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Glossary of Key Terms



Abhidharma mngon-pa’i chos
This is a generic term referring to the classical Buddhist literature on phenomen-ology, psychology, epistemology, and cosmology.
Abhirati mngon-par dga’-ba, Skt. Abhirati The eastern buddha field of Manifest Joy is the pure realm associated with the male buddha Aksobhya-Vajrasattva.
Abiding Nature of Reality gnas-lugs The ‘abiding nature of reality’ is a synonym for emptiness as well as the expanse of actual reality (dharmadhdtu).
Absence of Self-identity bdag-med, Skt. nairdtmya See Selflessness.
Accomplished Master grub-thob, Skt. siddha
An accomplished master is one who has fully developed the supreme and common spiritual accomplishments.
Accomplishment dngos-grub, Skt. siddhi Spiritual accomplishments may be supreme or common. The former (mchog-gi dngos-grub) refers to the accomplishment of enlightenment or buddhahood. The latter (thun-mong-gi dngos-grub) are a series of mystical powers gained through meditative practices, which are based on mantra recitation in the context of specific rituals.
Accumulation tshogs, Skt. sambhdra The Tibetan word tshogs generally has two senses, corresponding to the Sanskrit sambhdra and gana. In the former case it refers to the two accumulations of merit (Tib. bsod-nams-kyi tshogs, Skt. punyasambhdra) and pristine cognition (Tib. ye-shes-kyi tshogs, Skt. jndnasambhdra), which are gathered by bodhisattvas on the path to buddhahood. The fulfilment of the ‘two accumulations’ constitutes the fruition of the entire path, according to the Greater Vehicle (Mahdydna), resulting in the maturation of the Buddha-body of Form (rupakdya) and the Buddha-body of Reality (dharmakdya) respectively. For the second meaning of tshogs, see Feast-offering.
Accumulation of Merit bsod-natns-kyi tshogs, Skt. punyasambhdra See Merit.
Actual Reality chos-nyid, Skt. dharmatd According to the Greater Vehicle or Mahdydna Buddhism, actual reality is a synonym for emptiness (sunyatd), which refers to the ultimate nature of reality. See also Apparent reality.
Aeon bskal-pa, Skt. kalpa The aeon is a fundamentally important concept in the traditional Indian and Buddhist understanding of cyclical time. According to Abhidharma literature, a great aeon (mahdkalpa) is divided into eighty lesser or intervening aeons. In the course of one great aeon, the external universe and its sentient life-forms unfold and disappear. During the first twenty of the lesser aeons, the universe is in the process of creation and expansion (vivartakalpa); during the next twenty it remains created; during the third twenty, it is in the process of destruction or contraction (samvartakalpa); and during the last quarter of the cycle, it remains in a state of destruction.
Aggregate phung-po, Skt. skandha A general philosophical term referring to the principal psycho-physical components which constitute the mind-body complex of a sentient being. Buddhist literature speaks of five such components, technically known as the five psycho-physical aggregates (pahcaskandha). These are: the aggregate of form (rupaskandha), the aggregate of feelings (vedandskandha), the aggregate of perceptions (samjnds-kandha), the aggregate of motivational tendencies (samskdraskandha), and the aggregate of consciousness (vijndnaskandha). The Tibetan term phung-po, like its Sanskrit counterpart, literally means a ‘heap’ or a ‘pile’, an aggregate of many parts. Sentient beings in the desire and form realms manifestly possess all the five aggregates and those in the formless realm only the four mental aggregates.
Aggregate of Consciousness mam-par shes-pa’i phung-po, Skt. vijndnaskandha In the context of our text the aggregate of consciousness comprises the so-called ‘eight classes of consciousness’ (rnam-shes tshogs-brgyad). These are: i) theground-of-all consciousness (kun-gzhi mam-par shes-pa), which is an undifferentiated foundational consciousness underlying all the other aspects of consciousness in which are stored the imprints left by past experiences; 2) the deluded consciousness (nyon-mong yid-kyi mam-par shes-pa), which is pervaded by fundamental ignorance and is responsible for our sense of selfhood and dualistic misapprehension of the true nature of phenomena; 3) the mental consciousness (yid-kyi rnam-par shes-pa), which objectively refers to mental constructs, thoughts and the experience of our senses; 4) visual consciousness (mig-gi rnam-par shes-pa); 5) auditory consciousness (rna’i rnam-par shes-pa); 6) olfactory consciousness (sna’i rnam-par shes-pa); 7) gustatory consciousness (Ice’i rnam-par shes-pa); and 8) tactile consciousness (lus-kyi rnam-par shes-pa).
Aggregate of Feelings tshor-ba’i phung-po, Skt. vedandskandha The aggregate of feelings encompasses the pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral sensations which arise as an immediate reaction to objects of our senses.
Aggregate of Form gzugs-kyi phung-po, Skt. rupaskandha The aggregate of form includes both the subtle and manifest forms derived from the elements and experienced through the five senses, including, of course, our bodies and the environment. The aggregate of form is considered to have fifteen aspects, namely those related to the elements, earth, water, fire and wind; those related to the five sense objects, visual forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and contacts; those related to the five sense-organs, eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body, and, lastly, that aspect related to imperceptible forms which are said to be continuously present throughout past, present and future time.
Aggregate of Motivational Tendencies ‘du-byas-kyi phung-po, Skt. samskdraskandha The aggregate of motivational tendencies, sometimes translated also as ‘mental formations’, refers to the array of specific types of causative mental states which give rise to our characteristic perspectives and emotions and which in turn condition our actions. These are the motivating impulses behind our thoughts, speech and actions which relate in specific ways to the perceived object. This aggregate includes the numerous modalities of the mind, such as the fifty-one mental factors listed in the abhidbarma texts, as well as our habits, dispositions, and conceptualisation tendencies.
Aggregate of Perceptions ‘du-shes-kyi phung-po, Skt. samjMskandha The aggregate of perceptions recognises and identifies forms and objects. It differentiates one form/object from another and names them. This process includes extensive, minute, and mediocre modes of objectifying perception.
Akanistha ’og-min The central buddha field of Akanistha (lit. the ‘Highest’), also known as the Dense
Array (GhanavyUha), is the pure realm associated with the male buddha Vairocana.
AlakavatI Icang-lo-can AlakavatI is the name of the abode of the male bodhisattva Vajrapdni.
All-surpassing Realisation thod-rgal, Skt. vyutkrdntaka See under Cutting through Resistance.
Altruistic Intention to Attain Enlightenment sems-bskyed, Skt. cittotpdda See Bodhicitta.
Ancillary Commitments yan-lag-gi dam-tshig See Commitments.
Anguished Spirits yi-dvags, Skt. preta Among the six classes of living beings, the anguished spirits are characterised as being in a state of existence which, in terms of the degree of suffering, is intermediate to the animal and hell realms. Born as a result of a preponderance of miserliness in their past actions, they are characterised by unsatisfied craving.
Antigod lha-ma-yin, Skt. asura One of six classes of living beings (’gro-ba rigs-drug). The mode of being and activity of the antigods is said to be engendered and dominated by envy, self-centred ambition and hostility. They are metaphorically described as being incessantly embroiled in a dispute with the gods (Skt. devalsura) over the possession of a magical tree.
Anuyoga rjes su rnal- ’byor The eighth of the nine vehicles, and second of the three inner classes of tantra, according to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Anuyoga emphasises the perfection stage of meditation (satnpannakrama).
Apparent Reality chos-can, Skt. dharmin According to the Greater Vehicle, the apparent reality of phenomena refers to the world of conventional truth characterised by duality, cause and effect and multi-plicity. This is contrasted with the actual reality, which is the ultimate nature of phenomena. See Two Truths.
Arhat dgra-bcotn-pa A being who has attained freedom from the cycle of existence (samsdra) by eliminating the karmic tendencies and the dissonant mental states which give rise to compulsive existence in a cycle of death and rebirth. Arhat, literally ‘worthy’, is interpreted to mean ‘Foe Destroyer’, the foe in this context being the dissonant mental states which are at the root of our conditioned existence. The status of an arhat is the ideal goal to which practitioners of the Lesser Vehicle aspire. An individual person who becomes an arhat has still not become a fully enlightened buddha. This is because the attainment of buddhahood requires, in addition to the elimination of the dissonant mental states, a total overcoming of all the habitual tendencies imprinted upon our mental continuum by our long association with deluded states of mind. In other words, the attainment of full enlightenment requires the total overcoming of all personal limitations, which can be achieved only through a path that possesses the unification of the skilful means of universal compassion together with the discriminative awareness directly perceiving the actual nature of reality, at the most profound level.
Ascending and Core-penetrating yar-gyi zang-thal According to Atiyoga, the attainment of the Buddha-body of Reality (dharmakdya) is described as ‘ascending and core-penetrating’ (yar-gyi zang-thal). Here, ‘ascending’ (yar-gyi) refers to the upward movement of consciousness through the central channel of the body and the consequent ‘core-penetrating’ to the transformation of consciousness into the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse (dharmadhatujnana). Atiyoga shin-tu rnal- ’byor The highest or ninth of the nine vehicles, and the third of the three inner classes of tantra, according to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, which is otherwise known as the Great Perfection (rdzogs-pa chen-po). See Great Perfection.
Attachment ’dod-chags, Skt. rdga One of the ‘three poisons’ (dug-gsum) of the mind, along with delusion and aversion. In its extreme manifestation, in the form of insatiable craving, it is said to characterise the worlds of the anguished spirits (pretaloka).
Aural Lineage of Authoritative Personages gang-zag snyan-brgyud One of the six lineages through which the Buddhist teachings are transmitted. The aural lineage of authoritative persons refers to the historical line of accomplished masters who have been responsible for aurally transmitting the Buddhist teachings through successive generations.
Auspicious Aeon bskal-pa bzang-po, Skt. bhadrakalpa The name of the present aeon of time, during which one thousand buddhas are predicted to appear in succession. Among these, Sdkyamuni Buddha is regarded as the fourth and Maitreya as the fifth.
Avalokiteivara spyan-ras gzigs dbang-phyug Avalokiteivara is regarded as the embodiment of the compassionate aspect of the mind of all the buddhas, manifesting in the form of a meditational deity. He is revered as the patron deity of Tibet and has many different aspects, the most popular including the seated four-armed white form and ‘thousand-armed’ form Mahdkarunika. Our text refers to Avalokiteivara as one of the eight principal male bodhisattvas. See Appendix Two, pp. 390-91.
Aversion zhe-sdang, Skt. dvesa One of the ‘three poisons’ (dug-gsum) of the mind. In Buddhist literature, the terms aversion and hatred are often used interchangeably with anger. In its subtle manifestation aversion is said to obstruct an individual from a correct perception of forms. In its extreme manifestation, as overwhelming hatred and fear, it is said to be characteristic of the worlds of the hells (narakaloka).
Awareness rig-pa, Skt. vidya As an ordinary verb, the Tibetan term rig-pa means ‘to know’ or ‘to be aware’. When used as a noun, it has several distinct though not unrelated meanings, corresponding to the Sanskrit vidya-. 1) as a general term encompassing all experiences of consciousness and mental events, 2) as intelligence or mental aptitude, 3) as a science or knowledge-based discipline, 4) as a pure awareness. Our text generally assumes the last of these meanings, in which cases it is a synonym or abbreviation for intrinsic awareness (rang-rig). See under Intrinsic Awareness.
Awareness Holder rig-’dzin, Skt. vidyddhara The awareness holders or knowledge holders are embodiments of the great accomplished masters who have attained the highest realisations of the tantras. Amongst those whose accomplishments are classified as supramundane are Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra, who have transcended the span of human life, having attained the rainbow body through the practices of the Great Perfection. Five kinds of awareness holder are particularly identified, and their realisations are said to parallel those of the bodhisattva and buddha levels, namely the awareness holders of maturation, those with power over the lifespan, those abiding on the levels, those of the Great Seal, and those of spontaneous presence.
Basic Commitments rtsa-ba’i dam-tshig, Skt. mulasamaya See Commitment.
Beguiling Forces bdud, Skt. mdra See Malevolent Forces.
Being of Commitment dam-tshig sems-dpa’, Skt. samayasattva. When deities are visualised in meditation, the form of the deity that is visually generated by the meditator is known as the Being of Commitment. This is differentiated from the Being of Pristine Cognition (jndnasattva, Tib. ye-shes sems-dpa’) or the actual meditational deity, which is invited to enter into the visualised form.
Being of Pristine Cognition ye-shes sems-dpa’, Skt. jnasattva See above under Being of Commitment.
Bewildered Perception ’khrul-snang The bewildering perceptions generated by the subject-object dichotomy.
Bewilderment ’khrul-pa, Skt. bhranti Bewilderment is the confusion arising from the subject-object dichotomy and fundamental ignorance, on the basis of which rebirth in cyclic existence is perpetuated.
Bewitchers ’gong-po A class of malign spirits that are thought to frequent the atmosphere and the earth, many of whom were bound under an oath of allegiance to Buddhism by Padmasambhava during the eighth century. Their power to generate life-threatening obstacles, to assail bereaved persons, and so forth can be averted by counteracting rituals.
Bhaisajyaguru sman-bla See Vaiduryaprabharaja.
Blessing byin-rlabs, Skt. adhisthana In the Buddhist context, the term blessing should not be understood in terms of. grace as in the case of theistic religions. Rather, it relates to the sense of inspiration received from an external source, which transforms or awakens the potentials inherent within an individual’s mental continuum. Thus, the Tibetan word byin-rlabs is interpreted to mean: ‘to be transformed through inspiring magnificence’.
Blood-drinking [Heruka] khrag-’thung [he-ru-ka], Skt. heruka The Sanskrit word heruka is interpreted to mean ‘one who delights in drinking blood’ or ‘one who holds a skull filled with blood’, symbolising the wrathful dynamic transformation of the deep-seated dissonant mental states.
Blood-filled skull dung-dmar, Skt. bhandhalbhandaka In tantric iconography, meditational deities are often depicted holding skull-cups filled with blood. The human skull symbolises mortality and impermanence while the blood represents the transmutation of dissonant mental states into pristine cognition.
Bodhicitta byang-chub-kyi sems An altruistic intention or aspiration to attain full enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. Bodhicitta is cultivated on the basis of certain mental attitudes, principal among them being the development of love and great compassion towards all beings equally. The Tibetan tradition speaks of two major systems for training one’s mind in the generation of bodhicitta: the first is Atis’a’s ‘seven-point cause and effect’ and the second is Sdntideva’s ‘equality and exchange of oneself with others’. A genuine generation of bodhicitta is attained only when, through the training of the mind, the aspiration to attain full enlightenment becomes spontaneous and no longer requires any deliberate exertion. At that stage the individual becomes a bodhisattva. Literally, bodhi means ‘enlightenment’, and citta, ‘mind’. The literature of the Greater Vehicle speaks of two types of bodhicitta: the conventional bodhicitta and the ultimate bodhicitta. The former refers to that aspect of bodhicitta defined above, whereas the latter refers to the mind of enlightenment i.e. the discriminative awareness directly realising emptiness, which is induced by the above altruistic aspiration. The cultivation of an altruistic intention (sems-bskyed, Skt. cittotpdda) is included among the preliminary practices (sngon-’gro), in which context it is said to be an antidote for envy or self-centred ambition. In the tantras, however, the term bodhicitta (byang-sems) specifically refers to the white/male and red/female generative essences of the body.
Bodhisattva byang-chub sems-dpa’ A spiritual trainee dedicated to the cultivation and fulfilment of the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment, who is gradually traversing the five bodhisattva paths (pancamdrga) and ten bodhisattva levels (dasabhiimi). An essential element of this commitment to work for others is the determination purposely to remain within cyclic existence instead of simply seeking freedom from suffering for oneself. Philosophically, the bodhisattva is said to have fully realised the two aspects of selflessness, with respect to dissonant mental states and the nature of all phenomena.
Bodhisattva Vows byang-chub sems-dpa’i sdom-pa, Skt. bodhisattvasamvara See Vows. Bon An ancient spiritual tradition, considered by some scholars to be of Zoroastrian or Kashmiri Buddhist origin, which was widespread in Tibet, particularly in the far-western region of Zhangzhung prior to the official introduction and establishment of Buddhism. Although its literature clearly distinguishes it from both the indigenous shamanism or animism of Tibet and the Buddhist traditions, it has over the last several hundred years assimilated many of the Buddhist teachings and developed a neo-Buddhist theoretical foundation. The Bon tradition is particularly strong in the Shang valley of Western Tibet, in Kongpo, Khyungpo and the Ngawa region of Amdo.
Bone relics gdung/ring-srel Within the tradition of the Great Perfection (rdzogs-pa chen-po), four kinds of relics are said to be left behind following the death of an accomplished master. These are: relics of the Buddha-body of Reality (chos-sku’i ring-srel), relics in the form of major and minor bone remains (sku-gdung ring-srel), relics in the form of clothing (sku-bal ring-srel), and relics of miniature size (nyung-ngu Ita-bu’i ring-srel). Among these, the major bone relics (gdung) and minor bone relics (ring-srel) are retrieved from the funeral pyre. Biographical literature suggests that the veneration of such relics has been continuously observed within Buddhism from the time of Sdkyamuni Buddha, whose own bone relics were interred within eight stUpas. Five kinds of major bone relic are specifically enumerated. See Chapter 14.
Brahman Class bram-ze’i rigs, Skt. brahmanavarna The priestly class, among the four traditional classes of Hindu society.
Buddha sangs-rgyas The Sanskrit term buddha literally means ‘awakened’, ‘developed’, and ‘enlightened’. The Tibetan equivalent sangs-rgyas is a combination of sangs-pa (‘awakened’ or ‘purified’), and rgyas-pa (’developed’). These two words in this context denote a full awakening from fundamental ignorance (avidya) in the form of the two obscurations (dvayavarana) and a full realisation of true knowledge, i.e. the pristine cognition (jfidna) of buddha-mind. A fully awakened being is therefore one who, as a result of training the mind through the bodhisattva paths, has finally realised his/her full potential for complete enlightenment (bodhi), and has eliminated all the obscurations to true knowledge and liberation. Buddhas are characterised according to their five fruitional aspects of buddha-body (kdya), buddha-speech (vdk), buddha-mind (citta), buddha-attributes (guna), and buddha-activities (krtyakriyd), which are poetically described in some Tibetan literature as the ‘five wheels of inexhaustible adornment’ (mi-zad-pa’i rgyan-gyi ’khor-lo Inga).
Buddha-activities phrin-las, Skt. krtyakriyd In general, it is said that the principal activity of the buddhas is to bring about the welfare of all sentient beings, an aim which initially motivated their aspiration to attain the fully enlightened state. The Perfection of Discriminative Awareness texts enumerate eighty inexhaustible buddha-activities, while some commentarial treatises mention twenty-one enlightened activities of the buddhas. With respect to the historical Buddha Sdkyamuni, the Buddhist texts list twelve principal deeds that exemplify his enlightened activities. These are in succession: i) the descent from the celestial realm of Tusita, z) the entry into the womb, 3) birth, 4) displaying mastery in worldly arts and skills, 5) enjoying the women of the harem, 6) renouncing the worldly way of life, 7) undergoing severe physical penances, 8) meditating under the tree of enlightenment, 9) overcoming beguiling and malevolent forces, 10) attaining manifestly perfect buddhahood, 11) turning the wheel of the sacred teachings, and iz) entering the peaceful state of final nirvana. In terms of skilful means, buddha-activity may be focused through four modalities: pacification, enrichment, subjugation, and wrathful transformation. See Four Aspects of Enlightened Activity. Finally, according to the literature of the Nyingma school, there is an enumeration of five modes of buddha-activity when spontaneous or effortless activity is included along with these modalities.
Buddha-attributes yon-tan, Skt. guna The attributes of a buddha may be subsumed as specific qualities of buddha-body, speech and mind. The attributes of buddha-body are those associated with the various ‘dimensions’ of buddha-body, described below, and more specifically with the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks. Those of buddha-speech are known as the ‘sixty melodies of Brahma’, which implies that buddha-speech is soothing, gentle, firm, audible from a great distance, and so forth. The attributes of buddha-mind are threefold: compassion, omniscience, and power. Furthermore, in the literature of the tantras, a classification of five resultant enlightened attributes is given, namely: the pure buddha field, the dimensionless celestial palace, the radiant and pure rays of light, the exalted thrones of the deities, and the possession of consummate resources.
Buddha-body sku, Skt. kdya
The term ‘buddha-body’ refers not only to the physical body of a buddha, but also to the varying ‘dimensions’ in which the embodiment of fully enlightened attributes is present. As such, the buddha-body can be categorised in different ways, corresponding to the different levels of the teaching. For example, sutras of the Lesser Vehicle (hmayana) speak of the Buddha-body of Reality (dharmakdya) and the Buddha-body of Form (riipakdya), while sutras of the Greater Vehicle (mahdydna) generally mention three buddha-bodies (trikdya), dividing the latter into the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource (sambhogakdya) and the Buddha-body of Emanation (nirmdnakdya). See below. In the sutras and treatises expounding buddha- nature (tathdgatagarbha), such as Maitreya’s Supreme Continuum of the Greater Vehicle (Mahayanottaratantraddstra), an enumeration of four buddha-bodies (catuhkdya) is mentioned. Here, the Buddha-body of Essentiality (svabhdvikakdya) is added to the above three buddha-bodies, to indicate either an active/passive distinction in the Buddha-body of Reality, or the underlying indivisible essence of the three buddha-bodies. In the tantras of the Nyingma school, there is an enumeration of five buddha-bodies (pancakdya) where the Buddha-body of Awakening (abhisambodhikdya, Tib. mngon-byang-gi sku) refers to the apparitional modes of the three buddha-bodies, and the Buddha-body of Indestructible Reality (vajrakdya, Tib. rdo-rje’i sku) refers to their indivisible essence. Finally, in Atiyoga, when the buddha-bodies are actualised, the Buddha-body of Reality is known as the youthful vase body (gzhon-nu’i ’bum-pa’i sku) and the Buddha-body of Form is known as the body of great transformation (’pho-ba chen-po’i sku).
Buddha-body of Emanation sprul-sku, Skt. nirmdnakdya
The Buddha-body of Emanation is the visible and usually physical manifestation of fully enlightened beings which arises spontaneously from the expanse of the Buddha-body of Reality, whenever appropriate, in accordance with the diverse dispositions of sentient beings. The sutras refer to three types of emanational body in relation to Sdkyamuni Buddha: (i) emanational birth in Tusita, (ii) emanational art forms, and (iii) supreme emanation as one of the thousand buddhas of the auspicious aeon. From the distinctive Nyingma perspective, however, the three types of emanational body comprise: 1) natural emanations (rang-bzhin sprul-sku), which are the buddhas of the five enlightened families such as Vairocana in the forms they assume when appearing before bodbisattvas of the highest level; 2) supreme emanations (mchog-gi sprul-sku) such as Sdkyamuni Buddha and the other buddhas of this aeon who initiate a new teaching, and 3) diversified emanations (sna-tshogs sprul-sku), including oases, food, medicine and other such material manifestations, which are of benefit to living beings, as well as emanational art forms (bzo-bo sprul-sku) and emanational births (skye-ba sprul-sku), such as those taken by Sdkyamuni in previous lives, for example as Prince Satsvetaketu in the god realm of Tusita.
Buddha-body of Form gzugs-sku, Skt. rUpakdya According to the literature of the Lesser Vehicle {hlnaydna) the Buddha-body of Form refers to the thousand buddhas of the auspicious aeon, including Sdkyamuni. In the Greater Vehicle, however, the term includes both the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource and the Buddha-body of Emanation. According to Atiyoga, when the Buddha-body of Form is actualised through the practices of All-surpassing Realisation, a rainbow-light body is attained, and this realisation is known as the Buddha-body of Great Transformation (’pho-ba chen-po’i sku).
Buddha-body of Perfect Resource longs-spyod rdzogs-pa’i sku, Skt. sambhogakdya
The Buddha-body of Perfect Resource refers to the luminous, immaterial, and unimpeded reflection-like forms of the pure energy of enlightened mind, exemplified in the case of our text by the assembly of the forty-two peaceful deities and the fifty-eight wrathful deities (see Appendix Two), which become spontaneously present (Ihun-grub) and naturally manifest (rang-snang) at very high levels of realisation, that is to say at the point at which the duality between subject and object dissolves. The intermediate state of reality (chos-nyid bar-do) is considered to be an optimum time for the realisation of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource.
Buddha-body of Reality chos-sku, Skt. dharmakaya The Buddha-body of Reality is the ultimate nature or essence of the enlightened mind, which is uncreated (skye-med), free from the limits of conceptual elaboration (spros-pa’i mtha’-bral), empty of inherent existence (rang-bzhin-gyis stong-pa), naturally radiant, beyond duality and spacious like the sky. The intermediate state of the time of death (’chi-kha’i bar-do) is considered to be an optimum time for the realisation of the Buddha-body of Reality.
Buddha Family de-bzhin gshegs-pa’i rigs, Skt. tathdgatakula One of the five enlightened families (pancakula) into which the meditational deities of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource are subdivided. The deities of the Buddha family include the peaceful aspects Vairocana and Dhatvlsvarl and the corresponding wrathful aspects Buddha Heruka and Buddhakrodhesvarl. See Appendix Two.
Buddha Field zhings-khams, Skt. [buddha] ksetra The operational fields or ‘paradises’ presided over by specific buddhas, which spontaneously arise as a result of their altruistic aspirations, are known as buddha fields. Such environments are totally free from suffering, both physical and mental, and they transcend the mundane god realms (devaloka) inhabited by sentient beings of the world-systems of desire, form, and formlessness. It is said that when sentient beings who have not yet been permanently released from the bondage of cyclic existence have an affinity with a specific buddha and are consequently born into a respective pure realm, they become temporarily free not only from manifest sufferings of the body and mind but also from the pervasive sufferings of past conditioning. Such fields or pure realms are regarded as conducive to the continuing cultivation of the path to buddhahood.
Buddhahood sangs-rgyas nyid I sangs-rgyas-kyi go-pbang, Skt. buddhatva/ buddhapada
The attainment of a buddha, who has not only gained total freedom from karmically conditioned existence and overcome all the tendencies imprinted on the mind as a result of a long association with dissonant mental states, but also fully realised or manifested all aspects of buddha-body, buddha-speech, buddha-mind, buddha- attributes and buddha-activities.
Buddha-mind thugs, Skt. citta The term buddha-mind is synonymous with pristine cognition (jnana), five modes of which are differentiated. See Pristine Cognition. In the particular literature of the Nyingma school, these five modes are distinctively known as manifest enlightenment (mngon-byang-gi thugs), indivisible indestructible reality (mi-phyed rdo-rje’i thugs), great sameness (mnyam-pa chen-po’i thugs), great non-discursiveness (mi-rtog chen-po’i thugs), and liberator of sentient beings (’gro-ba’i sgrol-ba’i thugs), Buddha Nature rigs, Skt. gotra The seed of enlightenment inherent within the mental continuum of all sentient beings. It is this potential which makes it possible for every individual to realise the ultimate nature, given the application of appropriate methods. The notion of buddha nature is intimately linked with the Buddhist concept of the essential nature of mind, which according to Buddhism is considered to be pure, knowing and lumi-Dissonant mental states such as attachment, aversion and jealousy, which perpetually afflict our mind and give rise to suffering, are not the essential elements of our mind but adventitious and conditioned tendencies. Moreover, these dissonant states are all rooted in an ignorant state of mind which misapprehends the true nature of reality. Hence, through gaining genuine insights into the true nature of reality, misconceptions can be dispelled, thus cutting the root of all our dissonant mental states and allowing the buddha-nature within to manifest. The term ‘nucleus of the tathdgata’ (tathagatagarbba) is a synonym for this essence of buddhahood.
Buddha-speech gsung, Skt. vak The speech of the buddhas is, according to Nyingma literature, said to have five aspects in that the buddhas may communicate through i) uncreated meaning (skye-med don-gi gsung), z) enlightened intention and symbols (dgongs-pa brda’i gsung), 3) expressive words (brjod-pa tshig-gi gsung), 4) indivisible reality (dbyer-med rdo-rje’i gsung), and 5) the blessings of awareness (rig-pa byin-labs-kyi gsung). See Buddha Attributes and Mantra.
Burnt Offerings sbyin-sreg, Skt. homa A tantric ritual in which many substances, such as wheat, sesame seeds, and mustard, etc., are burnt as offerings in a fire lit on a specifically designed hearth. There are different types of burnt-offering rituals corresponding to the enactment of the four rites related to the four aspects of enlightened activity: pacification, enrichment, subjugation and wrath.
Calm Abiding zhi-gnas, Skt. iamatba Calm abiding is a meditative technique common to the entire Buddhist tradition, characterised by a stabilisation of attention on an internal object of observation conjoined with the calming of external distractions to the mind. Calm abiding is an essential basis for training one’s mind in the generation of penetrative insight (vipasyana), a true analytical insight into the more profound aspects of a chosen object, such as its emptiness or ultimate nature.
Camaradvlpa rnga-yab gling The subcontinent Cdmaradvlpa is particularly associated, in Nyingma literature, with the Copper-coloured Mountain of Padmasambhava. See Four Continents and Eight Subcontinents.
Caryatantra spyod-pa’i rgyud See Ubhayatantra.
Causal Vehicles rgyu mtshan-nyid-kyi theg-pa See Vehicle.
Cause and Effect rgyu-’bras, Skt. hetuphala In the context of Buddhist philosophy the term refers to the natural law that exists between a cause and its effect. Some of the principal features of the law are: 1) nothing evolves uncaused; 2) any entity which itself lacks a process of change cannot cause any other event; and 3) only causes which possess natures that accord with specific effects can lead to those effects. The term ‘cause and effect’ is often used to translate the Sanskrit word karma, which literally means ‘action’. See Past Actions.
