abhidharma (Skt.) [Tib. chos mngon pa] Higher
Dharma. The part of the Tripitaka that contains the scholarly
analysis of phenomena. See also Tripitaka.
absolute truth See two truths.
afflictive emotions See klesha.
aggregates See skandha.
Amitabha (Skt.) [Tib. ‘od dpag med] Buddha
of Boundless Light. One of the five dhyana buddhas, who correspond
to the five buddha families. He presides over the pure realm of
Sukhavati and is lord of the Lotus family. Rebirth in his pure
land guarantees complete enlightenment in one lifetime. See also
animal realm See six realms.
anuttara yoga tantra (Skt.) [Tib. bla na med
pa’i rnal ‘byor] The highest of the four
categories of tantra in the Sarma, or New Translation, school
of Tibetan Buddhism. Examples of anuttara yoga are the Karma Pakshi,
Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, and Kalachakra tantras.
arhat (Skt.) [Tib. dgra bcom pa] Worthy
one. An arhat is one who, having exhausted all defilements and
mental afflictions, passes into nirvana.
Asanga (Tib. thogs med) Asanga lived
in India during the fourth century ce and established the Yogachara
school with his brother, Vasubandhu. After twelve years of retreat,
he received a vision of Maitreya and subsequently wrote the five
Maitreya texts, which have had a profound impact on Mahayana Buddhism.
asura realm See six realms.
Atisha (982–1055 ce) Atisha
Dipamkara Shrijnana was a renowned Buddhist scholar and teacher
at the monastic university, Vikramashila, in India. He was invited
to Tibet in 1043, where he founded the Kadampa school and wrote
his most influential work, The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment,
which teaches the gradual path to enlightenment.
avadhuti (Skt.) [Tib. dbu ma] Central channel; a subtle
channel of the body.
Avalokiteshvara (Skt.) See Chenrezik.
bardo (Tib. bar do) Intermediate state;
most often referring to the period between death and rebirth.
There are six bardos: the bardo of birth, dreams, meditation,
the moment before death, the bardo of dharmata or suchness, and
the bardo of becoming.
benza (Tib. ba dzra) Tibetan transliteration
of the Sanskrit word vajra.
bhikshu (Skt.) See gelong.
bhikshuni (Skt.) See gelongma.
bhumi (Skt.) [Tib. sa] A level in
the series of stages of spiritual development of a bodhisattva
on the path to buddhahood. The Mahayana tradition recognizes ten
such levels, often called the bodhisattva levels; the Vajrayana
Bodhgaya (Skt.) [Tib. rdo rje gdan] A
town in Bihar, India, where Buddha Shakyamuni attained enlightenment
under the bodhi tree. The Mahabodhi Temple was built there during
Ashoka’s period. Bodhgaya has been a major pilgrimage site
Bodhicharyavatara (Skt.) [Tib. byang
chub sems dpa’i spyod pa la ‘jug pa] The
Way of the Bodhisattva, composed by Shantideva, an Indian
pandita, who lived between 650 and 750 ce. A major text and a
great classic of Mahayana Buddhism, the text is a guide to cultivating
enlightened mind for the benefit of all beings.
bodhichitta (Skt.) [Tib. byang chub kyi sems] Mind
of awakening. Relative bodhichitta is the desire to practice the
six paramitas to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient
beings; absolute bodhichitta is immediate insight into the emptiness
bodhisattva (Skt.) [Tib. byang chub sems dpa’] In
the Mahayana tradition, a bodhisattva dedicates his or her existence
throughout all rebirths to the attainment of enlightenment in
order to liberate other beings who are suffering in samsara. The
bodhisattva ideal is in contrast to the way of arhats and Pratyekabuddhas,
who attain nirvana solely for their own benefit.
bodhisattva vow (Skt.) [Tib. byang chub sems
dpa’i sdom pa] The essence of the bodhisattva
vow is to preserve the mind of bodhichitta that sincerely wishes
to benefit all beings, not merely for the temporary alleviation
of sufferings but to bring all beings without exception to a state
of full and complete awakening. The bodhisattva vow is received
from a master who has maintained the vow unbroken.
