence (becoming); Birth; Aging and Death. 


Ullambana (S): The occasion when Buddhists make offerings to the Triple Gem and dedicate their merits to the deceased.

upasaka (S): The male lay-disciples of the Buddha, characterized by their maintenance of the five precepts and Three Refuges. The five precepts are: to refrain from killing living beings, to refrain from stealing, to refrain from adultery, to refrain from lying, and to refrain from intoxicants.

Upavasatha (S): "New moon and full moon days." When Buddhists gather in the monastery or temple for communal observances and when the members of the Sangha recite the Praktimosha.

upaya (S): Skillful means. T. thabs

utpala: Peony flower depicted in Buddhist iconography. The nomenclature is somewhat confusing since the flowers held by the Taras and the one supporting the book in the iconography of Manjushri is often referred to as utpala which usually denotes a frilly blue flower.


vairagya (S): "Dispassion; aversion." Freedom from passion. Distaste or disgust for worldliness because of spiritual awakening. Also, the constant renunciation of obstacles on the path to liberation. Ascetic or monastic life.

Vairocana (S): Tibetan: nam par nang zhe. Emanation of Adibuddha, the primordial buddha who represents the cosmic element of consciousness. He is the primordial wisdom of the sphere of reality. His is in the center of the mandala consisting of the five Transcendental Buddhas, and his rites pacify negative emotions. He is white and his two hands are held against the chest with his thumbs and forefingers touching. He radiates the light of Buddhahood and his consort is Akashadhateshvari, the Sovereign Lady of Infinite Space. The dance of space and awareness is known as the Dharmadhatu. It is this dance that is represented by the sexual imagery depicted in Tantra.

Vairochana Rakshita (circa 728-764 C.E): A disciple of Padmasambhava and Sri Singha; author of the Vajrabhairava Mandalavidhi Prakasa. One of the first seven monks to be ordained in Tibet, and Tibet's greatest translator.

Vaishravana (S): Militant guardian deity of north. See Jambhala.

vajra (S): Tibetan: do. "Lord of Stones." In Hindu symbology, the vajra is an emblem and/or magical weapon thought to produce the lightning flash controlled by the god Indra. It is said to be of indestructible power and has often been compared to the thunderbolt of other Indo-European male deities such as Zeus. Such comparison does not apply to the Tibetan symbolism. A synonym for both vajra and dorje is mani (Skt., "jewel"), and these terms are often used as a code for true nature of mind as well as the lingam, still carrying the associations of power, hardness, and great worth. Mani therefore appears with Padma (Skt. "lotus"; i.e. yoni) in the famous chant "Om Mani Padme Hum;" a celebration of this primordial union as the means to overcome dualism of any kind. The corresponding female equivalent to the male dorje-mani-vajra is ghanta, the bell. Images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Vajrayana dignitaries often show them with one or both of these attributes in their hands. Dorje/Vajra also represents one of the Five Buddha Families.

Vajracchedika-Prajnaparamita Sutra (S): The Diamond Cutter Sutra. A great dialogue between the Buddha and Subhuti on the true nature of mind, phenomena and designation. One of the first sutras to be widely available in English.

Vajradhara (S): Tibetan: Dorje Chang. "Thunderbolt Bearer." An emanation of the Adi buddha, considered by some to be the highest deity of the Buddhist Pantheon in Vajrayana Buddhism, as well as its spiritual source. He is the central figure in the Refuge Tree of the Kagyupa school. This Tantric form of Shakyamuni and embodies the primordial awakened mind and many Tantric teachings are attributed to him. He is an expression of Buddhahood itself in both single and yabyum form. He is depicted with his arms crossed on his chest, holding a dorje and a bell.. In the Nyingma tradition, he represents the principle of the lama as enlightened holder of the Vajrayana teachings.

Vajrakilaya (S): Tibetan: Dorje Phurba. Diamond Spike. A wrathful form of Padmasambava, Vajrakilaya is one of the most important Nyingma tutelary deities (dharma or vajra protectors, Skt., ishta-devata; Tib., yidam), and is associated with the Phurba, a triangular-blade ritual dagger representing the unity of the three bodies of the Buddha (Skt., tri-kaya; Tib., kusum) brought to a single point to subjugate negative forces. This winged "heruka" (wrathful) deity with three faces and six arms is shown in union with his wisdom consort. Together they represent the union of the feminine aspect of wisdom (Skt., prajna; Tib., sherab) and the male aspect of method (Skt., upaya; Tib., tob). They stand on prostrate human figures to represent triumph over delusion. Vajrakilaya wears shawls fashioned from flayed elephant and human skins, a tiger-skin skirt, dried skull crowns for each of his faces, and a garland of 51 dripping human heads representing the transmutation of the 51 base emotions. His consort Diptachakra has one face and two arms, and is holding a flaying knife (Skt., katari; Tib., dri-guk) in her right hand and a skullcup (Skt., kapala; Tib., todpa) in her left hand, and is wearing a leopard-skin skirt. A powerful sambhogakaya buddha of wrathful demeanor, Vajrakilaya is sporting with his consort Diptachakra, raising a vajra in his right hand while bearing a phurba lowered in his left, his wings raised in the midst of a halo of flames. Blue in body, adorned by snakes and animal skins, Vajrakilaya is of the nature of primordial awareness and emanates across for practitioners of the inner tantras. His main purpose is to help sentient beings remove,deep seated dualistic conceptions. Vajrakilaya practice combines all three of the inner tantras. One of the Vajrakilaya teachings, 'The Dark Red Amulet,' was given by the Buddha Shakyamuni in the form of Vajrakilaya himself and taught to many vidyadharas. This was passed down to several great masters such as Garab Dorje, Shri Singha, Vimalamitra and Guru Padmasambhava. These teachings were later revealed by Tsasum Lingpa, a terton living in eastern Tibet during the 17th century, and through the Khenpo Rinpoches and other great lamas, they continue to be handed down today in an unbroken lineage.