Celestial Palace gzhal-yas-khang, Skt. vitnana See Mandala.
Central Channel rtsa dbu-ma, Skt. avadhuti See Energy Channels.
Chang-bu Offerings chang-bu, Skt. pinda
Finger-pressed strands of dough, which are made as offerings to assuage anguished spirits and to appease negative forces.
Channel Branch rtsa-’dab According to the tantras and related medical traditions, there are five energy centres located along the central channel of the body at the focal points of the crown, throat, heart, navel and genitalia. A specific number of channel branches (rtsa-’dab) emerges from each of these energy centres, and these in turn conduct vital energy throughout the body through a network of 72,000 minor channels. See Energy Channels.
Channel of Pristine Cognition ye-shes-kyi dhuti According to the tantras, the channel of pristine cognition is a synonym for the central channel of the body. See Vital Energy.
Chiliocosm stong dang-po ’jig-rten-gyi khams, Skt. sahasralokadhdtu According to traditional Indian Buddhist cosmology, the world of the four continents surrounding Mount Sumeru when multiplied one thousand times forms a chiliocosm of parallel worlds (stong dang-po). The chiliocosm when multiplied one thousand times forms a larger dichiliocosm (stong gnyis-pa), which in turn when multiplied one thousand times forms an even larger trichiliocosm (stong gsum-pa). This evolution of expanding worlds continues to enlarge incrementally until the inconceivably vast number of multiple worlds is reached, in which a single supreme Buddha-body of Emanation is said to function simultaneously.
Citipati dur-khrod bdag-po bdag-mo The Citipati are a pair of male and female acolytes of Yatna, lord of death, who are depicted as two skeletons in dancing posture, symbolising the rites of the charnel ground.
Cittamatra sems-tsam-pa
One of the four major Buddhist philosophical schools of ancient India, also known as Vijndnavdda, and associated in some respects with the Yogacdra tradition. The Cittamatra (lit. ‘mind only’) school founded by the fourth-century Indian master Asahga propounds an idealist or phenomenalistic view of the world. Its main tenet is that all phenomena are either actual mental events or extensions of the mind and the mind is regarded as existing as a substantially real entity. In addition, the school propounds that there exists no atomically composed material world external to, or independent of, our perceptions. According to the Cittamatra school consciousness itself is considered to be eightfold, with the ground-of-all consciousness as the foundation. See Aggregate of Consciousness.
Cittamatrin sems rtsam-pa-po
A follower of the Cittamatra school.
Clvamcivaka shang-shang
A mythical creature with the head, arms, and torso of a human being, and the wings and legs of a bird. The throne of the male buddha Amoghasiddhi assumes the form of a clvamcivaka bird.
Coemergent Delight lhan-cig skyes-pa’i dga’-ba, Skt. sahajasukha/sahajdnanda The coemergent delight is one of the four delights (dga’-ba bzhi) experienced during the perfection stage (sampannakrama) of meditation. See Four Delights. It is said that the coemergent delight is also naturally experienced at the moment of death (see Chapter 8) and at the moment of conception (see Chapter n).
Coemergent Ignorance lhan-cig-skyes-pa’i ma-rig-pa, Skt. sahajdvidyd See Fundamental Ignorance.
Coemergent Pristine Cognition lhan-skyes ye-shes, Skt. sahajajndna
The natural emergence of pristine cognition that occurs during the perfection stage
of meditation, when vital energy is absorbed within the central channel of the subtle body.
Commitment dam-tshig, Skt. samaya
A sacred commitment or pledge taken by a practitioner which is a prerequisite for the practice of the tantras. The Tibetan ‘dam-tshig’ literally means ‘binding word’, indicating that the person becomes bound by a solemn oath. Each class of tantra has its own categorisation of basic and ancillary commitments, which complement the prdtimoksa and bodhisattva vows taken by those who uphold the vinaya and the sQtra tradition of the Greater Vehicle respectively. See Vows. Samaya may entail the observation of specific precepts which are common to a whole class of tantra, or individual precepts, which must be observed in relation to a particular meditational deity. When such commitments are broken they must be restored through appropriate tantric ritual practices, for their degeneration may cause serious hindrances to progress on the path. See Chapter 7.
Commitments of Indestructible Reality rdo-rje dam-tshig, Skt. vajrasamaya
A synonym for the commitments in general which are undertaken in the context of the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality (Vajraydna).
Commitments Undertaken in Respect of Reality de-kho-na-nyid-kyi dam-tshig A synonym for the four commitments specific to the practice of Atiyoga.
Compassion snying-rje/thugs-rje, Skt. karund In Buddhist literature, the term ‘compassion’ is often used as a synonym for ‘great compassion’ (mahdkarund), which refers to a totally unbiased mind that aspires to the liberation of all sentient beings from suffering, equally. Compassion is said to become ‘great’ only when, through proper training of the mind, such an altruistic aspiration becomes spontaneous and no longer requires any conscious effort for its arising. The measure of having realised such a state is that one spontaneously feels a sense of intimacy and compassion towards all others, with the same degree of commitment and intensity that one feels towards one’s most beloved. It is worth bearing in mind that in Buddhism, compassion should not be understood in terms of pity, which may imply a feeling of superiority toward the object of compassion.
Conceptual Elaboration spros-pa, Skt. prapahca
Conceptual elaboration refers to the presence of discursive or conceptual thought processes, the absence of which (Skt. nisprapanca, Tib. spros-bral) is characteristic of the realisation of emptiness or actual reality.
Confession of Negativity sdig-pa’i gshags-pa, Skt. pdpadeiand
A spiritual practice which involves the disclosure and purification of accumulated negative actions. The successful application of confession must be undertaken within the framework of what are known as the four antidotal powers. For an explanation of these see the introductory context to Chapter 7.
Conqueror rgyal-ba, Skt. jina In Buddhist literature, this term is an epithet for a buddha, indicating the victory attained by a buddha over cyclic existence (samsdra). In particular in the context of this book, the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource in the mandala of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities is described as represented by the ‘five enlightened families of the conquerors’ (rgyal-ba rigs-lnga), where the five male buddhas, in both peaceful and wrathful forms, are known as the five conquerors. Vajradhara, an aspect of the primordial buddha Samantabhadra, who represents the Buddha-body of Reality, is also known as the ‘sixth conqueror’ (rgyal-ba drug-pa) or ‘lord of the sixth enlightened family’. More generally, in its Tibetan form, this same epithet is frequently used as an honorific title before the names of highly venerated beings, e.g. Gyalwa Yizhin Norbu (for HH the Dalai Lama), or Gyalwa Karmapa.
Consciousness mam-par shes-pa, Skt. vijhdna
In Buddhism, consciousness is defined as ‘an awareness which is knowing and luminous’. It is not physical and thus lacks any resistance to obstruction. It has neither shape nor colour; it can be experienced but not externally perceived as an object. In short, it includes both the conscious cognitive events and the subconscious aspects of the mind through which we know and perceive the world, as well as the emotions. A distinction is made between the mundane consciousness (vijhdna) of sentient beings, and the pristine cognition (jhdna) of the buddhas. See Pristine Cognition and Aggregate of Consciousness.
Consciousness Transference ’pho-ba, Skt. samkrdnti
A unique tantric practice undertaken to transfer the consciousness at the time of death, ideally to the unconditioned state of the realisation of the Buddha-body of Reality, or to a realm of existence with a favourable migration, ideally the pure realm of a meditational deity. See Chapter 10.
Continuum of the Ground gzhi’i rgyud, Skt. dsrayatantra
The continuum of the ground is identified with the primordially present intrinsic awareness, and the actual reality or emptiness, which is in harmony with the fruitional aspects of buddhahood. According to the tantras, the continuum of the ground (gzhi’i rgyud) is the basis through which the continuum of the path (lam-gyi rgyud) fully manifests as the continuum of the result (’bras-bu’i rgyud).
Continuum of the Path lam-gyi rgyud, Skt. mdrgatantra
According to the tantras, the continuum of the path is the means through which the continuum of the ground (gzhi’i rgyud) becomes fully manifest as the continuum of the result (’bras-bu’i rgyud).
Continuum of the Result ‘bras-bu’i rgyud, Skt. phalatantra
According to the tantras, the continuum of the result is the fruition or conclusion attained when the continuum of the ground (gzhi’i rgyud) becomes fully manifest through the continuum of the path (lam-gyi rgyud).
Copper-coloured Mountain zangs-mdog dpal-ri, Skt. Tdmrairiparvata A sacred abode located on the subcontinent Cdmaradvfpa (rnga-yab gling), where Padmasambhava is said to currently reside in an awesome rainbow-light form.
Core-penetrating zang-thal See Ascending and Core-penetrating.
Cutting through Resistance khregs-chod
According to the pith or esoteric instructions (man-ngag-gi sde) of the Great Perfection (Atiyoga) there are two meditative techniques, which are engaged in successively. The first, Cutting through Resistance (khregs-chod) focuses on the recognition of primordial purity (ka-dag), the nature of awareness (rig-pa), through which the Buddha-body of Reality is attained. The second, All-surpassing Realisation (thod-rgal), focuses on the recognition of spontaneous presence (Ihun-grub), eliciting and recognising the radiances of pristine cognition and the purity of our psycho-physical aggregates and elements, through which the rainbow-like Buddha-body of Form is attained. In All-surpassing Realisation practice, once a stable realisation of the nature of awareness has been attained through Cutting through Resistance, all phenomenal appearances are liberated through a spontaneous realisation of their essential modality as inner radiance. Cutting through Resistance is the subject matter of Chapter 4 of the present work. The introduction to the intermediate state of reality, in Chapter 11 of our text, is illustrative of the esoteric instructions on All-surpassing Realisation, which is the pinnacle of meditative practice according to the Nyingma school.
Cyclic Existence ’khor-ba, Skt. samsdra
A state of existence conditioned by dissonant mental states and the imprint of past actions (karma), characterised by suffering in a cycle of life, death and rebirth, in which the six classes of sentient beings (sadgati; Tib. ’gro-ba rigs-drug) rotate. Cyclic existence emerges from fundamental ignorance (avidya) through a process known as the twelve links of dependent origination (dvadaiinga-pratltya-samutpada). When fundamental ignorance, identified as the misapprehension of the nature of actual reality (dharmata), is reversed, cyclic existence is itself reversed, and the contrasting state of nirv&na is attained, free from suffering and the processes of rebirth. See Dependent Origination and Nirvana.
Dakinl mkha’-’groma
Dakinl are female yoginl who have attained either mundane or supramundane spiritual accomplishments (siddhi), the latter referring to the realisations of buddhahood. They may be human beings who have achieved such attainments, or manifestations of the enlightened activity of meditational deities. The Tibetan equivalent mkha’-’gro literally means ‘space voyager’, space metaphorically implying emptiness, and voyager indicating someone immersed in its experience. The dakinl are said to confer enlightened or buddha-activities on the meditator, in contrast to the spiritual teacher who confers blessings and the meditational deity who confers accomplishments.
Dakinl of Pristine Cognition ye-shes mkha’-’gro, Skt. jndnadakinl
The female consorts of the principal awareness holders of maturation, power over
the lifespan, the Great Seal and spontaneous presence.
Dakini of the Three Abodes gnas-gsum mkha’-’gro
The dakini of the three abodes are those of buddha-body, speech and mind.
Dalai Lama rgyal ba yid-bzhin nor-bu/rin-po-che
The temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s temporal reign began at the time of the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Since then the country has been ruled, periodically, by a succession of Dalai Lamas, until China’s occupation in the 1950s. The Dalai Lamas are chosen according to a strict traditional procedure of observation and examination initiated following the death of the previous Dalai Lama. The present Dalai Lama is the fourteenth in the succession of this lineage. The title Dalai Lama was originally offered to Sonam Gyatso, the third Dalai Lama, by the then Mongol prince Altan Qan. The Mongol word dalai (Tib. rgya-mtsho) means ‘ocean (of wisdom)’.
Damaru dd-ma-ru
A hand-held double-sided drum, frequently identified with the wrathful deities and the dakini, and generally utilised as a ritual instrument in conjunction with the bell. The damaru is said to proclaim ‘the sound of great bliss’.
Dedication of Merit bsngo-ba, Skt. parindma
An important element of Buddhist practice enacted normally in the form of a recitation of verses of dedication at the conclusion of a spiritual practice. In all Buddhist practices, the establishment of the correct motivation at the beginning and the altruistic dedication at the end are regarded as highly significant. The most popular objects of the dedication are the flourishing of the sacred teachings of Buddhism throughout the universe and the attainment of full enlightenment by all sentient beings.
Definitive Meaning nges-don, Skt. nitdrtha
The sutra teachings of the buddhas are classified as being of either definitive meaning or provisional meaning (neyartha) depending on whether they do not or do require further interpretation. In general, sutras of provisional meaning concern the nature of cyclic existence (samsdra) and its antidotes, as expounded by Sdkyamuni Buddha in the first turning of the wheel of the sacred teachings. By contrast, those sutras of definitive meaning concern either the nature of emptiness, as expressed in the second turning of the wheel of the sacred teachings, or the explications on buddha nature and buddha-attributes, as expressed in the third turning of the wheel of the sacred teachings. There are divergent views in the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism as to which of the sutras of the second and third turnings should be regarded as definitive or provisional.
Degenerate Age snyigs-ma’i dus, Skt. kaliyuga
According to the prevailing view of Indian cosmology, a period of cosmic or cyclical time (aeon, Skt. kalpa) comprises fourteen secondary cycles (Skt. manvantara), each of which lasts 306,710,000 years. Each secondary cycle is said to contain seventy-one ‘great ages’ (Skt. mahdyuga), and each of these is further subdivided into four ages (Skt. caturyuga) which are of decreasing duration, and known respectively as the Perfect Age (krtayuga), the Third Age (tretdyuga), the Second Age (dvdpara-yuga), and the Black or Degenerate Age (kaliyuga). Since these four ages represent a gradual decline in meritorious activities, special meditative practices and spiritual antidotes are associated with each in turn. Specifically, the Perfect Age is most suited to the practice of the Kriydtantra; the Third Age to that of the Carydtantra; the Second Age to that of the Yogatantra; and the present Black or Degenerate Age to that of the Unsurpassed Yogatantra.
Deity yi-dam, Skt. istadevatd See under Meditational Deity.
Delusion gti-mug, Skt. moha
One of the three poisons (dug-gsum) along with aversion and attachment, or five poisons (dug-lnga) along with aversion, attachment, pride, and envy, which perpetuate the sufferings of cyclic existence. Delusion is the obfuscating mental factor which obstructs an individual from generating knowledge or insight, and it is said to be characteristic of the animal world in general.
Dense Array gtug-po bkod-pa, Skt. Ghanavyuha
The Dense Array is a synonym for the central buddha field of Akanistha. See under Akanistha.
Dependent Origination rten-’brel, Skt. pratttyasamutpdda
The doctrine of dependent origination can be said to be the most fundamental metaphysical view of Buddhist thought and it is intimately linked with the Buddhist notion of causation. The principle of dependent origination asserts that nothing exists independently of other factors, the reason for this being that things and events come into existence only by dependence on the aggregation of multiple causes and conditions. In general, the processes of cyclic existence, through which the external world and the sentient beings within it revolve in a continuous cycle of suffering, propelled by the propensities of past actions and their interaction with dissonant mental states, are said to originate dependent on twelve successive links, which are known as the twelve links of dependent origination (dvddaidnga-pratttya-samutpdda). These comprise: i) fundamental ignorance, z) motivational tendencies, 3) consciousness, 4) name and form, 5) sensory activity fields, 6) contact, 7) sensation, 8) attachment, 9) grasping, 10) rebirth process, 11) birth, iz) ageing and death. Although, in the ultimate sense there is no beginning to the continuum of mind, a relative beginning can be spoken of on the basis of a single instance of rebirth within cyclic existence. Every instance of birth in cyclic existence must have a cause and such causes are ultimately rooted in our fundamental ignorance, which misapprehends the true nature of actual reality. For an ordinary sentient being all the twelve links are interconnected and each component of the chain contributes to the perpetuation of the cycle. It is only through deliberate reversal of fundamental ignorance that one can succeed in bringing the whole cycle to an end. Fundamental ignorance (avidya) gives rise to conditioning or tendencies (samskara) which are stored in the substratum or ground-of-all consciousness (dlayavijHdna). Following the moment of a sentient being’s conception, this inheritance of past actions from a previous life gives rise to name and form (ndmarApa), i.e. to the five psycho-physical aggregates {pancaskandha), which are products of that dualising consciousness. Then, the sensory activity fields (dyatana) provide the subjective and objective framework for sensory activity in its initial stages of development; while contact (spared) refers to the maturation of sensory perception as an unborn child develops a sensitivity to its environment inside the womb. Thereafter, sensation (vedand), attachment (trsnd), grasping (dddna), rebirth process (bhava), and actual birth (jdti) together indicate the emergence of a sentient being within the living world; and these in turn lead inevitably to old age and death (jardmarana).
Desire ’dod-chags, Skt. rdga See Attachment.
Desire Realm, Skt. kdmadhdtu See Three World-systems.
Dhanakosa dha-na-ko-sa The name of an island lake situated in the country of Oddiydna, generally identified in the Tibetan tradition with the Swat Valley of modern Pakistan, where many of the Buddhist tantras were once disseminated and practised. It is considered to have been the birthplace of both Prahevajra, the first human lineage holder of Atiyoga, and of Padmasambhava.
Dharmaraja chos-rgyal See under Yama Dharmaraja.
Discriminative Awareness shes-rab, Skt. prajhd The Sanskrit term prajnd is formally defined as ‘the discriminative awareness of the essence, distinctions, particular and general characteristics, and advantages and disadvantages of any object within one’s own perceptual range, at the conclusion of which doubts are removed’. In other words, this is the faculty of intelligence or discriminating awareness inherent within the mental continuum of all living creatures which enables them to examine the characteristics of things and events, thus making it possible to make judgements and deliberations. The term prajnd has commonly been translated into English as ‘wisdom’, largely following the example of Edward Conze, who translated a voluminous series of texts devoted to the Perfection of Discriminative Awareness (Prajnapdramitd). According to the abhidharma of the Lesser Vehicle, prajnd is one of the five mental factors of ascertainment which arise during all mental events of a veridical nature. According to the Greater Vehicle, the perfection of this faculty of discriminative awareness (prajndpdramitd) leads a bodhisattva to a total overcoming of all types of doubt and ignorance and to the realisation of the emptiness of all things. Here, in conjunction with skilful means (updya), the term prajnopdya refers to the integration of the two principal aspects of the path to enlightenment. In this context prajnd, or true insight into the emptiness of all phenomena, is united in perfect union with skilful means. In tantric traditions, the union of prajnopdya is often depicted iconographically in the union of the male and female deities, and in the symbolic hand-implements such as the vajra and the bell.
Dissonant Mental States nyon-mongs, Skt. klesa
The essentially pure nature of mind is obscured and afflicted by the various psychological defilements known as the dissonant mental states. The Tibetan word nyon-mongs implies a mental event whose arising causes psychological afflictions within the mind, thus destroying its peace and composure. According to abhidharma literature in general, there are six primary dissonant mental states: fundamental ignorance, attachment, aversion, pride, doubt, and afflicted or dissonant views; and an enumeration of twenty subsidiary mental states (Skt. upaklesa), which comprise: anger, malice, dissimulation, fury, envy, miserliness, dishonesty, deception, arrogance, mischief, indecorum, indecency, obfuscation, agitation, distrust, laziness, carelessness, forgetfulness, distraction, and inattentiveness. Even more wide-ranging are the 84,000 dissonant mental states for which the 84,000 aspects of the sacred teachings are said to provide distinctive antidotes. At the root of all these psychological afflictions lies the fundamental ignorance which misapprehends the true nature of reality.
Downfalls Itung-ba, Skt. apatti See Transgressions.
Dream Yoga rmi-lam Meditative techniques for utilising and transforming dream consciousness within the context of Unsurpassed Yogatantra practice. These include: meditative techniques for retaining awareness during the dream state; multiplying and transforming the contents of dreams and recognising their actual nature; and the dispelling of obstacles which prevent maintaining awareness in the dream state.
Dualism gnyis-snang, Skt. ubhaydbhdsa
Any level of perception of duality. Buddhist thought describes various forms of dualism, principal amongst these being: 1) a dualistic perception of subject and object; z) all appearances of inherent existence; 3) all appearances of conventionalities; and 4) all forms of conceptuality. A genuine direct realisation of emptiness is non-dual, in that it is free from all the above forms of dualism.
Dzogchen rdzogs-chen, Skt. mahdsandhi See Great Perfection.
Eight Charnel Grounds dur-khrod brgyad The eight charnel grounds are the great cemeteries of ancient India, which are regarded as inspirational places for the practice of meditation. These are respectively known, in Tibetan translation, as Tumdrak (gtum-drag), Tsangtsing Trikpa (tshang-tshing ’khrigs-pa), Bar Trikpa (’bar ’khrigs-pa), Kengruchen (keng-rus-can), Silbu-tsel (bsil-bu-tshal, Skt. Sttavana), Munpa Nagpo (mun-pa nag-po), Kili Kilir Dradrokpa (ki-li ki-lir sgra-sgrog-pa), and Haha Godpa (ha-ha rgod-pa).
Eight Classes of Consciousness mam-shes tshogs/gnas-brgyad See under Aggregate of Consciousness.
Eight Classes of Spirits sde-brgyad A classification of the malign forces that can be appeased by specific offerings and rituals. Diverse enumerations of these malign forces have been made by Nubchen Sangye Yeshe. Accordingly, there is an outer eightfold group (phyi-yi sde brgyad), an inner eightfold group (nang-gi sde brgyad), a secret eightfold group (gsang-ba’i sde brgyad), a supreme eightfold group (mchog-gi sde brgyad), an emanational eightfold group (sprul-pa’i sde brgyad), and a phenomenal eightfold group (snang-srid sde brgyad).
Eight Extremes mthd’-brgyad, Skt. astdnta The eight extremes from which intrinsic awareness is free are those enumerated by Ndgdrjuna in the Root Stanzas of the Madhyamaka entitled Discriminative Awareness (Prajnanama-mulamadhyamakakarika, T 3824), namely: cessation {’gag-pa), creation or production (skye-ba), nihilism (chad-pa), eternalism (rtag-pa), coming (’ong-ba), going (’gro-ba), diversity (tha-dad-pa), and singularity (gcig-pa).
Eight Freedoms and Ten Opportunities dal-ba brgyad dang ’byor-ba bcu Birth as a human being with the freedom and opportunity to follow the Buddhist path is regarded as difficult to attain and a precious circumstance. In the preliminary practices of the tantra path, in order to establish an appreciation for the significance of human rebirth, the freedom one has from eight unfavourable rebirths is a focus of contemplation, together with contemplation of the ten favourable opportunities. The eight freedoms are the freedoms from the following eight states: birth in the hells, birth as an anguished spirit, birth as an animal, birth as an uncivilised or barbarous person, birth as a long-living god, birth into a society that holds mistaken beliefs, birth in an age devoid of Buddhism, and birth with limited faculties. Among the ten favourable opportunities, there are five which are personally acquired and five which are contingent on external factors. The former comprise the favourable opportunities of being born as a human being, in a civilised society, with perfect sense-faculties, not being engaged in a conflicting lifestyle, and having confidence in Buddhism. The latter comprise the favourable opportunities of being born in an aeon when a buddha has appeared, when the sacred teachings have been taught, when they are still being practised, and when one actively engages in their practice, and finds a qualified spiritual friend (kalydnamitra). See Chapter 1.
Eight [Great] Fears ’jigs-pa brgyad, Skt. astabhaya
These are variously enumerated but often include: drowning, fires, thieves, captivity, lions, snakes, elephants, and spirits.
Eight Great Projectresses spor-byed chen-mo brgyad
The eight great projectresses are female deities representing forces that propel various classes of sentient beings to exalted rebirths during the intermediate state of reality. See Chapter 6.
Eight Objects [of Consciousness] [rnam-shes-kyi] yul brgyad These are the objects of the eight classes of consciousness, i.e. deep-seated habitual tendencies (ground-of-all consciousness), dissonant mental states (deluded consciousness), thoughts (mental consciousness), sights (visual consciousness), objects of taste (gustatory consciousness), sounds (auditory consciousness), smells (olfactory consciousness) and physical objects (tactile consciousness). See under Aggregate of Consciousness.
Eight Sensory Objects yul brgyad See Eight Objects of Consciousness.
Eighteen Hells dmyal-ba bco-brgyad, Skt. astadasanaraka States of existence within the cycle of rebirth, conditioned by our past actions, where the experience of suffering, arising from hatred, anger and fear, is most intense and extended. Abhidbarma literature mentions two main types of such hell-like existences, characterised by the dominance of either freezing coldness or burning heat. These two are in turn divided into eighteen subcategories.
Eighty Minor Marks dpe-byad brgyad-cu, Skt. asltyanuvyanjana See Major and Minor Marks.
Eighty-four Thousand Aspects of the [Sacred] Teaching chos-sgo brgyad-khri bzhi stong
The Buddha’s teachings are said to comprise eighty-four thousand aspects or approaches, when they are classified according to their function as an antidote. It is said that there are eighty-four thousand dissonant mental states, comprising twenty-one thousand aspects respectively of attachment (rdga), aversion (dveia), delusion (moha), and their combination; and there is an antidote within the Buddha’s teachings corresponding to each of these dissonant mental states.
Elemental Forces ’byung-po, Skt. bhuta
A category of forces associated with the elements: earth, water, fire, wind and space, which are said to move through the body in a monthly cycle and to whom certain illnesses and paediatric disorders are attributed in Tibetan medicine. These may be appeased or brought back into balance by the application of medicinal antidotes, or by the counteracting rituals prescribed in the tantras, as outlined in Chapter 9.
Elements / Elemental Properties ’byung ba, Skt. bhuta See Five Elements.
Eleven Vehicles theg-pa bcu-gcig See Vehicle.
EMA e-tna
Identical to EMAHO.
EMAHO e-ma-ho
An exclamation of great wonder or astonishment.
Empowerment dbang-bskur, Skt. abhiseka
A ritual ceremony performed by accomplished spiritual teachers and lineage holders to empower prospective trainees, prior to their engaging in the various vehicles and specific practices of the tantras. The meditative processes of the empowerment ritual are intended to activate the potentials inherent within the body, speech and mind of the trainee, in other words to awaken the seed of the natural ability to engage in the practice. Such empowerment ceremonies are an essential prerequisite for the practice of tantra in the Buddhist tradition. See also Four Empowerments.
Emptiness stong-pa-nyid, Skt. silnyatd
The ultimate nature of reality. According to the Madbyamaka school it is the total absence of inherent existence and self-identity with respect to all phenomena. Its synonyms include ultimate truth (Skt. paramirtbasatya), actual reality (Skt. dharmatd), and suchness (Skt. tathatd). Though presented in the scriptures of both the Lesser Vehicle and the Greater Vehicle, the theory of emptiness is most systemati-cally developed in the writings of the second-century Buddhist thinker Nagdrjuna, the founder of the Madbyamaka school. According to this view, all things and events, both external and internal, are devoid of any independent, intrinsic reality that constitutes their essence. Nothing can be said to exist independently from the complex network of factors that gives rise to their origination, nor are phenomena independent of the cognitive processes and conceptual designations (mental constructs) that make up the conventional framework within which their identity and existence are posited. It is our deeply ingrained tendency to conceive of things as materially existing in their own right that conditions and compels us to perceive and grasp at a substantial reality of things and our own existence. In turn, when all levels of conceptualisation dissolve and when all forms of dichotomising tendencies are quelled through deliberate meditative deconstruction of conceptual elaborations, Ndgdrjuna argues, the ultimate nature of reality – the emptiness – will finally become manifest to the person. Although the term is known also in the literature of the Lesser Vehicle, it is in the philosophical tenets of the Madhyamaka school that the different interpretations of emptiness were greatly elaborated. See Madhyamaka.
Energy Centre rtsa-’khor, Skt. cakra
According to the tantras and related medical traditions, there are five energy centres within the subtle body. These are located at the crown, throat, heart, navel and genitalia, where the right and left channels are said to loop around the central channel (avadhuti), forming knots (rtsa-mdud) which obstruct the flow of subtle energy into the central channel. At each of the five energy centres, there are a diverse number of channel branches (rtsa-’dab), through which vital energy is conducted throughout the body.
Energy Channels rtsa, Skt. nadt
In the tantras and related medical traditions, it is said that there are 72,000 vein-like channels through which flow the vital energies or subtle winds (rlung, Skt. vdyu) that sustain life and which also give rise to various conceptual states within the individual’s mind. Three main channels run vertically from the crown fontanelle of the head down to the genitalia, intersecting at the five energy centres (Skt. cakra) of the crown, throat, heart, navel and genitalia. All the minor energy channels branch off from these energy centres to permeate the body. Among the three main channels, the one to the left is known as the rkyang-ma (Skt. laland), the one to the right as the roma (Skt. rasand), and the central channel as the dbu-ma (Skt. avadhuti).
Enlightened Family rigs, Skt. gotra/kula
This term may render either the Sanskrit gotra, in which case it is synonymous with buddha nature, or the Sanskrit kula, in which case it refers to the five families (Skt. pahcakula) into which the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities are grouped. See the individual entries under Buddha Family, Vajra Family, Ratna Family, Padma Family and Karma Family and Appendix Two.
Enlightened Intention dgongs-pa, Skt. abhiprdya
In the context of our text, enlightened intention refers to the unimpeded, non-conceptual and compassionate intention of the buddhas, whether or not it is clearly discerned by an observer.