Bön (Tib. bon) The religion of
pre-Buddhist Tibet, believed by its adherents to have been introduced
by Shenrap from an area located in what is now Persia. Bön
now reflects many aspects of Tibetan Buddhism but still retains
a distinct identity.
Buddha Shakyamuni (Skt.) [Tib. sha kya thub pa] Sage
of the Shakyas. The historical buddha was born a prince into the
Shakya clan in the fifth century bce. Upon attaining enlightenment
at Bodhgaya, Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Dharma. He is the fourth
of the thousand buddhas of the present era.
Chakrasamvara (Skt.) [Tib. ’khor lo bde
mchog] A main yidam that belongs to the anuttara tantra
set of the New Translation school, who is associated with practices
for mental purification and the transformation of obstacles. His
consort is Vajravarahi (Dorje Phakmo).
chakravartin (Skt.) [Tib. ‘khor los sgyur
ba’i rgyal po) A universal ruler; a king who
propagates the Dharma.
charya tantra (Skt.) [Tib. spyod rgyud] The
second of the four tantras of the New Translation school of Tibetan
Buddhism. It emphasizes external ritual with internal visualization.
See also anuttara yoga tantra, kriya tantra, and yoga tantra.
Chenrezik (Tib. spyan ras gzigs) [Skt. Avalokiteshvara] The
bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all buddhas. Chenrezik
is the patron deity of Tibet. Both His Holiness Karmapa and His
Holiness Dalai Lama are manifestations of Chenrezik.
chö (Tib. gcod) Meditation practice in which the
meditator offers his or her body in order to overcome the false
belief in and attachment to the ego, including the fear associated
with the ego’s dissolution. The practice was widely taught
by Machik Lapdrön, who received it from the Indian teacher
Chokyi Wangchuk (Tib. chos kyi dbang phyug) The
Sixth Shamar Rinpoche, Karma Chakme Rinpoche’s guru.
daka (Skt.) [Tib. dpa’ bo] Male
counterpart of the dakini.
dakini (Skt.) [Tib. mkha’ ‘gro ma] Sky-walker.
Female tantric deity who fulfills enlightened activities and who
protects and serves the Buddhist teachings and practitioners.
Dakinis transmit secret teachings to select practitioners when
the time is ripe.
deva putra mara See mara.
Dewachen (Tib. bde ba can) [Skt. Sukhavati] The
pure realm of Amitabha Buddha, located in the west. See also Amitabha.
Dharma (Skt.) [Tib. chos] The teachings
of Shakyamuni Buddha; one of the Three Jewels in which one takes
refuge. It is also a term for “phenomena,” “truth,”
dharmadhatu (Skt.) [Tib. chos dbyings] The
all-encompassing space, without origin or beginning, in which
emptiness and interdependent origination are inseparable.
dharmakaya See kaya.
dharmapala (Skt.) [Tib. chos skyong] Protector
of the doctrine. Fierce and powerful, the Dharma protectors vow
to guard the Dharma and its practitioners. Dharmapalas are wisdom
protectors, who are emanations of buddhas or bodhisattvas, and
mundane protectors, who are virtuous samsaric beings.
Dorje Phakmo (Tib. rdo rje phag mo) [Skt. Vajravarahi] The
embodiment of wisdom, she is one of the main yidams of the Kagyu
lineage and the consort of Chakrasamvara.
Dusum Khyenpa (Tib. dus gsum mkhyen pa) [1110–1193] The
first Karmapa. Dusum Khyenpa was a student of Gampopa, who empowered
him to practice Hevajra and Mahamudra. He received the Kalachakra
and the lam dre teachings from Virupa. See also Kagyupa, Karma
Kagyu, and Karmapa.
Dzokchen (Tib. rdzogs chen) [Skt. maha ati] The
Great Perfection is the highest yana of the Nyingma school. Taught
by Garab Dorje, it is the ultimate way to achieve direct realization
of the clear and luminous quality of mind itself.
eight consciousnesses (Tib. rnam shes tshogs
brgyad) The five sense consciousnesses are sight, hearing,
smell, taste, touch, and body sensation. The sixth is mental consciousness;
the seventh is afflicted consciousness, the klesha mind; and the
eighth, the alaya, is the ground consciousness.
empowerment (Tib. dbang bskur) [Skt. abhishekha] Empowers,
or authorizes, the student to engage in a specific Vajrayana practice.
