arhat (Skt.). One who has vanquished the enemies of a ictive emotion and realized the nonexistence of the personal self, and who is forever free from the su erings of samsara. Arhatship is the goal of the teachings of the Root Vehicle, the Shravakayana or Hinayana.
auspicious coincidence (Tib. tendrel / rten ’brel. Skt. pratitya-samutpada, “depen- dent arising”). A coinciding of causes and conditions that creates a blessing or good fortune.
bhikshu (Skt.). A fully ordained monk.
bindu (Skt.; Tib. tigle / thig le). The essence-energy carried by prana as it ows through the nadis.
bodhichitta (Skt.). The wish to attain buddhahood, the enlightened state, for the sake of all sentient beings.
buddha nature (Skt. tathagatagarbha; Tib. de gshegs snying po). The essence of enlightenment present in all sentient beings.
buddhafield (Skt. buddhakshetra). See pure land.
dakini (Skt.; Tib. khandro, lit. “moving through space”). The representation of wis- dom in female form. There are wisdom dakinis, who have complete realization, and worldly dakinis, who possess various spiritual powers.
dakini script. Text written in symbolic letters, said to be used by the dakinis, which can only be read by certain treasure revealers (tertöns).
dharma (Skt. Tib. chö / chos). The common term for Buddhist doctrine. It comes from the Sanksrit dhr, which means “holding,” as the dharma can “hold” beings out of samsara and ignorance. Altogether, there are ten recognized meanings for this term. In its widest sense it means all that can be known. In this text, the term is used exclusively to indicate the teaching of the Buddha. It has two aspects: the dharma of transmission, namely the teachings that are actually given, and the dharma of realization, or the states of wisdom that are attained through the application of the teachings.
dharmakaya (Skt). One of the three bodies (kayas) of the Buddha, the dhar- makaya is the formless body of enlightened qualities and the absolute dimension of enlightenment.
dri (Tib.). The female of the yak.
Dzogchen (Tib.; Skt. Atiyoga). The Great Perfection, the highest view according to the Nyingma tradition.
dzomo (Tib., sing., fem.). A cross between a yak and a cow .
five poisons. Five destructive emotions (Skt. klesha) that are the causes of su ering: ignorance (confusion), attachment, aversion (hatred, anger, etc.), jealousy, and pride.
four thoughts that turn the mind to dharma (Tib. lodok namshyi, blo ldog rnam bzhi). (1) contemplating the rarity and preciousness of human life, (2) impermanence and death, (3) karma, or cause and e ect, and (4) the defects or shortcomings of samsara.
ganachakra (Skt.; Tib. tshogs). A sacred feast or ritual o ering in tantric Buddhism in which oblations of food and drink are blessed as the elixir of wisdom and o ered to the yidam deity as well as to the mandala of one’s own body.
gelong (Tib. dge long; Skt. bhikshu). A fully ordained monk, who vows to abide by 253 rules of behavior. See also getsul.
Geluk (Tib. dge lugs). One of the four primary schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Geluk school was founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357–1419) as a reformation of the tradition of Atisha Dipamkara. Also spelled Gelug. An adherent of the Geluk school is called a Gelukpa.
Geshe (dge bshes). The title in the Geluk school for one who holds a high degree in Buddhist scholarship, comparable to a doctorate.
getsul (Tib. dge tshul; Skt. shramanera). A novice monk, who vows to abide by thirty- three basic rules of behavior, one of which is celibacy for life. See also gelong.
Great Perfection. See Dzogchen.
Guru Rinpoche. See Padmasambhava.
Guru Yoga. A practice consisting of visualizing the guru, making prayers and requests for blessing, receiving these blessings, and merging the mind in the guru’s enlightened wisdom-mind. It is the nal part of the preliminary practices (ngöndro) of the Vajrayana and is considered to be the quintessence of all subsequent practice.
Kagyu (Tib. bka’ brgyud). One of the four primary schools of Tibetan Buddhism. An adherent of the Kagyu school is called a Kagyupa.
Kahma (bka’ ma; also spelled Kama). The long lineage of the scriptures that have been transmitted without interruption from master to disciple, from the primordial Buddha, Samantabhadra, through Guru Padmasambhava and other great Vidhyad- haras (Awareness Holders) up to our time.
Kangyur (bka’ ’gyur, literally “translated words”). The Tibetan version of the Indian Buddhist canon (Skt. Tripitaka), that lls 103 volumes in the Derge edition, contain- ing the Buddha’s teachings in both sutras and tantras.
kaya (Skt., “body”). See dharmakaya; nirmanakaya; sambhogakaya.