Enlightenment byang-chub, Skt. bodbi
In the Buddhist context, ‘enlightenment’ refers to an individual’s awakening to the mind’s actual nature. The Tibetan equivalent byang-chub implies the purification (byang) of obscurations and the perfection (chub) of omniscience. The process of attaining enlightenment therefore proceeds in conjunction with the dispelling of the dissonant mental states which obscure the perception of actual reality. On the bodhisattva path, thirty-seven distinct aspects of enlightenment are sequentially cultivated. A fully enlightened being is a buddha who is totally free from all obstruction to true knowledge and the state of liberation, and is hence omniscient in the knowledge of reality.
Enrichment rgyas-pa’i las, Skt. pustikriyd
See Four Aspects of Enlightened Activity and Buddha-activities.
Envy phrag-dog, Skt. Irsd Envy, which includes all the various forms of self-cherishing ambition, is one of the five poisons of the mind (dug-lnga), along with aversion, delusion, pride, and attachment. In its extreme manifestation, of persistent hostile competitiveness, it is said to characterise the worlds of the antigods (asuraloka).
Equanimity btang-snyotns, Skt. upeksa
Equanimity is one of the four immeasurable aspirations, along with loving kindness, compassion and empathetic joy, which are cultivated in the preliminary practices and commonly repeated before engaging in daily practice. Equanimity is an essential element of the cultivation of the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others, in the context of which the practitioner cultivates an unbiased attitude towards all sentient beings, regarding them as being completely equal and thus overcoming any sense of partiality towards them. Normally one’s attitude towards other persons, for example, is strongly prejudiced by one’s classification of others into seemingly incompatible groups of friends, enemies or those regarded with indifference. See also under Bodhicitta.
Esoteric Instructional Class man-ngag-gi sde, Skt. upadeiavarga See under Great Perfection.
Essence, Natural Expression and Compassionate Energy ngo-bo rang-bzhin thugs-rje
In the terminology of the Great Perfection, the essence (ngo-bo) is the modality of the Buddha-body of Reality, natural expression (rang-bzhin) is the modality of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, and compassionate energy or spirituality (thugs-rje) is the modality of the Buddha-body of Emanation. These three modalities may be cultivated through the techniques known as Cutting through Resistance (khregs-chod) and All-surpassing Realisation (thod-rgal). The term natural expression (rang-bzhin) also has another distinctive usage in the context of the present work, where it frequently refers to the attributes represented by the twenty-eight Isvari among the assembly of the fifty-eight wrathful deities. See Natural Expression.
Eternalist mu-stegs-pa, Skt. tlrthika In general Buddhist usage, the term ‘eternalist’ refers to the four so-called eternalistic schools of ancient India, namely Samkhya, Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Jainism, which posit the existence of an independent self or soul (Mman, Tib. bdag). By contrast, Buddhist schools identify the self in terms of the five psycho-physical aggregates (pancaskandha), and therefore do not accept the notion of self in the sense of an eternal, unchanging, independently existing entity. Both eternalism and nihilism are regarded as the two extreme views, which are to be avoided when seeking an insight into emptiness, the true nature of reality, by means of the Middle Way (madhyamapratipad). Here all apprehensions of inherent existence constitute falling into the extreme of eternalism, and a total denial of the laws of cause and effect in association with past and future lives constitutes falling into nihilism.
Expanse of [Actual] Reality chos-dbyings, Skt. dharmadhatu The expanse of actual reality is a synonym for the expanse of emptiness. As such, it indicates both the dimension of the Buddha-body of Reality, and the pristine cognition of reality’s expanse (dharmadhdtujndna).
Extremes mtha’, Skt. anta
From the perspective of the Greater Vehicle, the Buddha-body of Reality is said to be free from the dualistic extremes of creation and cessation (skye-’gag), etemalism and nihilism (rtag-chad), existence and non-existence (yod-med), and appearance and emptiness (snang-stong).
Feast-offering tshogs [kyi ’khor-lo], Skt. ganacakra
The Tibetan word tshogs generally has two senses, corresponding to the Sanskrit sambhdra and ganacakra. In the latter case it refers to the feast-offerings which are a unique tantric method for conferring accomplishment and pacifying obstacles. In general, feast-offerings are frequently held to commemorate important events in the Buddhist calendar, such as the tenth-day feast-offering, dedicated to Padmasambhava. The overall purpose is to distribute merit and pristine cognition in the context of a specific tantric ritual. See also under Accumulation.
Final Nirvana yongs-su mya-ngan-las ’das, Skt. parinirvana
The expression ‘final nirvana’ refers specifically to the passing away of buddhas, such as Sakyamuni, and it is considered to be the last of the twelve principal deeds, exemplified by the death of Sakyamuni at Kusinagara. See also under Nirvana and Buddha activities.
Five Aggregates phung-po Inga, Skt. pancaskandha
See the separate entries, under Aggregate of Consciousness, Aggregate of Form,
Aggregate of Feelings, Aggregate of Perceptions, and Aggregate of Motivational Tendencies.
Five Appendages yan-lag Inga, Skt. pancdhga The head and the four limbs.
Five Approximating Crimes nye-ba’i mtshams-med Inga, Skt. pancopantartya The five crimes which approximate the five inexpiable crimes (mtshams-med Inga) in their severity are: to rape a female arhat (dgra-bcom-ma-la ’dod-log spyod-pa), to kill one who abides on the level of a genuine bodhisattva (byang-sems nges-gnas gsod-pa), to kill a trainee monk (slob-pa’i dge-’dun gsod-pa), to misappropriate the income of the monastic community (dge-’dun-gyi ’du-sgo ’phrog-pa), and to destroy a stupa (mchod-rten bshig-pa).
Five Buddha-bodies sku Inga, Skt. pancakdya
The Buddha-body of Reality, Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, Buddha-body of Emanation, Buddha-body of Awakening, and Buddha-body of Indestructible Reality. See Buddha-body and individual entries.
Five Degenerations snyigs-ma Inga, Skt. pancakasdya
The five degenerations comprise: degeneration of the lifespan (ayuhkasdya), degeneration in terms of views (drstikasdya), degeneration in terms of dissonant mental states (klesakasaya), degeneration of sentient beings (sattvakasdya), and degeneration of the present age (kalpakasdya).
Five Elements ’byung-ba Inga I khams Inga, Skt. pahcabhutal pancadhdtu According to the Indo-Tibetan system, as expounded in the tantras, and in medical and astrological texts, the five elements – earth, water, fire, wind, and space – are five basic components that make up our environment, our bodies, and, at their subtle levels, modalities of the mind. At the subtlest level, the elemental properties exist as the pure natures represented by the five female buddhas (Akasadhatvisvart, Buddhalocand, Mamaki, Pandaravasini and Samayatara) and these manifest as the physical properties of earth (solidity), water (fluidity), fire (heat and light), wind (movement and energy), and space – in other words as all the qualities that constitute the physical forms that we experience through our senses. A proper understanding of the elements and the way in which their properties permeate the nature of mind, the body and our environment is fundamental to the practice of Buddhist tantra. See Chapters 8 and 11 and Appendix Two.
Five Enlightened Families rigs Inga, Skt. pancakula
See Buddha Family, Vajra Family, Ratna Family, Padma Family, and Karma Family and Appendix Two.
Five Hollow Viscera snod-lnga According to the traditions of Tibetan medicine, the five hollow viscera are those of the stomach, the large intestine, the small intestine, the bladder, the gall bladder, and the reservoir of reproductive fluid (bsam-se’u).
Five Inexpiable Crimes mtshams-med Inga, Skt. pancdnantariya The five inexpiable crimes, which are regarded as the most severe and consequently the most difficult to overcome by reparation, are: matricide (ma gsod-pa), arhatcide (dgra-bcom-pa gsod-pa), patricide (pha gsod-pa), creating a schism in the monastic community (dge-’dun-gyi dbyen-byas-ba), and intentionally wounding a buddha (de-bzhin gshegs-pa’i sku-la ngan-sems-kyis khrag ’byin-pa).
Five Poisons dug-lnga, Skt. pancaklesa
The five poisons comprise five of the most basic dissonant mental states (kleSa) – all of which are grounded in fundamental ignorance (avidyd). They are: delusion (moha), attachment (rdga), aversion (dvesa), pride (abhimdna), and envy/self-cherishing ambition (Irsd).
Five Precious Substances rin-chen Inga Gold, silver, turquoise, coral and pearl.
Five Pristine Cognitions ye-shes Inga, Skt. pancdjndna See under Pristine Cognition.
Five Sense-faculties/organs dbang-po rnam-lnga, Skt. pancendriya The five sense-faculties or sense-organs comprise: the eyes (caksurindriya), ears
(srotrendriya), nose (ghrdnendriya), tongue (jihvendriya), and body (kdyendriya).
Five Solid Viscera don-lnga
According to the traditions of Tibetan medicine, the five solid viscera are the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and spleen.
Form Realm and Formless Realm See Three World-systems.
Formal Description mngon-rtogs, Skt. abhisamaya While practising the generation stage (utpattikrama) of meditation, the deities are visualised in accordance with their formal descriptions which are set down in the texts of the appropriate means for attainment (sgrub-thabs, Skt. sddhana). In other contexts the term l abhisamayd1 conveys the sense of ‘emergent or clear realisation’, as in Maitreya’s Ornament of Emergent Realisation (Abhisamaydlamkdra).
Four Aspects of Enlightened Activity las-bzhi, Skt. catuskarman These are specific ritual functions based on the dynamic modes of a buddha’s activity, namely: pacification (sdntikriyd, Tib. zhi-ba’i las), which includes the pacification of obstacles to spiritual practice, illness and the causes of harm to society and the environment; enrichment (pustikriyd, Tib. rgyas-pa’i las), which includes increasing the lifespan and prosperity; subjugation (vasitakriyd, Tib. dbang-gi las), which includes the controlling of negative and hostile forces; and wrath or transformation (maranakriyd, Tib. drag-po’i las), which includes the elimination of malevolent forces. The ritual enactment of these four rites is often undertaken in the context of a burnt offering ritual (homa).
Four Aspects of Ritual Service and Means for Attainment bsnyen-sgrub yan-lag bzhi, Skt. caturdngasevdsddhana
Whenever any means for attainment (Skt. sddhana) is practised, it will comprise the ‘four aspects of ritual service and means for attainment’. The four branches are: ritual service (sevd), further ritual service (upasevd), means for attainment (sddhana) and great means for attainment (mahdsddhana), which respectively entail i) mantra recitation and one-pointed visualisation of the meditational deity, z) prayers that the blessing of the deity will descend to transform mundane body, speech and mind into buddha-body, speech and mind, 3) the absorption of accomplishments from the actual deity into the visualised deity and thence into oneself, and 4) the realisation of primordial purity experienced when body, speech and mind are identical to those of the deity.
Four Aspects of Sensory Contact reg-bzhi
These are sensory contact, along with its subject, object and actual sensation.
Four Buddha-bodies sku-bzhi, Skt. catuhkdya See under Buddha-body.
Four Classes of Dakinl mkha’-’gro sde-bzhi.
The four classes of dakinl comprise those born in sacred abodes or pure lands (zhing-skyes mkha’-’gro), those born in consequence of mantra recitation (sngags-skyes mkha’-’gro), those who are naturally born (lhan-skyes mkha’-’gro), and those born of pristine cognition (ye-shes mkha’-’gro).
Four Continents and Eight Subcontinents gling bzhi-dang gling-phran brgyad According to traditional Indian Buddhist cosmology, the world has Mount Sumeru as its central axis, surrounded by seven concentric oceans divided from one another by seven successive ranges of golden mountains: Yugandhara, Isadhdra, Khadirika, Sudarsana, Asvakarna, Vinataka, and Nimindhara. The entire world is girded by a perimeter of iron mountains known as the Cakravdla. In each of the four cardinal directions of Mount Sumeru, there is located a continent, along with two satellites or subcontinents. Among these, the eastern continent Viratdeha (lus-’phags; ‘sublime in body’) is semicircular and it has two subcontinents: Deha (lus) and Videha (lus-’phags). The southern continent Jambudvipa (’dzam-bugling; ‘rose-apple continent’) is triangular and its two subcontinents are Cdmaradvtpa (rnga-yab gling) and Aparacdmara (rnga-yab gzhan). The western continent, Aparagodaniya (ba- lang spyod; ‘rich in cattle’), is circular and its two subcontinents are Sdtha (gYo-ldan) and Uttaramantrina (lam-mchog ’gro). Lastly, the northern continent Uttarakuru (sgra-mi-snyan; ‘unpleasant sound’) is square and its two subcontinents are Kurava (sgra mi-snyari) and Kaurava (sgra mi-snyan-gyi zla). Among the four, Jambudvlpa is unique in that it is here that the sacred teachings of the buddhas are said to flourish. See Chapter n, Part Three with respect to instructions for choosing a birthplace and Chapter 1 with respect to visualising the mandala of offerings.
Four Delights dga’-ba bzhi
In the perfection stage (sampannakrama) of meditation, when the practices of sexual yoga (sbyor-ba) are applied in order to bring about a coalescence of bliss and emptiness, the generative essence (thig-le) of the body descends through the central channel and the four delights are sequentially experienced. As it descends from the energy centre of the crown fontanelle to the throat centre, the pristine cognition of delight (dga’-ba) is experienced. When it descends from the throat centre to the heart centre, the pristine cognition of supreme delight (mchog-dga’) is experienced. When it descends from the heart centre to the navel centre the pristine cognition of the absence of delight (dga’-bral) is experienced. And when it descends from the navel centre to the secret centre of the genitalia, the coemergent delight (lhan-skyes dga’-ba) is experienced. Thereafter, the generative essence is retained within the body and drawn upwards through the central channel, permeating each of the energy centres of the body in turn with unceasing bliss and non-conceptual pristine cognition. See also under Coemergent Delight.
Four Elements ’byung-ba bzhi, Skt. caturbhuta Earth, water, fire and wind. See Five Elements.
Four Empowerments dbang-bskur bzhi, Skt. caturabhisekha The four empowerments of the Unsurpassed Yoga tantras, including Mahayoga, are: the vase empowerment (bum-dbang), which purifies the ordinary body and its energy channels into the Buddha-body of Emanation (nirmdnakdya); the secret empowerment (gsang-dbang), which purifies ordinary speech and its vital energy into the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource (sambhogakdya); the empowerment of discriminative pristine cognition (shes-rab ye-shes-kyi dbang) which purifies ordinary mind and its seminal point (bindu) into the Buddha-body of Reality (dhar-makdya); and the empowerment of word and meaning (tshig-don-gi dbang), which purifies these three equally into the Buddha-body of Essentiality (svabhdvikakdya). See also Empowerment.
Four Extreme Views mu-bzhi
In the context of the present work, these are the four extreme views of permanence,
decay, self, and substantialism.
Four Formless Meditative Absorptions gzugs-med snyoms-’jug bzhi, Skt.
catuhsamdpatti The four formless meditative absorptions which lead to birth in the world-system of formlessness, at the summit of cyclic existence, are those known as: infinite as the sky (akdsdnantydyatana), infinite consciousness (vijnandnantyayatana), noth- ing-at-all (akimcanydyatana), and neither perception nor non-perception (naiva- samjndnasamjndyatana). See Three World-systems.
Four Immeasurable Aspirations tsbad-med bzhi, Skt. catvdryapramdndni Immeasurable compassion, love, empathetic joy and equanimity. The cultivation of the four immeasurable wishes, which is normally accompanied by the recitation of a short prayer (see Chapter i), is a common preliminary to daily practice. This contemplation establishes correct motivation and provides a strong impetus to the cultivation of the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.
Four Malevolent Forces bdud-bzhi, Skt. caturmdra See Malevolent/Beguiling Forces.
Four Modes of Liberation grol-lugs bzhi The four modes of liberation, according to Atiyoga, comprise: primordial liberation (ye-grol), natural liberation (rang-grol), direct liberation (cer-grol), and further liberation (yang-grol) or liberation from extremes {mtha’-grol). These are attained in connection with the intermediate state of meditative concentration (bsam-gtan bar-do).
Four Noble Truths bden-pa bzhi, Skt. caturdryasatya
The teaching on the four noble truths forms the basis of the first promulgation of Buddhism, since it is the very first formal discourse given by Sdkyamuni in Sarnath following his attainment of buddhahood at Bodh Gaya. The four truths are: the truth of suffering, the truth of its origins, the truth of its cessation, and the truth of the path leading to such cessation. The doctrine of four truths lays the foundation upon which the entire structure of the path to buddhahood is built and the understanding of these four truths is therefore an indispensable basis for a successful practice of the Buddhist path. The first two truths constitute one interrelationship of cause and effect and the remaining two, another. Without proper insight into the first interrelationship no genuine aspiration to seek freedom from cyclic existence will arise. Similarly, without insight into the second, no genuine release from the bondage of karmically conditioned existence can be achieved.
Four Preliminaries
See Preliminary Practices.
Four Times dus-bzhi Past, present, future, and indefinite time. In some contexts the four times refer to different phases of conceptual thought, in which case they are enumerated as past thoughts, present thoughts, future thoughts and indeterminate thoughts (so-sor rtog-pa).
Fundamental Ignorance ma-rig-pa, Skt. avidya The most fundamental misapprehension of the nature of actual reality, which is the source of all dissonant mental states and the twelve links of dependent origination. Divergent views exist among Buddhist thinkers about the specific character and nature of fundamental ignorance. For example, the fourth-century master Asanga conceives this ignorance to be a state of unknowing, ignorant of the actual nature of reality. In contrast, for masters like Ndgdrjuna and especially Dharmakirti, it is an active state of mis-knowing, i.e. it understands the existence of one’s own self and the world in a fundamentally distorted manner. In the classical Indian Buddhist texts, two principal forms of fundamental ignorance are identified – (i) ignorance pertaining to the actual nature of reality and (ii) ignorance pertaining to the law of cause and effect. The Nyingma master Dudjom Rinpoche explains the evolution of bewilderment from fundamental ignorance in three phases: first, the fundamental ignorance of self-identity (bdag-nyid gcig-pu’i ma-rig-pa) is not recognised to be false; second, the coemergent ignorance (lhan-skyes ma-rig-pa) ensures that the consciousness of self-identity and non-recognition of actual reality coincide; and, third, the fundamental ignorance of the imaginary (kun-btags ma-rig-pa) generates bewildennent, through which one’s own bewildering perceptions are externally discerned in terms of the subject-object dichotomy, giving rise to all the sufferings of cyclic existence.
Garuda khyung
A mythical bird normally depicted with an owl-like sharp beak, often holding a snake, and with large and powerful wings. References to this bird can be also found in Hindu literature where it is often mentioned as the flying mount of powerful mundane gods (deva). In Buddhism, the symbolism of the garuda is generally associated with pristine cognition (it is said that the garuda can fly as soon as it is hatched) and with the consuming of dissonant mental states (the holding of a snake in its beak). In a Buddhist context, the garuda is also associated with Vajrapani and certain wrathful forms of Padmasambhava through its power to subdue snakes, serpentine water spirits, and subterranean creatures, and, according to the Nyingma school, the garuda is sometimes revered as a guardian of treasures (gter-bdag) or even as a repository of treasures (gter-kha).
Gelug dge-lugs
One of the four main traditions or schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Founded by the great fourteenth-century philosopher Tsongkhapa and his foremost students, it quickly established itself as a dominant tradition of Tibetan Buddhism with its monasteries extending from the far west of Tibet to Chamdo, Dartsedo, and Amdo in the east. Following the Third Dalai Lama’s visit to Mongolia, it became the state religion in Mongolia and the Buriat regions of the Soviet Union, and during the seventeenth century its hierarchy became the dominant political force in Central Tibet when the Fifth Dalai Lama assumed both spiritual and temporal power with the assistance of Mongol armies. ‘Gelug’ literally means the tradition of the virtuous path and is named after the monastery called Geden or Ganden, founded by Tsongkhapa in 1409.
Generation Stage bskyed-rim, Skt. utpattikrama
According to the. traditions of the tantras, the main practices of meditation which follow the successful conclusion of the preliminary practices (sngon-’gro) include the generation stage and the perfection stage (Skt. sampannakrama). Both the generation and perfection stages of meditation are related to transforming our mundane experiences of each of the phases of life and death, namely: the intermediate states of the time of death, of reality, of rebirth, and of living. The generation stage is characterised by the meditative processes of the practitioner’s gradual identification with the form and pristine cognition of the meditational deity and it is during this stage that, with the support of mantra recitation, the elaborate visualisation of the deity is gradually generated and stabilised. This process, known as self-generation, is a simulacrum of bringing the three buddha-bodies on to the path and is composed therefore of three principal aspects: dissolution into emptiness (Buddha-body of Reality), arising into a subtle form such as a seed-syllable or symbol (Buddha-body of Perfect Resource), and full emergence into the deity’s form (Buddha-body of Emanation). See the Introductory Commentary by HH the Dalai Lama and Perfection Stage.
Generative Essences byang-sems/thig-le, Skt. bodhicitta/bindu In the tantras and in Tibetan medicine, the generative essences or fluids are considered as arising from a supreme seminal point (thig-le chen-po) located in the middle of the heart centre. From the perspective of the tantras this supreme seminal point is regarded as the seed of buddhahood and from the perspective of Tibetan medicine it is regarded as the basis of both physical and mental health. This supreme seminal point at the heart is considered to be the size of a small pea or large mustard seed and it incorporates the pure essences (dvangs-ma) of the five elements, the presence of which is indicated by its five-coloured glow. From the perspective of the tantras the very subtle vital energy, known as the life-bearing wind or breath, dwells inside this seminal point and at the culmination of the intermediate state of the time of death all vital energies ultimately dissolve into it and the inner radiance of the ground dawns. During life, a single seminal point abides in each of the five energy centres and each seminal point is whiter at the top and redder at the bottom. At the crown centre the whiter element predominates and at the level of the genitalia the redder element predominates. According to Tibetan medicine, white generative fluids are said to produce bone tissue in the embryo, and it is from the bone marrow that both semen and breast milk are said to be produced. Red generative fluids are said to produce blood, flesh and skin. At their least subtle level, therefore, the former are identified with semen and the latter with menstrual blood. See also under Seminal Point.
Gods lha, Skt. deva One of the six classes of living beings (’gro-ba rigs-drug). The mode of being and activity of the gods is said to be engendered and dominated by exaltation, indulgence and pride. The gods exist in realms higher than that of the human realm in the world-system of desire (kdmadhdtu), and also in the world-systems of form [rupa-dhdtu) and formlessness (driipyadhdtu). See Three World-systems.
Gods of the Ten Directions phyogs-bcu’i lha, Skt. dasadikpdla The gods who traditionally are said to preside over the ten directions of space are otherwise known as the protector deities of the ten directions, viz.: Indra, Yama, Varuna, Yaksa, Agni, Raksasa, Vdyu, Bhiita, Brahma, and Vanadevt or Sthdvard.
Great Bliss bde-chen, Skt. mahdsukha
In the context of Unsurpassed Yogatantra, ‘great bliss’ refers to the blissful states experienced when the meditator enters into union with a partner (either in visualisation at the beginner’s level or in actuality at an advanced stage). In both cases, the experiences, to be valid, have to arise as a result of the dissolution of mental conceptuality and the vital energies which support these conceptual states. Such a blissful state of mind, when generated within a direct experience of emptiness, free from attachment, becomes what is known as the union of bliss and emptiness.
Great Perfection rdzogs-pa chen-po, Skt. ntahdsandhi
Great Perfection is a synonym for Atiyoga, the highest of the nine vehicles according to the Nyingma tradition. Atiyoga is known as the Great Perfection because both the generation and perfection stages of meditation are effortlessly present. ‘Perfection’ (rdzogs) implies that the enlightened attributes of the Three Buddha-bodies are effortlessly perfected in the stabilisation of the meditator’s intrinsic awareness (rang-rig). Here the Buddha-body of Reality (dharmakdya) is the essence or emptiness (ngo-bo stong-pa) of intrinsic awareness; the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource (sambhogakdya) is its natural expression and radiance (rang-bzhin gsal-ba); and the Buddha-body of Emanation (nirmdnakdya) is its all-pervasive unimpeded compassionate energy (ma-’gags thugs-rje) expressed in physical form. ‘Great’ (chert) implies that this perfection is the underlying nature of all things. The tantra texts and instructions of Atiyoga, contained in the Collected Tantras of the Nyingmapa, are divided into three classes: the Mental Class (sems-sde), which emphasises the radiance (gsal-ba’i cha) of the nature of mind (sems-nyid); the Spatial Class (klong-sde) which emphasises the emptiness (stong-pa’i cha) of reality’s expanse (dharmadhdtu); and the Esoteric Instructional Class (man-ngag-gi sde), in which these aspects are given equal emphasis and in which the meditative techniques of Cutting through Resistance (khregs-chod) and All-surpassing Realisation (thod-rgal) lead respective to the realisation of the Buddha-body of Reality and the Buddha-body of Form.
Great Seal phyag-rgya chen-po, Skt. mahdmudrd According to the tradition of the sutras, the expression ‘Great Seal’ refers to the comprehension of emptiness as the all-encompassing ultimate nature of reality. Emptiness is called the great seal, for nothing extraneous to it exists, and all phenomena, both physical and mental, are in their ultimate natures empty of inherent existence. According to the tradition of the tantras in general, the practice of the Great Seal is considered in terms of ground, path and result. As a ‘path’, it comprises a sequence of systematic advanced meditations on emptiness and pure appearance, integrating the techniques of calm abiding and penetrative insight, which focuses on the nature of the meditator’s own mind. This type of meditation is popular in both the Kagyu and Gelug schools of Tibetan Buddhism. As a ‘result’, the expression ‘Great Seal’ refers to the state of buddhahood, the conclusive result or supreme spiritual accomplishment. According to the Nyingma school, within the context of Mahdyoga in particular, the term refers to the great seal of buddha-body which secures the ground-of-all consciousness (dlayavijndna) as the mirror-like pristine cognition. A distinction is also drawn between the supreme accomplishment of the Great Seal (phyag-rgya chen-po mchog-gi dngos-grub), which is to be attained in the course of the meditator’s lifetime, and the coalescent Buddha-body of the Great Seal (zung-’jug phyag-rgya chen-po’i sku), which is identified with the inner radiance of the Buddha-body of Reality.
Greater Vehicle theg-pa chen-po, Skt. mahdyana
When the Buddhist teachings are classified according to their power to lead beings to an enlightened state, a distinction is made between the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle (hlnaydna) and those of the Greater Vehicle. In terms of motivation, the practitioner of the Lesser Vehicle emphasises the individual’s own freedom from cyclic existence as the primary motivation and goal and the practitioner of the Greater Vehicle emphasises altruism and has the liberation of all sentient beings as the principal objective. As the term ‘Greater Vehicle’ implies, the path followed by bodhisattvas is analogous to a large carriage which can transport a vast number of people to liberation, as compared to a smaller vehicle for the individual practitioner. In terms of philosophy, the principal philosophical schools of the Lesser Vehicle are Vaibhdsika and Sautrdntika and those of the Greater Vehicle are Cittamdtra and Madhyamaka. In terms of the path, the Lesser Vehicle emphasises complete renunciation of dissonant mental states and the practice of the four noble truths and the twelve links of dependent origination, while the Greater Vehicle allows the taking on to the path of dissonant mental states and emphasises the practice of the six perfections. According to the Greater Vehicle, the entire path towards the attainment of buddhahood is presented within the framework of two main systems or vehicles (ydna), those of the sutras (sutrayana) and the tantras (tantrayana). The former, also known as the vehicle of bodhisattvas (bodhisattvaydna), entails a progression from fundamental ignorance to enlightenment which may take place over an immeasurable number of lifetimes. The latter, also known as the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality (Vajraydna) or the vehicle of secret mantras (guhyamantraydna), includes the preliminary practices and the generation and perfection stages of meditation through which it is said that enlightenment can be achieved in a single lifetime.
Ground gzhi
See under Continuum of the Ground.
Ground-of-all kun-gzhi, Skt. dlaya
According to the Great Perfection, the ground-of-all is identified with the continuum of the ground. This ground-of-all is therefore contrasted with the ground-of-all consciousness (Skt. dlayavijndna). See Aggregate of Consciousness.
Ground-of-all Consciousness kun-gzhi’i mam-par shes-pa, Skt. dlayavijndna See under Aggregate of Consciousness.
Guhyagarbhatantra rGyud gsang-ba’i snying-po
The most all-embracing of the eighteen Mahdyoga tantras, focusing specifically on the mandala of the forty-two peaceful deities and the fifty-eight wrathful deities. There are three distinct versions of the Guhyagarbhatantra, respectively in 8z, 46 and 2.z chapters, and it is the last of these that is most widely studied. All of these versions are included within the general cycle of the Tantra of the Magical Net (Mdydjdlatantra). See under Magical Net and Gyurme Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Habitual Tendencies bag-chags, Skt. vdsand
The deep-seated propensities and habitual tendencies inherited from our past actions. This concept of habitual tendencies is critical to the Buddhist understanding of the causal dynamics of karmic actions as well as its understanding of the process of conditioning. For example, when a person commits an act, such as the negative act of killing, the act itself does not last. So that which connects the committing of this act and the experiencing of its consequence in the future, in some instances in a future life, is the habitual tendencies imprinted upon one’s psyche by the act committed. Similarly, when a strong emotion such as a powerful feeling of hatred arises, although the actual emotion may subside after a while, the experience leaves a mark or an imprint, which will continue to have an impact on the person’s attitudes and emotions as well as behaviour. It is the collection of such countless habitual tendencies imprinted in our psyche by dissonant mental states that constitutes the obscuration of misconceptions concerning the known range of phenomena (Skt. jneydvarana), the total eradication of which occurs only when one achieves full awakening or buddhahood. See Obscuration.
Hand-gestures phyag-rgya, Skt. mudrd See Seal.
Hatred zhe-sdang, Skt. dvesa See Aversion.
