Alikākāravāda (False Aspectarians)—One of the two systems of Yogācāra. A debate about the reality of mental appearances led to the subdivision of Yogācāra. According to Alikākāravāda, neither phenomena nor appearances in the mind that reflect them really exist. What exists in reality is the luminous mind.
Ātman—a Sanskrit word that means “self” or “breath”; it is used in Hinduism to describe the concept of the inner Self.
Bardo Thodol—Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State, authored by the noble Padmasambhava, is revealed by Karma Lingpa, a Nyingma literature best known in the West as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Described in great detail is the entire process of death that spans the dissolution of the body, the 49 days of wandering in the intermediate state, and the final outcome either of liberation or rebirth in one of the six realms.
Bhūmi—refers to the ten stages a bodhisattva advances through on the path to become a buddha.
Chöd—an advanced tantric practice that combines the prajnaparamita teachings with the practice of lojong (mind training). Chöd means “cutting through,” that is, severing mistaken concepts of the world of appearances and all illusions regarding the existence of a personal self.
Chönyi bardo—the bardo of dharmata. The fifth bardo of the luminosity of the true nature which starts after the final ‘inner breath’. Within this bardo, vision and auditory phenomena occur.
Dharmadhatu—Realm of the Dharma; it is the purified mind in its natural state, the nature of mind, free of obscurations.
Dōngmì—Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, refers to the Shingon School in Japan; it was established by the Buddhist monk named Kūkai who travelled to China in 804 to study esoteric Buddhism during the Tang Dynasty.
Dzogchen—an abbreviation of the Tibetan word Dzopachenpo; ‘dzogpa’ means ‘complete’, ‘chenpo’ means ‘great’, it is widely translated as ‘Great Perfection’. Dzogchen can be traced to two original Sanskrit terms. The first is Mahasandhi which means the quintessence, signifying that Dzogchen is the very essence of all teachings. The second is Atiyoga; Ati indicates the topmost or zenith. Atiyoga or Dzogchen is the zenith of all yanas or vehicles.
Five hellish deeds—The five kinds of transgression are killing one’s father, killing one’s mother, killing an arhat, harming the Buddha, and destroying the sangha. Since these actions are the most serious of all transgressions, any one action leads to instant rebirth in hell.
Four or eight dhyanas—The four dhyanas are the four levels of meditation in the form realm; the eight dhyanas are the four levels of meditation in the form realm and the four levels of meditation in the formless realm.
Four ways of gathering disciples—being generous, speaking kindly, giving encouragement, acting according to what one teaches.
Guhyagarbha Tantra—The fuller title is the Web of Magical Illusion, The Secret Essence Definitive Nature Just as It Is. Alternatively, it can be condensed to the title of Tantra of the Web of Magical Illusion. It is the main tantra of the Mahayoga.
Jigme Lingpa (1729-1798)—He was a tertön of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and the promulgator of the Longchen Nyingthik, the Heart Essence teachings of Longchenpa. The Longchen Nyingthik eventually became the most famous and widely practiced cycle of Dzongchen teachings. Jigme Lingpa was also the major precursor of the Rimé movement.
Jonang School—It is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism; its origins can be traced to the early 12th century. The Jonang tradition combines two specific teachings: the Zhentong Madhyamaka philosophy and the Kalacakra Tantra.
Kālacakra Tantra—Kālacakra is classified as a Mother Tantra within Highest Yoga Tantra in Tibetan Buddhism. Kala denotes time—not linear, but like our concept of space; it contains all movements of things in the past, present, and future; it does not signify a specific direction or place. The Kālacakra deity represents wisdom; since it is conjoined with the three times, it is all knowing. Cakra denotes wheel, not only the wheel of time, but also the mode in which the unsurpassed bliss of attaining buddhahood pervades like the sun over all sentient beings. Cakra is unarising and unceasing; it is also a symbol of the Dharma. There are three types of Kālacakra that exist concurrently: external, the physical world outside; internal, the subtle nature of one’s body; and alternative, the path to actualizing buddhahood. The Kālacakra was taught by Sakyamuni Buddha at the request of Suchandra, king of Shambhala, in Amaravati in southeastern India. When the Buddha manifested as the Kālacakra deity, the Kālacakra mandala also appeared. The mandala is the abode of the deity, supported beneath by Mount Meru; inside are palaces, objects of offering, and the deity. Within the mandala are 722 deities, all of which are different expressions of the enlightened mind.
Kangyur—“Translation of the Word” consists of works in 1169 texts, 101-120 volumes supposed to have been spoken by the Buddha himself. With Tengyur, the two form the basis of Tibetan Buddhist canon.
