Glossary

Acharya: The Sanskrit term "Acharya" includes the root "char" or "charya" (meaning conduct). Thus it literally connotes "one who teaches by conduct ."

Adharma Buddha: The primordial Buddha, sometimes identified as Samantabhadra Buddha or Kuntuzangpoin Tibet, especially with the Nyingmas. The embodiment of enlightenment ("bodhi") or ultimate reality ("dharmakaya"). Although the Adharma Buddha has no form, this unchanging, all pervasive entity is often shown symbolically as a red sun on top of a yellow crescent moon. Sometimes referred to as the Adi-buddha.

Anuttarasamyaksambodhi: Supreme perfect enlightenment, that of a Buddha.

Anuttara-yoga-tantra: Is the highest or supreme of the four classes of tantra practiced in Tibet.

Amitabha Buddha (O’mi-tuo Fo): The red western Infinite Light Buddha with discriminating wisdom. One of the Five Transcendent Buddhas and the leader of Esoteric Buddhism. He is also the leader of the Pure Land Sect, but that is but a small part of his duties. Incarnated as Guru Padmasambhava shortly after Shakyamuni Buddha left this world and remained in this world until eighth century of the current era after he had established Buddhism in Tibet. In pictures of Amitabha in the Pure Land Tradition, Great Strength Bodhisattva (Mahàsthàmapràpta Bodhisattva) is often shown standing to the Buddha's right, while Bodhisattva Guan Yin (Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva)-- Amitabha's other constant companion -- stands to his left.

Arhat: Literally translates as worthy of offerings, without birth, and killer of thieves. An eminent monk or saint who has achieved a level of enlightenment, but is not a Buddha. One who has overcome outward manifestation of afflicting emotions, but who has not completely eliminated their psychic imprint. Although free of the cycle of birth and death, an Arhat is not fully enlightened. Also called a lohan,Venerable, the worthy, or foe-destroyer. This is the first stage of liberation or ending the cycle of birth and death and goal of the hinayana sects. The Arhat is said to be beyond both merit and demerit because, as he has abandoned all defilements, he can no longer perform evil actions; and as he has no more attachment, his virtuous actions no longer bear karmic fruit.

Atisha (982-1052): The eleventh-century Indian Buddhist scholar and saint, came to Tibet at the invitation of the king of Western Tibet, Lha Lama Yeshe Wo, and his nephew Jangchub Wo. His coming initiated the period of the "second transmission" of Buddhism to Tibet, formative for the Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Atisha's most celebrated text, entitled Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, sets forth the entire Buddhist path within the framework of three levels of motivation on the part of the practitioner. Atisha starts with bodhicitta, the altruistic mind of enlightenment, followed by taking the bodhisattva vows. Atisha's text thus became the source of the lamrim tradition, or graduated stages of the path to enlightenment, an approach to spiritual practice incorporated within all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva: The Bodhisattva of Compassion. Also known as Kuan Yin in China, Kannon or Kanzeon in Japan, and Chenrezi or Chenrezig in Tibet. Also called "Perceiver of the World's Sound." Actually an ancient Buddha by the name of Zheng Fa Ming or True Dharma Brightness Buddha who transformed into the Bodhisattva of Compassion so as to help living beings in this world. Manifests a wrathful form as Hayagriva, the Horse Head Vajra Deity. Currently incarnated as the Red Jewel Crown Regent Dharma King, Shamarpa Rinpoche.

Bodhi: A sanskrit term that literally means "awakened." In Buddhism is the understanding possessed by a Buddha regarding the nature of things. It is traditionally translated into English with the word enlightenment. This enlightenment is called "nirvana" or extinction. What is extinguished is our desires. Nirvana, in other words, is a state of non-desires. You will naturally become enlightened and enter into a state of liberation from the sufferings of the cycle of reincarnation when you have realized the states of morality, concentration and wisdom. This is a state wherein all obscurations have been removed from the mind, and one lives in unlimited compassion and wisdom.