Hayagrtva rta-mgrin
The name of a wrathful deity, usually red in colour, with a green horse’s head and neck (rta-mgrin) protruding from amongst the hair on his head. The teachings and the texts associated with Hayagrtva belong within the sadhana class of Mahayoga, where they are known as the tantras of buddha-speech. In this respect, Hayagrtva is considered to be the wrathful counterpart of Avalokiteivara. More generally, as in our text, he is depicted as a gatekeeper of certain mandalas and sacred shrines. See Appendix Two.
Heart-mantra snying-po, Skt. hrdaya See Mantra.
Heart-mantra of Dependent Origination rten-’brel snying-po, Skt. pratltya-
samutp&dahrdaya
The heart-mantra of dependent origination, ye dharmA hetuprabhavA hetun
tesAm tathAgato hy avadat tesAm ca yo nirodho evam vadi mahasra-
manah, can be translated as ‘Whatever events arise from a cause, the Tathagata has told the cause thereof, and the great virtuous ascetic also has taught their cessation as well.’ See Mantra and Dependent Origination.
Hell [Realms] na-rag dmyal-ba’i gnas/dmyal-ba, Skt. naraka See Eighteen Hells.
Hermit Buddha rang-rgyal, Skt. pratyekabuddha
The practitioners of the Lesser Vehicle (hlnay&na) include both pious attendants (irdvaka) and hermit buddhas. Among these, the hermit buddhas are those who pursue the path to liberation without relying on a teacher, following a natural predisposition. According to Maitreya’s Ornament of Emergent Realisation, the accomplishment of the hermit buddhas is considered to surpass that of the pious attendants in the sense that they realise the emptiness of external phenomena, composed of atomic particles, in addition to realising the emptiness of the individual personality (pudgala). However, unlike bodhisattvas they are said not to realise that the internal phenomena of consciousness too are without inherent existence. The realisation of a hermit buddha relies not only on the renunciation or monastic discipline, which is also undertaken by pious attendants, but on their comprehension of the twelve links of dependent origination and ability to reverse these through the power of meditation.
Hero dpa’-bo, Skt. vlra See Spiritual Hero.
Heruka khrag-’thung/he-ru-ka
In general, the term heruka is an epithet for all wrathful male meditational deities,
although in specific contexts it may refer exclusively to the meditational deity Srtheruka and related meditational deities such as Cakrasamvara. In the context of the present work, the term refers only to the six wrathful male buddhas: Mahottara Heruka, Buddha Heruka, Vajra Heruka, Ratna Heruka, Padma Heruka, and Karma Heruka. Literally, the term can be interpreted as ‘blood-drinker’, ‘blood-drinking hero’, ‘delighting in blood’, or ‘holding a blood-filled skull’. See Appendix Two.
Higher Existences gnas mtho-ris, Skt. svarga The three higher realms of the gods, antigods, and humans.
Highest Yoga Tantra bla-med rgyud, Skt. yoganiruttaratantra See Unsurpassed Yogatantra.
Hundred Sacred Enlightened Families dam-pa rigs-brgya Those of the forty-two peaceful deities and the fifty-eight wrathful deities. See Appendix Two.
Hundred-syllable Mantra yig-brgya
The hundred-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva may be interpreted as follows: ‘om Vajrasattva! Protect my commitments! Vajrasattva! Let them be firm! Let me be steadfast! Let me be satisfied! Let me be nourished! Let me be loved! Bestow all accomplishments upon me! With regard to all my past actions, make my mind virtuous! hum (seed-syllable of buddha-mind)! ha (four immeasurables)! ha (four empowerments)! ha (four delights)! ha (four buddha-bodies)! hoh (joyous laughter)! Transcendent One! Indestructible Reality of all the Tathagatas! Do not forsake me! Make me into indestructible reality! Great Being of Commitment! ah (non-dual union).’ The recitation of this mantra, in conjunction with the visualisation of Vajrasattva and the confession of negativity, is an essential component of the preliminary practices (sngon-’gro). See Chapter i and Vajrasattva.
Ignorance ma-rig-pa, Skt. avidya See under Fundamental Ignorance.
Illusion-like Body sgyu-ma’i Ita-bu lus See under Illusory Body.
Illusory Body sgyu-lus
A specific Vajrayāna concept, the term ‘illusory body’ refers to a unique embodiment in which an advanced yogin arises at a high level of the perfection stage according to the Unsurpassed Yogatantras. The arising of the yogin in the form of the illusory body occurs when an indivisible unity of buddha-body, speech and mind has been actualised at the conclusion of the generation and perfection stages of meditation. The attainment of the illusory body is divided into two stages; the attainment of the impure illusory body (ma dag-pa ‘i sgyu-lus) and then attainment of the pure illusory body (dag-pa’i sgyu-lus). The first stage is called impure because the yogin is still not totally free from all habitual tendencies that obstruct subtle knowledge. When the yogin attains the pure illusory body, which is in union with inner radiance, this marks the attainment of the highest union that is the full awakening of buddhahood, the attainment of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource. According to the perfection stage of meditation, there are distinctive meditations which focus on the impure illusory body and the pure illusory body. In the former case, the meditation focuses on all physical phenomena as being dream-like and illusory in manner, without inherent existence. In the latter case, the meditation focuses on the mandala of deities visualised according to the so-called twelve similes of illusion (sgyu-ma’i dpe bcu-gnyis).
Impermanence mi-rtag-pa, Skt. anitya Impermanence, along with suffering and the absence of self-identity, is regarded in Buddhism as one of the three marks or characteristics of causally conditioned phenomena. Although Buddhist literature mentions various degrees of impermanence, in general it can be defined as the moment by moment changing nature of all things. Nothing endures through time without change, and the process of change is dynamic and never ending, reflecting the nature of flux and fluidity in conditioned existence. This fundamental quality of impermanence extends to both the external world and the perceiving mind.
Imprecatory Female Spirits ma-mo, Skt. mdtarah
The imprecatory female spirits are generally depicted as ugly, ferocious, dark-complexioned, and half-naked with emaciated breasts and matted hair. They invoke curses and imprecations, inflicting plague (dal-yams) on living beings. The mundane imprecatory female spirits of Tibet were subdued by Padmasambhava on Mount Chuwori, while the supramundane category includes the protectress SrldevI (Tib. dpal-ldan lha-mo) in the form RematI, and the eight mdtarah (ma-mo brgyad) headed by Gaurf, who form one subcategory of the fifty-eight wrathful deities. See Appendix Two. One of the eight principal meditational deities of the Mahdyoga sddbana class is known as Imprecatory Mdtarah (ma-mo rbod-gtong).
Incalculable Aeon grangs-med bskal-pa, Skt. asamkhyeyakalpa
The expression incalculable aeon indicates a period of time equivalent to 10 to the power of 59 lesser aeons.
Indestructible Chains of Inner Radiance ’od-gsal rdo-rje lu-gu-rgyud The appearance of indestructible chains of light or inner radiance occurs through the meditative technique known as All-surpassing Realisation (thod-rgal), according to the Great Perfection (rdzogs-pa chen-po). The arising of these chains of light is an indication of the natural expression (rang-bzhin) of intrinsic awareness (rang-rig), through which the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource becomes manifest.
Indestructible Cross-legged Posture rdo-rje’i skyil-krung, Skt. vajrdsana Contrasted with the ‘lotus posture’ (Skt. padmdsana), this ‘indestructible posture’ is formed by crossing the legs with the feet upturned and folded along the thighs. In the case of the indestructible posture the right leg is folded above the left, whereas in the lotus position the left leg is folded over the right. This is one of the optimum recommended meditation postures, included in the Seven-point Posture of Vairocana.
Indestructible Expanse rdo-rje’i dbyings, Skt. vajradhdtu
Generally a synonym for the expanse of reality (Skt. dharmadhitu) or emptiness. In certain contexts it also refers to the name of the central figures of the Vajradhdtu mandala of the Yogatantras.
Indestructible Hell rdo-rje dmyal-ba, Skt. vajranaraka
A synonym for the hell of ultimate torment (Skt. Avici), which relates to the admonition that those who violate their commitments in respect of the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality are reborn there. See Eighteen Hells.
Indestructible Reality rdo-rje, Skt. vajra
The fully enlightened buddha-body, speech and mind are described as indestructible reality. This suggests that the fruitional attributes of buddhahood are adamantine and indivisible, for they are invulnerable to all degrees of physical, verbal and mental defilement.
Individual Disciplines so-sor thar-pa, Skt. pratimoksa See under Pratimoksa.
Inherent Existence rang-ngo-bo-nyid, Skt. svabhavata
The term ‘inherent existence’ refers to the ontological status of phenomena, according to which phenomena are attributed with existence in their own right, inherently, in and of themselves, objectively, and independent of any other phenomena such as our conception and labelling. The Madhyamaka schools of thought refute such a nature of existence and argue that nothing exists inherently, for nothing can be found to exist independently from conceptuality and labelling when scrutinised through an ultimate analysis. The Madhyamaka schools hold that things exist only conventionally and their existence can be validated only within a relative framework of conventional reality. Absence of such an ontological reality, i.e. the absence of the inherent existence of all phenomena, is defined as the true nature of reality, emptiness, by the Madhyamaka schools and by the tantras.
Inner Radiance ’od-gsal, Skt. prabhasvara Sometimes also translated as ‘clear light’, the Tibetan term ’od-gsal, which has been rendered here as ‘inner radiance’, refers in the context of the perfection stage of meditation (Skt. sampannakrama) to the subtlest level of mind, i.e. the fundamental, essential nature of all our cognitive events. Though ever present within all sentient beings, this inner radiance becomes manifest only when the gross mind has ceased to function. Such a dissolution is experienced by ordinary beings, naturally, at the time of death, but it can also be experientially cultivated through the practices of Unsurpassed Yogatantra. A fundamental distinction is made between the inner radiance of the ground (gzhi’i ’od-gsal) and the inner radiance of the path (latn-gyi ’od-gsal). The former, which is also known as the ‘mother inner radiance’ (’od-gsal ma), occurs naturally at the time of death, when it indicates the presence of the Buddha-body of Reality (dharmakaya), but which may not be accompanied by an awareness of its nature. The latter, which is also known as the ‘child inner radiance’ (’od-gsal bu) is an awareness of the ultimate nature of mind cultivated by the meditator in life, i.e. the realisation of the nature of the ‘mother inner radiance’ as it is developed in meditation. Buddhahood is achieved when the ‘mother inner radiance’ and ‘child inner radiance’ conjoin. See Chapters 8, 10 and n. Chapter ii, in particular, differentiates three successive phases of inner radiance which are experienced at the time of death and immediately thereafter: the primary inner radiance (bar-do dang-po chos-nyid ’od-gsal), which is identified with the inner radiance of the ground, the secondary inner radiance (bar-do ’od-gsal gnyis-pa), which is identified with the inner radiance of the path, and the tertiary inner radiance (bar-do ’od-gsal gsum-pa), which is identified with the subsequent arising of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities during the intermediate state of reality (chos-nyid bar-do).
Inner Tantras of Skilful Means nang thabs-kyi rgyud The collective name for the tantras of Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga. See also under Vehicle.
Intentional Lineage of the Conquerors rgyal-ba dgongs-pa’i brgyud-pa According to the Nyingma school, the Buddhist teachings are said to have been transmitted through six lineages (brgyud-pa drug). Among these, the first, which is known as the ‘intentional lineage of the conquerors’, refers to the enlightened intention (dgongs-pa) of Samantabhadra, which confers the realisation of the atemporal Buddha-body of Reality, as a blessing upon the male and female buddhas of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource.
Intermediate State bar-do, Skt. antarabhava
The original usage of the term within the literature of classical Buddhist abhidharma suggests that it referred exclusively to the period between the time of death and the time of rebirth. According to the Nyingma and Kagyu schools, however, the term ‘intermediate state’ refers to key phases of life and death identified as: the intermediate state of living (rang-bzhin bar-do), the intermediate state of meditative concentration (bsatn-gtan bar-do), the intermediate state of dreams (rmi-lam bar-do), the intermediate state of the time of death (’chi-kha’i bar-do), the intermediate state of reality (chos-nyid bar-do) and the intermediate state of rebirth (srid-pa’i bar-do). During each of these phases, the consciousness of a sentient being has particular experiential qualities, and corresponding to these qualities of experience there are specific meditative techniques conducive to realisation of the ultimate nature of mind and phenomena. See Chapter 3 and individual entries below.
Intermediate State of Dreams rmi-lam bar-do
The intermediate state of dreams begins from the moment of falling asleep and ends when we awake. This intermediate state offers the opportunity for the practitioner to recognise the similarity between the illusory nature of dreams and that of our waking state. This practice is cultivated in the context of dream yoga where the ability to maintain awareness of the ultimate nature of mind and phenomena during both deep sleep and dreaming is refined.
Intermediate State of Living rang-bzhin bar-do
The intermediate state of living begins at the time of birth and continues until the time of death. Having obtained a precious human form with the ability to recognise our actual condition, the opportunity arises to adopt a way of life and to engage in the practices that lead to buddhahood. See Chapters 3 and 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Intermediate State of Meditative Concentration bsam-gtan bar-do The intermediate state of meditative concentration entered during the waking state provides the opportunity for the practitioner to cultivate meditative equipoise (sam-ihita, Tib. mnyam-bzhag) and thereby to achieve stability in the generation and perfection stages of meditation. This in turn deepens an unbroken awareness of the ultimate nature of mind and phenomena in post-meditative activities and prepares the meditator for the intermediate state of the time of death. See Chapters 3 and 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Intermediate State of Reality chos-nyid bar-do
The intermediate state of actual reality arises after the intermediate state of the time
of death (’chi-kha’i bar-do) and before the intermediate state of rebirth (srid-pa’i bar-do). Here the opportunity occurs, based on the practices adopted during one’s lifetime, to recognise the natural purity and natural transformative qualities of the ultimate nature of mind in the form of luminosities, rays, sounds and meditational deities. See Chapters 3 and 11.
Intermediate State of Rebirth srid-pa’i bar-do The intermediate state of rebirth is entered after the intermediate state of reality when the consciousness arises in the form of a mental body, conditioned by the individual’s inheritance of past actions, and the individual begins to experience both the surroundings where he or she died and the unfolding of experiential states driven by the momentum of past actions. If liberation from cyclic existence is not achieved during this intermediate state it comes to an end at the moment of conception. Since consciousness is said to possess certain heightened qualities during this period there is a potential to achieve liberation, or at the very least a favourable rebirth, at various key stages as this state is traversed. See Chapters 3 and n.
Intermediate State of the Time of Death ’chi-kha’i bar-do The intermediate state of the time of death is entered at the time when the process of dying definitively begins, and ends with the onset of the intermediate state of reality. It includes the gradual dissolution of the five elements and their associated modes of consciousness and culminates with the arising of the inner radiance of the ground (gzhi’i ’od-gsal). The natural arising of inner radiance immediately after respiration ceases is regarded as a supreme opportunity to realise the Buddha-body of Reality. See Chapters 3, 8, 10 and 11.
Intrinsic Awareness rang-rig, Skt. svasamvitti/svasamvedana
According to Indian Buddhist epistemology, and particularly in the writings of the great logicians Digndga and Dharmaklrti, the term svasamvedana refers to the apperceptive or reflexive faculty of consciousness, for which reason it is sometimes rendered as ‘reflexive awareness’ or ‘apperceptive awareness’. However, in the view of the Great Perfection (rdzogs-pa chen-po) and in the context of the present work, the same term refers to the fundamental innate mind in its natural state of spontaneity and purity, beyond the alternating states of motion and rest and the subject-object dichotomy. It is therefore rendered here as ‘intrinsic awareness’. As such, intrinsic awareness gives the meditator access to pristine cognition or the buddha-mind itself, and it stands in direct contrast to fundamental ignorance (avi-dyd), which is the primary cause of rebirth in cyclic existence (samsdra). The direct introduction to intrinsic awareness is a distinctive teaching within the Nyingma school and the principal subject matter of Chapter 4. This practice is a central component of the Esoteric Instructional Class (upadesa) of Atiyoga, where it is known as Cutting through Resistance (khregs-chod). See also Awareness and Mind.
Intrinsic Awareness which is Pristine Cognition rang rig-pa ’i ye-shes Generally this term refers to the pristine cognition arising from the direct realisation of emptiness by a sublime being (drya, Tib. ’phags-pa) in the context of deep meditative equipoise. This is so called because the nature and qualities of that experience can never be fully conveyed by means of language and words but remains totally evident to the yogin himself. In the context of the Great Perfection however, as exemplified by our text, the fusion of the meditator’s intrinsic awareness with the pristine cognition of buddha-mind indicates not only that intrinsic awareness provides access to buddha-mind, but that the identity of the two has been fully realised. See also Intrinsic Awareness and Pristine Cognition.
Introduction ngo-sprod
A genre of pith instructions in which the nature of actual reality or intrinsic awareness is formally introduced (rig-pa’i ngo-sprod), in a clear immediate manner, by a qualified spiritual teacher. See Chapter 4.
Invitation spyan-’dren-pa, Skt. upanimantrana
The term ‘invitation’ refers to the meditative process of the tantras, whereby the actual meditational deity or Being of Pristine Cognition (jndnasattva, Tib. ye-shes sems-dpa’) is formally invited by the meditator to enter into the previously visualised form, known as the Being of Commitment (satnayasattva, Tib. dam-tshig sems-dpa’).
Jambudvlpa ’dzam-bu gling
See under Four Continents and Eight Subcontinents.
Kagyu bka’-brgyud
One of the four main traditions or schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Kagyu lineage tradition stems from the great accomplished masters (mahdsiddha) of India such as Tilopa, Naropa and Maitripa through to Khyungpo Neljor, who founded the Shangpa Kagyu lineage, and Marpa Lotsdwa, who formed the Dagpo Kagyu lineage. The latter comprises four major sub-schools, namely the Karmapa, the Tshalpa, the Barompa and the Phagmodrupa, the last of which is further divided into the branches of the Drigungpa, Taglungpa, Drukpa, Yazang, Trophu, Shugseb, Yelpa, and Martshang. These traditions integrate practices derived from both the sutras and the tantras. There is a particular emphasis on the Great Seal (Mahdmudrd) system of practice and on perfection stage practices such as the Six Yogas of Naropa.
Kamarupa ka-ma ru-pa
A traditional name corresponding to parts of modern Assam in north-east India and the adjacent Sylhet region of Bangladesh.
Kangyur and Tengyur bka’-bstan rnam-gnyis
The Kangyur is the Tibetan Buddhist canon containing the original sutras and tantras translated from Indian sources. The Kangyur, as we now know it, was formalised as a complete collection by the great fourteenth-century Tibetan scholar and encyclopaedist Buton Rinchendrub. Buton was also instrumental in the compilation of the Tengyur, the canonical collection containing translations of authoritative Indian commentarial works. Many manuscript versions of these anthologies were prepared over the centuries, and important xylographic editions were published at Narthang, Derge, Lhasa, Litang, Cho-ne, and Beijing. ‘Kangyur’ (bka’-’gyur) literally means the translated sacred words or transmitted precepts of the buddhas, and ‘Tengyur’ (bstan-’gyur), the translated commentaries.
KankanldharanI kari-ka-nf gzungs
The name of an incantation text associated with Aksobhya-Vajrasattva, through which offerings are made on behalf of the deceased.
Karma las
See Past Actions.
Karma Family las-kyi rigs, Skt. karmakula
One of the five enlightened families (pancakula) into which the meditational deities of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource are subdivided. The deities of the Karma family include the peaceful buddhas Amoghasiddhi and Samayatdrd and the corresponding wrathful aspects Karma Heruka and Karmakrodhesvari. See Appendix Two.
Karma Lingpa karma gling-pa
Karma Lingpa (fit. fourteenth century) is the treasure-finder who extracted from Mt Gampodar in Dakpo the cycle of teachings known as the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching, [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention (Zhi-khro dgongs-pa rang-grol), to which our present text belongs. See Gyurme Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Karmaprasiddhi byang-phyogs las-rab brtsegs-pa’i zhing-khams The northern buddha field of the ‘Mound of Excellent Activities’ (Karmaprakuta), otherwise known as the ‘Matrix of Enlightened Activities’ (Tib. las-rab grub-pa, Skt. Karmaprasiddhi), is the paradise presided over by the male buddha Amoghasiddhi. See Appendix Two.
Kaya sku
See Buddha-body.
Khatvanga khatvanga
Literally meaning ‘bedpost’, the khatvanga is a tantric staff, comprising a long eight-sided shaft of white sandalwood, sealed with a hali-vajra at its base, and a crossed-fa/Va at its top, replete with streamers and surmounted by stacked skulls and human heads, indicative of the energy centres of body, speech and mind within the subtle body. In general, the khatvanga symbolises the union of great bliss and emptiness.
King Spirits rgyal-po
A class of male spirits who are said to have assumed their particular forms through a preponderance of anger and hatred. Their many mundane forms are to be differentiated from the five supramundane forms of the protector deity Pehar (rgyal-po sku Inga), which are respectively known as the kings of body, speech, mind, attributes and activities.
Kriyatantra bya-ba’i rgyud
The first of the three outer classes of tantra, which form one subcategory of the six classes of tantra, and the fourth of the nine vehicles, according to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Kriyatantra emphasises outer ritual practices such as the making of offerings, prostration, and praises to the meditational deity visualised in the space before one.
KYE HO kye-ho An exclamation of astonishment or wonder.
Lake-dwelling Medicinal Spirits mtsho-sman/’tsho-sman
A group of five, seven or nine female spirits of the sman-mo class who dwell in lakes, and who are differentiated from the sky-dwelling medicinal spirits (nam-mkha’i sman-mo), the earth-dwelling medicinal spirits (sa’i sman-mo), and the hybrid serpentine-medicinal spirits (klu-sman). In general, the sman-mo are a category of indigenous Tibetan spirits, to whom medicinal torma-offerings (sman-gtor), compounded of medicines, nectars and blood, are made. Foremost among them are the five sisters of longevity (tshe-ring mched-lnga), who are embodied in the five main snow peaks of the Everest range. The most powerful of these medicinal spirits are said to have been bound under an oath of allegiance by Padmasambhava at Silma in Tsang.
Lay Vows dge-bsnyen-gyi sdom-pa, Skt. updsakavrata See Pratimoksa and Vows.
Lesser Vehicle theg-dman, Skt. hinayana
See Greater Vehicle, Hermit Buddhas and Pious Attendants.
‘Liberating’ Avengers sgrol-ging
This is the name of a class of male sword-wielding spirits, collectively known as the skyes-bu ging-chen, who are invoked in order to enact the wrathful rites of ‘liberation’.
Liberation grol-ba/sgrol-ba, Skt. moksa
In a Buddhist context, the term liberation refers specifically to freedom from cyclic existence, the karmically conditioned cycle of death and rebirth, and consequently to freedom from all forms of physical and mental suffering. Such a liberation can be attained only through the total elimination of fundamental ignorance and the dissonant mental states, including attachment and aversion, which afflict the mind and perpetuate the cycle of existence.
Lifelong Companion Gods ‘go-ba’i lha
This is a category of spirits who are said to accompany an individual throughout his or her life, like a shadow, protecting the vitality (bla) of the individual. Five types of lifelong companion god (’go-ba’i lha Inga) are specifically identified: the gods of the life-essence (srog-gi-lha), the gods of masculinity (pho-lha), the gods of femininity (mo-lha), the gods of the countryside (yul-lha), and the gods of inimical force (dgra-lha).
Lineage brgyud-pa, Skt. parampara
An unbroken line of successive teachers through whom the Buddhist teachings are transmitted. According to the Nyingma tradition, six forms of lineage are described: 1) the intentional lineage of the conquerors (rgyal-ba’i dgongs-brgyud), through which the Buddha-body of Reality communicates the teachings to the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource; 2) the symbolic lineage of awareness holders (rig-’dzin brda’i brgyud-pa), through which non-human and human awareness holders of the highest spiritual accomplishments symbolically receive the teachings from bodhisattvas of the tenth level; 3) the aural lineage of authoritative personages (gang-zag snyan-khung-gi brgyud-pa), through which accomplished masters orally transmit the teachings from one generation to the next; 4) the lineage empowered by enlightened aspiration (smon-lam dbang-bskur-gyi brgyud-pa), through which a treasure-finder of concealed texts is identified by their concealer’s solemn affirmation, 5) the lineage of prophetically declared spiritual succession (bka’-babs lung-bstan-gyi brgyud-pa), through which a treasure-finder of concealed texts is identified from the authoritative prophesies of Padmasambhava, and 6) the lineage of the dakinis seal of entrustment (mkha’-’gro gtad-rgya’i brgyud-pa), through which a treasure-finder is granted codified teachings by the lords of the treasure in fulfilment of the concealer’s former aspiration.
Lineage Holder brgyud-pa’i ’dzin-pa, Skt. paramparddhara
One who maintains any of the six lineages and takes responsibility for their continued transmission from one generation to the next. See previous entry.
Longchen Rabjampa klong-chen rab-’byams-pa
A prolific writer (1308-63), regarded as one of the greatest masters of the Nyingma school, Longchen Rabjampa is renowned for his systematic commentaries on the nine vehicles, the perspective of Atiyoga, and his revelation of the texts and practices contained in the Four-part Innermost Spirituality (sNying-thig ya-bzhi). His commentary on the Guhyagarbhatantra, entitled Dispelling the Darkness of the Ten Directions (Phyogs-bcu’i mun-sel), is an important source, clarifying the mandala of the forty-two peaceful deities and the fifty-eight wrathful deities from the perspectives of the ground, path, and result.
Lotus padma
In Buddhist poetry and the visual arts the lotus, particularly the variety which grows in water, is often used as a symbol of purity. The lotus grows from an unclean mire, yet it is clean and unpolluted by the mire surrounding it. One finds the lotus depicted as the cushion or seat of many meditational deities in Buddhist tantric iconography. Among the five enlightened families, the Padma or Lotus family (padma’i rigs) is that of the buddha Amitabha.
Lotus Light Palace padma ’od-kyi pho-brang
The palace or operational field of Padmasambhava. See under Mandala.
Love/Loving Kindness byams-pa, Skt. maitrl
In a Buddhist context, loving kindness is defined as a mental factor characterised by a sincere wish that others enjoy happiness. According to this definition, love is one of the eleven ‘wholesome mental factors’ categorised in the abhidharma literature. However, in the case of the four immeasurable aspirations, the word love is used as an abbreviation for ‘great love’ (byams-pa chen-po, Skt. mahdmaitr) which refers to an altruistic mental attitude that is unbiased in its love towards all beings and is also spontaneous and natural. It is said that such a spontaneous sense of universal or unqualified love can only arise as a result of a systematic meditative training and an understanding of emptiness.
Lower Existences ngan-song, Skt. durgati
The realms of the animals, anguished spirits, and hells.
Lower Vital Energy ’og-gi rlung
The vital energy located at the lower extremity of the central energy channel within the subtle body. See Vital Energy.
Madhyamaka dbu-ma
Derived from the Sanskrit expression madhyamapratipad, meaning the ‘Middle Way’ between the extremes of eternalism and nihilism, which was expounded by Sdkyamuni Buddha in the earliest sutras, Madhyamaka (dbu-ma) is the name of one of the most influential among the four classical schools of Indian Buddhist philosophy. Within the context of the Madhyamaka school, the Middle Way refers to the doctrine of emptiness (sunyata), which is held to be the ultimate nature of all things. According to this view, all phenomena, whether mental or physical, cannot be found to possess any independent or self-validating natures, and their existence and identity are regarded as valid only within a relative framework of worldly convention. Further, it is propounded that not only do phenomena exist solely in dependence upon causes and conditions, but even their identities depend on conceptions and labelling. Nevertheless, this school holds that, unlike mere fantasies, such as unicorns for example, phenomena do exist conventionally and their ontology must be accepted as valid. Such a metaphysical position is designated the ‘Middle Way’ in that it is the mid-point between the extremes of total non-existence of reality, or nihilism, and the positing of an absolute, independent existence of reality, or eternalism. Founded by Ndgdrjuna in the second century ad, the Madhyamaka school later evolved two sub-divisions: Prdsangika and Svdtantrika, based on the different interpretations of Ndgdrjuna’s views which were made by Buddhapdlita (later elucidated by Candraklrti) and Bhavaviveka respectively. The Tibetan tradition, while recognising Bhavavivekd’s important contribution to Buddhist logic and philosophy, considers the Prdsarigika technique of reductio ad absurdum to be the most refined logical method in Buddhism for establishing the view of emptiness. The distinctive feature of the Prdsangika school is its total denial of any ontology implying inherent existence of either external objects or subjective consciousness. There is also, according to some Tibetan interpretations, the tradition known as the Great Madhyamaka which in the course of meditative insight distinguishes between the intrinsic emptiness of phenomena (rang-stong) and the extrinsic emptiness of pure buddha attributes (gzhan-stong).
Magical Net sgyu-’phrul drva-ba, Skt. Mdydjdla
The most all-embracing cycle of texts among the eighteen Mahdyoga tantras, focusing specifically on the mandala of the forty-two peaceful deities and the fifty-eight wrathful deities, and including within its corpus the Gubyagarbhatantra. As such, it is the basis for all subsequent expositions of this particular mandala, including the present work. See Gyurme Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Magon Chamdrel ma-mgon Icam-dral
An epithet of the protectress Ekajati and Dorje Lekpa, who are revered as the foremost supramundane protector deities, according to the Atiyoga tradition of the Nyingma school.
Mahakala mgon-po nag-po
The supramundane protector deity Mahakala is a wrathful manifestation of Avalokitesvara. The meditative practices associated with this protector are popular in all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
Mahakarunika thugs-rje chen-po
The thousand-armed form of Avalokitesvara. See Avalokitesvara.
Mahayana theg-pa chen-po See Greater Vehicle.