It must be conferred by a Vajrayana master who embodies the teaching
of the lineage.
emptiness (Tib. stong pa nyid ) [Skt. shunyata] In
the second turning of the wheel of Dharma, the Buddha taught that
neither external phenomena nor internal phenomena have any real
or inherent existence and are therefore “empty.”
five deeds with immediate result See five
negative straight-through actions.
five negative straight-through actions (Tib.
mtshams med lnga) Actions that cause the doer to assume
immediate rebirth in the lowest quarters of hell without passing
through the bardo. These are killing one’s mother, killing
one’s father, killing an arhat, intentionally causing a
buddha to bleed and doing so with the desire to harm, and causing
a schism in the sangha.
five poisons See klesha.
form kaya See kaya.
four immeasurables (Tib. tshad med bzhi) Also
called the four inconceivables or the four boundless qualities.
They are unlimited love, boundless compassion, unsurpassable joy,
four noble truths (Tib. ‘phags pa’i
bden pa bzhi) First sermon taught by the Buddha, at
Sarnath, India. The four noble truths are the truth of suffering,
the truth of the causes of suffering, the truth of the cessation
of suffering, and the truth of the path leading to the cessation
four ordinary foundations See four
four powers (Tib. stobs bzhi) To be
authentic and fully effective, any act of confession must contain
all four of the following components—the power of reliance
or support; the power of regret; the power of remedy for harmful
actions, which is any virtuous action specifically dedicated to
purification; and the power of resolution, or the intention never
to repeat the wrongdoing.
four special foundations See ngondro.
four thoughts that turn the mind (Tib. blo ldog
rnam bzhi) They are reflection on precious human birth,
impermanence and the inevitability of death, karma and its effects,
and the pervasiveness of suffering in samsara.
ganachakra (Skt.) [Tib. tshogs kyi ‘khor
lo] Literally, “wheel of gathering.” A
ritual feast offering, part of many sadhanas.
gandi (Skt.) A wooden gong, which
when beaten with a wooden stick, calls the community to come together
for work, ceremonies, and other matters.
gelong (Tib. dge slong) [Skt. bhikshu] A
fully ordained Buddhist monk.
gelong Dorje Dzinpa (Tib. dge slong rdo rje ‘dzin
pa) Gelong refers to the vows kept by the fully ordained,
and Dorje Dzinpa refers to the tantric samayas. Clear examples
of ordained monks who are Vajrayana practitioners and turn the
wheel of the tantric teachings are His Holiness the Dalai Lama
and His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa.
gelongma (Tib. dge slong ma) [Skt. bhikshuni] A
fully ordained Buddhist nun.
gelopma (Tib.) [Skt. shikshamana] A postulant
nun. Women are required to take the vows for a postulant nun,
which are taken after the vows for a novice nun and before the
vows of full ordination. See also getsulma and gelongma.
Geluk (Tib. dge lugs) One of the four
main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and the most recent of the New
Translation schools, founded by Tsongkhapa (1357–1419 ce).
generation and completion (Tib. bskyed rim and rdzogs
rim) Two stages that are the means and knowledge of
Vajrayana practice. The creation phase, the visualization, is
based on pure perception (perceiving sight, sound, and thought
as deity, mantra, and wisdom). The completion stage is resting
in the natural state of mind.
genyen (Tib. dge bsnyen) [Skt. upasaka] A
Buddhist layman who is given this status by taking refuge in the
Three Jewels. He maintains precepts and gives alms to ordained
genyen Dorje Dzinpa (Tib. dge bsnyen rdo rje
‘dzin pa) Genyen refers to the vows of the lay
practitioner, and Dorje Dzinpa refers to the tantric samayas.
Genyen Dorje Dzinpa are tantric teachers who are not ordained.