Vajrakilaya Sadhana (S): Tibetan: Pudri Re P'hung, "The Razor That Destroys at Touch." The practice of Vajrakilaya was the heart practice of Yeshe Tsogyal, given to her by Padmasambhava to remove obstacles on her path to enlightenment. In this century, while His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche was in retreat in a cave at Paro Taksang in Bhutan, he had a visionary dream in which Yeshe Tsogyal appeared to him and entrusted the practice to him. She tucked a meteorite phurba into his clothes telling him that Guru Rinpoche himself had manifested as Dorje Drolo in the same cave, and with the same phurba had subdued the eight classes of powerful worldly ones and liberated the male and female kingly demons Before he left Tibet, she said, "he gave me this phurba, and now I give it to you. Keep it as your heart's jewel." Vajrakilaya is the wrathful aspect of Vajrasattva; he fulfills the action of the buddha’s mind in cutting through delusion and the outer and inner obstacles to realization, all of which can be completely dispelled, opening the doors to limitless compassion. With diligence and concentration, one can gain power and victory over negative forces, the reflections of one’s own mind. See Dudjom Rinpoche

Varjrapani: (S): A wrathful Bodhisattva who with Avalokitesvara and Manjusri, is one of the three Vajrayana family protectors. According to Buddhist philosophy, the state of pure and total enlightenment is characterized by three qualities which are of benefit to others: limitless compassion, limitless wisdom, and limitless skillful means. The bodhisattvas Avalokitesvara and Manjushri embody the first two of these characteristics while Vajrapani embodies skillful means. Skillful means is the ability to enter into any situation, no matter how unpromising, and transform it into the path of spiritual fulfillment. Vajrapani is this tantric aspect of the enlightened mind, transforming the energy of negative emotion into active wisdom and magical perfection. He symbolizes the indestructible vajra mind of a Buddha. He stands on a lotus throne surmounted by moon and sun disk. His body color is dark blue-green, with a serpent garland around his neck, adorned with golden bracelets, silk scarves and ornaments of jewels and bone. He stands in the midst of a raging fire. In his right hand he holds a flaming meteorite vajra and his left hand is at his heart in the subjugation mudra. He has three eyes, a rolling tongue and gnashing fangs. Standing upon the negative forces, his right leg is extended and his left slightly bent in the style of wrathful deities. Vajrapani first generated the mind of enlightenment when, as a mendicant, he prepared food for the Tathagata known as King of Patterns. He will become the final Buddha of this time, to be known as Buddha Ma rig mun sel drön ma che, "The Guide of Men". He will take birth in the land called Glorious Brilliance, where he will beof princely descent, and his glory will be measureless. He will be known as "Without Desire and Without Ignorance". His human life span will also be measureless and he will hold a measureless number of extraordinary assemblies. He will accomplish as many perfect actions as were performed by all the previous Buddhas, his relics will be extensive and after his ascension to nirvana, his teachings will remain to benefit sentient beings for further countless thousands of years.

vajra posture: Sanskrit: vajrasana. Tibetan: dorje kyil krung. Meditation posture, cross-legged with the feet resting on the thighs.

Vajra Protector: Fierce deities who are Bodhisattvas or wrathful manifestations of the Buddhas who protect the Dharma. Known as Heruka or Yidam in Tibetan Buddhism.

Vajrasana : (S.) literally, diamond throne. The seat of the Buddha's enlightenment, located under a pipal tree on the west side of the Mahabodhi Temple Compound, Bodhgaya India,

1) The Maha Bodhi Temple is the historical place at which the Enlightenment took place. About 250 years after the Enlightenment, the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka visited the site and is considered the founder of the Mahabodhi Temple. According to the tradition, Ashoka, as well as establishing a monastery, erected a great shrine at this spot with a canopy supported by four pillars over a stone representation of the Vajrasana, the Seat of Enlightenment. While the Vajrasana was the specific site of the enlightenment, the Bodhi tree, closely linked to the Buddha's accomplishment, became a central focus of devotion early in the history of the Sangha and in much later artwork.