Mahayoga rnal-’byor chen-po’i rgyud
The seventh of the nine vehicles, and first of the three inner classes of tantras, according to the Nyingma school. Mahdyoga emphasises the generation stage of meditation {utpattikrama) and the gradual visualisation of elaborate mandalas of deities. It comprises eighteen basic tantras, such as Guhyagarbha, Guhyasamdja, and Buddhasamdyoga, as well as a vast number of tantra texts associated with the so-called eight classes of means for attainment (sgrub-pa bka’-brgyad), which focus respectively on the deities Yamantaka, Hayagriva, Sriheruka, Vajramrta, Vajrakila, Matarah, Lokastotrapuja (’jig-rten mchod-bstod), and Vajramantrabhiru (rmod-pa drag-sngags). These texts are all contained in the Collected Tantras of the Nyingmapa (rNying-ma’i rgyud-’bum), and a small but important selection of them is also contained in the Kangyur.
Maitreya rgyal-ba byams-pa
Maitreya is the embodiment of the great loving kindness (mahdmaitrl) of all the buddhas, as visualised in the form of a meditational deity. Maitreya therefore represents the perfected state of the faculty of love/loving kindness inherent within each individual’s mental continuum. In addition, Maitreya is also revered as an eminent historical figure, a bodhisattva who was one of the eight principal bodhisattva disciples of Sdkyamuni Buddha. It is to him that the Five Works of Maitreya (Byams-chos sde-lnga) are attributed. According to the classical siitra literature it is the bodhisattva Maitreya who is the coming buddha, fifth in the line of one thousand buddhas (Sakyamuni being the fourth) who will descend to this world during the auspicious aeon. Currently he is said to be residing in the god realm of Tusita. He is also one of the four outer male bodhisattvas among the forty-two peaceful deities. See Appendix Two.
Major and Minor Marks mtshan-dpe, Skt. laksandnuvyanjana The Buddha-body of Supreme Emanation is characterised by thirty-two major marks (Skt. dvatrimsan-mahapurusalaksana) and eighty minor marks (Skt. asttyanuvyahjana), which are all enumerated in Maitreyd’s Ornament of Emergent Realisation (Abhisamaydlamkdra, T 3786, vv. 13-17 and 21-32). These include an array of perfected features of body and speech, which according to the commentaries are the specific results of diverse aspects of a buddha’s conduct.
Malevolent/Beguiling Forces bdud, Skt. mdra
Buddhist literature speaks of four kinds of beguiling influences which are the obstacles that impede one’s spiritual transformation. These are the influence of: our impure psycho-physical aggregates (skandha); our dissonant mental states (klesa); deva’s son {devaputra), which refers to sensual desires and temptations; and the lord of death (mrtyupati), which refers to ordinary death, at the point of which rebirth in cyclic existence continues rather than the attainment of buddhahood. As recorded in the life of Sdkyamuni Buddha, these archetypal forces projected images of desire and terror which were designed to interrupt his meditative equipoise, just prior to his attainment of manifestly perfect buddhahood at Bodhgaya in India.
Mandala dkyil-’khor
The Sanskrit word ‘mandala’ conveys a number of meanings – circle, wheel, circum-ference, totality, assembly or literary corpus. In the context of Anuyoga and Atiyoga, the expression ‘three mandalas’ specifically refers to the scope of buddha-body, speech and mind. Then, in a more general usage, this term indicates the central (dkyil) and peripheral (’khor) deities described in the tantra texts. These deities reside within a celestial palace (vimdna), which generally has a perfectly symmetrical design – with four gateways and four main walls composed of five layers of different colours, each of the features corresponding to a particular aspect of the principal deity’s, and thereby to the meditator’s, pure awareness and purity of perception.
The mandala thus represents a perfected state of being and perception encompassing all phenomena. The celestial palace itself and the deities within it symbolise the perfected states of the meditator’s own awareness, psycho-physical aggregates, elemental properties, sensory and mental processes, etc. When such mandalas are represented symbolically, they may take the form of a two-dimensional image on painted cloth, or they may be made of coloured sand, or else constructed as a three-dimensional structure, carved from wood or other materials. The visualisation of mandalas in their three-dimensional form plays a crucial role in the generation stage of meditation. Here, these ‘abodes of the deity’ are never perceived of as independently existing universes but as manifestations of the pristine cognition of the principal meditational deity being meditated upon. The symbolism of the mandala of forty-two peaceful deities and fifty-eight wrathful deities, as it relates to our text, is given in Appendix Two.
Mandala of Offerings mchod-pa’i mandal
The mandala of offerings is one of the preliminary practices (sngon-’gro), in which offerings are visualised and offered to the spiritual teacher, meditational deity or Three Precious Jewels. In general, there are outer, inner, and secret mandala offerings, corresponding to the Three Buddha-bodies of emanation, perfect resource and actual reality. In the first, the entire external material universe, symbolised by Mount Sumeru and the four continents, etc., is offered, usually using a circular metal base on which are arranged small heaps of rice; second, the inner mandala of offerings comprises the subtle body, complete with its energy channels, currents of vital energy and seminal points; and, third, the secret mandala of offerings is that of actual reality or the ultimate nature of mind. In the preliminary practices all these are offered one hundred thousand times as an antidote for attachment.
Manjusri ’jam-dpal
Manjuirl is the embodiment of the discriminative awareness of all the buddhas, manifesting in the form of a meditational deity. He is normally depicted in his seated posture, holding a sword in his right hand (representing discriminative awareness) and a sacred text in his left hand (indicating his mastery of all knowledge). Manjusri is also revered as an eminent historical figure who was one of the eight principal bodhisattva disciples of the Buddha; and he is also one of the four outer male bodhisattvas among the forty-two peaceful deities. See Appendix Two.
Mantra sngags
The Sanskrit word mantra is an abbreviation of two syllables mana and traya, respectively meaning ‘mind’ and ‘protection’. Hence mantra1 literally refers to ‘protection of the mind’. The essential indication here is the protection of the mind from the overwhelming influence of ordinary perceptions and conceptions, which give rise to deluded states of existence, thus inhibiting the full expression of buddha nature. More specifically, mantra refers to the pure sound which is the perfected speech of an enlightened being. The aim of the generation stage practices is the cultivation of the mode of being of the meditational deity, that is to say the transformation of mundane body, speech and mind into buddha-body, speech and mind. This is supported in ritual practice by the enactment of the hand-gestures or seals (mudra), which are the resonance of buddha-body, by mantra recitation, which is the resonance of buddha-speech, and by visualisation, which is the resonance of buddha-mind. In general, three types of mantra are differentiated: mantras of retention (Skt. dhdranl, Tib. gzungs-sngags), gnostic mantras (Skt. vidydmantra, Tib. rig-sngags), and secret mantras (Skt. guhyamantra, Tib. gsang-sngags). Among these, the first comprises the mantras associated with the siitras which are designed to intensify discriminative awareness, the second are associated with specific deities of the outer tantras, and designed to intensify skilful means, while the third are associated with the inner tantras, and are designed to intensify the generation stage of meditation. The term ‘secret mantra’ is also utilised as a synonym for the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality (Vajraydna).
Mantrin sngags-pa
An adept of the vehicle of secret mantra (mantraydna) in general. However, the word ngakpa (sngags-pa) is popularly used to denote those practitioners of tantra who choose to maintain a family life, passing on their teachings through a familial lineage, in contrast to the celibate life of a monk or nun.
Mara bdud
See under Malevolent / Beguiling Forces.
Martial Haunting Spirits btsan
A class of ghostly or haunting spirits, often depicted as armour-clad, who cause colic and intestinal disorders. Foremost among them are Tsimara, the protector of Samye monastery, and Yamshu Marpo. They are generally depicted as red in colour, brandishing a red lance with a red flag in the right hand and throwing a red-coloured snare (btsan-zhags) with the left hand, while riding a red horse.
Means for Attainment sgrub-thabs, Skt. sddhana
The literature of the Buddhist tantras is classified into tantra texts and means for attainment manuals. The former are general expositions concerning the continua of the ground, path and result associated with a particular mandala of deities, while the latter are specific manuals derived from and inspired by the former as the detailed means for attainment, or meditative realisation, of a specific mandala of deities. Such practices have four phases, which are often known as the four aspects of ritual service and means for attainment (bsnyen-sgrub yan-lag bzhi).
Meditation sgom, Skt. bhdvand
Meditation is defined as a disciplined mental process through which a person cultivates familiarity with a chosen object, be it an external object like an image, or even a trivial object such as a pebble, etc., or an internal object such as one’s own mind or personal identity. According to the siitras, there are two main types of meditation, one emphasising the faculty of stability and single-pointedness of mind and the other emphasising analysis and discrimination. The first type of meditation is absorptive, and produces a quality of mental placement and tranquillity, known as calm abiding, and the latter, known as penetrative insight, generates a deeper insight into the profound natures of the chosen object. In the context of the tantras, meditation additionally includes the techniques of the generation and perfection stages, as well as those of the Great Perfection.
Meditational Deity yi-dam, Skt. istadevatd
Forms or resonances of fully manifest buddhahood whose characteristics are defined or revealed by the specific tantric practices on the basis of which they are visualised. After receiving empowerment and guidance concerning an appropriate meditational deity or mandala of deities from an authoritative spiritual teacher, the practitioner of the tantras seeks to experientially cultivate union with the qualities of buddha-body, speech and mind through the practice of the generation stage of meditation related to a specific meditational deity or mandala of deities. It is essential that the meditational deities should not be perceived as externally existing or independent beings but rather as forms or resonances of buddha-mind itself. Union with the meditational deity is said to confer supreme accomplishment on the meditator, in contrast to meditation on the spiritual teacher, which confers blessings, and meditation on the dakinis, which confers enlightened or buddha activities.
Meditative Commitment thugs-dam
This refers to a resolute period of meditative equipoise, and the commitments pertaining to meditative equipoise. Note that the same term is also used as the honorific equivalent of yi-dam (meditational deity).
Meditative Concentration bsam-gtan, Skt. dhydna
Meditative concentration is defined as the one-pointed abiding in an undistracted state of mind free from the taint of dissonant mental states (klesa). It is an advanced form of calm abiding, where often both calm abiding and penetrative insight may be present in perfect union. In the sutras and abhidharma literature of the Lesser Vehicle, four states of meditative concentration are identified as being conducive to birth in the seventeen levels of the form realm. These are characterised, in their proper order, by a temporary sojourn from: 1) physical sensations of pain; 2) mental unhappiness; 3) mental excitements related to pleasure; and 4) mundane experiences of joy as a whole. In the context of the Greater Vehicle, meditative concentration is the fifth of the six perfections (Skt. satpdramitd).
Meditative Equipoise mnyatn-par bzhag-pa, Skt. samdhita
Meditative equipoise refers to a one-pointed placement of the mind on a meditation object or a theme, such as the selflessness of the individual personality (Skt. pudgala-nairdtmya) and the selflessness of phenomena (Skt. dharmanairdtmya), which invariably occurs in the context of prolonged meditative stability (Skt. samddhi). It is contrasted with periods of post-meditation (Skt. prstalabdha, Tib. rjes-thob) during which the meditator arises from meditative equipoise, and engages with his or her environment.
Meditative Stability ting-nge-’dzin, Skt. samddhi
The Sanskrit term samddhi literally means ‘union’ or ‘combination’, and its Tibetan equivalent ting-nge-’dzin means ‘adhering to that which is profound and definitive’. However, the term has several different meanings in different contexts. For example, in abhidharma texts it sometimes refers to a mental factor that is part of a group of mental factors present in every veridical cognition, whereas in the context of meditation, it can be synonymous with meditative concentration. In many instances, samddhi refers to specific meditative states such as diamond-like meditation, lion’s majestic pose meditation and others enumerated in the sutras and tantras of the Greater Vehicle. More specifically, in the Mahdyoga tantras, the term meditative stability refers to the three phases of the generation and perfection stages of meditation. These are: the meditative stability of reality (de-bzhin nyid-kyi ting-nge-’dzin), the meditative stability which illuminates all that appears (kun-tu snang-ba’i ting-nge-’dzin), and the meditative stability of the causal basis (rgyu’i ting-nge-’dzin), which respectively and sequentially focus on great emptiness, great compassion and the seals of the meditational deities. In the Unsurpassed Yogatantras, somewhat different terminology is used in the contexts of the generation stage and the perfection stage. In the generation stage, the practice of the means of attainment takes place within the framework of (i) the initial meditative stability (dang-po sbyor-ba’i ting-nge-’dzin), (ii) the meditative stability of the victorious rite of the mandala (dkyil-’khor rgyal-chog-gi ting-nge-’dzin), and (iii) the meditative stability of the victorious rite of enlightened activity (las rgyal-chog-gi ting-nge-’dzin). In the context of the perfection stage, however, these same terms refer to an advanced level of realisation.
Mental Body yid-lus, Skt. manokdya
The non-corporeal body assumed during the intermediate state of rebirth, which is said to have an initial similitude to the physical body of the previous life. See Chapter 11.
Mental Factor sems-byung, Skt. caitasika See Mind.
Merit bsod-nams, Skt. punya
Merit refers to the wholesome tendencies imprinted in the mind as a result of positive and skilful thoughts, words, and actions that ripen in the experience of happiness and well-being. According to the Greater Vehicle, it is important to dedicate the merit of one’s wholesome actions to the benefit of all sentient beings, ensuring that others also experience the results of the positive actions generated.
Middle Way dbu-ma’i lam, Skt. madhyamapratipad See Madhyamaka.
Mind sents, Skt. citta
In Buddhism, mind is defined as a dynamic process, which is simply the awareness of an object or event. In its technical usage mind is contrasted with fifty-one mental factors, which are enumerated in the abhidharma literature. In the context of this differentiation the primary function of ‘mind’ is to be aware of the referent object as a whole, whereas the modalities which relate to the specific aspects of the object are defined as ‘mental factors’. It is important to understand that mind in Buddhism should not be conceived of as a static thing or as something composed of a spiritual substance. Although some Buddhist philosophical schools of thought do identify mind as the essence of being or personal identity, the notion of self or person is not an essential component of the Buddhist concept of mind. In the Dzogcben teachings an important distinction is made between the Tibetan terms ‘sen-is’ and ‘rig-pa’. Here, our ‘ordinary mind’ (sems) is the gross dualising consciousness (rnam-shes) whereas pure awareness (rig-pa) is free from the dualistic perceptions of subject and object. See Awareness, Intrinsic Awareness, and Consciousness.
Mind of Enlightenment byang-chub sems See Bodhicitta.
Mindfulness dran-pa, Skt. smrti
Mindfulness is the faculty which enables the mind to maintain its attention on a referent object, thus allowing for the development of familiarity with the object and also the ability to retain its imprint within memory for future recollection. Together with mental alertness, it is one of the two indispensable mental factors for the development of calm abiding. It is mindfulness which counteracts the arising of forgetfulness, and forgetfulness is one of the greatest obstacles to a successful cultivation of meditative stability.
Monastic Community dge-’dun, Skt. sangha
In its classical Buddhist usage, the term refers mainly to the spiritual communities of ordained practitioners, both monks and nuns (Skt. bhiksul bhiksunl). The actual sangha, when viewed as an object of refuge in the context of the Three Precious Jewels, is a highly realised, ‘supreme assembly’ of those who have gained a direct insight into the true nature of reality – emptiness (i.e. those who have attained the path of insight).
Monastic Preceptor mkhan-po, Skt. upddhydya
The term monastic preceptor specifically indicates one who presides over the monastic ordination ceremony of new monks. However, in some Tibetan traditions, the word ‘khenpo’ (mkhan-po) suggests an ordained professor of Buddhist philosophy, in which case it is equivalent to the term geshe (dge-shes) in its later usage. See Spiritual Friend. The same term can also be used to refer to the abbot of a monastery, in which case it often takes the honorific form ntkhan rin-po-che, the precious abbot.
Monastic Vows sdom-pa, Skt. samvara See Vows.
Mother and Child Aspects of Reality chos-nyid ma-hu
The ‘mother’ and ‘child’ aspects of reality are those associated respectively with the
inner radiance of the ground and the inner radiance of the path. See Inner Radiance.
Motivational Tendencies ’du-byas, Skt. samskdra See Aggregate of Motivational Tendencies.
Mount Gampodar sgam-po-gdar-gyi ri-bo
Mount Gampodar in Dakpo is the treasure-site (gter-kha) from which the cycle of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention (Zhi-khro dgongs-pa rang-grol) was unearthed as treasure (gter-ma) by Karma Lingpa during the fourteenth century. See Gyurme Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Mount Potalaka ri-bo po-ta-la-ka
Mount Potalaka, the abode of Avalokitesvara, is reputedly identified with a mountain in modern Karnataka State, South India, according to the classical Indian Buddhist tradition. However, in the Chinese Buddhist tradition, it is identified with the eastern island of Putuo Shan in the bay of Hangzhou.
Mount Sumeru ri-rab
Mount Sumeru is the axis mundi of Indian cosmology, the centre of the world. In terms of the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Bon pilgrimage traditions, it is widely identified with the sacred Mount Kailash in far-west Tibet. See Four Continents and Eight Subcontinents.
Nagarjuna klu-sgrub
A pre-eminent second-century ad Indian scholar and the founder of the Madhya-
maka philosophical school of Buddhist thought.
Natural Expression rang-bzhin, Skt. svabhdva
While the term svabhdva conveys other meanings, such as self-identity and inherent existence in the contexts of Madhyamaka philosophy and sutra-based literature in general, here in the specific terminology of the Nyingma school, it is rendered as ‘natural expression’ because it describes the dynamic of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource. As such, it is contrasted with the essence – the dynamic of the Buddha-body of Reality, and compassionate energy – the dynamic of the Buddha-body of Emanation. The Buddha-body of Perfect Resource is said to be endowed with seven aspects of natural expression: i) ripening in the nature of reality, z) buddha attributes which are spontaneously present, 3) dimensionless pristine cognition, 4) intrinsic rather than external manifestation, 5) unqualified sameness, 6) freedom from single and multiple concepts, and 7) inseparability at all times. In the context of the present work, the term ‘natural expression’ also refers to the modalities of the twenty-eight wrathful Isvarf, when contrasted with the ‘natural purity’ (gnas-dag) of the peaceful deities and the ‘natural transformation’ (gnas-gyur) of the wrathful deities.
Natural Liberation rang-grol
According to the terminology of the Nyingma school and in the context of the title of our text Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention (Zhi-khro dgongs-pa rang-grol) the term ‘natural liberation’ refers to a natural process of recognition of the actual nature of the object, which is free from any form of renunciation or antidote. Dudjom Rinpoche explains the term ‘natural liberation’ (rang-grol) to mean that recognition or awareness is ‘uncontrived by any antidote, and all that arises is liberated without reference to other liberating activities’. This accomplishment is a distinctive feature of the resultant vehicles, such as Atiyoga, in contrast to the causal vehicles, in which the application of antidotes and renunciation are required.
Natural Pristine Cognition rang-byung ye-shes
This term denotes the presence of intrinsic awareness which is pristine cognition as an uncultivated seed, said to abide atemporally in the mental continua of all sentient beings. See Intrinsic Awareness and Pristine Cognition.
Natural Purity gnas-su dag-palrnam-par dag-pa
According to the terminology of the Nyingma school and in the context of the present work, the term ‘natural purity’ refers to the quiescent naturally abiding purity of the psycho-physical aggregates, elemental properties, and sensory and mental processes as represented by the forty-two peaceful deities of the mandala. ‘Natural purity’ indicates the presence of the assembly of peaceful deities in the continuum of the ground. See Appendix Two.
Natural Transformation gnas gyur-pa
In contrast to the term ‘natural purity’, the term ‘natural transformation’ refers to the transformative energies of the fifty-eight wrathful deities of the mandala, which bring about the active transformation of the conditioned psycho-physical aggregates, elemental properties, and sensory and mental processes. ‘Natural transformation’ indicates the presence of the assembly of wrathful deities in the continuum of the ground. See Appendix Two.
Naturally Manifest rang-snang
In the terminology of the Nyingma school, the term ‘naturally manifest’ or ‘intrinsically manifest’ (rang-snang) refers to the non-dual mode in which the natural radiance (rang-gsal) of pristine cognition (ye-shes) arises as intrinsic awareness (rang-rig). See Intrinsic Awareness. An important distinction is also made between the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, which manifests naturally or intrinsically, and the Buddha-body of Emanation, which manifests extraneously (gzhan-snang), for the sake of sentient beings.
Negativity sdig-pa, Skt. papa
The negativity arising from the performance of non-virtuous past actions, which, along with negative obscurations (sgrib) and their habitual tendencies (bag-chag), all have their basis in delusion, attachment, and aversion. Negativity, therefore, generates a momentum towards a less favourable rebirth within cyclic existence.
New and Old/Ancient Translation Schools gsar-tna-dang rnying-ma See Nyingma.
Nihilist chad-lta-ba/mur-stug-pa, Skt. naisthika
Nihilism and eternalism are the two extreme views which must, according to Buddhist thought, be transcended in order for any philosophical position to be considered well-founded. Nihilism in general refers to the view that denies the existence of objects, laws of cause and effect and the principle of dependent origination. However, based on one’s metaphysical position with regard to the nature of reality, the criteria of what constitutes a denial of the existence of phenomena or the law of cause and effect may differ. In ancient India the nihilist view was characteristic of the Carvdka and Bdrhaspatya materialist schools. See Eternalist and Madhyamaka.
Nine Sequences of the Vehicle theg-pa’i rim-pa dgu See under Nine Vehicles.
Nine Vehicles theg-pa dgu, Skt. navaydna
In the Nyingma school, the Buddhist teachings are systematised according to a hierarchy of the three outer or causal vehicles (those of the pious attendants, hermit buddhas and bodbisattvas), those of the three outer classes of tantra (Kriydtantra, Ubhayatantra and Yogatantra), and those of the three inner classes of tantra (Mahdyoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga). See the nine individual entries.
Nirvana myang-’das
Nirvdna (lit. ‘state beyond sorrow’) refers to the permanent cessation of all suffering and the dissonant mental states which cause and perpetuate suffering, along with all misapprehension with regard to the nature of emptiness (Skt. sUnyatd). Nirvdna is therefore the antithesis of cyclic existence (Skt. samsdra). Since it is through the misapprehension of the nature of actual reality (Skt. dbarmatd) that our conscious states of delusion arise, a total elimination of these dissonant mental states can only be effected by generating a genuine insight into the true nature of actual reality. All the bodhisattva paths expounded in the sutras and all the aspects of the continuum of the path which are expounded in the tantras are regarded as the means by which nirvdna might be attained. Classical Buddhist literature mentions three types of nirvdna: i) nirvdna with residue, i.e. the initial state of nirvdna when the person is still dependent on his or her karmically conditioned psycho-physical aggregates (skandha); z) nirvana without residue, i.e. an advanced state of nirvana where the former aggregates have also been consumed within emptiness; and 3) non-abiding nirvana, i.e. a state that has transcended both the extremes of conditioned cyclic existence and also the isolated peace or quiescence of nirvana.
Non-virtuous Action mi-dge-ba, Skt. akusala See Virtuous Action.
Nucleus of the Sugata/Tathagata bde-gshegs snying-po I de-gshegs snying-po, Skt. sugatagarbha/tathdgatagarbha
Both Sugata (One Who Has Gone to Bliss) and Tathagata (One Who Has Thus Gone) are epithets of Buddha. However, the expression ‘nucleus of the sugata’ or ‘nucleus of the tathagata’ refers to the seed of buddha nature present but uncultivated in the mental continuum of all sentient beings, and without which the attainment of enlightenment or buddhahood would be impossible. See Buddha nature.
Nyinda Choje nyin-zla cbos-rje
The name of the son of Karma Lingpa. See Gyurme Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Nyinda Ozer nyin-zla ‘od-zer
The name of a second-generation lineage-holder of Karma Lingpa. See Gyurme
Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Nyingma rnying-ma
The oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism, based on the teaching traditions and texts introduced to Tibet during the earliest phase of Buddhist propagation, which coincided with the reigns of the Buddhist kings of the Yarlung dynasty in the eighth to ninth centuries. These traditions were introduced from India by Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and others, and maintained in Tibet by the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava. The distinction between the old and new schools of Tibetan Buddhism is made on the basis of the interregnum which followed the persecution of Buddhism during the ninth century and preceded the second or later phase of Buddhist propagation when a further corpus of Buddhist literature was introduced from India by Marpa, Drokmi Lotsdwa, Atisa, Rinchen Zangpo and others during the eleventh century. Lineages derived from the earlier phase and works translated before the interregnum are known as Nyingma, or the ‘Ancient Translation school’, in contrast to those which emerged thereafter and are known as Sarma, or the ‘New Translation schools’.
Nyingthig snying-thig
The teachings known as the ‘Innermost Spirituality’ or ‘Heart-Essence’ (snying-thig) are the most important and essential pith instructions within the esoteric instructional class (upadesavarga) of Atiyoga, including the techniques of Cutting through Resistance and All-surpassing Realisation. Two distinct lineages of these teachings were introduced from India by Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra, and then transmitted with great secrecy in Tibet until the time of Longchen Rabjampa (fourteenth century), who integrated them in his Four-part Innermost Spirituality (sNying-thig ya-bzhi), from which time they were widely disseminated and practised. Diverse traditions of Nyingthig are practised within the treasure (gter-ma) traditions of the Nyingma school, the most influential in more recent times being the Innermost Spirituality of Longchenpa (Klong-chen snying-thig), which was revealed during the eighteenth century by Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa on the basis of his inspirational visions of Longchen Rabjampa, and which has since become the most popular recension of Nyingthig teachings throughout Tibet.
Oath-bound Protectors dam-can
A class of protectors of the sacred teachings who are considered to have been originally indigenous Tibetan spirits, bound under an oath of allegiance to Buddhism by Padmasambhava during the eighth century.
Obscuration sgrib-pa, Skt. dvarana
There are two main categories of obscurations (sgrib-pa), namely: the dissonant mental states (nyon-sgrib, Skt. kleidvarana) which are the obscurations to liberation, and the subtle propensities of these mental states as well as that of fundamental ignorance, which constitute the obscurations to omniscience (shes-sgrib, Skt. jneyd-varana). As the terms themselves indicate, the first category of obscurations obstruct the individual from gaining total freedom from karmically conditioned cyclic existence, and the latter from attaining a direct and non-deceptive realisation of all aspects of reality. The obscurations to liberation include not only the conscious states of our deluded mind, such as desire, hatred, jealousy, harmful intent, etc., but also the psychological habitual tendencies which are imprinted by these states, which serve as seeds for their continuity and recurrence. The second category of obscurations refers to the ‘propensities for bewildering dualistic appearance’ (gnyis-snang khrul-pa’i bag-chags), the subtle dispositions and latent tendencies which are deeply ingrained within an individual’s psyche and which are the origins of our dualistic perceptions of the phenomenal world and of our own consciousness. A total overcoming of both obscurations (Tib. sgrib-gnyis) marks the attainment of buddhahood.
Obstacle-causing Spirits bar-cad-kyi gdon
The various classes of spirits (gdon) who cause obstacles to individuals and pollute the environment, which are said to impede certain localities, the physical body and human activities. In particular, there is an enumeration of eighteen such spirits to whom paediatric diseases are attributed by the Tibetan medical tradition.
Obstructing Forces bgegs, Skt. vighna
A class of forces which obstruct spiritual practice, but whose obstacles may be considered psychologically as cathartic in that their emergence may suggest that one’s own negative past actions are ripening and therefore their negative impact is finally maturing and coming to an end. Often when means for attainment are performed in accordance with the tantras, a torma-oifering is dedicated to such obstructing forces prior to the commencement of the generation stage of meditation.
Oddiydna o-rgyan
Oddiydna, the birthplace of Padmasambhava, is the name of an ancient kingdom, probably situated in the remote north-west of the Indian subcontinent, where a large corpus of tantric literature is said to have been propagated in the human world for the first time. The land of Oddiyana is associated with a number of great accomplished masters (siddha), including Padmasambhava, Kambalapada, and Lildvajra in particular. On the basis of traditional Tibetan pilgrimage accounts, such as that written by Orgyenpa Rinchenpel, modern writers identify Oddiydna as having been in the region of the Swat valley in Pakistan. The Tibetan form of Oddiydna, Orgyen, is also by extension a name for Padmasambhava himself.
Offering mchod-pa, Skt. puja
In a Buddhist context, this refers to offerings made to the meditational deity, the spiritual teacher or other appropriate objects of veneration. In general, there are offerings associated with body, speech and mind. Thus, an offering can be of material substance such as flowers, scented water and food, or a verbal offering, such as the recitation of songs of praise, or a mental offering, such as the offering of the positive potentials which one may have accumulated as a result of having engaged in wholesome deeds beneficial to others. More specifically, the tantras identify four kinds of offering which are to be made, namely, outer, inner, secret and definitive offerings. The outer offerings of enjoyment (phyi nyer-spyod-kyi mchod-pa) are the eight associated with the eight offering goddesses, including water for the mouth, water for the feet, flowers, incense, light, perfume, food, and sound, as well as song, dance, and meditation. Inner offerings of commitment (nang dam-rdzas-kyi mchod-pa) refer to the pure essences of semen, blood and flesh, transformed through the yoga of the energy channels, currents and seminal points within the subtle body. Secret offerings are those of sexual union and ‘liberation’ (gsang-ba sbyor-sgrol-gyi mchod-pa) related to the esoteric rites and practices which transform the five poisons into the five pristine cognitions, and definitive offerings are those of great sameness (de-kho-na-nyid mnyam-pa chen-po’i mchod-pa), namely the union of bliss and emptiness.