This includes highly respected lamas such as His Holiness Sakya
Trizin of the Sakya tradition and His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche
of the Nyingma lineage.
genyenma (Tib. dge bsnyen ma) [Skt. upasika] A
Buddhist laywoman, who is given this status by taking refuge in
the Three Jewels. She maintains precepts and gives alms to ordained
getsul (Tib. dge tshul) [Skt. shramanera] A
getsulma (Tib. dge tshul ma) [Skt. shramaneri] A
god realm See six realms.
guru yoga (Tib. bla ma’i rnal ‘byor) A
practice of devotion to the guru culminating in receiving his
blessing and becoming inseparable with his mind. It is also the
fourth preliminary practice of the Vajrayana ngondro.
hell realm See six realms.
Hinayana (Skt.) [Tib. theg pa dman] The
vehicle or path in which practitioners contemplate the four noble
truths and the twelve links of interdependence with the aim of
achieving liberation from the sufferings of samsara. The only
Hinayana school that survives today is the Theravadin.
human realm See six realms.
hungry ghost realm See six realms.
interdependent origination (Tib. rten ‘brel)
[Skt. pratityasamutpada] The doctrine that nothing
exists independently, but only comes into existence dependent
on previous causes and conditions. See also twelve links.
Jambudvipa (Skt.) [Tib. ‘dzam bu gling] The
southern of the four principal continents in Buddhist cosmology.
Jetsun (Tib. rje btsun) A title indicating
a master, teacher, or lord; for example, Jetsun Milarepa.
Kadampa (Skt.) [Tib. bka’ gdams pa] A
tradition brought to Tibet by Atisha at the end of the first millenium.
The Kadampa school, which emphasized the gradual path, has not
survived as an independent school, but rather has been absorbed
into the other schools.
Kagyu (Tib. bka’ brgyud) The
teaching lineage, whose teachings and practices are passed down
through a succession of realized teachers. The Kagyu traces its
lineage back to the mahasiddha Tilopa, who received the teachings
directly from Vajradhara. The Kagyu are particularly known for
their many great yogis as well as the monastic tradition that
began with Gampopa (1079–1153). One of the four main lineages
of Buddhism in Tibet and one of the three main schools of the
New Translation school, the Kagyupa school is subdivided into
four greater and eight lesser lineages, not all of which have
survived to the present day.
Kalachakra (Skt.) [Tib. dus kyi khor lo’i
rgyud] The literal meaning is “wheel of time.”
A deity manifested by Shakaymuni Buddha at the request of the
king of Shambhala. Kalachakra is an anuttara yoga tantra. Receiving
the empowerment is thought to guarantee rebirth in Shambhala.
karma (Skt.) [Tib. las] Action. The
universal law of cause and effect according to which one inevitably
experiences the results of one’s own positive and negative
Karma Kagyu (Tib. ka rma bka’ brgyud) The
supreme Kagyu sect under the leadership of the Gyalwa Karmapas.
It was established, in the twelfth century, by the first Karmapa,
Dusum Khyenpa (1110–1193), one of Gampopa’s students.
See also Kagyu and Karmapa.
Karmapa (Tib. ka rma pa) The Gyalwa
Karmapa, is the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
The present Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the seventeenth in
an unbroken lineage that began with Dusum Khyenpa. The Gyalwa
Karmapas, who embody the activity of buddhahood, were prophesied
by both Buddha Shakyamuni and Padmasambhava. A manifestation of
Chenrezik, they are pure examples of wisdom and compassion, and
have revealed their realization as scholars, yogins, artists,
and poets. See also Kagyu, Karma Kagyu, and Dusum Khyenpa.
kaya (Skt.) [Tib. sku] The three natures,
or “bodies,” of buddhas. The three kayas are the nirmanakaya,
or emanation body, by which buddhas appear in physical form in
the realm of sentient beings; the sambhogakaya, or enjoyment body,
through which buddhas appear to bodhisattvas; and the dharmakaya,
which is the unoriginated wisdom beyond form, which manifests
in the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya. There is a fourth kaya,
the svabhavikakaya, or the body of essential nature, and it expresses
the ultimate unity of the three aforementioned kayas. The term
rupakaya, “form body,” refers to both the sambhogakaya
and the nirmanakaya. There is a fifth kaya as well, the mahasukhakaya,
or body of great bliss, which is the quality of the other four
khenpo (Tib. mkhen po) Title of someone
who has completed the advanced studies of Buddhism.
klesha (Skt.) [Tib. snyon mongs] Emotional
obscurations. The three primary kleshas, the three poisons, are
attachment or desire, aversion or anger, and ignorance or delusion.