Bodhichitta: It is the cause that will inevitably lead to enlightenment. It is all the mahayana dharma and the actual practice of that dharma based on vows of great compassion that help living beings become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. It is the mind of love in the holy sense that both holy (enlightened) and ordinary beings have. One of the eight fundamental right views of cultivation. There are two types: holy bodhichitta and worldly bodhichitta, but both are guided by the two sets of seven branches of bodhichitta. One’s attainment in the Buddha-dharma depends upon one’s level of bodhichitta. Literally the mind of enlightenment. The term “arouse bodhichitta” has several levels of meaning. For the unenlightened, it is a determination to become enlightened in order to liberate all living beings from samsara. However, in a deeper sense, bodhichitta means the enlightened mind, Buddha-nature, non-dual wisdom, or primal awareness. In the broadest sense it is ultimate truth.

Bodhimaṇḍa: (Sanskrit and Pali) a term used in Buddhism meaning the "position of awakening," or place where the essence of enlightenment is present. In many forms of Buddhism, it is believed that bodhimaṇḍas are spiritually pure places, or otherwise conducive to meditation and enlightenment. Different Buddhist sects often disagree on the location and significance of different bodhimaṇḍas. As one would expect, the southern Theravada tradition tends to emphasize the bodhimaṇḍas of the Indian subcontinent, while most northern Mahayana schools tend to venerate sites in China, Japan, and Tibet.

Bodhisattva: (pu-sa): Literally, “enlightenment being.” A holy being or saint who has become enlightened and who enlightens others, but is not yet a Buddha. Sometimes Buddhas will transform back into Bodhisattvas to help living beings. There are small and great Bodhisattvas based on the their determination or mind set to save living beings. If one does not have this mindset and uses a mundane mindset to view problems, then one is not a Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is a living being who possesses supernatural powers, such as the power to transform into other forms. He possesses wisdom, great compassion and great bodhichitta. He does not mind sacrificing himself for the benefit of all living beings. He teaches the Buddha-dharma to living beings so that they may become accomplished. In mahayana Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is a being who seeks buddhahood through the systematic practice of the perfect virtues (paramitas) but who renounces complete entry into nirvana until all beings are saved. A Bodhisattva is above the level of an Arhat. A Bodhisattva cannot be distinguished as being either male or female. Some Bodhisattvas are with you every day and may appear as an ordinary being.

Brahma: An ambiguous term used in Buddhism to mean different beings--either all of a certain class of devas or as a term for Mahabrama, the king of that devic realm. The Hindu religion has Brahma as the god of creation and use the term Brahman to describe the Supreme Cosmic Spirit, but this being is not recognized as such by Buddhists who do not believe in any form of “creator god” since all “created” or conditioned phenomena is the natural result of karma.

Buddha: Literally, “awakened one.” One who has attained complete enlightenment and is thereby released from the cycle of reincarnation (samsara). Such a one has removed all obscurations veiling the mind and has developed all of the virtues (paramitas) to perfection. “The Buddha” usually refers to Shakyamuni Buddha (muni means able one), the historic Indian Prince Siddhartha (566-486 BCE) of the Shakya clan (warrior class) born in what is now Nepal and who espoused the true dharma for 45 years in north-east India over 2,500 years ago. There are innumerable Buddhas, with Shakyamuni Buddha being a single example. A Buddha has three or four bodies and wisdom that is summarized as four or five truths. Since there can be only one Buddha in any given place and era, other Buddhas, who want to manifest in our world to help living beings, may transform into Bodhisattvas to do so.

Buddha-nature: The teachings that comprise the Third Turning of the Dharma Wheel, taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. The potential for becoming a Buddha is possessed equally by all sentient beings. The difference between a Buddha and an ordinary living being is that a Buddha has realized his or her Buddha-nature, while an ordinary being has not. It is often called the essence of Buddhahood or enlightened essence. Also called dharmakayaoriginal nature, original face, Tathagatagarbha. See "three turnings of the wheel of dharma."