2) Also known as the "Thunder Bolt Pose", or "Diamond Seat". This is the well-known meditation pose (Dhyanasana) of utmost concentration requiring that the legs are crossed so that the soles of both feet are visible.

Vajrasattva (S): Tibetan: Dorje Sempa."Diamond Being." The Buddha of primordial purity, representing the original crystalline unity of the mind. He is the essence of the five male Buddhas for meditation and is one manifestation of the Adi-Buddha Kuntuzangpo who is much revered in Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism. Vajrasattva’s symbolism and iconography are complex, but among other things he represents one's beginningless or ultimate purity, beyond space and time. One of the foundation practices of Tantric Buddhism, which involves the visualization of Vajrasattva and the repetition of his hundred syllable mantra, is highly revered for its role in purifying negative karmas and infractions of vows. Vajrasattva's practice is one of the most important of the Four Preliminary Practices. This is because Vajrasattva eradicates negative hindrances accumulated since time immemorial.

A totally enlightened being who has the special power to remove mental, emotional and physical obscurations, Vajrasattva resides on the level of the Sambogakaya. When one does Vajrasattva practice, one visualizes him above one's head on a one-thousand petalled white lotus. Upon the lotus is a moon disk upon which he sits in vajra posture. Vajrasattva, like all tantric deities, does not appear as if solid, instead he is seen as a wisdom rainbow body, intensely white in color like "a snow covered mountain bathed by full moon light; a very rich, brilliantly white". When reciting his mantra, his blessings rain down in the form of a purifying nectar which descends in a flow of incandenscent light entering your central channel through the crown chakra. Practiced correctly, Vajrasattva's blessing power purifies all obscurations to the realization of enlightened mind. He is typically depicted holding a vajra in his right hand, next to his chest, and a bell in his left hand, next to his left thigh. He is visualized with and without consort.

Vajrasattva Yoga: Purification yoga to remove karmic hindrances created by past negative actions and by breaking one's tantric vows. Vajrasattva, who represents the essential purity, is invoked with his Hundred-Syllable Mantra.

Vajravarahi (S): Tibetan: Dorje Phagmo. "Diamond Sow." Ecstatically fierce Dakini, a a two-armed, red goddess whose head is surmounted by the head of a sow, and whose screech obliterates all concepts and sharply confides the direct meaning or ro-chig — the one taste of Emptiness and Form. She is the consort of Heruka Hayagriva. Her six manifestations include Yeshe Tsogyal (speech incarnation), Mandarava of India (body incarnation), the dakini Prabhadhara (essence incarnation). Stated another way, she is the essence of the five kinds of knowledge and is the embodiment of pleasure. See Dechen Gyalmo, Padmasambhava

Vajrayana (S): Also Vajra Vehicle, syn. Tantric Buddhism. The Tibetan branch of Mahayana Buddhism utilizing a wide variety of sklfull means including mantra and visualization of deities giving great emphasis to the role of the guru. One of the means Tibetan Buddhists use to gain freedom is meditation on sublime thoughts and pictures or mandalas. While Vajrayana springs from the Mahayana traditions, it has become distinctive enough to be regarded now as a separate branch unto itself. The word "vajra" means both "thunderbolt" and "diamond." The texts upon which this branch is based are known as tantras, so this form of Buddhism is also called Tantric Buddhism. Unlike other forms of Buddhism, the Tantrayana is largely esoteric. Tantras are often written in a kind of code so that their meaning is not apparent to non- initiates.  One can neither study nor practice it effectively without a qualified teacher, who offers oral instructions, and confers ritual baptisms (abhisheka) that give people a special grace or power by which they can put the teachings into practice. Tantric Buddhism is the main form of Buddhism in Tibet and Mongolia (via Tibet). There were also tantric forms in China, which in turn transmitted them to Vietnam, Korea and Japan. Even forms of Buddhism that are not nominally tantric have been influenced by tantric thinking and practices. So, for example, Vietnamese Buddhism is now a very interesting and healthy synthesis of Theravada, several limbs of Mahayana such as Zen and Pure Land, and tantric Buddhism. Korean Buddhism is now a synthesis of Zen, Pure Land and various scholastic forms of Mahayana Buddhism, with elements of tantra appearing here and there.

Vajrayogini (S): Tibetan: Dorje Naljor-ma. Female sambhogakaya form of Buddha. A meditation deity of the anuttarayoga tantra wisdom (mother) classification, consort to Cakrasamvara. One of the most important dakinis. She is a yidam of the Highest Tantra and appears in many Tantric practices. She is youthful, naked and passionate for the Dharma. Her body color and eyes are bright red and she has a forked tongue protruding through her teeth. She wears a garland of 51 human skulls signifying mastery of all mental events while dancing on a human corpse. She dances with her right leg bent and left extended as she drinks from a skull cup. A khatvanga rests upon her shoulder.