Along with pride and envy, they are referred to as the five kleshas.
kriya tantra (Skt.) [Tib. bya ba’i rgyud] Action
tantra. The first of the outer tantras; focusing on cleanliness,
purity, and correct behavior.
Lotus sutra, Sutra of the Lotus of the True Doctrine
(Tib. dam pa’i chos padma dkar po’i
mdo) [Skt. Saddharma-pundarika-sutra] A foundational text of Mahayana
Buddhism in which the Buddha explains the principles underlying
the unity of the three yanas and the concept of skillful means
in adapting the teaching to the capacities of different beings.
lung (Tib.) Reading transmission given
to a student by a lineage holder, which is a necessary preliminary
to doing the practice.
Mahamudra (Skt.) [Tib. phyag rgya chen po] Literally,
“great seal.” A meditation practice particularly emphasized
in the Kagyu
tradition, Mahamudra is the direct experience of the empty, luminous,
and pure nature of mind.
mahasiddha (Skt.) [Tib. grub thob chen po] Great
adept; the highly realized masters in the Vajrayana tradition.
Also refers to the eighty-four great and eccentric mahasiddhas
who lived in India between the eighth and twelfth centuries ce
and who reached great spiritual attainment through the diligent
practice of tantra. Tilopa and Naropa are two of the eighty-four
mahasukhakaya See kaya.
Mahayana (Skt.) [Tib. theg pa chen po] The
“greater vehicle.” The teachings of the second turning
of the wheel of Dharma in which shunyata (emptiness) and compassion
for all beings are emphasized. See also bodhichitta, bodhisattva.
Maitreya (Skt.) [Tib. byams pa] The
buddha of the future, who at the present time resides in Tushita,
a heavenly realm, from which he emanates manifestations into other
realms. He will take birth as the fifth buddha of the present
mandala (Skt.) [Tib. dkhyil ‘khor] Symbolic
representation depicting the palace of a particular deity. These
circular diagrams are sometimes elaborately executed with grains
of colored sand and are used for empowerments and elaborate meditation
practices. The mandala offering, the third of the four special
foundations, perfects the accumulation of merit by repeatedly
offering the entire universe to the sources of refuge.
Manjushri (Skt.) [Tib. ‘jam dpal dbyangs] The
bodhisattva manifesting the perfection of wisdom and thus a frequent
figure in the prajnaparamita sutras of the Mahayana tradition.
He is shown wearing sambhogakaya ornaments and holding a flaming
sword in his right hand and a text in his left hand.
mantra (Skt.) [Tib. sngags] Sacred
sounds representing various energies that symbolize and communicate
the nature of a deity. Mantras, which are manifestations of the
speech aspect of enlightenment, range from single syllables to
lengthy combinations. om mani peme hung, the mantra of Chenrezik,
is among the most widely practiced.
mara (Skt.) [Tib. bdud] Mara is anything
that obstructs the practice of Dharma and seduces you into abandoning
your practice in favor of worldly activities. The first of the
four maras is the deva putra mara, which is attachment to and
craving for pleasure. The second, the klesha mara, causes one
to take rebirth in the six realms of samsara. The third is called
skandha mara because the skandhas or aggregates are the cause
for the presence of suffering. The fourth one is the mara of death.
mental afflictions See kleshas.
Milarepa (Tib. mi la ras pa) This
famous yogi (1040–1143) is one of the greatest and most
celebrated teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. Despite having accumulated
heavy negative karma in his early adulthood, he became the student
of Marpa and attained full awakening in one lifetime. He then
composed the 100,000 Songs, spontaneously created to elucidate
his experience of realization. His students include Gampopa and
mountain dharma (Tib. ri chö) Refers to
serious retreat practice, especially solitary retreat in the mountains.