Ch'an (Zen): Legend has it that this school started with Mahakasyapa, one of Shakyamuni’s ten key disciples and the convener of the “First Buddhist Council.” He is reported to be the only one who understood what the Buddha meant when the Buddha held up a flower and said nothing—that the direct experience of truth is not dependent on words or concepts. A form of Buddhist thought and practice that evolved in China, Ch'an lists Nagarjuna in its lineage and the Indian Bodhidharma as its founder and First Patriarch (6th century CE). Bodhidharma went to China in 526. Hui-neng (638-713), the Sixth Patriarch and an illiterate who was enlightened by hearing the Diamond Sutra, represents this school’s approach to “sudden” enlightenment and transmission of the truth outside of the scriptures. It must be noted however that Hui-neng was a high level incarnate bodhisattva. The early Zen masters did focus on the mahayana Lankatara Sutra which expounds the doctrine of “Mind-only” but stressed meditation. Ch'an is a transliteration of the Sanskrit term dhyana, meaning meditation, while Zen is the Japanese transliteration of Ch'an. Ch'an also integrated Buddhism with many of the Chinese indigenous systems of belief, most notably Taoism. The golden age of Ch'an in China ended over a thousand years ago when it became formalized and lost much of its vitality. It was exported to both Japan (as Zen) and Korea (as Son) in the 12th century where it is still one of their major schools. The practice today consists of extensive sitting meditation, ideally in a retreat or secluded environment. Early Chinese Chan did not encourage separate meditation, but assumed practice should be part of everyday life. The Japanese Soto School holds that just sitting or shikantaza is in itself enlightenment, while the Rinzai School uses the koan (kung-an) or unanswerable question to arrive at understanding of one’s original nature. Korean Zen is less formal than its Japanese counterparts and incorporates more chanting and sutra study with its meditation. It also uses the koan. Vietnamese Zen with its focus on mindfulness was popularized by the Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh and other masters. All of these forms are popular in the US. However, one cannot become a buddha by just following the practices of these schools since they only lead to the level of realizing the dharmakaya. They do not have techniques for realizing the other aspects of a buddha.

Completion Stage: Is one of the two stages of Anuttara yoga. The completion stage may also be translated as the perfection stage. The other stage of Anuttara yoga, which generally precedes the completion stage, is the generation stage. see Tantra

Dana: A Sanskrit and Pali term meaning "generosity" or "giving". In Buddhism, it also refers to the practice of cultivating generosity. Ultimately, the practice culminates in one of the Perfections (paramitas): the Perfection of Giving (dana paramita). This can be characterized by unattached and unconditional generosity, giving and letting go. See Dana Sutta.

Dependent Origination: see Samsara

Dharma: has three main meanings. It refers to the natural order or universal laws that underpin the operation of the universe. It also refers to the holy teachings of the Buddhas since these accurately describe and explain these laws so that individuals may live in harmony with them (the term is sometimes capitalized when used in this way). Dharma is also used to describe all phenomena, visible and invisible, including psychological processes and traits of character.

Dharmadhatu: Is the Realm of Truth, in which all things exist as they really are. Often symbolized through images of Manjushri Bodhisattva, the embodiment of prajna (transcendent wisdom). In the teaching of the Dharma, two realms are often cited: the Dharma realm, or Dharmadhatu and the Lokadhatu, or the everyday world. The two, although carrying within themselves an inference of difference, are core-equivalent: Lokadhatu is the world and Dharmadhatu is also the world, but in Lokadhatu everything is outside of everything else. Since the two realms, the lofty abode of the Buddhas and the true home of Bodhisattvas, as well as the sense-bound world of unenlightened beings, are one, the Paramita Path can be seen as the alchemical process of transmuting Lokadhatu into Dharmadhatu. The paramitas are virtues on the level of ordinary thought and action, but when fully understood they are revealed as transcendental powers which bring the two realms together in consciousness.

Dharmakaya: This aspect of a buddha represents the mind of a buddha or the truth of the universe and is experienced by those who obtain the direct realization of emptiness. It has no form, does not come or go, is boundless. It is sometimes also called the Truth Body. Synonymous with "enlightenment" or "original nature" or "sambodhi."

Diamond Sutra: "The Diamond Cutters Sutra," is a short Mahayana sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom genre, which teaches the practice of the avoidance of abiding in extremes of mental attachment. A copy of the Diamond Sutra, found sealed in a cave in China in the early 20th century, is the oldest known dated printed book, with a printed date of 868.

Dipankara Buddha: Also known as "Lamp Bearer" or "Maker of Light," this is the ancient Buddha from another world system who predicted that Shakyamuni Buddha would become a Buddha. He is the master of Shakyamuni Buddha and a manifestation of Dorje Chang Buddha. He is sometimes depicted wearing a robe of leaves.