Varanasi: Located in northern India, the holy city of Varanasi is seated on the western bank of the Ganges River, bordered by two tributaries, Varuna to the north and Asi to the south. There are miles of ghats along the river, all manner of concrete steps leading from the town to the water, much of it for ceremonial bathing. The older sections of town are a maze of narrow streets full of small shops and homes. The ruins of ancient Buddhist monasteries and temples are in nearby Sarnath, where Buddha delivered his first sermon in the 6th century BC. Varanasi, "the city of a thousand temples", is revered as a sacred city by Hindus and each year more than 1 million Hindu pilgrims visit . The Visvanatha Temple, Varanasi's most venerated temple like the city itself, is dedicated to Shiva. Varanasi is probably one of the oldest existing cities in the world. Originally known as Kasi, it was the capital of the kingdom of Kasi during the 6th century BC. It gained prominence as a center of education and artistic activities during the 4th through the 6th century AD. Under Muslim occupation beginning in 1194, Varanasi's prosperity declined, and most of its ancient temples were destroyed. Because of this destruction very few of the shrines left in Varanasi were built earlier than the 18th century. The city was ceded to the British in 1775. In 1910 the British made Varanasi a new Indian state. In 1949, after India's independence, the Varanasi, or Benares state became part of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Since then, Varanasi has once again become a center of arts, crafts, music, and dance, and its musicians and dancers have gained international fame. The major traditional handicraft is weaving silk brocades with gold and silver threadwork. As well,Varanasi still is home to numerous schools and centers imparting traditional religious education. Brahman pandits are responsible for the continuation of traditional learning. Benares Hindu University is one of the most prominent educational institutions in India.

vase empowerment: Tibetan: bum wang. Initial empowerment to purify physical obscurations, enabling the practitioner to meditate on the generation phase.

vata (S): Movement from vayu, "air-ether." One of the three bodily humors, called dosha, vata is known as the air humor. Principle of movement in the body. Vata dosha governs such functions as breathing and movement of the muscles and tissues. See: ayurveda, dosha.

Vatsiputriya: There is controversy over the root of the name of the Vatsiputriya school. Like the Sarvastivadins, they believed that an arhat could fall and that heretics could also attain miraculous powers. Others feel it may be named for Vatsa, a brahmin, who is also called Vatsiputra. He was a leader or a member of the school known as Vatsiputriyas. The Vatsiputriyas advocated the theory of the 'pudgala', the permanent substance of an individual. The pudgala was neither the same as nor different from the skandhas; obviously they had not been exposed to Nagarjuna's reasoning in his Mulamadhyakarikas which clearly refutes the existence of any such agent. However, the Vatsiputriyas provided a transitional link to the Madhyamika. They were aware of the inadequacy of a stream of elements to account for the basic facts of experience, memory, moral responsibility, spiritual life, etc. They believed in a permanent unity. In Kashmir, the sixth Patriarch, Krsna, who was given the Dharma by Dhitika, countered the false view of self being taught by the monk named Vatsa. Krsna was an arhat, who entered nirvana. He was the son of a prominent merchant family, and was known to have guided many disciples to realization. Vasubandhu's Abhidharma Kosa devotes a chapter to the refutation of the atma doctrine of this school, which admitted a quasi-permanent self.

Vesak (P): Occasion that commerates the birth, Enlightenment and Paranirvana, or final Nirvana of the Buddha for the Theravada schools.

Vidyadhara (S): Tibetan: rig-dzin. Knowledge Holder. T. rigpa 'dzin-pa, rig-dzin. One who holds ('dzin-pa) to immediate Awareness (rig-pa). In the Nyingma tradition, there are four levels: Totally Matured (nam-min); Mastering the Duration of One's Life (she-dbang); Mahamudra (chyagpa chenpo); Spontaneously Accomplished (lhun-drub).

Vijnanavada: literally "Doctrine of Consciousness," was a school of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Maitreyanatha (270-350 CE) and developed further by his disciple Asanga (c.375-430 CE) and Asanga's little brother, Master Vasubhandu (c. 400-480.) The name is often used interchangeably with Yogacara or Cittamatra, though the three came to denote different branches. All held that consciousness is essentially real, though the objects of mind and the pervasive division of the world in subject and object are not. The appearance of form and ideas to mind is the result of an inner modification of consciousness itself. In the exploration of this process, the doctrine of the eight consciousnesses, including the alaya vijnana or store-house consciousness evolved. See Yogacara.

Vikramasila: A famous Buddhist university that was a center for scholarship for many centuries. Founded by Dharmapala, the greatest king of Bengal, it rivaled the great center of learning at Nalanda. Among its luminaries were Atisha and Buddhajnanapada. Even though it may have been the last university to be destroyed by the Muslim invaders (early 11th century), it is said that the living spirit of Buddhism was no longer present there during its final days, with the teachings of the Buddha reduced to a single branch of study among the Hindu departments.