Khenchen (Tib. mkhan chen, “great khenpo”). A title used for a particularly learned scholar.
Khenpo (Tib. mkhan po). A title for a person, mostly in the Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagyu traditions, who has completed the major course of nine to twelve years of studying traditional Buddhist philosophy, logic, Vinaya, and other subjects, and afterward has been authorized to teach. This title can also refer to the abbot of a monastery or the preceptor from whom one receives ordination.
lojong (blo sbyong). A practice of training (sbyong) the mind (lo/blo) and culti- vating relative and absolute bodhichitta with the use of short phrases, or slogans, as taught by Atisha in his Seven-Point Mind Training and other eminent Kadam masters. Later, numerous lojong slogans were written by masters of all schools of the Tibetan tradition .
Longchen Nyingthig (klong chen snying thig, Heart Essence of the Great Expanse). An important cycle of teachings and practice in the Nyingma tradition that were rediscovered by Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa as a mind treasure.
Madhyamaka (Skt.). The Mahayana philosophical school of the Middle Way, founded by Nagarjuna (ca. 2nd c.). Asserting that phenomena are apparent yet empty of intrinsic nature, it sets forth a middle path between eternalism and nihilism and is considered to be the apex of all Buddhist philosophical views.
Mahamudra (Skt., lit. “Great Seal”). The seal of the absolute nature of all phenom- ena. The term is used for the instructions and practice of the highest teachings of the Kagyu tradition
mahapandita (Skt.). See pandita.
mahasiddha (Skt.). A great siddha, an advanced practitioner who has attained the supreme accomplishment, which is enlightenment. A famous work by the 12th-c. Indian scholar Abhayadatta recounts the lives of eighty-four mahasiddhas of ancient India.
Mantrayana (Skt., mantra vehicle). See Vajrayana.
mind treasure. See terma.
nadi (Skt.; Tib. tsa; rtsa). The nadis are the spiritual-energy channels of the physical body.
nirmanakaya (Skt.; Tib. tulku). One of the three bodies (kayas) of the Buddha, the nirmanakaya (“manifestation body”) is the manifestation in physical form.
Nyingma (Tib. rnying ma). One of the four primary schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Nyingma school is the oldest. An adherent of the Nyingma school is called a Nyingmapa.
Om mani padme hum (Skt.): The mantra of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Com- passion. The most popular mantra in Tibetan Buddhism, also known as the Six- Syllable Mantra.
Padmasambhava. The Indian master, known to Tibetans as Guru Rinpoche. Together with Shantarakshita, Padmasambhava brought the Buddha’s teachings to Tibet in the ninth century at the invitation of King Trisong Detsen.
pandita (Skt.) A learned master, scholar, or professor of Buddhist philosophy; mahapandita means “great pandita.”
paramita (Skt.). The paramitas, or transcendent perfections, are six activities that form the practice of the bodhisattva path: generosity, ethical discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom. It is said that the ve rst paramitas are all meant to accomplish the sixth, the perfection of wisdom. Paramita literally means “gone to the other shore,” having transcended samsara and attained nirvana. Com- pared to ordinary “perfections,” they are said to be transcendent inasmuch as their practice is free from grasping at the notions of subject, object, and action.
phowa (’pho ba). A ritual performed at the moment of death, either by a lama or by a dying practitioner, for the transference of consciousness to a buddha eld where enlightenment will ultimately be attained. In its quintessential form, it consist in merging with the Guru’s enlightened mind at the time of death. Phowa is also prac- ticed during one’s lifetime, combined with a longevity practice, as a training to be fully applied at the time of death.
phurba (Tib. phur ba; Skt. kilaya). A three-sided ritual dagger, such as that held by the deity Vajrakilaya. It symbolizes the transformation of the three main mental poisons (kleshas) into the three kayas (bodies or dimensions) of buddhahood and the cutting of all outer, inner, and secret obstacles on the path to enlightenment.
poison. See five poisons.
prajnaparamita (Skt.). The transcendent perfection of wisdom.
prana (Skt.; Tib. lung/rlung). The subtle “wind” or energy that circulates through the spiritual channels, or nadis.
pure land (Tib. zhingkham / zhing khams). A world or dimension manifested by a buddha or great bodhisattva through the spontaneous qualities of his or her realiza- tion. In a pure land, beings can progress toward enlightenment without falling back into the lower realms of samsara. Also called a buddha eld.
rainbow body (Tib. ’ja’ lus). When they die, accomplished practitioners of the Great Perfection sometimes gradually dissolve their body into rainbow light, leav- ing behind nothing but their hair and nails (which are considered to be “dead” parts of the body).