Dzogchen: Highest dharma of Nyingma school of Tibetan buddhism.  Also called Atiyoga and the Great Perfection Dharma. Within this Dharma are methods for realizing the "rainbow body." From the perspective of Dzogchen, the ultimate nature of all sentient beings is said to be pure, all-encompassing, primordial awareness. This intrinsic awareness has no form of its own and yet is capable of perceiving, experiencing, reflecting, or expressing all form. It does so without being affected by those forms in any ultimate, permanent way. The analogy given by Dzogchen masters is that one's nature is like a mirror which reflects with complete openness, but is not affected by the reflections.

Eight-fold Path (marga): The Fourth of the Four Noble Truths, practices taught by the Buddha for those entering the path to nirvana (prajna) 1) Right View (samyag-drsti), 2) Right Intention or Resolve (samyak-samkalpa); morality (sila) 3) Right Speech (samyag-vac), 4) Right Action (samyak-karmanta), 5) Right Livelihood (samyag-ajiva); concentration (samadhi) 6) Right Effort (samyak-vyayama), 7) Right Mindfullness (samyak-smrti), 8) Right Meditation (samyak-samadhi). This is path is not a linear one, but one in which all of the eight factors are practiced simultaneously. It was later taught as the Three Principle Practices or Trainings of “morality, concentration, and wisdom.” Part of the thirty-seven branches or factors of enlightenment. See Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta.

Eight winds or worldly concerns: Eight situations that normally preoccupy and sway unrealized people. The eight winds are gain (labha); loss (alabha), honor or fame (yasas); disgrace or dishonor or infamy (ayasas), praise (prasama); ridicule or censure, blame or criticism (ninda); pleasure or happiness (sukha); and suffering or pain (duhkha). To be unmoved by the eight winds is a mark of a true practitioner. It is attachment to these eight winds through either desire or adversion that results in our suffering and continued rebirth in samsara.

Emptiness (shunyata): The teachings that comprise the Second Turning of the Dharma Wheel, taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. Wisdom that perceives reality directly without conceptual attachment. Lack of inherent existence of one’s own nature or the nature of any phenomena or person. The six great elements are intrinsically empty. They are not real. The past, present, and future cannot be held or possessed. Hence, the elements are empty. What happened in the past is not real since it has already passed. The present is also false because as soon as it appears, it becomes the past. The future has not even come yet, so it, too, is empty. see the Heart Sutra, Causality and Emptiness: The Wisdom of Nagarjuna.

Enlightened beings (shengren): This category of beings includes all beings who are not subject to the cycle of rebirth (samsara). Within this category there are many different levels: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, vajra beings, pratyekabuddhas, and arhats or lohans. 

Enlightenment (bodhi): A sanskrit term that literally means "awakened." In Buddhism is the understanding possessed by a Buddha regarding the nature of things. It is traditionally translated into English with the word enlightenment. This enlightenment is called "nirvana" or extinction. What is extinguished is our desires. Nirvana, in other words, is a state of non-desires. You will naturally become enlightened and enter into a state of liberation from the sufferings of the cycle of reincarnation when you have realized the states of morality, concentration and wisdom. This is a state wherein all obscurations have been removed from the mind, and one lives in unlimited compassion and wisdom.

Esoteric Buddhism: Represents both the open teachings of exoteric Buddhism and the secret teachings of the Buddha that are only available to those who have received proper initiation from a true Vajra Master. Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted these secret teachings to His son Rahula and the Shambala King, Suchandra. He continued to transmit them after His death to adepts who were able to receive them. It includes the five divisions of esoteric practice (mantras, mudras, visualizations, mandalas, and inner and outer tantra initiation or empowerment) and rituals as well as the sixth division of all the exoteric teachings. It is not true esoteric Buddhism if it does not include the teachings of exoteric Buddhism. It is sometimes referred to as Vajrayana Buddhism or tantra. It includes the Lineage of the Elders of the Hinayana, the Profound and Method Lineages of the Mahayana, and the Practices and Blessings Lineages that are unique to the Vajrayana. The Chinese form is called Chen-yen Tsung while the Japanese form is called Shingon. Tibetan esoteric Buddhism offers the highest forms of practice. see Tantra

Five Vidyas: Traditionally, the vidyas of ancient India are divided into the five major vidyas and the five minor vidyas (ten vidyas). The five major vidyas are the silpakarmasthanavidya (craftsmanship vidya), the cikitsvidya (healing vidya), the sabdavidya (sound vidya), the hetuvidya (causality or Buddhist logic vidya), and the adhyatmavidya (inner realization vidya). The five minor vidyas are rhetoric, ornate diction, prosody, dramaturgy, and astronomy. However, as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu has explained, these five major categories are much more complex and subtle than these headings would suggest. more

Four Jewels or Gems: The Master, the Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha.