Vimalakirti-Nirdesa Sutra (S): The Bodhisattva Vimalakirti was said to be a native of Vaisali, and a highly evolved upasaka (lay practicioner) who assisted Shakyamuni in preaching and crossing realms of existence to aid sentient beings. The Sutra is the record of interesting conversation between Vimalakirti and Manjusri Bodhisattva about the understanding of the One Buddha Vehicle (S. ekayana) . Vimalakirti is said to be the only human being present when Vajrapani revealed the tantras in the human world.

Vimalamitra (S): Tibetan: Drime shenyen. Eighth century Indian adept known as the "Sage of Kashmir," who also traveled and lived in China, Oddiyana and Tibet. He was a student of Sri Singha and Buddhaguhya, and later became an important teacher within the lineages of the Nyingma-Dzogchen traditions. He united two aspects the Nyingtig teachings: the explanatory lineage with scriptures, and the hearing lineage without scriptures - and concealed them to be revealed as the Vima Nyingtig , and also as the Secret Heart Essence of Vimalamitra.

Vinaya (S): One of the major divisions of the scriptures of the Theravada school of Buddhism; the Vinaya Pitaka is concerned with the rules of discipline for the monastic community.

Vipassana (P) / Vipashyana (S): Tibetan: Lhak-tong. "Insight meditation," or meditation that develops insight into the nature of mind. It is sometimes described as analytical meditation. It is one of the two types of meditation found in all Buddhist traditions, the other being tranquillity or "calm-abiding" meditation (Skt., Shamatha; Tib., Zhi-nay).

Virupa (S): One of the 84,000 mahasiddhas of India; source of Sakya tradition teachings. The story of the siddha who fixes the sun in the sky because he cannot pay his tavern bill is attributed to both Virupa and the emanation of Padmasambhava known as Guru Nyima Od’zer. The Khenpo Rinpoches have stated that Virupa was the same person as this emanation of Padmasambhava.

virya (S): Energy; vigor, the vital energy necessary to maintain and progress in spiritual development. The term is associated with heroism and manliness. Also, the fourth paramita, usually translated as Joyful Effort.

visualize (visualization): To imagine, create mental images. Exercising the power of thought to transform the objective referent.

vows: Precepts taken on the basis of refuge at all levels of Buddhist practice. Pratimoksha precepts (vows of individual liberation) are the main vows in the Hinayana tradition and are taken by monks, nuns, and lay people; they are the basis of all other vows. Bodhisattva and tantric precepts are the main vows in the Mahayana tradition. Three types of vows are distinguished : outer, inner and secret. Outer vows involve a form of discipline through which one avoids harming others. They are called the vows of individual liberation and consist of seven or eight subsets of vows, for monks, nuns, lay householders, and so on. The inner vows is the bodhisattva vow. Secret vows are tantric vows of the vajrayana. See also Vinaya.


wang (T): see empowerment

White Tara: Mother of all the Buddhas, bestows the gift of longevity through an elegant emanation. She energizes those who visualize her, and that energy can be invested in one’s spiritual practice. She is still and centered sitting in a full lotus with a blue utpala flower blooming to the left of her head. She has seven eyes: one each on the soles of her feet; one each on the palms of her hands; one each in the normal place on her face and one in the "third eye" position on her forehead. Several important White Tara practices have been passed down through the Karmapas and Dalai Lamas.

wisdom: T: yeshe / sherab. S: jnana / prajna. This single English word corresponds to two distinct words in both Tibetan and Sanskrit. The Tibetan (yeshe) is intuitive, non-conceptual wisdom which relates to the knowledge of what is. It is the domain of spiritual realization revealing the true nature of ultimate and primordial truth. Then there is the Tibetan she-rab,which translates as excellent cognition, (S. prajna) in reference to the analytic, discriminating awareness which correctly cognizes relative appearances. This wisdom is identified with knowing the variety of things.

Wu-tai Shan: China's sacred mountain of the north and a seat of Bodhisattva Manjusri. The pre-Buddhist tradition of sacred mountains in China stems partly from myths of the pillars of heaven and partly from sages and mystics who frequented the sparsely-populated heights. Interestingly, the Chinese word for pilgrimage means literally, paying ones respect to a mountain. In the 1st century ce., merchants returning from India via the Silk Route began the introduction of Buddhism into China. Later pilgrims returning from India with sacred texts and the desire for renunciate life founded hermitages and monasteries on or near peaks. Over time, Chinese Buddhists began to regard the five peaks as having primary sanctity, each associated with a different Bodhisattva.

Because of its isolated location in a range of northern China, Wu Tai Shan was barely touched by the ravages of the communist revolution and its child, the cultural revolution. The mountain, rising 10,000 feet above sea level, is actually a group of five flat topped peaks , which explains its name meaning Five Terrace Mountain. The first of over 50 temples were built in the 1st century ce. though all those remaining date from the late 7th century. These include10 Tibetan Lamaseries.