(ris med) movement (Tib.). The nonsectarian approach to the study and prac- tice of the Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism: Nyingma, Kadam, Sakya, Kagyu, Shangpa, Chöd, Kalachakra, and Orgyen Nyendrub.
Sakya (sa skya). One of the four primary schools of Tibetan Buddhism. An adherent of the Sakya school is called a Sakyapa.
samadhi (Skt.). The word samadhi can be understood according the Buddhist inter- pretation as “concentration” or “uni cation of mind.” The Tibetan translation, ting gne dzin (ting nges ’dzin), mean “holding on to what is profound and certain,” referring to a deep and perfectly focused meditation. One also speaks of tsechik ting nge dzin (rtse gcig ting nges ’dzin), or “single-pointed concentration.”
samaya (Skt.; Tib. damtsik / dam tshig). A series of vows or pledges, related to body, speech, and mind. In the Vajrayana, samayas are sacred links between teacher and disciple, as as well as among disciples. When these vows are kept, spiritual realization is assured. When they are broken, major obstacles and su ering obstruct further progress on the path.
sambhogakaya (Skt., “enjoyment body”). One of the three bodies (kayas) of the Bud- dha. Part of the sambhogakaya can only be apprehended by fully enlightened Buddhas, and part of it can be apprehended by highly realized practitioners still on the path.
shamatha (Skt.). A kind of meditation meant to achieve inner calm, through culti- vating a mind that is stable, clear, and quiet.
shedra (bshad grwa). Philosophical college.
shingdrup (shing sgrub). Accomplishing the Pureland, a practice for taking rebirth in Sukhavati, Amitabha’s Buddha field of Great Bliss.
siddha (Skt.). An accomplished practitioner or adept who has attained the siddhis, or accomplishments. See also mahasiddha.
six paramitas. See paramita.
six realms (Tib. ’khor ba rigs drug). The six realms of existence in which one takes rebirth, until liberation from samsara is attained. The three higher realms are the long- life god (deva) realm, the jealous god (asura) realm, and the human realm. The three lower realms are the animal realm, the hungry ghost (preta) realm, and the hell realm.
stupa (Skt; Tib. chörten / mchod rten, lit. “support of o ering”). A monument often containing relics of Buddhist saints, as well as mandalas, hundred of thousands of mantras, sacred books, and earth from various sacred places. Stupas symbolize the enlightened mind of the buddhas, while statues symbolize the enlightened body and books symbolize the enlightened speech. There are many kinds of stupas, which are all built according to well-de ned proportions. It is said that they bring great bene t to the land where they are built and contribute to reducing con icts, famines, and other causes of su ering throughout the world.
terma (gter ma). “Revealed treasure.” (When capitalized, Terma refers to the tradition or the body of terma literature.) When Padmasambhava gave empowerments and teachings to his main disciples, he entrusted speci c teachings to each one. These teachings were miraculously hidden in various places—temples, images, the sky (i.e., a parchment falls from the sky into the tertön’s hand), rocks, and lakes. Those found in nature are called earth treasures (sa gter). He foretold that in future incarnations these disciples would reveal ( nd) these hidden teachings and share them for the bene t of beings. These incarnations are known as tertöns. In the case of “mind treasures” (dgongs gter), the hidden teachings are not physically unearthed but arise in the tertön’s mind by the blessings of Padmasambhava. When a terma is called “rediscovered” (yang gter), this means it was rst concealed by Guru Padmasam- bhava and then found by a tertön. When a terma is called “re-extracted,” it means that it was (1) hidden by Padmasambhava and (2) rediscovered or revealed by a rst tertön, who then realized that the time was not suitable and hid the treasure again; it was then (3) revealed a second time by a later tertön, who shared it with others. We could also call this a “twice-discovered” terma.
tertön (gter ston). “Treasure master,” or revealer of terma. A tertön experiences visions or signs indicating how and where to discover his or her destined terma. Many such treasure masters have appeared throughout the centuries, down to the present day. See also terma.