The essential point of mountain Dharma is to abandon all concerns
of this life and to undertake solitary retreat with the intent
of experiencing the nature of your mind.
Mount Meru (Tib. ri rab lhun po) The
giant mountain at the center of the Buddhist world system that
is surrounded by smaller mountains, lakes, oceans, and the four
continents. Meru, or Sumeru, is visualized as a vast peak, and
serves as the focus of mandala offerings.
naga (Skt.) [Tib. klu] Powerful serpent
beings who inhabit waters and are often the custodians of treasures,
either texts or actual material treasures.
Nagarjuna (Skt.) [Tib. klu sgrub] A
leading Buddhist philosopher in the interpretation of shunyata,
the founder of the Madhyamaka school, and the author of The
Fundamental Treatise of the Middle Way. Lived in India in
the late second century ce.
Nam Chö (Tib. gnam chos) Literally,
“Sky Dharma.” A tradition of terma.
namthar (Tib. rnam thar) Literally,
“records of liberation.” Biographies of the enlightened
masters of Tibet containing the spiritual path by which the master
attained enlightenment, most often written by their disciples.
ngondro (Tib. sngon ‘gro) The preliminary
practices of Tibetan Buddhism in which the practitioner begins
the Vajrayana path, performing 111,111 repetitions of refuge prayers
and prostrations; 111,111 Vajrasattva mantras; 111,111 mandala
offerings; and 111,111 guru yoga practices. The preliminary practices
prepare the student for the successive stages on the Vajrayana
nirmanakaya See kaya.
nirvana (Skt.) [Tib. mya ngan las ‘das
pa] The extinction of the causes of samsaric existence—false
ideas and afflictive emotions—accomplished by spiritual
practice and resulting in liberation from cyclic existence. See
nyalwa dorje den (Tib. mnyal bar do rje gdan) Vajra
hell, where the suffering is limitless and unbearable.
Nyingma (Tib. rnying ma) The “old”
school, or ancient translation school, which represents the Buddhist
teachings as they were first translated into Tibetan from Sanskrit
and other languages. This school began in the eighth century ce
with Padmasambhava, who buried terma, or hidden treasures, to
be discovered at the appropriate time in the future by tertons,
or treasure discoverers. Dzokchen is the highest meditation practice
in the Nyingma tradition.
nyungne (Tib. smyung gnas) The fasting
practice of Thousand-armed Chenrezik, the bodhisattva of infinite
Padmasambhava (Skt.) [Tib. pad ma ‘byung
gnas, gu ru rin po che] Literally, the “lotus-born”
buddha of Uddiyana, who brought the Vajrayana teachings to Tibet
in the ninth century ce. He subdued the negative forces of Tibet,
founded the Nyingma school, and concealed Dharmic treasures (terma)
for the benefit of future generations.
Palden Lhamo (Tib. dpal ldan lha mo) [Skt. Shri
Devi] Female Dharma protector, the only female of the
eight Dharma protectors.
paramita (Skt.) [Tib. pha rol tu phyin pa] Reaching
the other shore, transcending concepts of subject, object, and
action. The six paramitas, or the six perfections, are the transcendent
actions of generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation,
and knowledge. The ten paramitas include these six plus means,
strength, power, and wisdom.
parinirvana (Skt.) [Tib. yongs su mya ngan las’das
pa] Final nirvana, the highest nirvana, which is entered
at death once having achieved complete enlightenment.
prajnaparamita (Skt.) [Tib. shes rab kyi pha
rol tu phyin pa] Transcendent knowledge. The Mahayana teachings
on the cultivation of insight resulting in the direct realization
pratimoksha vow (Skt.) [Tib. so sor thar pa] Literally,
“individual liberation.” The self-liberating vow that
constitutes the basic ethical commitments of a lay disciple, a
novice, or a monastic.