Wu Tai Shan was considered the center of Chinese Buddhism for 2,000 years and was widely known not only in China but also to Buddhists in Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Tibet and Nepal. Many well-known and accomplished masters of these countries made long pilgrimages to study and meditate in these sanctified surroundings. There are numerous stories of sightings of Manjusri riding a blue lion high in the mountains above the monasteries. For one pilgrim’s experience of Wu-tai Shan.


yab-yum (T): The unification of a male and a female deity (originally: father-mother), means also the unity of clarity and emptiness, symbolised by vajra/bell or vajra/lotus. In the Tibetan pantheon, male and female deities are represented in sexual union (yab-yum) with their consorts. Peaceful deities are portrayed sitting in union, while wrathful emanations are usually standing.

yaksha (S): Tibetan: gnod sbyin. A class of spirits. Beings mentioned in the Buddhist Canon who are divine in nature and possess supernatural powers. In many cases Yaksas are wild, demonic, sexually prolific beings who live in solitary places and are hostile toward people, particularly those who lead a spiritual life. They often disturb the meditations of monks and nuns by making noise.

Yama (S): Lord of Death.

Yamantaka (S): also Vajra Bhairava. Tibetan: Dorje Jig-je and Shinjé. Conqueror or Slayer of Death, the wrathful emanation of Manjusri. He is a member of the Vajra Family of Akshobya and concerned with overcoming the poison of hatred. He is usually dark blue and is depicted in his simplest form with one bullhead and two arms. He wears a crown of skulls, has a third eye, a skullcap in his left hand and a vajra chopper in his right. In thankas he most often has nine heads, 16 feet and 34 arms; all his hands hold objects associated with tantric symbols.

yama-niyama: The first two of the eight limbs of raja yoga, constituting Hinduism's fundamental ethical codes, the ten yamas and ten niyamas are the essential foundation for all spiritual progress. The yamas are the ethical restraints; the niyamas are the religious practices. See: raja yoga.

yana (S): Tibetan: theg-pa. Vehicle, way, school, teaching. Althought the literal meaning is "vehicle", it is applied to the Buddhist path. Three yanas are distinguished in the early period of Buddhism; the shravakayana, the pratyekabuddhayana, and the bodhisattvayana. The first two belong to so-called hinayana (T. thegpa men) or "small vehicle." Briefly stated, the main feature of these two yanas is that practitioners strive manly for individual liberation. The third yana, bodhisattvayana, is the so-called mahayana (thegpa chenpo) or "large vehicle". T practitioner of this yana strives to attain enlightenment through compassion and wisdom for the benefits of all beings. Thus, his responsibility extends beyond that indicated in the hinayana. Mahayana can be further subdivided into sutrayana and tantrayana, both of which lead toward the same goal. However, in the tantrayana, the practitioner has access to an arsenal of highly effective means for developing compassion and wisdom and purifiying obstacles. Vajrayana, Phalayana and Mantrayana are synonyms for Tantrayana.

Yarlung: 416 BC -Nyatri Tsenpo founds a dynasty in Yarlung valley, according to legend. Yarlung Valley yar - up, upper; klung - valley [of a river], drainage basin, or cultivated field. A river valley in Central Tibet, the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Birthplace of Tibetan Culture and breadbasket of the region. The mixture of grasslands with farming all surrounding one is spectacular to behold...

yeshe (T): Sanskrit: jnana. Primordial awareness; primal wisdom.

Yeshe Tsogyal (T): "Princess of the Wisdom Lake." Lived from C.E. 757-817. The most important female figure in the tradition of the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma school was a young wife of Tibetan King Trisong Detsen who became the intimate companion of Padmasambhava at the age of 16. The famous Indian yogi and tantric master, believed to be the second reincarnation of the historical Buddha, brought Buddhism to Tibet, where he was known as Pema Junge, Guru Rinpoche. Padmasambhava took Yeshe as his consort and transmitted to her the teachings of the phurba cycle. She codified countless of her guru's teachings in Terma texts and also composed his extensive biography, "Padma Kathang." In the last part of her life she was active mainly in eastern Tibet. She is venerated up to the present day as a dakini. Tsogyal received full initiation into the Tantra and became a female adept of the highest order. Padmasambhava said to her, "The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human body. Male or female, there is no great difference. But if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment, the woman's body is better." For many years after the passing of Padmasambhava, Tsogyal worked for the good of all -- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and instructing the ignorant. She died at a great age, and is now venerated as Tibet's top female Tantric master. She is thought to have reincarnated since then as a number of important female adepts, including Machig Lapdron (1055—1145) and Yomo Memo (1248—1283). In turn, Yeshe Tsogyal herself is regared as an incarnation of the fierce dakini Vajravarahi (Tib., Dorje Phagmo).