Four Noble Truths: The teachings that comprise the First Turning of the Dharma Wheel, taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. The truth of suffering, the truth of the origination of suffering, the truth of cessation (nirvana), and the truth of the noble eight-fold path. These basic principles are expressed many ways in Buddhism. See the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta and Maha-Satipatthana Sutta

Freedoms and Advantages: The teachings on the freedoms and advantages, center around the means to have the opportunity to practice Dharma. more

Gampopa: (1079-1153) (Gang-bo-ba): Tibetan Dharma King from Drakpo who established the first Kagyu monastery and founded Kagyu-Drakpo School of Tibetan Buddhism. Disciple of Milarepa and teacher of Dusum Chenpa, the First Karmapa. Wrote The Jewel Ornament of Liberation (Lamrim). Currently incarnated as H.E. Goshir Gyalltsab Rinpoche.

Geluk (Gelug) Sect: One of the five major sects of Tibetan Buddhism founded in the 16th century. It came out of the efforts of Master Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 CE) to reform the monasteries and reestablish the true Buddha-dharma. The throne holder or abbot of Master Tsongkhapa's main monastery, Ganden, was recognized as the spiritual leader of the sect. In later years it became the most politically active of the five major sects with its secular head, theDalai Lama, being also the secular leader of Tibet since the 17th century. Its monks are celibate and subject to strict disciplinary rules. Known as the Yellow Hats or Yellow Sect to the Chinese.

Generation Stage: The generation stage is a meditative practice that engages visualization as a skillful means of personal transformation. It is one of the two stages of Anuttara yoga. The other stage of Anuttara yoga, which generally follows the generation stage, is the completion stage. see Tantra

Geshe: Title equivalent to a PhD in a Tibetan monastery. Geshe is the highest academic title one can attain in the Geluk Sect of Tibetan Buddhism with the title Larampa Geshe being a distinguished geshe. One must memorize a vast amount of Buddhist material and must pass certain debates before one can attain such title. It usually requires at least twenty years of study.

Hadas: See "khada"  

Heart Sutra: The essence of the Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra that is often chanted in many Buddhist temples.

Hinayana: Literally the lesser or lower path, so called because it holds as its goal the lesser goal of becoming an arhat and not a buddha. It is based on the literal words spoken openly while the Buddha lived in India. This approach emphasizes the first teachings of the Buddha which emphasized the careful examination of the mind and its confusion. This was the first wave of Dharma exported from India that became the dominant form in most of South-east Asia. Only the Theravada School survived which is often known in the West as vipashyana or Insight Meditation.

Icchantika: A class of beings who have cut off all their virtuous roots. The term is frequently used of those persons who seriously transgress against the Buddhist moral codes; and who speak disparagingly and dismissively of the Buddha and the Dharma.

Impermanence (anitya, wuchang): All conditioned dharma (phenomena) are subject to the processes of cause and effect and the four stages of arising, subsisting, changing and passing away. All sentient beings will die and all non-sentient beings will perish. The first of the eight fundamental right views of cultivation. Everything in this world comes into being through the occurrence of certain causes and conditions and passes away with the cessation of such causes and conditions. 

Jonang: In 1294 Kunpang Thukje Tsondru (1243-1313), a disciple of Choku Odzer and holder of the Dro lineage of the Kalachakra Tantra, settled in mountain caves in South Central Tibet in U-Tsang in a place called "Jomonang," starting the Jonang tradition. The most famous scholar of this school who developed the shentong view of extrinsic emptiness, Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361), arrived there in 1321. The shentong view was first articulated in Tibet by the Kalachakra yogi Yumo Mikyo Dorje (11th century), a disciple of the Kashmiri scholar Somanatha who along with the Tibetan translator Dro Lotsawa Sherab Drak translated the root tantra of the Kalachakra practice along with the main commentary Stainless Light from Sanskrit into Tibetan and brought the Dro lineage of the Kalachakra Tantra into Tibet.