Omniscience thams-cad mkhyen-pa-nyid, Skt. sarvajnata
In a Buddhist context the word is reserved only for the all-knowing pristine cognition of the buddhas. Although the original Sanskrit and Tibetan terms, like their English equivalent, do carry with them the literal connotation of all-knowingness, the principal meaning of the term should be understood in terms of a direct and simultaneous perception of the dual aspects of reality, i.e. of the phenomenal aspects (valid only within the relative framework of our ordinary perceptions) and their ultimate nature, emptiness. In other words the term refers primarily to a non-conceptual simultaneous perception of the two truths within a single mental act.
One-day Vows bsnyen-gnas-kyi sdom-pa, Skt. upavasasamvara See Pratimoksa and Vows.
Pacification zhi-ba’i las, Skt. santikriya
See under Four Aspects of Enlightened Activity.
Padma Family padma’i rigs, Skt. padmakula One of the five enlightened families (pancakula) into which the meditational deities of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource are subdivided. The deities of the Padma family include the peaceful buddhas Amitabha and Pandaravasinl, and the corresponding wrathful aspects Padma Heruka and Padmakrodhesvarf. See Appendix Two.
Padmakara padma’i ’byung-gnas See Padmasambhava.
Padmasambhava, padma sam-bha-va Padmasambhava, also generally known as Guru Rinpoche and Padmakara, is revered as the master from Oddiyana who, along with Santaraksita and King Trisong Detsen, formally established Buddhism in Tibet during the eighth century. In particular, he is renowned for his suppression and conversion of malevolent spirits and hostile non-Buddhist forces, as well as for introducing to Tibet many oral transmissions and texts of Mahayoga and Atiyoga, including the teachings contained in our text, the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention (Zhi-khro dgongs-pa rang-grol). To practitioners of the Nyingma school, and all those who follow the practices of the Nyingma lineages, he is revered as a ‘second buddha’, and there are many systems of meditation based on the visualisation of his rainbow-like form. Tibetan literature contains a number of biographical accounts, which describe his life in the form of eight or twelve different manifestations. See Gyurme Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Palace pho-brang/gzhal-yas-khang, Skt. vimdna See under Mandala.
Paradise zhings-khams, Skt. buddhaksetra See Buddha Field.
Past Actions las, Skt. karma
The technical term ‘karma’ refers to the dynamic relationship between actions and their consequences. It includes in its causal aspect both the actual actions (physical, verbal and mental) and the psychological imprints and tendencies created within the mind by such actions. After the performance of an action a causal chain is maintained within the mental continuum which continues through the present and successive rebirths. Such a karmic potential is activated when it interacts with appropriate circumstances and conditions, thus leading to the fruition of its effects. This dynamic of past actions has two main features: i) one never experiences the consequences of an action not committed; and z) the potential of an action once committed is never lost unless obviated by specific remedies. It is also worth bearing in mind that the idea of ‘past actions’ in Buddhism cannot be equated with the notion of causality as understood in a strictly deterministic sense.
Path lam, Skt. mdrga
The means of spiritual practice (view, meditation, conduct and so forth) by which the resultant goal of any of the nine vehicles might be attained.
Peaceful and Wrathful Deities zhi-khro See Appendix Two.
Penetrative Insight lhag-mthong, Skt. vipasyand
This is an analytical meditative state, penetrating the nature, characteristics or function of the chosen object of meditation, which is accompanied by physical and mental suppleness and generated on the basis of mental tranquillity or calm abiding. The object of such an insight can be mundane, such as the topics of impermanence and suffering, or supramundane, such as emptiness, the ultimate nature of reality. This ‘penetrative insight’ can be attained only in union with calm abiding, and many meditation manuals state that the realisation of ‘calm abiding’ is an essential prerequisite for the cultivation of ‘penetrative insight’. However, in Unsurpassed Yogatantra there exist advanced techniques which enable practitioners to attain ‘calm abiding’ and ‘penetrative insight’ simultaneously.
Perception ’du-shes, Skt. samjhd See under Aggregate of Perceptions.
Perfection of Discriminative Awareness sher-phyin, Skt. prajndpdramitd Often translated also as ‘perfection of wisdom’, the Sanskrit word prajndpdramitd refers to the sixth of the six perfections (Skt. satparamita) which are cultivated by bodhisattvas. The term ‘perfection of discriminative awareness’ has three different applications: firstly, it may refer to the resultant, perfected discriminative awareness {’bras-bu sher-phyin) of a buddha, which is totally non-dual, free of all obscurations, and perceives spontaneously in a single mental act the dual aspects of all phenomena. See Two Truths. Secondly, it may refer to the bodhisattva paths which lead to the above perfection of discriminative awareness (lam sher-phyin), blending together at the most profound level the discriminative awareness of emptiness (sunyatd) and the skilful means of great compassion (mahdkarund). Thirdly, it may denote the literature of the Prajndpdramitd subdivision of the sutras of the Greater Vehicle, which outline the essential aspects of those paths and results (gzhung sher-phyin). Iconographically, Prajndpdramitd is depicted in the form of a female meditational deity and the Sanskrit sutras themselves are invariably entitled Transcendent Lady who is the Perfection of Discriminative Awareness (Bhagavatiprajhdparamita). See also under Discriminative Awareness.
Perfection Stage rdzogs-rim, Skt. sampannakrama
Following the meditative generation of the form of the meditational deity and an approximation of the pristine cognition of the meditational deity during the generation stage (Skt. utpattikrama), the perfection stage employs techniques for controlling the energy channels, vital energies and seminal points within the practitioner’s transmuted body. The purpose is to make manifest the inner radiance induced by the ever-deepening realisation of the four kinds of emptiness or ‘dissolution stages’ and of the coemergent pristine cognition induced by the four delights. The factor that marks the transition from generation stage to perfection stage is the yogin’s ability to draw the vital energies (Skt. vdyu) into the central channel. See also Great Perfection.
Perfections pha-rol-du phyin-pa See under Six Perfections.
Pious Attendant nyan-thos, Skt. sravaka
The practitioners of the Lesser Vehicle {htnaydna) include both pious attendants and hermit buddhas (Skt. pratyekabuddha). The primary differences between them are the focus and modalities of their practice on the path towards liberation from cyclic existence. The pious attendant places greater emphasis on destroying the mistaken belief in personal identity (pudgala) by overcoming the primary and secondary dissonant mental states, while the hermit buddha additionally comes to realise that objective phenomena are devoid of inherent existence. Characteristically, the pious attendants depend on oral instructions when both receiving teachings and when giving guidance to others on the path. See Hermit Buddha.
Posture of the Bodhisattvas sems-dpa’i skyil-krung, Skt. sattvaparyanka Also known as the posture of royal ease (mahdrdjalildsana), this is the posture in which seated male and female bodhisattvas are commonly depicted iconographically or visualised in meditation in which the right leg is extended and the left leg drawn in. The extended right leg and foot symbolises the abandonment of all negative defects, and the drawn in left leg symbolises the deity’s understanding and cultivation of all positive attributes. As the combined purity of the deity’s compassionate skilful means (extended right leg) and discriminative awareness (drawn in left leg), this posture also represents the abandonment of the two extremes of cyclic existence and nirvdna.
Posture of the Lion seng-ge’i ’dug-stangs, Skt. simhdsana
The posture of the lion is the posture assumed by Sakyamuni Buddha at the time of his passing, lying on the right side with his right arm bent at the elbow and his palm supporting the head.
Posture of Royal Ease rgyal-chen rol-pa’i skyil-krung, Skt. mahdrdjatildsana See under Posture of the Bodhisattvas.
Power stobs, Skt. bah
In general, spiritual power is classified, along with discriminative awareness and compassion, as one of the three principal attributes to be cultivated by bodhisattvas, symbolised in this case by the form of the Bodhisattva Vajrap&ni. More specifically, bodhisattvas cultivate ten spiritual powers (dasabala) with respect to their reflections, higher aspirations, practice, discriminative awareness, aspirational prayers, diverse vehicles, modes of conduct, emanational abilities, enlightenment, and teaching of the sacred doctrine. Distinct from these are the so-called ten powers of the buddhas (dasatathdgatabala), which are all included among the categories of buddha attributes. Buddhas are said to be endowed with spiritual power because they have: (i) the power of knowing the positive and negative contingencies of all things, (ii) the power of knowing the maturation of past actions, (iii) the power of knowing diverse volitions, (iv) the power of knowing diverse sensory spectra, (v) the power of knowing those who are of supreme ability and those who are not, (vi) the power of knowing all spiritual paths – wherever they lead, (vii) the power of omniscience with respect to meditative concentration, liberation, meditative stability, meditative equipoise, and purification of dissonant mental states, (viii) the power of recollecting past abodes, (ix) the power of knowing where consciousness is transferred at the time of death and rebirth, and (x) the power of knowing that the entire flow of corrupt past actions has ceased.
Prahevajra dga’-rab rdo-rje
More commonly known in the Tibetan form Garab Dorje, Prahevajra is regarded
as the first human lineage holder of Atiyoga.
Prasangika thal-’gyur-ba See Madhyamaka.
Pratimoksa so-sor thar-pa
An individual’s practice of ethical discipline which acts as a firm foundation for the aspirant’s spiritual endeavour whilst on the path towards the attainment of liberation from cyclic existence. There are eight types of pratimoksa vows: i) one-day vows (Skt. upavdsa/upavasi), a lay person’s vow of abstinence, taken only for a twenty-four hour period, from killing, sexual misconduct, stealing, lying, alcohol, frivolous activities, eating after lunch, and using high seats or beds; 2-3) the five vows of a lay man and a lay woman (Skt. upasaka/ updsikd) which are not to kill, lie, steal, be intoxicated, or commit sexual misconduct; 4-5) the vows of the novice monk and novice nun (Skt. srdmaneral irdmanerikd); 6) the vows of a probationary nun (Skt. siksamdna); 7) the 253 vows of a fully ordained monk (Skt. bhiksu); and 8) the 364 vows maintained by fully ordained nuns (Skt. bhiksunf). Prdtimoksa literally means ‘individual liberation’, or the initial stage of release from the impulsive force of non-virtuous habits. ‘’Frati’ means ‘individually’ or ‘first’, and imoksa ‘release’, ‘freedom’, or ‘liberation’. See also under Vows.
Preceptor mkhan-po, Skt. upadhyaya See Monastic Preceptor.
Precious Jewels dkon-mchog, Skt. ratna See under Three Precious Jewels.
Preliminary Practices sngon-’gro
The preliminary practices are those undertaken by an aspiring practitioner of the tantras, prior to engaging in the main practices of the generation and perfection stages of meditation. There are both outer, or common, preliminaries, and inner, or uncommon, preliminaries. The former are the four analytical meditations which turn the mind of the practitioner away from worldly distractions and towards the sacred teachings, namely those focusing: on the nature of the precious opportunities afforded by human birth; on death and impermanence (anitya); on the dynamics of past actions (karma) and their consequences; and on the sufferings of beings within cyclic existence (samsara). The latter are the five purificatory practices, each of which is performed one hundred thousand times, namely: the taking of refuge in the Three Precious Jewels, in conjunction with the act of prostration (which purifies pride); the cultivation of the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the sake of others, in conjunction with the recitation of the appropriate verses (which purifies envy and mundane ambition); the recitation of Vajrasattva’s Hundred-syllable Mantra (which purifies aversion); the offering of the mandala (which purifies attachment); and the cultivation of union with the enlightened attributes of the spiritual teacher (guruyoga), in conjunction with the appropriate mantra recitation (which purifies delusion). See Chapters i and z.
Primordial Purity ka-dag See Spontaneous Presence.
Pristine Cognition ye-shes, Skt. jnana
The modality of buddha-mind. Although all sentient beings possess the potential for actualising pristine cognition within their mental continuum, the psychological confusions and deluded tendencies which defile the mind obstruct the natural expression of these inherent potentials, making them appear instead as aspects of mundane consciousness (vijnana). Buddhist literature mentions five types of pristine cognition which are the quintessential perfected states of our own mental faculties and which are identified with the five male buddhas of the mandala of Peaceful and Wrathful Deities. See Appendix Two. The pristine cognition of reality’s expanse (dharmadhatujnana) is the natural purity of the aggregate of consciousness, free from delusion; the mirror-like pristine cognition (ddarsajndna) is the mind to which all the objects of the five senses appear spontaneously as in a mirror, it is the natural purity of the aggregate of form, free from aversion; the pristine cognition of sameness (samatajnana) is the mind that experiences the three different types of feelings (good, bad and indifferent) as of one taste, it is the natural purity of the aggregate of feeling, free from pride; the pristine cognition of discernment (pratyaveksanajhana) is the mind that accurately identifies names and forms, it is the natural purity of the aggregate of perceptions, free from attachment; and the pristine cognition of accomplishment (krtyupasthdnajndna) is the mind that accords with awakened activities and their purposes, it is the natural purity of the aggregate of motivational tendencies, free from envy and self-centred ambition.
Propensities bag-chags, Skt. vdsand See Habitual Tendencies.
Prostration phyag-’tshal-ba
A common gesture of reverence in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. During the preliminary practices (sngon-’gro) of the tantras, the act of paying homage through prostration is undertaken, in conjunction with the recitation of the prayer of refuge, as a means of reducing and eliminating pride.
Protectors of the [Sacred] Teachings chos-skyong/srung-ma, Skt. dharmapala There are two main categories of protectors: 1) supramundane protectors, such as Mahakala, Ekajatl, Dorje Lekpa, and Rdhula, who are the wrathful manifestations of enlightened beings; and 2) worldly protectors, many of whom were originally malevolent forces who were subdued by accomplished masters such as Padmasambhava and then assigned to protect the teachings. In both cases their activity is to protect the sacred teachings and its sincere practitioners from obstacles.
Provisional Meaning drang-don, Skt. neyirtha See under Definitive Meaning.
Pure Illusory Body dag-pa’i sgyu-lus See Illusory Body.
Pure Realm
See Buddha Field.
Pure Realm of the Sky-farers dag-pa’i mkha’-spyod-kyi zhing, Skt. khecarfksetra The pure realm or fields of the sky-farers represents the level on which the awareness-holders (vidyadhara) are said to abide.
Pure Vision/Perception dag-pa’i snang-ba
In the terminology of the Nyingma school, the expression ‘pure vision’ frequently refers to a type of revelation, through which meditational deities or accomplished masters of the past appear in a vision to impart their teachings. This mode of pure vision, therefore, has some affinity with the revelations of the treasures (gter-ma). More generally, ‘pure vision’ denotes the purity of perception of meditational deities, symbolically represented by their respective mandalas, which is cultivated in the generation stage of meditation. However, the Tibetan equivalent dag-pa’i snang-ba is also used colloquially to mean a ‘positive perspective’ or ‘positive outlook’ on life.
Purification sbyong-ba, Skt. sodhana
The verb ‘to purify’ has two distinct meanings in a Buddhist context. Firstly, purification can refer simply to the purification of non-virtuous habits or dissonant mental states, etc., in which the objects of purification are, without qualification, totally eradicated from one’s mental continuum. In the second meaning, which arises more in the context of tantra, the term ‘purification’ has rather different implications. Here, the significance of the word is understood in terms of transmutation from an impure, polluted state into an unstained, purified state. This process is exemplified by the practices related to Carrying the Three Buddha-bodies on to the Path (sKu-gsum lam-’khyer). In this context, the phases of ordinary death, intermediate state, and rebirth when experienced choicelessly as a result of one’s past actions, are the bases of purification. The meditations on the Three Buddha-bodies are the purifying paths and the accomplishments of the Buddha-body of Reality, the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, and the Buddha-body of Emanation are the purified results.
Purification of the Lower Realms ngan-song sbyong-ba, Skt. durgatiparisodhana This is the Tantra of the Purification of the Lower Realms (Sarvadurgatiparisodhanatantra), which is recited to assist the deceased in avoiding the pitfalls of rebirth as a sentient being trapped in the three lower existences.
Quiescence zhi-ba, Skt. sdnti
This is a synonym for the quiescent state of nirvana, in which all dissonant mental states and misconceptions concerning actual reality have ended, and rebirth in cyclic existence no longer occurs. As such, it is the antithesis of the rebirth process (srid-pa). See also under nirvana.
Rainbow Light [Body] ‘ja’-lus
The appearance of rainbow light at the time of death is indicative of the deceased’s adeptness in the practices of the Great Perfection (rdzogs-pa chen-po) or in certain other perfection stage practices. There are many incidents recorded in Tibetan biographical literature concerning the attainment of the rainbow-light body at the time of death. On occasions when this attainment is residual, the physical body will shrink dramatically or vanish into light, leaving only the hair or fingernails of the deceased’s physical form behind. However, when there is no residue, the entire physical form will vanish into light. In these latter cases, the body of rainbow light (’ja’-lus) or body of light (’od-kyi sku) is equivalent to the attainment of the Buddha-body of Great Transformation (Skt. mahasatnkrantikaya, Tib. ‘pho-ba chen-po’i sku). See Buddha-body.
Ratna Family rin-chen rigs, Skt. ratnakula
One of the five enlightened families (pancakula) into which the meditational deities of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource are subdivided. The deities of the Ratna family include the peaceful buddhas Ratnasambhava and Mamakl and the corresponding wrathful aspects Ratna Heruka and Ratnakrodhesvarl. See Appendix Two.
Realisation rtogs-pa, Skt. adhigama
This refers to the spiritual experiences that a practitioner gains through insight into and transformation of the mental continuum whilst on the path to enlightenment, and to the resultant attainment of liberation or buddhahood.
Reality chos-nyid, Skt. dharmata
In our text the term ‘reality’ has been used interchangeably with ‘actual reality’. See
Actual Reality.
Reality’s Expanse chos-dbyings, Skt. dharmadhdtu See Expanse of [Actual] Reality.
Refuge skyabs-’gro, Skt. saranagamana
This term in Buddhist usage indicates the act of entrusting one’s spiritual growth
and well-being to the Three Precious Jewels. The Three Precious Jewels are the objects of refuge, and the nature of the refuge sought from each of the three differs. In the Buddha, the fully enlightened teacher, guidance on a correct path to buddahood is sought; in the sacred teachings, the realisations of the path are sought; and in the monastic/supreme community (sangha) perfect companionship on the path to buddhahood is sought. The successful taking of refuge in the Three Precious Jewels requires the following two conditions: a) a genuine anxiety in the face of the potential for future suffering and b) a genuine confidence in the capacity of the Three Precious Jewels to offer protection from these potential sufferings. In the context of our text, the act of going for refuge constitutes the first of the five uncommon preliminary practices (thun-min sngon-’gro). Here, the three levels of refuge are recognised: the outer refuge (phyi’i skyabs-’gro), which is taken in the Buddha, the sacred teachings and the monastic community; the inner refuge (nang-gi skyabs-’gro), which is taken in the spiritual teacher, the meditational deity and the dakini and the secret refuge (gsang-ba’i skyabs-’gro), which is taken in the Buddha-body of Reality, the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource and the Buddha-body of Emanation.
Relative Truth kun-rdzob bden-pa, Skt. samvrtisatya See under Two Truths.
Relics gdung/ring-srel See under Bone Relics.
Renunciation nges-’byung/spang-ba, Skt. naiskramyalprahana The English term renunciation translates both the Tibetan terms nges-’byung and spang-ba. In the former sense, renunciation refers to takyatnuni Buddha’s renunciation of the household life and it is defined as a mental attitude free from impulsive clinging to all worldly attributes such as wealth, fame, position and the thought of a favourable rebirth in a future life. It is only on the basis of such an attitude that the practitioner can spontaneously generate a genuine wish to be free from cyclic existence. Hence the real meaning of renunciation lies not just in mere physical separation from objects of desire but more importantly in a quality of mental liberation which is free from even the slightest degree of craving for mundane values. The Tibetan word nges-’byung literally means a ‘definite emergence’, indicating a definite emergence from the bonds of our normally narrow-minded attachment to worldly pleasures. In the latter sense (Skt. prahana), renunciation refers to the four correct trainings which are included among the thirty-seven aspects of the path to enlightenment (bodhipaksikadharma) cultivated by those aspiring to enlightenment, namely: 1) to not develop non-virtuous actions which have not arisen, 2) to renounce non-virtuous actions which have arisen, 3) to develop virtuous actions which have not arisen, and 4) to not renounce virtuous actions which have arisen.
Rinpoche rin-po-che
This term literally means ‘high in value or esteem’, and in ordinary language indicates a precious jewel. By extension, in Tibetan Buddhism, the term has come to refer to an incarnate master who is ‘high in value’ or ‘most precious’. Accordingly, the title ‘’Rinpoche’ is widely used by Tibetans to refer to any incarnate spiritual teacher. See Tulku.
Rite for Affirmation of Vows ’bogs-chog
The rite for the affirmation of vows is that through which the ability to fulfil and restore impaired commitments taken in association with the tantras is transferred.
Rites of Enrichment, Pacification, Subjugation and Wrath zhi rgyas dbang drag-gi
las
See Four Aspects of Enlightened Activity.
Rites of ‘Liberation’ sgrol-ba The rites of ‘liberation’ refers to practices, only to be applied by accomplished masters who have attained proficiency in consciousness transference, which end the life of a hostile being who is wholly intent on vicious negative activities. The consciousness of the harmful being is compassionately transferred to a realm of higher rebirth thus freeing him or her from the inevitable consequences of their future and past actions.
Ritual Officiant las-mkhan, Skt. karmdcarya
The ritual officiant is the one who leads the students into the presence of a spiritual teacher at the time when empowerment is conferred, covering the students’ eyes with a red blindfold and placing a flower and a vajra in their hands.
Ritual Service bsnyen-pa, Skt. seva
See Four Aspects of Ritual Service and Means for Attainment.
Rosary phreng-ba, Skt. mala
The Tibetan rosary generally has one hundred and eight beads, and is used for the counting of mantra recitations.
Rudra ru-dra
As expounded, for example, in the Sutra which Gathers All Intentions (mDo dgongs-pa ’dus-pa) and later treasure (gter-ma) revelations as well, Rudra is the embodiment of rampant egohood, a being who assumed a powerful malevolent form, having misapplied the practice of the tantras in a previous life, and who was consequently subdued by the wrathful means of the buddhas Hayagrfva or Mahottara Heruka. The metaphor illustrates the origins of the outer attributes of the wrathful deities, who are in essence the peaceful deities, but who adopted the outer terrifying characteristics of Rudra in order to actively confront deep-seated egohood. The metaphor illustrates that the wrathful deities represent the spontaneous process of transformation of the outer deluded state to its actual or enlightened nature.
Sacred Substances rdzas, Skt. dravya
According to the tantras, ritual substances or articles are employed in order to symbolise the bond between the practitioner and the meditational deity and in some cases these actually symbolise the meditational deities or their attributes. In the context of an empowerment ceremony, symbolic implements, such as the vajra and bell, or diadem, vase and so on are known as sacred substances of empowerment (dbang-rdzas).
[Sacred] Teachings [dam-pa’i] chos, Skt. [sad] dharma
The Sanskrit term dharma carries a very broad range of meanings, derived from the Sanskrit word dhr, meaning ‘to hold’. The Tibetan equivalent chos literally means ‘change’ or ‘transformation’, and refers both to the process of spiritual transformation and to the transformed result. Ten classical definitions of dharma are given by Vasubandhu in his Rational System of Exposition (Vydkhyayukti), namely: phenomenon, path leading to enlightenment, attainment of enlightenment, object of consciousness, merit, living thing, scripture, material thing, regulation, and spiritual tradition. In terms of the spiritual tradition of Buddhism, the term refers specifically to the second of the Three Precious Jewels (Skt. triratna), i.e. to the sacred teachings. See Transmission.
Sakya sa-skya
One of the four principal schools of Tibetan Buddhism, named after a monastery of the same name which was founded by Khon Konchok Gyalpo in the eleventh century in western Tibet, at a site which has a slightly whitish rock surface. Sakya literally means ‘pale earth’. The widespread influence of the early Sakya masters soon evolved into a whole new school of Tibetan Buddhism, the school reaching its full maturity during the time of the Sachen Gongma Nga, the five great founders of Sakya, and in particular through the influence of perhaps the greatest of these, Sakya ?audita Kunga Gyaltsen. The essence of the Sakya school’s thought and practice is enshrined in the sets of instructions called ‘the path and its fruit’ (lam-’bras).
Sakyamuni Buddha iakya thub-pa
Our historical buddha, who is considered to have been the fourth supreme Buddha-body of Emanation to have appeared during this particular aeon (in which context Maitreya is regarded as the fifth or future buddha). The Buddha Sakyamuni is considered by historians to have lived in the sixth century bc and is credited, according to Buddhist tradition, as the progenitor of all the contemporary Buddhist lineages relating to the sutras and certain of those related to the tantras, and for the establishment of the early Buddhist monastic community.
Sakyasimha Sakya senge
An epithet of Sdkyamuni Buddha.
Sal Tree shing sa-la
A tall tree (Vatica robusta) indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, with wide
branches and thick foliage.
Samantabhadra kun-tu bzang-po
The male buddha Samantabhadra is the foremost figure in the assembly of the forty-two peaceful deities. It is important to differentiate the male buddha Samantabhadra from the male bodhisattva Samantabhadra. See below and Appendix Two.
Samantabhadra (bodhisattva) byang-sems kun-tu bzang-po
The male bodhisattva Samantabhadra is one of the four outer male bodhisattvas
among the forty-two peaceful deities. See Appendix Two.
SAMAYA rgya rgya rgya
Certain chapters of the present work end with these words of admonition that the seal of commitment (samayamudra), through which buddha-mind is secured, is to be resolutely applied by those who receive the teaching. See Seal and Commitment.
Samsara ’khor-ba See Cyclic Existence.
Santaraksita zhi-ba’i ’tsho I mkhan-po bo-dhi-sattva
A monastic preceptor and exponent of Madhyamaka philosophy from Zahor, who officiated at the great Ndlandd Monastic University in India before his arrival in Tibet at the invitation of King Trisong Detsen during the eighth century. In Tibet, he was responsible together with King Trisong Detsen and Padmasambhava for the construction of Samye Monastery, the first Buddhist monastery to be built in Tibet. King Trisong Detsen, Padmasambhava and Santaraksita jointly established Buddhism as the state religion of Tibet. Santaraksita is the author of a highly influential encyclopaedic work on classical Indian philosophies entitled Tattvasamgraha and a short, but influential, work on Madhyamaka known as Ornament of the Middle Way (Madhyamakdlamkdra).
Seal phyag-rgya, Skt. mudrd
According to the sutras, the word ‘seal’ denotes a secure realisation of emptiness. In the tantras it refers to the various hand-gestures which accompany the recitation of mantras, and by extension refers also to the meditational deity’s symbolic hand-emblem (phyag-mtshan) – the vajra, bell and so forth. In this context therefore the seals are the resonance of buddha-body. Furthermore, in the Yogatantras, in particular, there are four seals which secure the aspects of mundane consciousness (vijhana) as their corresponding aspects of pristine cognition (jndna): among them, the great seal (mahdmudrd) of buddha-body secures the ground-of-all consciousness (dlayavijhdna) as the mirror-like pristine cognition (ddarsajndna); the seal of the sacred teachings (dharmamudrd) of buddha-speech secures the mental consciousness (manovijhdna) as the pristine cognition of discernment (pratyaveksanajndna); the seal of commitment (samayamudrd) of buddha-mind secures the deluded consciousness (klistamanovijndna) as the pristine cognition of sameness (samatdjndna); and the seal of action (karmamudrd) of buddha-activity secures the five sensory consciousnesses (pancadvdravijndna) as the pristine cognition of accomplishment (krtyupasthdnajndna). Then, according to Mahdyoga, in the perfection stage of meditation, when the practices of sexual yoga (sbyor-ba) are applied in order to actualise the union of great bliss (mahdsukha) and emptiness, the term ‘action seal’ (karmamudrd) denotes an actual sexual partner, while the term ‘seal of pristine cognition’ (jndnamudrd), by contrast, denotes a mentally visualised consort. For a description of the meditative tradition known as Mahdmudrd see under Great Seal.
Secret Mantra gsang-sngags, Skt. guhyamantra See Mantra.
Seed-syllable yig-’bru, Skt. btjaksara
Generally this refers to Sanskrit syllables or letters visualised as the quintessential basis from which arise the forms of meditational deities in the practices of the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality. Often these letters or syllables are the first letter of the name of the deities themselves, or syllables or letters that are associated with specific enlightened families. So, for example, in the case of many of the deities belonging to the Vajra family of Aksobhya, they are visualised as arising from the letter hum, while for deities belonging to the Padma family, the letter ah is often utilised, and so on.
Self bdag-nyid, Skt. dtman
For an introduction to the concept of ‘self as’ it applies to our text, see the Introductory Commentary by HH the Dalai Lama. See also under Selflessness.
Self-empowerment rang-dbang, Skt. svddhisthdna
A spiritual practice in which the four empowerments are received directly by the meditator from a visualised spiritual teacher, as presented in Chapter 2 of the present work. See Empowerment.
Self-identity rang-bzhin, Skt. svabhdva
This term refers to the inherent existence which the etemalist philosophies of Hinduism and Jainism project onto phenomena. Elsewhere, the Sanskrit term dtman (Tib. bdag), referring to the notion of an independent or substantial self, has also sometimes been translated as ‘self-identity’.
Selflessness bdag-med, Skt. nairdtmya
Selflessness in Buddhist philosophy is understood to imply the lack of inherent existence both in the personality and in physical and mental phenomena. The Lesser Vehicle schools such as Vaibhasika and Sautrdntika expound the doctrine of selflessness only in terms of personal identity. They propound that selflessness refers to the absence of an independently existing ‘self’ or ‘I’, emphasising that the self is neither substantial nor self-sufficient. Nowhere among the aggregates of the person, either individually, collectively, or even in their continuity can one find a substantial or solid being. Material objects are nothing but a series of indivisible atomic particles, and consciousness is nothing but a series of indivisible time moments. However, the Cittamdtra and Madhyamaka schools extend this notion of selflessness to embrace all physical and mental phenomena. All such phenomena are equated with emptiness (sunyata), and these Greater Vehicle philosophical schools therefore speak of both the selflessness of persons (pudgalanairdtmya) and the selflessness of phenomena (dharmanairdtmya). Nevertheless, substantial philosophical differences exist between the two Greater Vehicle schools in their views on what it is that is being negated by the doctrine of emptiness.