The Secret Autobiography of Yeshe Tsogyal (Bodhi Jomo Yeshe Tsogyal) is believed to have been dictated by the lady herself to Namkhai Nyingpo in the early 9th century. Once completed, the text was treated as an earth treasure (see terma): written on the mysterious indestructible yellow parchment, assigned a protective spirit, hidden (in Kham, eastern Tibet). A number of possible discoverers (Tibetan, "terton") were prophesied who might reveal this treasure text. This did happen, in the early 18th century, although the discovery seems to have been in the form of a so-called "mind treasure" (see terma). That second version was recorded by the terton Taksham Nuden Dorje, b. 1655, and shows, according to translator Keith Dowman, that it was composed by someone with historical knowledge far beyond Tsogyal's time of death. However, both texts are similar enough to credibly represent a secret autobiography of Yeshe Tsogyal (757-817), probably the most important and influential woman of the Tantric tradition as practiced in Tibet. The work recounts her adventurous life, first as student and consort/lover of Padmasambhava and subsequently as a fully accredited teacher in her own right. Yeshe Tsogyal relates the events surrounding her initiations, explains the sexual rituals she practiced with Padmasambhava and others, her austerities and temptations as well as her efforts in spreading the then new teachings of the Inner Tantras.

yi-dak (T): yi-dvags. Sanskrit: Preta. Hungry Ghosts, occupants of one of the three unfortunate realms of samsara (i.e., Hell-Beings, Hungry Ghosts and Animals). The yidaks are tormented by unappeasable appetites and depicted as having needle-thin necks and enormous stomachs.

yidam (T): "Firm mind." Derives from T. yid, which means intellect and dam from T. dam-tsig, commitment or solemn bond (S. samaya). The Yidam or tutelary deity is an emanation of the mind of the buddhas. The power of this deity as well as the possibility of obtaining the realization in dependence upon the practice, is conferred at the time of the initiation by the Lama. The energy of the tutelary deity is associated with the mantra which attaches the mind of the initiated with the mind of the Lama through the form of the deity. Because each mind has particularities of personal and cultural habit, each Yidam manifests the nature of Buddha's Wisdom in through one of many possible aspects, . The meditation on the Yidams and performing the yogas which are associated with them, is one of the skilful methods utilized in Vajrayana to rapidly reach liberation. In this manner, one frees oneself from Samsara by using exactly the means which enchain oneself; the mind is committed to the practice of the Yidam by the engagement of the yogi to meditate on his body, his speech and his mind as being the same as that of the Yidam. In this manner, the three doors of the practicioner are progressively transformed into the three doors of the Buddhas of which the disciple realizes the four kayas thanks to the spiritual influence of the Yidam. The essence of the yidam is the Lama, present manifestation of all the Buddhas. Yidams are manifestations of the sambhogakhaya (buddha-body of delight) and are visualized in meditative practice, i.e. perceived with the inner eye. They can take on either a peaceful or wrathful form of manifestation. Tibetan Buddhism does not particularly regard yidams as protective deities (as the personal deities are regarded in Hindu Tantra); rather their function is as an aid in the transformative process in which the practitioner comes to acknowledge his or her own basic personality structure. The yidams also serve to bring the practitioner to a sense of ultimate connection with the traditional lineage whose teaching he or she follows.

yoga (S): "Union." From yuj, "to yoke, harness, unite." The philosophy, process, disciplines and practices whose purpose is the yoking of individual consciousness with transcendent or divine consciousness. One of the six darshanas, or systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy. Yoga was codified by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras (c. 200 BCE) as the eight limbs (ashtanga) of raja yoga. It is essentially a one system, but historically, parts of raja yoga have been developed and emphasized as yogas in themselves. Prominent among the many forms of yoga are hatha yoga (emphasizing bodily perfection in preparation for meditation), kriya yoga (emphasizing breath control), as well as karma yoga (selfless service) and bhakti yoga (devotional practices) which could be regarded as an expression of raja yoga's first two limbs (yama and niyama). See: austerity, bhakti yoga, danda, hatha yoga, raja yoga, siddhi.

Yogacara (S): Yoga practice. Philosophical school of Mahayana Buddhism, also known as the Vijnanavada or Consciousness School. The founders of this school in India were Maitreya (270-350 CE), his disciple Asanga (375-430), and Asanga's younger half-brother Vasubandhu (400-480), who was also the greatest systematizer of the Abhidharma type of Buddhist philosophy. The Yogacara school, is a fourth century outgrowth of Madhyamika Buddhism. It has been said that Madhyamika is best for regarding emptiness (sunyata) while the Yogacara has proven valuable as the school that teaches knowing (Vijnanavada) or the understanding of the primacy of mind. The school held that consciousness (vijnana) is real, but its objects are constructions and unreal. The school's teachings are thus often characterized by the phrase "consciousness-only" (cittamatra) or "representation-only" (vijnaptimatra). The content of consciousness is produced not by independently existing objects but by the inner modifications of consciousness itself. A theory of eight kinds of consciousness was formed to explain how this process functions. The deepest level of consciousness is the "store-consciousness" (alaya-vijnana), which is both individual and universal and contains the seeds or traces of past actions, which are projected into manifestation through the "defiled mind" and the six sense gates (five physical senses plus mind or thought). The school was transmitted to China as the Fa-hsiang. In some lineages, it eventually syncretized with the Madhyamika school.