Until quite recently, it was thought that this school no longer existed. The Fifth Dalai Lama, primarily for political reasons but under the excuse of doctrinal differences, tried to wipe out this sect in the seventeenth century. After the supreme head of the sect at that time, Master Jetsun Tarantha (1575-1641) died in Mongolia, the Jonang monasteries were consolidated into the Geluk system and many of the Jonang texts destroyed or confiscated. Master Tarantha reincarnated as Bogdo Zanabazar (1635-1723), the first Jebtsundampa, becoming the spiritual head of the Geluk lineage in Mongolia. However, those Jonang temples outside of the influence of the central government that were hidden in the mountains in remote areas of eastern Tibet remained and flourished. Some of the most powerful dharma kings in the world today belong to this sect. H. H. Dharma King Jigme Dorje Rinpoche is the current supreme head of the Jonang Sect. The 14th Dalai Lama has appointed the present Jebtsundampa Khutukhtu as the representative of the Jonang tradition in India and affirmed that the earlier suppression of the Jonang was based on political, not doctrinal considerations.

Although the Jonang Dharma King, Ngagwang Pedma Namgyal Palzangpo, has taught the Kalachakra practice in the USA, the Jonang teachings are still not widely known in the West. The Jonang Sect has preserved and holds the highest and most complete form of Kalachakra practice.

Joyous Effort: (samyak-vyayama) The four right efforts related to the sixth stage of the Eightfold Path (right effort). They are the efforts (1) to avoid; (2) to overcome; (3) to cultivate; (4) to foster. The first two items are aimed at avoiding and overcoming what is unwholesome, and the third and fourth are aimed at cultivating and fostering what is wholesome.

Kagyu: One of the five major schools or sects of Tibetan Buddhism, founded in the 11th century by Master Gampopa, a physcian from Drakpo, who was one of two principle disciples of Master Milarepa. Milarepa was a student of Marpa (1012-1097) who brought the core doctrines of this school from his master in India, Naropa (1016-1100). Naropa was the principle disciple of Tilopa (988-1069). This school has an oral tradition stressing the more mystical aspects of tantra. Its highest teachings are included in the “Mahamudra Dharma” which the Indian Mahasiddha Tilopa received directly from Dorje Chang Buddha. Also known as the Drakpo-Kagyu and as the Black Hats or White Sect to the Chinese. Includes the four major sects of Babrom, Tsalpa, Karma, and Phagdru Kagyu. The Phadru Kagyu included eight subsects of which the Drukpa, Drikung, and Taklung still exist as distinct lineages. They and the Karma Kagyu are the main lineages that have survived in this school, although there are still a few lineage holders in some of the other subsects. There are many Kagyu practitioners in this country, especially in the Drikung and Karmapa traditions.

Khada (hada or khata): These are gossamer silk scarves (usually white, but may be red, yellow, blue or green) presented to a Master by his disciples and also used at various times according to the ceremonial etiquette of Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism. They often contain woven designs such as the eight auspicious symbols.

Khenpo: The term khenpo (also spelled Khyenpo) is a spiritual degree given in Tibetan Buddhism. In the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Sakya traditions, the title is awarded usually after a period of 3 years of intensive study after secondary school level studies, and is considered much like a spiritual Bachelor's. In the Gelug tradition, the title khenpo refers to either a senior monk who ordains new monastics, or the abbot of a monastery. A comparable title in the Gelug lineage is Geshe.

Kuan Sher Yin:  This is another name for Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. These are Chinese names for Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. She is also called Perceiver of the World's Sounds. Kuan Yin Bodhisattva was originally depicted as male. From approximately the 10th century on, in China the figure of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva with feminine facial traits became predominant. For purposes of convenience, we use the word "she" or "her" to refer to Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. However, you should bear in mind that no Bodhisattva can ultimately be classified as being either male or female. She actually became a Buddha long ago. Her Buddha name is Zheng Fa Ming (Correct Dharma Realization) Tathagata.

Lama: General Tibetan term for spiritual teacher or guru. See also "rinpoche."

Lamrim: Teachings of the lamrim are based on the sutras that the Buddha taught and that the Buddha taught the short, middling and extensive wisdom sutra simultaneously. Texts cover much the same subject areas, however subjects within them may be arranged in different ways. The lamrim of Atiśa starts with bodhicitta, the altruistic mind of enlightenment, followed by taking the bodhisattva vows. Gampopa's lamrim, however, starts with the Buddha nature, followed by the preciousness of human rebirth. Tsongkhapa's texts start with reliance on a guru, followed by the preciousness of human rebirth, and continue with the paths of the modest, medium and high scopes.