Pratyekabuddha (Skt.) [Tib. rang sangs rgyas] A
solitary realized one. A Hinayana arhat who concentrates on his
or her own liberation and contemplates the twelve links of interdependence.
puja (Skt.) [Tib. mchod pa] Buddhist
ceremonies that range from the very simple to the most elaborate.
See also sadhana.
Raga Asya (Skt.) Sanskrit for Karma
Rangjung Dorje (Tib. rang ‘byung rdo rje) The
Third Karmapa (1284–1339), renowned for his texts used extensively
in the Kagyu lineage, among which are The Aspiration Prayer
of Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning, The Profound Inner Meaning,
and Treatise on Buddha Essence.
renunciation (Tib. nges ‘byung) The
stable renunciation of samsara, which means that what you previously
regarded with attachment you now regard with revulsion and disgust
because you recognize the futility of samsara and the value of
liberation. See also four thoughts and four powers.
root guru (Tib. rtsa ba’i bla ma) According
to the anuttara yoga tradition of the Vajrayana, your root guru
is the embodiment of all buddhas because the mind of the guru
is the dharmakaya, the wisdom of all buddhas. Since the guru is
the source of Dharma, the speech of the guru is the embodiment
of all Dharma. Whether the guru manifests as a monastic or as
a chakravartin, the body of the guru as the foremost member of
the sangha is the embodiment of the whole sangha. The qualities
of the guru are what manifest as the yidams and other deities,
and the activity of the guru is what manifests as dakinis and
Dharma protectors. In Karma Chakme’s Mountain Dharma
your root guru is defined as the teacher who points out the nature
of your mind.
Rudra (Tib. ru dra) The demon of ego
clinging. In Tibetan Buddhism, the personification of the destructiveness
rupakaya See kaya.
sadhana (Skt.) [Tib. grub thabs] Literally,
“means of accomplishment.” A Vajrayana liturgy and
method for one of many deities that includes chanting, visualization,
and mantra recitation. See also puja.
Sakya (Tib. sa kya) One of the four
main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineage, headed by His Holiness
Sakya Trizin, is passed from father to son. It emphasizes lam
dre teachings and Buddhist logic.
Samantabhadra (Skt.) [Tib. kun tu bzang po] Literally,
“all good.” One of the eight great bodhisattvas, he
is an emanation of Vajrasattva, and the primordial dharmakaya
buddha for the Nyingma lineage.
samaya (Skt.) [Tib. dam tshig] Sacred
word or vow. The sacred commitment of Vajrayana is primarily to
one’s root guru and to the practice one has committed to,
but also to the sangha.
sambhogakaya See kaya.
samsara (Skt.) [Tib. ‘khor ba] Cyclic
existence, in which ordinary beings are trapped in an endless
cycle of rebirth in the six realms, which contain endless suffering.
The state of ordinary beings bound to suffering by attachment,
aggression, and ignorance. See also nirvana.
samyaksambuddha (Skt.) [Tib. yang dag par rdzogs
pa’i sangs rgyas] Completely and perfectly awakened.
Sangha (Skt.) [Tib. dge ‘dun] The
community of practitioners who have taken refuge in the Three
Jewels. Also, the noble sangha of realized ones.
Sarma (Tib. Sar ma) The New Translation
school, which includes the Kagyu, Geluk, and Sakya schools. These
schools rely on the texts of the second propagation, brought by
secret mantra (Tib. gsang sngags) Refers
to the Vajrayana.
seven branches Stanzas of confession
from the “Seven Branches,” found in The Aspiration
to the Conduct of Excellence, a part of many sadhanas.
shamatha (Skt.) [Tib. zhi gnas] Literally, “calm
abiding.” Tranquillity meditation in which the meditator
uses techniques, such as following the breath, to attain a calm
and focused mind. See also vipashana.
Shariputra Highly regarded arhat and
foremost disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni, he was known for his attainment
of wisdom and his exemplary qualities of compassion, patience,
and humility. The Buddha declared that Shariputra was a perfect
shinay (Tib.) See shamatha
shramanera (Skt.) See getsul.
shramaneri (Skt.) See getsulma.