Seminal Point thig-le, Skt. bindu
The Tibetan term thig-le conveys a wide range of meanings. It refers to: 1) the pure white/male and red/female generative essences of the body, which along with the energy channels and vital energies flowing through the channels, form an important aspect of human physiology according to the tantras and related medical traditions; 2,) a synonym for the Buddha-body of Reality (dharmakdya), known as the ‘unique seminal point’ (thig-le nyag-gcig); and 3) the seminal points of light which appear during the All-surpassing Realisation (thod-rgal) practices of the Great Perfection (Atiyoga), and also during the intermediate state of reality. See Chapter 11, Part One.
Sense-faculties dbang-po, Skt. indriya See under Sense-organs.
Sense-organs dbang-po, Skt. indriya
According to the analysis of abhidharma, these comprise: the eye (caksurindriya), the ear (irotrendriya), the nose (ghrdnendriya), the tongue (jihvendriya), and the physical body (kdyendriya).
Sensory Activity Fields skye-mched, Skt. dyatana
The operational fields or contexts in which sensory perception is said to occur. Abhidharma sources identify twelve sensory activity fields (Skt. dvddaidyatana), six of which are designated as external and the remainder as internal, divided into pairs as follows: the activity field of the eye (caksurayatana) and the activity field of form (rupayatana), the activity fields of the ear (srotrayatana) and of sound (sabddya-tana), the activity fields of the nose (ghranayatana) and of smell (gandhayatana), the activity fields of the tongue (jihvayatana) and of taste (rasayatana), the activity fields of the body (kayayatana) and of touch (sprastdyatana), and, lastly, the activity fields of the mind (mana dyatana) and of mental objects or phenomena (dhar-mayatana).
Sensory Spectra khams, Skt. dhatu
A broad term denoting each and every aspect of sensory perception, including the sensory subject, object and their interaction. Abhidharma sources identify eighteen distinct sensory components or psycho-physical spectra (Skt. astadasadhdtu), grouped as follows: those of the eye, form and visual consciousness; those of the ear, sound, and auditory consciousness; those of the nose, smell, and olfactory consciousness; those of the tongue, taste, and gustatory consciousness; those of the body, touch, and tactile consciousness; and those of the mind, phenomena, and mental consciousness.
Sentient Being sems-can/’gro-ba, Skt. sattval gati
In a Buddhist context, the expression ‘sentient being’ has a technical usage which contrasts with the concept of a buddha. The term refers to beings in cyclic existence and also those who have attained liberation from it but who have not attained the non-abiding nirvana of fully manifest buddhahood. The Sanskrit term gati (Tib. ’gro-ba) literally means ‘goer’, and sattva, a ‘living being’. The Tibetan equivalent of the latter, sems-can, literally means ‘sentient’ or ‘a being with mind’, as it does in English. See Six Classes of Sentient/Living Beings.
Serpentine Water Spirits klu/klu-mo, Skt. nagalnagini
Male or female water spirits, often depicted as half human and half serpentine, who reside in oceans, rivers, lakes and springs, and who are described in Buddhist literature as custodians or repositories of submerged spiritual or material treasure. It is considered important that their environment should be kept pristine and clean; otherwise, agitation or pollution can result in the emergence of water spirits that engender leprosy, consumption and various skin ailments.
Seven Emanational Oceans rol-pa’i rgya-mtsho bdun See Four Continents and Eight Subcontinents.
Seven Golden Mountain Ranges gser-gyi ri-bo bdun See Four Continents and Eight Subcontinents.
Seven-limbed Practice yan-lag bdun-pa
A preliminary practice which is normally undertaken as a prelude to the generation stage of meditation. The seven limbs together constitute a comprehensive practice for purifying negative potentials and accumulating merit, thus laying a stable basis for a successful meditational session. The seven limbs in their proper sequence are: i) paying homage through prostration, z) making offerings, 3) purifying non-virtuous habits, 4) rejoicing in the wholesome actions of others and oneself, 5) requesting the buddhas to teach, 6) appealing to the buddhas not to enter into nirvana, and 7) the dedication of merit. Our Chapter 5 includes an additional three.
Seven-point Posture of Vairocana rnam-snang chos-bdun
This is a metaphor for the ideal or recommended meditation posture, in which the legs are crossed in the ‘indestructible posture’ (vajr&sana), the back straight, the hands in the gesture of meditative equipoise, the eyes focused on the tip of the nose, the chin slightly tucked in, the lips and teeth set in their natural positions, and the tip of the tongue touching the palate.
Sexual Yoga sbyor-ba See under Four Delights.
Signlessness mtshan-ma med-pa, Skt. nirlaksana
Signlessness, along with emptiness (Skt. iUnyata) and aspirationlessness (Skt. nir-pranidhana), is regarded as one of the three approaches to liberation (rnam-thar sgo gsum) which are the hallmarks of the teachings on the perfection of discriminative awareness (Skt. prajndpdramitd). Signlessness is the antithesis of substantialist views (mtshan-’dzin) – the perspective that grasps at the inherent existence of things by means of their characteristics such as colours, forms and other properties.
Single Nature of Mind sems gcig-po
In Chapter 4 of our text the phrase ‘the single nature of mind’ is a synonym for the
ultimate nature of mind (sems-nyid), or the actual reality of mind.
Six Classes of Sentient/Living Beings ’gro-ba rigs-drug, Skt. sadgati A birth in cyclic existence is characterised as occuring among one or other of the six classes of living beings, depending on the nature and maturity of an individual’s past actions. The six classes are: 1) gods (deva), mundane celestial beings whose primary mental state is one of pride or exaltation, 2) antigods (asura), who are predominantly hostile and jealous, 3) human beings, who are influenced by all Eve dissonant mental states, 4) animals, who are under the sway of instinct and obfuscation, 5) anguished spirits (preta), who are under the sway of attachment and unsatisfied craving, and 6) the denizens of the hells {naraka), who are overwhelmed by hatred, anger and fear. Since all five dissonant mental states have influence on human beings, it is not inappropriate to look upon all of these conditions also as extrapolations of human psychological states. In our text the primary causes of rebirth in each of these six realms are respectively identified as: pride, jealousy, attachment, delusion, miserliness and hatred. See also Three World-systems.
Six Dissonant Mental States nyon-mongs drug, Skt. satkleia In certain instances in our text when the context relates to rebirth among the six classes of beings, this enumeration does not refer to the well-known abhidharma category of the six primary dissonant mental states: fundamental ignorance, attachment, aversion, pride, doubt, and dissonant or afflictive views, but to the six poisons (dug-drug) that are said to generate rebirth among the six classes of living beings, namely: pride, jealousy, attachment, delusion, miserliness and hatred.
Six [Emanational] Sages sprul-sku thub-drug See under Six Sages.
Six Intermediate States bar-do drug See under Intermediate States.
Six Kinds of Bone Ornament rus-pa’i rgyan drug
The six kinds of bone-ornament worn by the wrathful deities, which symbolise the transcendence of death and dissonant mental states, comprise: necklaces (mgul-rgyan), bracelets (gdu-bu), earrings (rna-cha), crowns (dbu-rgyan), bandoleers (mchod phyir-thogs), and human ashes (thal-chen).
Six Lineages brgyud-pa drug See under Lineage.
Six Mantras and Six Gestures sngags-drug-dang phyag-rgya drug A series of mantras and gestures used for the empowerment of substitutes or offerings made to harmful or obstructive forces. This process of consecration is effected by means of the following six hand-gestures (phyag-rgya drug) and six corresponding mantras (sngags-drug): i) The hand-gesture of the expanse of reality is conjoined with the mantra om svabhAva suddhAh sarva dharmAh svabhAva suddho ’ham, which purifies the ritual object. 2) The hand-gesture of the jewelled casket is conjoined with the mantra namah sarva tathAgatebhyo VISVA MUKHEBHYAH SARVATHA KHAM UDGATE SPHARANA IMAM GAGANA
kham svaha, which expands the effigy to fill all of space. 3) The hand-gesture of swirling nectar is conjoined with the mantra om vajra amrta kundali hana hana MOM phat, which transforms the effigy into a vessel filled with nectars. 4) The hand-gesture of vast potency is conjoined with the mantra namah sarvata-thAgata avalokite om sambhara sambhara MOM, which empowers the effigy to gratify all the senses. 5) The hand-gesture of the comet of knowledge and bestowal of gifts is conjoined with the mantra om jnAna avalokite samanta
SPHARANA RASMIBHAVA SAMAYA MAHAMANI DURU DURU HRDAYA JVALANI
MOM, which empowers the effigy to fulfil the hopes of all, without contention. 6) Lastly, the hand-gesture of the universal monarch is conjoined with the mantra
NAMAH SAMANTA BUDDHANAM GRAHESVARA PRABHA JYOTENA MAHASAMAYE
svaha, which ensures that the effigy will pacify, subjugate or transform all inimical forces, and bring about a successful outcome for the ritual as a whole.
Six Perfections pha-rol-tu phyin-pa drug, Skt. satpdramitd
In the sutra system of the path to buddhahood, the entire bodhisattva’s way of life or conduct is founded upon the practice of the six perfections which comprise: generosity (ddna), ethical discipline (stla), patience (ksdnti), perseverance or joyous effort (virya), meditative concentration (dhydna), and discriminative awareness (prajnd). These six are known as ‘perfections’ when, for example, the practice of generosity is: 1) motivated by the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the sake of all beings; z) undertaken within a sixfold combination of all the perfections; and 3) performed with an awareness of the emptiness (sunyatd) of the agent, the act, and the object in question. As an aspiration, the word pdramitd is used to denote a means to perfection; but when describing the perfected result, at the attainment of buddhahood, it means ‘transcendent perfection’, in accord with its literal meaning, ‘gone beyond’.
Six Pristine Cognitions ye-shes drug
The six arms of the herukas, among the fifty-eight wrathful deities (see Appendix Two), symbolise the six pristine cognitions. These comprise the Pristine Cognition of pure expanse (dag-pa’i dbyings-kyi ye-shes), in addition to the standard enumeration of the five pristine cognitions. See Pristine Cognition.
Six Realms
See Six Classes of Sentient/Living Beings.
Six Sages sprul-sku thub-drug
The six sages are aspects of the Buddha-body of Emanation (nirmanakaya) which manifest in the realms of the six classes of living beings, namely: Indraiakra, the sage of the gods (lha’i thub-pa dbang-po brgya-byin), Vemacitra, the sage of the antigods (lha ma-yin-gyi thub-pa thag-bzang-ris), Sdkyasimha or Sakyamuni, the sage of humans (mi’i thub-pa shdkya seng-ge), Sthirasimha, the sage of animals (byal-song thub-pa seng-ge rab-brtan), Jvalamukha, the sage of the anguished spirits (yi-dvags-kyi thub-pa kha-’bar-ma), and Yama Dharmardja, the sage of the hells (dmyal-ba’i thub-pa chos-kyi rgyal-po). See Appendix Two.
Six-syllable Mantra yi-ge drug-pa, Skt. sadaksara
The six-syllable mantra (om mani padme MOM) is that of Avalokiteivara.
Sixty Wrathful Deities kho-bo drug-cu A collective name for the assembly of fifty-eight wrathful deities, with the addition of the two aspects representing the Buddha-body of Reality: Mahottara Heruka and Krodhesvarl, who are respectively the wrathful counterparts of Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri. See Appendix Two.
Skilful Means thabs, Skt. updya The concept of skilful means is central to the understanding of the Buddha’s enlightened deeds, including his teaching of the many scriptures. From a very early stage, Buddhism developed a hermeneutics of reading many of the scriptures attributed to the Buddha from the perspective of skilful means, that is to say from the perspective that the truths revealed in a specific teaching may be contingent on the needs, interests and mental dispositions of specific types of individuals. This idea of skilful means, especially in the context of acting for the welfare of others, such as through the giving of teachings, was applied also in relation to the altruistic deeds of the bodhisattvas. According to the Greater Vehicle, training in skilful means (Skt. updyakausalya, Tib. thabs-la mkhas-pa) refers to the first five of the six perfections: generosity, discipline, patience, perseverance, and meditative concentration; when integrated with discriminative awareness, the sixth perfection, they form a union of discriminative awareness and means (Skt. prajnopiya). The perfection of skilful means is also separately enumerated among the ten perfections, where it indicates the inestimable result acquired by dedicating the merit of one’s virtuous deeds, however small, for the benefit of all sentient beings in general and for the sake of great unsurpassed enlightenment in particular. In the tantras, the technical term ‘path of skilful means’ (thabs-lam) refers to the practices in which the internal sexual yoga (sbyor-ba) of the energy channels, vital energies and seminal points is refined within the subtle body. Also, the three inner classes of tantra according to the Nyingma school are sometimes referred to as the ‘vehicles of overpowering means’ (thabs dbang-bsgyur-ba’i theg-pa-rnams), in the sense that they carry on the path all the dissonant mental states which are renounced in the lower paths.
Sky-farer mkha’-spyod-ma, Skt. khecarf See Pure Realm of the Sky-farers.
Spacious Expanse mkha’-dbyings
A metaphor for the secret centre of the female deity or female consort.
Spirit Lords of the Soil sa-bdag, Skt. bhumipati
According to Sino-Tibetan elemental divination, the spirit lords of the soil are a class of geomantic forces whose position rotates – in some cases according to the years of the sexagenary calendar, and in others according to the months of the year, the days of the month, and the hours of the day. It is regarded as important that the subterranean locations of the spirit lords should be known at the time of constructing a building or mandala, and before entering into specific activities.
Spiritual Accomplishment dngos-grub, Skt. siddbi See under Accomplishment.
Spiritual Friend dge-ba’i bshes-gsnyen/dge-bshes, Skt. kalydnamitra The term ‘spiritual friend’ refers to a spiritual teacher (Skt. guru) who can contribute to an individual’s progress on the spiritual path to enlightenment and who acts wholeheartedly for the welfare of his or her students, adopting a renunciate lifestyle. In Tibet, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the term became synonymous with the great masters of the Kadam school, who combined a scrupulously renunciate lifestyle and deep humility with profound scholarship and meditative resolve. In later centuries, the Tibetan abbreviation geshe came to have an academic usage in the Gelug school, where it now identifies a scholar-monk with a doctorate title in traditional Buddhist studies, and is similar to the modern usage of the term ‘khenpo’ (mkhan-po) in other traditions. See also under Monastic Preceptor.
Spiritual Hero dpa’-bo, Skt. vlra
A synonym for awareness holder and for ddka, the male equivalent of the ddkint.
Spiritual Sibling mched-grogs/rdo-rje spun-sring
In the context of the tantras, six types of spiritual sibling are identified: i) universal spiritual siblings, i.e. all sentient beings who from beginningless time have been one’s parents; z) spiritual siblings who share the Buddhist teachings; 3) harmonious spiritual siblings, who are similar in view and conduct; 4) dear spiritual siblings, who share the same spiritual teacher; 5) close spiritual siblings, who receive teaching together; and 6) intimate spiritual siblings, who receive empowerment together.
Spiritual Teacher bla-tna, Skt. guru
The original Sanskrit word ‘guru’ literally means ‘heavy’ or ‘weighty’, and by extension a ‘venerable teacher’. The Tibetan equivalent ‘bla-tna’ (pronounced lama) means ‘unsurpassed’ or ‘supreme’, indicating that the guru is unsurpassed in terms of being the perfect object towards which meritorious activity should be directed. However, it is important to note that specific qualifications are necessary in order to be considered as a spiritual teacher. These qualifications differ according to the level of spiritual practice at which a teacher is adopted. In the context of the tantras, the spiritual teacher is said to confer blessings on the meditator, in contrast to the meditational deity, who confers supreme accomplishment and the dakini, who confer enlightened or buddha activities. Ultimately, the guru is one’s own buddha nature.
Spontaneous Presence Ihun-grub, Skt. andbhoga
In the esoteric instructional class of the Great Perfection (Atiyoga), the term primordial purity (ka-dag) refers to the ultimate essence of buddhahood, the Buddha-body of Reality, the realisation of which is approached through the practices of Cutting through Resistance (khregs-chod), as described in Chapter 4, and spontaneous presence refers to the expressive nature of the Buddha-body of Reality as the Buddha-body of Form, the realisation of which is approached through the practices of All-surpassing Realisation (thod-rgal), as indicated in the emergence of the luminosities described in Chapter 11. More generally, this term refers to spontaneous or effortless activity, the fifth of the five kinds of buddha activity, according to the Mahayoga texts.
Sri Simha shri sing-ha
The name of an early exponent of the Atiyoga teachings, who was a native of
Shokyam in Central Asia.
Frimat dpal-dang Idan-pa’i zhing-khams, Skt. Srltnat
The southern buddha field of ‘The Glorious’ is the pure realm presided over by the male buddha Katnasambhava.
Stupa tnchod-rten
A sacred object representative of buddha-mind. Stiipas were originally a symbol of the Buddha-body of Reality, constructed in a dome-shape to hold the remains of Sakyamuni Buddha. The veneration of stiipas is closely connected to the earliest phase of the Greater Vehicle in ancient India, where the original stupa design developed within the central monastic assembly hall (Skt. caitya). The stiipas commonly seen in Tibetan cultural areas are constructed to a specific architectural design, usually in the shape of a dome, raised on a square base of several layers, from which rises a multilayered spire. In monasteries and sacred sites, a series of eight stiipas is frequently constructed, symbolising different events in the life of Sakyamuni Buddha. Others are extraordinarily large, like those of Baudhanath and Svayambhii in Nepal, or Sanchi in India and Borabudor in Indonesia, and some enclose within them entire mandalas of deities, such as the Pelkhor Chode at Gyantse in Tsang and the Memorial Chorten in Thimphu, Bhutan. The symbolism of the stupa is complex, representing the progression to buddhahood, the five elements, the five pristine cognitions, and so forth. Smaller reliquary stiipas ate frequently built as a funerary memorial to important spiritual teachers, often enshrining their sacred ashes or embalmed remains.
Subduer rtsad-du gcod-pa
According to the terminology of the Nyingma school, the six herukas of the assembly of fifty-eight wrathful deities are given the title ‘subduer’, referring to their activity of natural transformation with respect to the dissonant mental states. See Appendix Two.
Subjugation dbang-gi las, Skt. vasitakriyi See Four Aspects of Enlightened Activity.
Sublime One ’phags-pa, Skt. arya
A sublime being is one who has entered into a direct realisation of the actual nature of reality, in other words the lack of self-identity of both oneself and phenomena. The level of experience of an Arya is stratified in relation to the resultant stage of the vehicle being followed.
Substantialist Views mtshan-’dzin, Skt. laksanagrahana
The mistaken apprehension that the form, colour and other characteristics assumed
by any particular entity have inherent existence.
Subterranean Goddesses brtan-ma
An important class of twelve indigenous Tibetan spirits who personify the mighty snow ranges of Tibet and who are gathered within the outer retinue (phyi-’khor) of the fifty-eight wrathful deities. Foremost among them are Kongtsun Demo (associated with Mt Namchak Barwa), Machen Pomra (associated with Mt Amnye Machen), Dorje Chenchikma (associated with Mt Everest), Dorje Kundrakma (associated with Mt Nyenchen Tanglha), and Dorje Kuntizang (associated with Mt Nojin Gangzang).
Subtle Body phra-ba’i lus Skt. siiksmakaya
In contrast to our gross physical body, which is composed of flesh, bones and blood, the subtle body comprises a network of subtle energy channels, vital energies and seminal points of energy. This form arises as a natural expression of the interaction of the subtle mind and the subtle vital energies on which it depends. See the Introductory Commentary by HH the Dalai Lama. The most advanced level of subtle body, known in the tantras as the pure illusory body (sgyu-lus), is experienced only when an indivisible unity of buddha-body, speech and mind has been actualised at the conclusion of the generation and perfection stages of meditation. A similitude of such a subtle body can be experienced during the practice of dream yoga, when the level of consciousness is relatively subtle and deep, due to the temporary cessation of active sensory processes. The mental body (yid-lus) experienced during the intermediate state of rebirth is also a form of subtle body.
Suffering sdug-bsngal, Skt. duhkhatd
In a Buddhist context, the term ‘suffering’ is used in a broad sense and includes not only physical sensations but also mental experiences, that is to say all the essentially unsatisfactory experiences of life in cyclic existence. The various forms of suffering can be categorised into three groups: i) the suffering of suffering (duhkhaduhkhatd), z) the suffering of change (viparinamaduhkhata), and 3) the suffering of pervasive conditioning (samskdraduhkhatd). The first category refers to all our physical sensations and mental experiences which are self-evident to us as suffering and towards which we have spontaneous feelings of aversion. The second category includes all our experiences which are normally recognised as pleasant and desirable, but which are nonetheless suffering in that persistent indulgence in these always results in the changed attitude of dissatisfaction and boredom. It is only through reflection that the unsatisfactory nature of such experiences can be realised. The third category refers to a basic level of suffering which underlies the round of birth, sickness, old age and death. This suffering serves as the cause of our experiences of the two other classes of suffering. It is called pervasive because it extends to all forms of life in cyclic existence, irrespective of whether or not life-forms are endowed with bodily existence. Suffering is identified as the first of the four noble truths (Skt. caturdryasatya), which were taught by Sdkyamuni Buddha in the course of his first discourse, and the entire path of Buddhism, embracing all its vehicles (ydna), may be seen as the ways of eliminating suffering, thus bringing an end to cyclic existence itself.
Sugata Family bde-bar gshegs-pa’i rigs, Skt. sugatakula A synonym for the Buddha family. See Buddha Family.
SukhavatI bde-ba-can-gyi zhing-khams
The western buddha field of ‘The Blissful’ is the pure realm presided over by the
buddha Amitdbha.
Supernormal Cognitive Power mngon-shes, Skt. abhijfid
Supernormal cognitive power is considered to be a by-product of advanced meditation, but similitudes of these powers are said to arise during the intermediate state of rebirth (srid-pa’i bar-do). Six powers are specifically enumerated: clairvoyance (lha’i mig-gi mngon-shes, Skt. divyacaksurabhijM); clairaudience (lha’i rna-ba’i mngon-shes, Skt. divyairotrdbhijnd); knowledge of the minds of others (gzhan-sems shes-pa’i mngon-shes, Skt. paracittdbhijiia); miraculous abilities (rdzu-’phrul-gyi shes-pa’i mngon-shes, Skt. rddhyabhijnd); knowledge of past lives (sngon-gnas rjes-su dran-pa’i mngon-shes, Skt. purvanivasdnusmrtyabhijnd); and knowledge that the flow of all corrupt past actions has ceased (zag-pa zad-pa’i mngon-shes, Skt. dsravaksaydbhijnd). Among these, the first five are said to be mundane powers, whereas the sixth is possessed by buddhas alone.
Supreme Assembly tshogs-chen
In this context, a synonym for Monastic Community.
Sutra mdo
The original discourses which Sdkyamuni Buddha taught publicly to his disciples as a fully ordained monk, consequent to his attainment of buddhahood. In the context of the three successive turnings of the wheel of the sacred teachings, the Buddha expounded respectively 1) the discourses on the doctrine of the four noble truths (Skt. caturdryasatya), z) the Perfection of Discriminative Awareness (Prajnd-pdramita), Ratnakuta and related sutras which emphasise signlessness, aspirationlessness and emptiness, and 3) the Nucleus of the Tathdgata (Tathdgatagarbha) and related sutras, as well as the Sutra of the Unravelling of Enlightened Intention (Sandhinirmocanasutra), which emphasise buddha nature and the thorough analysis of buddha attributes. Among these the first category is the corpus of the Lesser Vehicle sutras and the last two are the Greater Vehicle sMras. The scriptural transmissions of the sacred teachings of Buddhism comprise the canonical sutras and tantras, as well as their commentarial literature.
Sutrayana mdo-sde’i theg-pa
A term referring collectively to the first three of the nine vehicles when contrasted
with the six vehicles of the tantras. See also under Greater Vehicle.
Symbolic Lineage of Awareness Holders rig-’dzin brda’i brgyud-pa The lineage through which non-human and human awareness holders of the highest spiritual accomplishments symbolically receive the teachings from bodhisattvas of the tenth level. More specifically, this refers to the transmission of advanced bodhisattvas such as Mahjuiri, Avalokiteivara, and Vajrapdni who communicated with their respective disciples (gods, serpentine water spirits and mountain or sylvan spirits) by means of symbolic gestures rather than words. It also refers to the mode in which the earliest human progenitors of the Atiyoga lineage received and transmitted their highest teachings.
Tantra rgyud
The Sanskrit word tantra and its Tibetan equivalent rgyud literally mean a ‘continuum’ or ‘unbroken stream’ flowing from fundamental ignorance to enlightenment. Tantra has two basic meanings in Buddhism – it refers to the continua of ground, path and result, and to the literature or tantra texts which expound these continua in the context of the classes of tantra (see below). The former is the actual meaning of tantra. Through the continuum of the path (latn-gyi rgyud) the primordially present continuum of the ground {gzhi’i rgyud) is realised or fully manifested as the continuum of the result (’bras-bu’i rgyud). Because tantra includes sophisticated techniques which, unlike the sutra path, enable dissonant mental states, such as desire/attachment and hatred/aversion, to be transmuted into states of realisation, without renunciation or rejection, the practitioner can cultivate an uninterrupted continuum between the practitioner’s ordinary initial mind, the advanced mind on the path, and the resultant fully enlightened mind of the Buddha. In the Nyingma school the literature which expounds this dynamic is divided into a sixfold classification of the three outer tantras, namely: Kriydtantra, Ubhayatantra, and Yogatantra, and the three inner tantras, namely: Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga. These six classes represent stages of ever-decreasing emphasis on external ritual and ever-increasing subtlety of internal meditation together with an ever-increasing subtlety of the dissonant mental states, attachment in particular, that can be transformed into a blissful experience conjoined with the realisation of the actual nature of reality. It is said that on the basis of the fulfilment of the generation and perfection stages of the three inner tantras fully manifest buddhahood can be attained in a single lifetime.
Tathagata de-bzbin gshegs-pa
A synonym for buddha, used frequently in the sutras, which literally means ‘One Who Has Thus Gone’. The expression is interpreted in different ways, corresponding to the different classes of sutras and tantras, but in general it implies ‘one who has departed in the wake of the buddhas of the past’, or ‘one who has manifested the supreme enlightenment dependent on the reality that does not abide in the two extremes of existence and quiescence’.
Ten Directions phyogs-bcu, Skt. dasadik
The four cardinal and four intermediate directions, as well as the zenith and nadir.
Ten Opportunities ’byor-ba bcu
See Eight Freedoms and Ten Opportunities.
Ten Similes of Illusory Phenomena shes-bya sgyu-ma’i dpe-bcu The ten similes which illustrate the illusory nature of all things are: illusion (sgyu-ma), mirage (smig-rgyu), dream (rtni-lam), reflected image (gzugs-brnyan), a celestial city (dri-za’i grong-khyer), echo (brag-ca), reflection of the moon in water (chu-zla), bubble of water (chu-bur), optical illusion (mig-yor), and an intangible emanation (sprul-pa).
Terracotta Imprints tsha-tsha Small votive images moulded with clay fashioned in the form of miniature stupas or bas-relief meditational deities. They are usually empowered, in the context of appropriate rituals, and frequently interred within a larger stupa or kept by devotees as an object of veneration.
Third Empowerment dbang gsum-pa
The third of the four empowerments. See Four Empowerments.
Thirty-two Major Marks mtshan sum-cu-so-gnyis, Skt. dvatrimsanmahapuru- salaksana
See Major and Minor Marks.
Those Gone to Bliss bde-bar gshegs-pa, Skt. sugata
An epithet of the buddhas. The expression ‘those gone to bliss of the three times’ (dus-gsum bde-gshegs) refers to the buddhas of the past, present, and future, exemplified respectively by Dfpamkara, Sdkyamuni, and Maitreya.
Thread-cross tndos
In its simplest form a thread-cross can be two crossed sticks or a simple wooden frame (nam-mkha’) around which coloured threads (rgyang-bu) are arranged in a diamond or other more complex pattern. Thread-crosses vary in size and complexity depending on the type of ritual for which they are constructed. In essence, they represent a ‘trap’ for negative and malevolent forces, where the trap symbolises and is empowered with all the qualities that can satisfy the negative or malevolent force. Thus, the design of the thread-cross can closely mirror that of a stUpa or three-dimensional mandala and represent the purity of the psycho-physical aggregates, elemental properties, and sensory and mental processes, etc. On some occasions these complex thread-crosses can be enormous structures up to tens of feet high.
Three Buddha-bodies sku-gsum, Skt. trikdya
The Three Buddha-bodies comprise the Buddha-body of Reality, the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource, and the Buddha-body of Emanation. Jointly, they form the secret object of refuge. See their individual entries, and also under Refuge.
Three Levels of Existence srid-pa gsum, Skt. tribhava
The three levels of existence are those of celestial, terrestrial and subterranean beings.
Three Lower Existences ngan-song gsum, Skt. tridurgati See Lower Existences.
Three Poisons dug-gsum Attachment, aversion and delusion. See their individual entries.