The yogic goal is to clarify alaya-vijnana, to attain cognizance of alaya, the "true home," and place the light of meditation awareness upon it, so that the mind can be liberated from the alaya’s propensities toward illusion; beyond the pure emptiness of space there is awareness of universal light. Follower of yogacara practice great virtues (paramitas) and meditative concentration (samadhi). They follow a path consisting of four distinct stages: 1. Prayoga marga, a preparatory stage where there is teaching of the doctrine that all exists only in the mind. 2. Darsana marga, the "path of seeing," where understanding and not just knowledge of the teaching develops (intuitive awareness of the identity of subject and object) - and the first of the "ten lands" or bhumi is entered on the "meditation way of the bodhisattvas"; the kleshas (defilements which are the cause of all misery and affliction) start to be eliminated and the alaya-vijnana to be clarified. 3. Bhavana marga, the "path of meditation," where the ten lands (bhumis) of the bodhisattva are passed through and further progress made in insight and cleansing from defilements. 4. Asaiksa marga, the "path of no-more-learning" or "path of fulfilment," when the kleshas are totally eliminated, the alaya-vijnana clarified ("the ground converted") so the cycle of existence is over and the bodhisattva actualizes the dharmakaya or "body of the great order," absolute-body awareness characterized as the "great awakening" and one of the trikaya (three bodies) of a buddha.

yogi / yogin (S): Tibetan: Naljor-pa / Naljor-ma. In general, a term used for a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. It is also used as a special term for a practitioner who is experiencing his/her mind on the absolute and the relative level simultaneously, or someone who experiences his/her mind in its natural form. Such yogis may well be teachers not bound by monastic vows. A male yogi is a "yogin;" female yogi, "yogini."

yoni (S): Vulva, womb, source; the entire female genital system. A term from India's ancient language, Sanskrit or "devanagari" (divine language). It can be translated by several English concepts ("origin", "source", "womb", "female genitals") and is the most respectful word available with nothing as respectful available in our modern language. The term yoni heralds from a culture and religion in which women have long been regarded and honored as the embodiment of divine female energy - the goddess known as Shakti - and where the female genitals are seen as a sacred symbol of Her.


Zahor: Somewhere to the east of Bodhgaya lies the site of the ancient country of Zahor. In 29 AN (after nirvana), texts containing the esoteric tantra fell onto the roof of the palace of Indrabhuti (King Dza) ruler of the land of Zahor. Mandarava, consort of Guru Rinpoche was born to King Indrabhuti in this same area. When Mandarava met Guru Rinpoche, she became his disciple, which enraged her father who was trying to find her a suitable husband. So he ordered his ministers to burn the intruder alive, but Guru Rinpoche transformed the fire into a lake of sesame oil, and in its center bloomed a wondrous lotus, with Guru Rinpoche sitting comfortably amused in the center of it. The astonished King repented and gave Padmasambhava his crown, and firmly established Dharma in the land of Zahor.

zazen (J): The central sitting meditation practice of Zen Buddhism.

zen: J: meditation from C. ch'an from S. dhyana. The Mahayana Buddhist School that originated in China (as Ch'an) that later took root in Japan. Zen emphasizes the practice of sitting in meditative absorption (zazen) as the shortest path to Enlightenment. It de-emphasizes rituals and intellectual studies. Probably the most common form of Buddhism in the West, Zen practitioners usually devote themselves to monastic life, as accomplishment requires extensive periods of meditation. It concentrates on making clear that reality is beyond words and language and beyond logic. To accomplish this, it makes use of the koan, zazen and sanzen. This school is said to be for those of superior roots. On reaching Korea, it became known as Son. See Ch'an and Chinese Buddhism

zhi-khro: Tibetan: Peaceful/wrathful, a reference to the peaceful and wrathful deities found in the inner tantra. It is a condensed teaching based upon the essential meaning of the Guhyagarbha Tantra combined with the views expressed in the anu and ati yoga teachings (yanas 8 and 9). -- the inner tantra of the inner tantra. This is the union of rigpa and emptiness, the oneness of birth, death, and life experiences. This teaching is known as the one that unifies everything into a single state. Zhi-khro is a practice of Tibetan Buddhism involving visualizing the body as a composite of the 108 peaceful and wrathful deities. In the practice, the deities are first visualized in mandalas of 58 peaceful and 42 wrathful deites centered in the heart, throat and crown chakra, and then in all the channels and nadis of the body. This is part of the group known as Bardo Teachings which were composed in Tibet in the 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava. Yeshe Tsogyal wrote them down and hid them to be discovered later. In the mid-14th century, they were recovered along with other texts in the Gampo hills of central Tibet by the accomplished yogi, Karma Lingpa. The collection of teachings entitled The Self-Emergence of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities from Enlightened Awareness (zhi khro dgongs pa rang grol) also included the texts of the now famous Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Bardo also known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The practice is not one of imposing a visualization on the body we are accustomed to perceiving, but of uncovering a more true vision of what is. Mastering the visualizations of the deities completely can help with recognition and liberation from cyclic existence in the after-death state known as the Dharma Essence.