Kapala—Sanskrit for “skull”; a cup made from a human skull and used as a ritual object.
Madhyamaka (Middle Way)—one of the two foundational doctrinal systems of Indian Mahayana Buddhism, which flourished from the 3rd century CE to the 12th-13th centuries when Buddhism disappeared from the subcontinent. It took root in Tibet in the 7th century, where it served as the cornerstone of all the scholastically inclined Buddhist sects.
Longchenpa (1308-1364)—also known as Longchen Rabjam or Drimé Özer, was one of the most brilliant and prominent teachers of the Nyingma lineage. He systematized the Nyingma teachings in his ‘Seven Treasures’, wrote extensively on Dzogchen, and transmitted the Longchen Nyingtik cycle of teachings and practice.
Relative truth—It describes our daily experience of a concrete world. As it is difficult for ordinary people to understand absolute reality, relative truth, like the finger pointing to the moon or the boat crossing to the other shore, serves as the necessary means to reach the ultimate understanding of reality.
Rongzom Pandita—Rongzom Chökyi Zangpo aka Rongzompa lived in the 11th century. Together with Longchenpa and Ju Mipham, he is often considered to be one of the three “omniscient” writers of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He met Atisa in his youth, who recognized Rongzompa as an emanation of the Indian mahasiddha Krishnacharya.
Sadhana—a tantric liturgy, the instructions for carrying out certain practice.
Samdhinirmocana Sutra—Sutra of the Explanation of the Profound Secrets.
Sarvastivada—an early Buddhist school that upholds “the theory of all exists.”
Sattva—(Sanskrit) In Hinduism, it is one of the three types of innate nature that is present in all things and beings in the world; it means virtue, peacefulness, purity, etc. Later on, it acquired the meaning of mind, or manifestation of mind. In Tibetan Buddhism, it means the mind of courage, denoting the quality of a bodhisattva.
Satyākāravāda (True Aspectarians)—One of the two systems of Yogācāra. According to Satyākāravāda, appearances reflected in consciousness have a real existence, because they are of one nature with their creator, the really existent consciousness.
Sautrantika—an early Buddhist school whose name literally means “those who rely upon the sutras.”
Svabhavikakaya—“essence kaya”, one of the four kayas of a buddha, and constituting the unity of the three kayas.
Tathāgatagarbha—the concept of the “womb” or “embryo” (garbha) of the tathāgata, the buddha. Originated in India, it is closely related to the term Buddhadhatu, or buddha-nature.
Tengyur—“Translation of Treatises” is the Tibetan collection of commentaries, treatises, and abhidharma on the Buddhist teachings. It comprises 4093 texts in 220-250 volumes. Kangyur and Tengyur form the basis of Tibetan Buddhist canon.
Tiklé—(Tibetan; Sanskrit: bindu) vital essence.
Tögal—one of the two aspects, along with trekchö, of Dzogchen practice. Translated as ‘direct crossing’ or ‘leap-over’, the practice of tögal can quickly achieve the actual realization of the three kayas in this lifetime. It brings the realization of ‘spontaneous presence’ and can only be undertaken when one has first gained stability in the practice of trekchö.
Tonglen—It means ‘sending and receiving’ in Tibetan. As a training on altruism, one practices tonglen by visualizing taking in the suffering of others on the in-breath and giving compassion and succor to all sentient beings on the out-breath.
Trekchö—one of the two aspects, along with tögal, of Dzogchen practice. Translated as ‘thoroughly cutting through’ or ‘breakthrough’, it means cutting through delusion with fierce, direct thoroughness. The primordial purity and natural simplicity of the nature of mind is thus revealed.
Trichiliocosm—A concept found in the cosmology of Mahayana Buddhism in which the universe is said to be comprised of three thousand clusters of world-systems each of which consists of a thousand worlds.
Trikaya—Upon the attainment of buddhahood, enlightenment manifests at three levels which are known as the three bodies (trikaya) of the Buddha: dharmakaya, the Absolute or Truth Body; sambhogakaya, the Enjoyment Body; nirmanakaya, the Emanation Body.
Tsok—The Sanskrit word for tsok practice is ganachakra, which in Tibetan literal translation is “wheel of accumulation”; it is primarily a practice of offering, but is also a powerful method for purifying the samaya.
Ultimate truth—It describes the ultimate reality as sunyata, empty of concrete and inherent characteristics; it is the true reality seen by the divine.
Yogācāra (Consciousness Only)—one of the two foundational doctrinal systems of Mahayana Buddhism. The school emerged in India about the 2nd century CE but gained prominence and greatest productivity in the 4th century, during the time of Asanga and Vasubandhu.