Three Jewels. The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels marks the entry into the Buddhist path and distinguishes one as a Buddhist.
torma (gtor ma). A ritual object composed of a variety of substances, such as our, clay, or precious substances. Depending on the context, the torma is considered as an o ering, a symbolic representation of a yidam deity, a vehicle of blessings, or a weapon for dispelling obstacles.
thögal (thod rgal, “direct crossing”). A Dzogchen practice relating to the realization of spontaneous presence of pure awareness.
trekchö (khregs chod). A Dzogchen practice concerned with “cutting through” the solidity of clinging to reveal primordial purity.
Tripitaka (Skt., lit. “three baskets”). The three collections of the Buddha’s teachings: the Vinaya, Sutra, and Abhidharma. These are the early teachings and dialogues of the Buddha, originally in the Pali language.
trulkhor (’phrul ’khor). Physical yoga exercises combined with visualization focused on spiritual channels (Skt. nadi), winds (Skt. prana or vayu) and essences (Skt. bindu; Tib. tigle / tig le). tsalung (Tib. rtsa rlung; Skt. nadi-vayu). Advanced yogic teachings including practice of the subtle channels, energies, and essences.
tulku (sprul sku). The Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit nirmanakaya, lit. “mani- fested body”; also called an emanation. A term and honori c title for a reincarnation
of a recognized lama or deity. It is not uncommon that several tulkus of the same master may be recognized in the same time period, since reincarnation is not con- sidered to be the incarnation of an autonomous, truly existing self, but rather the continuation of a stream of wisdom and compassion that can manifest in manifold ways to bene t beings as needed.
tutelary deity (Tib. yidam / yi dam; Skt. ishtadevata ). The main deity upon which a Vajrayana practitioner focuses.
tummo (Tib. gtum mo, lit. “wild one,” referring to the inner re of wisdom; Skt. chandali). One of the Six Yogas of Naropa, tummo is the practice of the inner heat, and involves mastery of channels (Tib. tsa), prana (lung), and essences (tigle).
Vajrakilaya (Skt.; Tib. Dorje Phurba / rdo rje phur pa). Also known as Vajrakumara (Skt. Vajrakumāra; Tib. Dorje Shönnu / rdo rje gzhon nu). One of the main wisdom deities practiced in the Nyingma tradition. Vajrakilaya is one of the Eight Herukas (bka’ brgyad), who symbolize various aspects of enlightenment. The practice of Vajrakilaya, a wrathful deity associated with “enlightened activity,” is considered to be one of the most powerful ways to dispel outer and inner obstacles on the path to enlightenment.
Vajrasattva (Skt.). The buddha who is the “lord of all mandalas” and embodies the forty-two peaceful and fty-eight wrathful deities. The sadhana of Vajrasattva and recitation of his mantra are practiced for the puri cation negative thoughts, words, and actions.
Vajrayana (Skt., diamond vehicle”). The teachings and practices based on the tan- tras. Also called Mantrayana. The Vajrayana is said to be meant for individual of the sharpest faculties, since it is very profound, and to be endowed with many skillful means to reach enlightenment swiftly and with ease. It is also called the “resultant vehicle,” since the result of the path (buddhahood) is already present in the ground as the buddha nature that dwells in every sentient being and is used on the path through recognizing the basic nature of mind.
Victorious One (Skt. Jina). An epithet of the Buddha. In the plural, buddhas.
vidyadhara (Skt., “awareness holder”; Tib. rigdzin / rig ’dzin). A master of high attainment in the Vajrayana. The Eight Great Vidhyadharas were tantric siddhas from India.
Vimalamitra (Skt.). One of the eight vidhyadharas and a great Indian master of the eighth century. He taught widely in Tibet and was the main Indian pandita who over- saw the translation of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Tibetan at Samye Monastery under the patronage of King Trisong Detsen. The particular Dzogchen lineage that he initiated is know as the Vima Nyingthig.
Vinaya (Skt.). The section of the Buddha’s teaching (Tripitaka) that deals with dis- cipline, and in particular with the vows of monastic ordination.
Yamantaka (Skt.; Tib. gshin rje gshed). A deity who is the wrathful form of Man- jushri. Yamantaka means “destroyer of Yama,” the embodiment of death.
yoga (Skt.; Tib. naljor / rnal ’byor). A term commonly used to refer to spiritual prac- tice. Yoga literally means “joining” or “union” with the natural state of the mind.
yogi (Skt.; Tib. naljorpa / rnal ’byor pa). A tantric practitioner. In this book yogi refers to someone who has already attained stability in the natural state of mind and is pro cient in the practices based on nadis, pranas, and bindus.