Three Precious Jewels dkon-mchog gsum, Skt. triratna
The Three Precious Jewels comprise the Buddha (sangs-rgyas); the sacred teachings (Skt. saddharma, Tib. dam-pa’i chos); and the monastic community of monks and nuns (Skt. sangha, Tib. dge-’dun). Together these three form the outer objects of refuge (see Chapter 1). They are regarded as the perfect objects in which refuge can be sought from the unsatisfactory nature of life in cyclic existence in general, and particularly from the potential suffering of unfavourable future existences. They are called ‘precious jewels’ because, like the wish-fulfilling jewels of Indian classical literature, in their metaphorical sense, they possess the wish-fulfilling capacity to provide protection from the perils of cyclic existence. See their individual entries and also under Refuge.
Three Roots rtsa-ba gsum, Skt. trimula
The three roots jointly form the inner object of refuge, according to the tantras (see Chapter 1). They comprise the spiritual teacher (Skt. guru, Tib. bla-ma), who confers blessing (Skt. adhisthdna), the meditational deity (Skt. istadevatd, Tib. yi-dam lha) who confers accomplishments (Skt. siddhi); and the ddkinl (Tib. mkha’-’gro) who confer the actualisation of buddha activities (Skt. krtyakriyd). See their individual entries and also under Refuge.
Three Times dus-gsum The three times are those of past, present, and future.
Three Vehicles theg-pa gsum, Skt. triydna See Vehicle.
Three World-systems ’jig-rten-gyi khatns gsum, Skt. tridhdtu According to Buddhism, cyclic existence includes three world-systems, namely: the world-system of desire (Skt. kdmadhdtu), the world-system of form (Skt. rupad-hdtu), and the world-system of formlessness (Skt. dritpyadhdtu). Among them, the world-system of desire is a state of existence dominated by sensual experiences, particularly the sensations of suffering and pleasure. It is inhabited by all six classes of sentient beings, including humans and six categories of gods (kdmadevasatkula). The world-system of form, in which beings have a comparatively subtle level of consciousness, temporarily devoid of gross sensations of pain and pleasure, is regarded as a state beyond ordinary human existence and inhabited only by gods. Birth in such a realm requires the attainment of one or all of the four meditative concentrations (Skt. caturdhydna), in past lives. Abhidharma literature mentions twelve ordinary realms of form and five ‘pure abodes’ (pahcasuddhanivdsa), above them, where birth can be taken consequent on these four concentrations. Lastly, the world-system of formlessness is regarded as the highest level of rebirth within cyclic existence and a state where an individual’s physical faculties exist only as potencies and the individual functions only at the level of consciousness. It is said to be inhabited by those who have mastered the four formless meditative absorptions (Skt. catursamdpatti).
Torma-offering gtor-ma, Skt. naivedya/bali
Torma-offerings are cakes, usually made of dough and often decorated with colourful butter sculptures. Sometimes they, are embodiments of the meditational deities associated with particular ritual practices, or they may be food-offerings presented to various deities or protectors visualised in the context of meditation. Yet again, tortnas may act as physical symbols into which diverse aspects of negativity are absorbed, transformed, and removed through ritual practices.
Transcendent Lord bcom-ldan-’das, Skt. bhagavdn According to the Tibetan interpretation, the Sanskrit honorific term ‘bhagavdn’, which has often been translated as ‘Blessed Lord’, indicates a buddha who has: i) ‘destroyed’ (bcom) the four malevolent/beguiling forces (caturmdra) comprising the influence of the psycho-physical aggregates (skandha), dissonant mental states (klesa), sensual temptations and mundane death; 2) come to ‘possess’ (Idan) the six excellences (sadguna) of lordship, form, glory, fame, pristine cognition and perseverance; and 3) ‘transcended’ (’das) the sufferings of cyclic existence.
Transgressions nyes-byas, Skt. duskrta
The vows maintained by Buddhist monks and nuns include the avoidance of primary downfalls (Skt. dpatti) and secondary transgressions. The term transgression (nyes-byas) is used in a technical sense to refer to a whole host of secondary precepts in the context of the monastic vows of individual liberation (prdtimoksa), and in the context of the bodhisattva and tantric vows. The list of these transgressions differs according to the context. See Commitment, Pratimoksa and Vows.
Transmission lung, Skt. agama
The Buddhist sacred teachings (Skt. saddharma) comprise both experiential realisations (adhigama; Tib. rtogs-pa) and authoritative transmissions. The latter include both the oral teachings and sacred scriptures (Skt. pravacana, Tib. gsung-rab), imparted by the buddhas, as well as the associated commentaries or treatises (Skt. iistra, Tib. bstan-bcos), which have been transmitted in an uninterrupted lineage or succession from ancient times. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is regarded as essential that a transmission of both the text and its oral commentary is formally received from an authoritative lineage holder, if any significant spiritual experience is to be cultivated, since a mere theoretical understanding of these topics is not regarded as sufficient.
Transmitted Precepts bka’-ma, Skt. pravacana
From the perspective of the Nyingma school, the scriptures and oral teachings of Buddhism have been transmitted in two distinct ways: through the long oral lineage of transmitted precepts (ring-brgyud bka’-ma), which have been handed down from one generation of accomplished teachers to the next since ancient times, and through a close lineage of revealed teachings or treasures (nye-brgyud gter-ma), whose origin is more recent.
Treasure-finder gter-ston
An accomplished master holding an authentic lineage who successfully reveals a hidden treasure-text or sacred object, in accordance with the prophesies made by Padmasambhava or a specific concealer of treasure-texts. See under Treasures.
Treasures gter-ma, Skt. nidhi
The Sanskrit nidhi (Tib. gter-ma), translated in English as ‘treasure’ or ‘revealed teaching’ (gter-chos), refers to those sacred Buddhist texts and objects which were concealed in the past in order that they might be protected and revealed in the future for the benefit of posterity. The notion of the revelation of concealed texts as treasure is extremely ancient in India and China. Within Indian Buddhism, it is well known that the Perfection of Discriminative Awareness (Prajndpdramiti) sAtras were reputedly revealed when Ndgarjuna received them in the form of treasure from the serpentine water spirits (n&ga). A recension of the sddhana class oiMahd-yoga tantras, classified as gter-chos by Nyingma doxographers, is also said to have been revealed to eight great masters, including Nagarjuna, in the tltavana charnel ground near Vajrdsana. In Tibet, the tradition of the treasures was introduced by Padmasambhava and his students, who concealed texts and sacred objects at geomantic power-places in the landscape, entrusting them to their respective custodians or treasure-lords (gter-bdag) or to ddkinl for safe keeping, with the prediction that these would be discovered at some future time by a prophesied treasure-finder (gter-ston). Accordingly, it is believed that the students of Padmasambhava have continued to emanate in the form of treasure-finders in successive centuries in order to reveal these treasure-teachings. Other kinds of treasure-teachings revealed directly from the enlightened intention of buddha-mind in a telepathic manner (dgongs-gter), or in a pure visionary experience (dag-snang), are also recognised. There are many such lineages extant today, including that of the present text, and they are maintained mostly, but by no means exclusively, by the Nyingma school.
Treatise bstan-bcos, Skt. sdstra The term treatise (sdstra) in the Buddhist context generally refers to authoritative works written by accomplished masters elucidating the profound meaning of the Buddha’s scriptures (pravacana). Treatises are contrasted with scriptures (both siitras and tantras), the latter being attributed to the Buddha. See Kangyur and Tengyur.
Trichiliocosm stong-gsum ’jig-rten-gyi khams, Skt. trisahasralokadhdtu See Chiliocosm.
Trisong Detsen khri-srong Ide’u btsan
The thirty-eighth king of Tibet and son of King Tride Tsukten. Despite his accession to the throne at a tender age and the opposition of ministers who were Bon sympathisers he established Buddhism as the state religion of Tibet. He invited both Santaraksita and Padmasambhava to construct Tibet’s first monastery at Samye and to transmit the diverse Indian lineages of the vinaya, siitras and tantras. He became a realised practitioner of the tantras in his own right, under the guidance of Padmasambhava, and actively sponsored the education and projects of his highly organised translation teams. According to traditional accounts, it was King Trisong Detsen who requested Padmasambhava to give the teachings that are presented in our text. See Gyurme Dorje’s ‘Brief Literary History’.
Tulku sprul-sku, Skt. nirmdnakdya
In its philosophical and classical usage the term refers to the Buddha-body of Emanation. However, based on this concept of emanation, a different usage developed in Tibet following the inception of a tradition to formally recognise the incarnations of high spiritual teachers after their death. The first such tulku to be given formal recognition was Karma Pakshi, the second, Karmapa (12.04-83). Later, other important tulku institutions emerged, such as that of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, and the system of recognising successive generations of tulkus became commonly established throughout Tibet and the Himalayan region.
Turning of the Wheel of the [Sacred] Teachings chos-kyi ’khor-lo bskor-ba, Skt. dharmacakrapravartana
This metaphor refers to the promulgation of the Buddhist teachings by the Buddha and continues to be used metaphorically with regard to the teaching activity of successive lineage holders. The Buddha Sakyamuni is recognised to have promulgated three sequential ‘turnings of the wheel’. The association with the concept of a wheel derives from a comparison with the ‘wheel of sharp weapons’ said to be held in the hand of a universal monarch. Within the context of this comparison the sacred teachings are composed of ethical discipline (the central axis), analytic discriminative awareness (the sharp spokes) and meditative concentration (the sta-bilising perimeter). See also Sutra.
Tusita dga’-ldan
Tusita is the name of the fourth of the six god realms, which are said to be located within the world-system of desire (Skt. kdmadhatu). It is regarded as the current abode of the future buddha Maitreya.
Twelve Links of Dependent Origination rten-’brel bco-gnyis, Skt. dvddasanga-
pratttyasamutpada
See under Dependent Origination.
Twenty-four Power-places yul nyi-shu rtsa-bzhi, Skt. caturvimsatmahdsthdna The twenty-four power-places are the following regions of the ancient Indian subcontinent, which are associated with the tantras of the Cakrasamvara and Heruka classes: Jdlandhara, Oddiydna, Paurnagiri, Kdmariipa, Mdlava, Sindhu, Nagara, Munmuni, Kdrunyapdtaka, Devlkota, Karmdrapdtaka, Kulatd, Arbuda, Goddvarf, Himddrf, Harikela, Lampdka, Kdncl, Saurdstra, Kalinga, Kokana, Caritra, Koiala, and Vindhydkaumdrapaurikd.
Two Accumulations tshogs-gnyis, Skt. sambhdradvaya See under Accumulations.
Two Extremes mtha’ grtyis, Skt. antadvaya The two extremes of eternalism and nihilism. See under Eternalist and Nihilist.
Two Truths bden-pa gnyis, Skt. satyadvaya All Buddhist philosophical schools of thought formulate their ontology within the framework of the two truths, the conventional or relative truth (Skt. samvrtisatya, Tib. kun-rdzob bden-pa) and the ultimate truth (Skt. paramdrthasatya, Tib. don-dam bden-pa). However, the definition of the two truths differs according to their different epistemological interpretations. The Cittatndtra and Madhyamaka, the two Greater Vehicle schools of thought which emphasise the doctrine of the two truths, define the ultimate truth as a synonym of emptiness, the ultimate nature of phenomena, while the conventional truth is defined as the empirical aspect of reality as conventionally experienced through our perceptions. Such an aspect of reality is true only within the relative framework of our own veridical experiences. However, according to the various tantra vehicles there are increasing degrees of subtlety in the interpretation of the two truths.
Ubhayatantra gnyis-ka’i rgyud
Ubhayatantra, also known as Carydtantra, is the second of the three outer classes of tantra, which form one subcategory of the six classes of tantra, and the fifth of the nine vehicles, according to the Nyingtna school of Tibetan Buddhism. Ubhayatantra places an equal emphasis on both external ritual and internal meditation.
Ultimate Truth don-dam bden-pa, Skt. paramdrthasatya See under Two Truths.
Unique Seminal Point thig-le nyag-gcig
According to Atiyoga, this expression is a synonym for the Buddha-body of Reality.
For the range of meanings conveyed by the Tibetan term thig-le, see Seminal Point.
Universal Monarch khor-lo bsgyur-ba, Skt. cakravartin
In the context of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the concept of the benign universal monarch or emperor who rules in accordance with the law of the sacred teachings of Buddhism is one that has permeated Buddhist literature since the time of Aioka. Their appearance in the world is considered a unique and rare event, just as the appearance of a buddha is considered to be unique and rare.
Unsurpassed Yogatantra bla-med rgyud, Skt. Yoganiruttaratantra The highest among the four classes of tantra, the other three being: Kriyd, Caryd, and Yoga tantra. The differences between the four classes of tantra represent stages of ever-decreasing emphasis on external ritual and ever-increasing subtlety of internal meditation. Niruttara means ‘unsurpassed’ or ‘highest’ and it is in the Yoganiruttara tantras that the meditative techniques for realising the Three buddha-bodies are the most subtle and refined. There are two distinct phases in the dissemination of the Unsurpassed Yogatantras in Tibet, which are reflected in two differing ways of classifying them. According to the Nyingma school, the earlier phase of dissemination, they are classified into Mahdyoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga, whereas the later schools classify them into Father, Mother and Non-dual or Indivisible tantras.
Usnlsavijaya gtsug-gtor rnam-rgyal-ma
One of the three principal meditational deities associated with longevity practices and the subject of five principal dharani incarnations, Usnlsavijaya generally assumes a slightly wrathful appearance, with three faces (white, yellow and pale blue) and eight arms holding diverse symbolic implements. She is seated with her legs folded, in the indestructible posture.
Vaiduryaprabharaja sang-rgyas sman-bla
The Buddha of Medicine, the principal figure in the Buddhist medical tantras, who is regarded as the progenitor of the Four Tantras of Medicine (rGyud-bzhi). According to certain sources Sakyamuni Buddha is believed to have assumed a specific form when teaching the medical tantras and that aspect of the Buddha is called Vaiduryaprabharaja, the ‘King of Blue Beryl Light’. He is normally depicted in paintings as being blue in colour and holding in his left palm an alms bowl filled with the fruits of a medicinal plant, chebulic myrobalan. According to the lineage of the medical tantras, there are eight different aspects of the Medicine Buddha, of which Vaiduryaprabharaja is the foremost.
Vajra rdo-rje
In the sense of rdo-rje pha-lam (pronounced ‘dorje phalam’), this term means the diamond, literally ‘the sovereign among all stones’. In Buddhism however rdo-rje indicates the indestructible reality of buddhahood, which is defined as both imperishable (mi-gshigs) and indivisible (ma-phyed). The emblem symbolic of this indestructible reality is also known as rdo-rje or vajra. This is a sceptre-like tantric ritual object which is held in the right palm usually whenever playing a ritual bell. The sceptre symbolises skilful means and the bell discriminative awareness. Holding these together in the two palms represents the perfect union of discriminative awareness and skilful means. Vajra, also known as Pingald (dmar-mo), is the name given to the first of the six yoginl from the south, a subcategory of the twenty-eight Isvarl. See Appendix Two.
Vajra-brothers and sisters rdo-rje ming-sring
The most intimate of spiritual siblings (mched-grogs), with whom one shares
empowerments and commitments. See Spiritual Sibling.
Vajra Family rdo-rje 7 rigs, Skt. vajrakula
One of the five enlightened families (pancakula) into which the meditational deities of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource are subdivided. The deities of the Vajra family include the peaceful buddhas Aksobhya-Vajrasattva and Buddhalocana and the corresponding wrathful aspects Vajra Heruka and Vajrakrodhesvarl. See Appendix Two.
Vajra-master rdo-rje slob-dpon, Skt. vajrdcarya
The ‘master of indestructible reality’ who presides over empowerment ceremonies and the related ritual dances of the great means for attainment (Skt. mahasadhana, Tib. sgrub-chen), embodying the central meditational deity of the mandala.
Vajradhara rdo-rje ’chang
Vajradhara (lit. ‘vajra-holder’) is an expression of the Buddha-body of Reality, spontaneously arising from the pure, pristine expanse of inner radiance, in a form complete with all the characteristics of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource. Vajradhara is thus regarded as the root of all the five enlightened families and consequently he is also known as the lord of the sixth enlightened family. Many tantra texts and lineages attribute their origin directly to the Buddha-body of Reality – represented in the form of either Samantabhadra or Vajradhara. Other tantra texts and lineages claim that Vajradhara is a form assumed by Sdkyamuni Buddha when giving esoteric teachings on tantra. Vajradhara is said to become manifest when one has totally overcome all dualistic conceptions and actualised buddhahood. He is usually depicted as seated and holding a vajra and bell in his crossed palms.
Vajraklla rdo-rje phur-ba
One of the eight foremost meditational deities according to the ‘means for attainment’ class of Mahayoga. Vajraklla is dark blue in colour with three faces and six arms, the central pair of hands holding a ritual dagger (Skt. klla). Often the lower part of his body is also visualised in the form of a ritual dagger, the three facets of the pyramidal blade representing the transformation of delusion, attachment and aversion. Vajraklla is representative of the natural expression of buddha activity.
Vajrakumara rdo-rje gzhon-nu
An aspect of the meditational deity Vajraklla. See under Vajraklla.
Vajrapani phyag-na rdo-rje
The embodiment of the spiritual power (bala) and skilful means of all the buddhas as visualised in the form of a meditational deity. Vajrapani is generally depicted as being wrathful in aspect, holding a vajra in his right upraised hand and a skull-cup in his left. In peaceful form Vajrapani is also one of the eight male bodhisattvas among the forty-two peaceful deities. See Appendix Two.
Vajrasattva rdo-rje sems-dpa’
Vajrasattva, or in literal translation ‘the spiritual hero of indestructible reality’, has two principal forms. Firstly, in the context of the Guhyagarbha tantra, and related texts, he is identified with the peaceful male buddha Aksobhya-Vajrasattva. See Appendix Two. Secondly, in the context of the preliminary practices (sngon-’gro) of meditation, the recitation of Vajrasattva’s Hundred-syllable Mantra (yig-brgya) purifies negativities, obscurations, transgressions, and downfalls (see Chapter 1). In this latter context, Vajrasattva is visualised as white in colour, dressed in the silken garments and ornaments of a bodhisattva, and holding a vajra in his right palm close to the heart and a bell in his left hand close to the left side of his hip. Sometimes, both forms of Vajrasattva are integrated in a single practice, as in Chapter 5 of the present work, where practitioners first visualise the white form of Vajrasattva, before visualising the forty-two peaceful deities, including Aksobhya-Vajrasattva, within their hearts. As a lineage holder, Vajrasattva is credited with the transmission of Atiyoga into the human world, appearing in the form of the deva Adhicitta (lhag-sems-can) before Prahevajra (dga’-rab rdo-rje) in a vision. According to the Great Perfection, Vajrasattva is sometimes used synonymously to indicate the Buddha-body of Reality, and as such is identical to Samantabhadra.
Vajrayiina rdo-rje’i theg-pa
See Vehicle of Indestructible Reality.
Vehicle theg-pa, Skt. ydna
The term ‘vehicle’ suggests a dynamic momentum leading to the attainment of nirvana. Although from one standpoint there may be as many vehicles as there are thoughts arising in the mind, the sacred teachings are classified into distinct vehicles according to their power. Accordingly, the expression ‘two vehicles’ refers to the distinction between the Lesser Vehicle and the Greater Vehicle, the expression ‘three vehicles’ or ‘three causal vehicles’ refers to the vehicles of pious attendants, hermit buddhas and bodhisattvas. The division into ‘nine vehicles’, which corresponds to the Nyingma classification, includes the three causal vehicles of the pious attendants, hermit buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the six resultant vehicles of Kriydtantra, Ubhayatantra, Yogatantra, Mahayoga, Anuyoga (rjes-su rnal-’byor-gyi theg-pa), and Atiyoga (shin-tu rnal-’byor-gyi theg-pa).
Vehicle of Indestructible Reality rdo-rje’i theg-pa, Skt. Vajraydna The Vehicle of Indestructible Reality comprises, in the Nyingma classification, the six resultant vehicles of the tantras, so-called because the indestructible and imperishable realities of buddha-body, speech and mind are fully realised and manifested when the continuum of the ground is transformed into the continuum of the result by means of the continuum of the path. See under Tantra. It is also known as the Vehicle of Secret Mantras (Skt. Guhyamantrayana) because engaging in this path ensures the protection of the mind from dualistic perceptions and conceptions. See Mantra.
Vidyadhara rig-’dzin
See under Awareness Holder.
Vinaya ’dul-ba
The Sanskrit term vinaya, literally meaning ‘discipline’, refers to the monastic discipline maintained by members of the Buddhist community, including the ethical codes which regulate the life of fully ordained monks and nuns, as well as probationary nuns, novice monks and nuns, and male and female laity. The collection of Sakyamuni Buddha’s discourses which elucidate and define the principles of these ethical codes (including the administrative guidelines for running a monastery) is known as the vinayapitaka, which is one of the three primary collections of discourses comprising the Buddhist canon (Skt. tripitaka). Based on different interpretations relating to the subtler points of the Buddha’s discourses on vinaya, there emerged, in ancient India, several distinct schools, including the Sthaviravdda, Sarvdstivdda, Mahdsanghika and Sammitiya. The vinaya tradition which became predominant in Tibet is that of the Sarvdstivddins. See Vows and Pratimoksa.
Virtuous Action dge-ba, Skt. kusala
Both virtue and its opposite, non-virtue (Skt. akusala, Tib. mi-dge-ba) are defined in terms of both motivation and the consequences of the action. In order for an action to be defined as either virtuous or non-virtuous, there are certain prerequisite features which must be present. These are: motivation, the actual execution of the act, and the conclusion. An act is non-virtuous if it is: 1) motivated by negative intentions; 2) committed by the agent in a sane mind and with full knowledge; and 3) the person derives a sense of satisfaction from having accomplished the act. Such actions can be physical, verbal, or mental. Broadly speaking, non-virtuous actions are categorised into the following ten types: killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct (which are the three physical actions); lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, and meaningless gossip (which are the four verbal actions); and covetousness, harmful intent, and distorted views (which are the three mental actions). An act is considered virtuous if it either passively refrains from the ten recognised types of non-virtuous action, or actively engages in acts for the sake of others with an altruistic motivation.
Visionary Appearances snang-ba
According to the terminology of the Great Perfection, there are four successive visionary appearances experienced through the practice of All-surpassing Realisation (thod-rgal). These are: the visionary appearance of the direct perception of reality (chos-nyid mngon-sum-gyi snang-ba), the visionary appearance of increasing contemplative experience (nyams gong-’phel-ba’i snang-ba), the visionary appearance of reaching the limit of awareness (rig-pa tshad-phebs-kyi snang-ba), and the visionary appearance of the cessation of clinging to reality (chos-nyid-du ‘dzin-pa zad-pa’i snang-ba).
Vital Energy rlung, Skt. vdyu
In the tantras and related medical traditions, it is said that there are ten kinds of vital energy or subtle winds which flow through the 72,000 energy channels (Skt. nidi) of the body. These sustain life and include the energies which support various conceptual states within the individual’s mind. At the subtlest level, subtle mind and vital energy are thought of as a single entity. The ten kinds of vital energy comprise: five inner vital energies (nang-gi rlung Inga) which’influence the body’s inner motility, and five outer vital energies (phyi-’i rlung Inga) which have specific effects on the outward motility of the body. The former are the vital energies associated with the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, space) and their respective colour-tones (yellow, white, red, green, blue). The latter comprise life-breath (Skt. prdna, Tib. srog-’dzin), muscular movement (Skt. vydna), digestion (Skt. samdna), semiotic/vocal movement (Skt. uddna), and reproduction/waste disposal (Skt. apana). The movement of vital energy through the energy channels of the subtle body is refined in the context of the perfection stage of meditation. Ordinarily, in the case of individuals who have not cultivated such practices, both vital energy and subtle mind are diffused via the right and left energy channels and thereby come to permeate the entire network of the body’s minor channels. This dissipated vital energy is known as the vital energy of past actions (las-kyi rlung) because it is activated by dissonant mental states, and the influence of past actions predominates, obscuring the inner radiance of the subtle mind. However, when the practices of the perfection stage of meditation are applied, the knots which block their combined movement through the energy centres (Skt. cakra) located on the central energy channel are untied and both vital energy and subtle mind enter, abide and dissolve within the central energy channel of the body (Skt. avadhuti) and then the non-conceptual inner radiance arises, for which reason it becomes known as the vital energy of pristine cognition (ye-shes-kyi rlung). On a physical level, it is important, according to the Tibetan medical tradition, that vital energy remains in balance with bile and phlegm, which are collectively known as the three humours, if sound health is to be maintained.
Vows [of Buddhism] sdom-pa, Skt. samvara
Sets of precepts or injunctions voluntarily adopted in the course of Buddhist practice which facilitate an individual’s progress on the path to enlightenment. These include short-term vows, such as the one-day vows, lifelong vows, such as the monastic vows of a fully ordained monk or nun, and perpetual vows associated with the Greater Vehicle, which are to be maintained over a succession of lifetimes. All such vows may be subsumed within three categories: the monastic vows of the prdtimoksa, the special vows of the bodhisattvas, and the special commitments (Skt. samaya) undertaken by practitioners of the tantras. See Prdtimoksa and Commitment. The special vows of the bodhisattvas, exemplified by the Sutra of Akdsagarbha, extol that bodhisattvas must be careful to maintain their altruistic vows, expressed in the verses of the four immeasurable aspirations, and to avoid nineteen specifically enumerated root downfalls (Skt. mulapatti) and forty-six transgressions (Skt. duskrta). In all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the prdtimoksa and bodhisattva vows and the commitments of the tantras are fully integrated.
Vows of the Buddhist Laity dge-bsnyen-gyi sdom-pa See under Prdtimoksa.
Water Libation chu-gtor
A specific purificatory offering of water, the rites of which were introduced to Tibet
from India by Atisa during the eleventh century.
Way of Secret Mantras gsang-sngags[kyi theg-pa], Skt. Guhyamantraydna
The ‘way of secret mantras’ is a synonym for the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality (Skt. Vajraydna).
Wind rlung, Skt. vdyu See Vital Energy.
World-system ’jig-rten-gyi khams, Skt. lokadhdtu See Three World-systems.
Wrath drag-po’i las, Skt. maranakriyd
One of the four aspects of enlightened activity. The concept of wrath in the context of Buddhist tantra should not be understood in terms of even the subtlest egocentric violence or fierceness. Wrath here refers to the natural transformative process of buddha-mind, the aggressive natural transformation of the deep-seated conditioning which underlies mundane deluded consciousness and the concomitant psycho-physical aggregates, elemental properties, and sensory and mental processes. See Four Aspects of Enlightened Activity and Appendix Two.
Wrathful Deities khro-bo’i lha-tshogs See Appendix Two.
Yaksa gnod-sbyin
A class of spirits of Indian origin who assume both male {yaksa) and female (yaksint) forms. Frequently depicted as holding choppers, cleavers, and swords, they are said to inhabit mountainous areas and sylvan groves, and if propitiated in the context of a means for attainment (Skt. sadhana), they may confer the common accomplishment of swift-footedness. The Tibetan equivalent gnod-sbyin literally means ‘granting harm’, emphasising their more malign attributes.
Yama gshin-rje
See under Yama Dharmaraja.
Yama Dharmaraja gshin-rje chos-kyi rgyal-po
The embodiment of the forces of impermanence and the infallible laws of cause and effect. His fierce form is iconographically depicted holding the wheel of life’s rebirth processes (bhavacakra, Tib. srid-pa’i ‘khor-lo) within his jaws, indicating that the nature of cyclic existence is in its entirety bound by impermanence and the laws of cause and effect. In the context of the intermediate state of rebirth (srid-pa’i bar-do) he personifies the process of confronting in death the nature of one’s past life’s actions and, based on the natural laws of cause and effect, he personifies the process of ‘judgement’ that determines the consequential outcome of such past actions. See Chapters n and 13 and the Introduction. Yama Dharmaraja is also the sixth of the six sages (thub-pa drug), who form one subcategory within the assembly of the forty-two peaceful deities. See Appendix Two.
Yeshe Tsogyal ye-shes mtsho-rgyal
Padmasambhava’s innermost Tibetan consort who became accomplished in the mandala of Vajraklla. She compiled many of Padmasambhava’s oral teachings and concealed them throughout Tibet in the form of treasures (gter-ma) to be discovered by later generations.
Yoga rnal-’byor
The Sanskrit word yoga, literally meaning ‘union’, is interpreted in Tibetan to mean ‘union with the fundamental nature of reality’. In Buddhism, therefore, yoga refers to the methods through which the meditator unites with the qualities of the meditational deity in the context of the generation stage, and the nature of fundamental reality during the perfection stage, of meditation. In terms of the latter, it includes mental and physical practices, which refine the energy channels, and mature control of the vital energies and seminal points within the subtle body. These practices cultivate discriminative awareness, and the coalescence of emptiness respectively with the four delights, with inner radiance, and with non-conceptualisation.
Yogatantra rnal-’byor-gi rgyud
The third of the three outer classes of tantra, which form one subcategory of the six classes of tantra, and the sixth of the nine vehicles, according to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Yogatantra emphasises meditation, rather than external ritual, and here, the meditator progressively refines an identification with the meditational deity.
Yogic Exercises khrul-’khor, Skt. yantra
A series of vigorous exercises, including yogic jumps (’bebs), performed in conjunction with specific visualisations and breathing techniques, which enable the meditator to develop the physical flexibility necessary for the subtle meditative practices of the perfection stage of meditation.
Yogic Jumps ’bebs
See under Yogic Exercises.
Yogin rnal- ’byor-pa
According to the Tibetan definition, a yogin is defined as ‘one who seeks to unite with the fundamental nature of reality’. In other words, a yogin is one who intensively follows the spiritual paths outlined in the generation and perfection stages of meditation, as well as the Great Perfection.
Yogini rnal-’byor-ma
A female yogin. In the context of the present work, the term most frequently refers to the twenty-eight Isvarf who form one subcategory of the fifty-eight wrathful deities. See Appendix Two.