Shravaka (Skt.) [Tib. nyan thos] Early
disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni, the Shravakas practiced meditation
and contemplated the Buddha’s words, which they actually
heard because they were present at that time. The Shravakayana
was the first yana.
shunyata (Skt.) [Tib. stong pa nyid] Emptiness.
Conceptual frameworks are empty of any true essence or self, are
dependent on causes and conditions, and thus lack inherent existence.
siddhi (Skt.) [Tib. dngos grub] Accomplishment.
The eight ordinary siddhis show mastery of the mundane everyday
world; the supreme siddhi is enlightenment.
Sister Palmo A Western woman, a devotee
of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, was ordained by His Holiness
as Gelongma Kachok Palmo, but was known as Sister Palmo. With
His Holiness, she helped to found and operate a school for young
lamas. Initially, some forty young tulkus from the four traditions
of Tibetan Buddhism attended the school, acquired English, and
were able to greatly benefit many Westerners. She traveled with
His Holiness to the West in 1974. Sister Palmo was responsible
for making available many early translations of sadhanas and prayers.
She also significantly helped the Tibetans in their early years
six dharmas of Naropa (Tib. na ro chos drug) Naropa
taught Marpa these tantric practices, which are an important part
of the Kagyu teachings and a standard practice in the traditional
three-year, three-month, three-day retreat. They consist of tummo,
illusory body, dream yoga, clear light, bardo, and phowa.
six realms (Tib. khams drug) The six
realms of samsaric existence as shown on the Wheel of Life. The
god realm is the highest of the six realms, where beings are dominated
by pride and suffer because they will fall to the lower realms.
In the asura realm, the beings are dominated by jealousy and envy
and suffer as a result of their constant quarreling and fighting.
The human realm is characterized by desire and attachment, and
although the beings suffer from ceaseless struggle, it is the
best rebirth because one has the opportunity to practice Dharma.
The animal realm is dominated by ignorance and stupidity; beings
there suffer from constant fear. The hungry ghost realm is dominated
by greed, and the preta beings suffer terribly from hunger and
thirst. The lowest of the realms, the hell realm, is dominated
by hatred and aggression, and the beings endure intense suffering.
six-syllable mantra Usually refers
to om mani peme hung, the mantra of Chenrezik. In Karma Chakme’s
Mountain Dharma, it often refers to the six-syllable essence
mantra of Vajrasattva, om benza satto hung.
skandha (Skt.) [Tib. phung po lnga] Literally,
“heap.” The five skandhas, or aggregates, are form,
feeling, conception, formation, and consciousness. In the confused
state, we cling to one or another aspect of these five as a concrete
self. When the skandhas are actually seen for what they are, no
self is found in them, either singly or taken together. In Vajrayana
they are correlated to the five buddhas of the mandala.
soha Tibetan transliteration of the
Sanskrit word svaha.
stupa (Skt.) [Tib. mchod rten] A monument
that contains the relics of the Buddha or high teacher. The stupa
symbolizes the dharmakaya, the mind of the Buddha, and can range
from small and simple to monumental structures.
Sutra Taught to the King (Tib.
rgyal po la gdams pa’i mdo) [Skt. rajavavadaka] The
Buddha’s summary of the commitments of the bodhisattva vow.
Svabhavikakaya See kaya.
tantrika (Skt.) [Tib. ngags pa] Tantric
Tathagata (Skt.) [Tib. de bzhin gshegs pa] Literally,
“thus-gone.” A fully enlightened buddha.
tathagatagarbha (Skt.) [Tib. de bzhin gshegs
pa’i snying po] The essence of the tathagatas,
it is the seed or essence of enlightenment that all beings have
and is what gives them the potential to be a buddha.
ten unvirtuous actions There are three
unvirtuous actions of body: to intentionally kill, to steal or
take that which is not offered, and to engage in sexual misconduct.
The four unvirtuous actions involving speech are lying, slander,
verbal abuse, and mindless talk. The three types of mental unvirtuous
actions are covetousness, spite or maliciousness, and wrong view.
ten virtuous actions These involve
abandoning the ten unvi