Lotus Sutra: The Lotus Sutra presents itself as a discourse delivered by the Buddha toward the end of his life. The tradition in Mahayana states that the sutra was written down at the time of the Buddha and stored for five hundred years in a realm of nāgas. After this they were reintroduced into the human realm at the time of the Fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir. The sutra's teachings purport to be of a higher order than those contained in the āgamas of the Sūtra Piṭaka (collection of early Buddhist scriptures), and that humanity had been unable to understand the sutra at the time of the Buddha, and thus the teaching had to be held back. This sutra is known for its extensive instruction on the concept and usage of skillful means or perfection of a Bodhisattva, mostly in the form of parables. It is also one of the first sutras to use the term Mahāyāna, or "Great Vehicle", Buddhism.

Mahasattva: Great Bodhisattva.

Mahayana: The path or vehicle to become a bodhisattva. It is one of the two general divisions of Buddhism, the other being hinayana. It is the tradition of Buddhism practiced in northern Asia, China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet and the Himalayan regions. The Mahayana practitioners’ motivation for following the Dharma path is principally their intense wish for all sentient beings to be liberated from suffering and its causes. To this purpose, the goal of the mahayana is the attainment of the supreme enlightenment of Buddhahood. The open path consisting of the practice of the six paramitas (perfect virtues) or paramitayana and vajrayana, the secret mantra or adamantine vehicle (tantra), are the two great vehicles of the mahayana.

Maitreya: The next buddha who is currently living in the Tushita Heaven, but who manifests from time to time to teach living beings. Based on his vows and merit, he will transform this earthly realm into a world of saints similar to the “Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss.” Living beings who have a karmic connection with him will become his citizens, see this Buddha, hear the dharma, and attain enlightenment. Name literally means The Loving One. His current incarnation is Dharma King Trulshik Rinpoche of the Nyingma Sect. See the book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III for a more detailed biography and H.H. Trulshik Rinpoche's commentary on the accomplishments of His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu.  See Shurangama Sutra, "Five Treatise of Maitreya." 

Mandala: This term can mean different things, but it is generally used to refer to the Buddhist altar area where tantra initiations are performed. It can also be a type of offering or a formal diagram or construct used in the practice of tantra. It has other meanings such as those associated with the dharma methods relating to inner and outer mandalas and certain states of realization.

Manjushri Bodhisattva: The Bodhisattva of Wisdom who manifests from time to time to teach living beings. An ancient Buddha who is known as the guru or teacher of seven Buddhas and is sometimes depicted as wielding a sword of wisdom that cuts through illusion. His bodhimanda is Wu Tai Mountain, one of the four sacred mountains in China. His name means "Wonderful Virtue" or "Wonderful Auspiciousness." He is the foremost in the universe when it comes to wisdom. Current nirmanakaya incarnation as H.H. Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya Sect. Other famous manifestations include Sakya Pandita (1182-1251), Longchen Rabjampa (1308-1364), and Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419).

Mantra: The Sanskrit word 'mantra', contains the root 'man' which means 'to think' and the syllable 'tra' which means 'tool'. Thus, mantra is a 'tool for thinking'. Sometimes mantras are defined as 'protectors of the mind'. 'Mind' here refers to all six consciousnesses i.e., eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mental consciousnesses, which are to be freed, or protected, from the ordinary world. The recitation of mantras is a very important part in tantric practice, as it is used to transform the speech as part of transforming our body, speech and mind into the respective pure aspects of a Buddha. Like with other tantric practices, they only become really effective after oral transmission from a teacher. see Tantra

Mara: Literally means "the killer." As a specific being, he is often called "Mara the Evil One" or the "non-liberator" since he appears as the opponent of liberation. Actually Mara is a Bodhisattva whose job is to test living beings, especially those who are on the path to Buddhahood. He and his demon followers are emanations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who test those engaged in self-cultivation. He appears in the texts both as a real being (i.e. as a deity who is the King of Demons of the Paranirmita Heaven, the sixth and highest heaven in the desire realm) and as a symbol of everything that hinders the arising of wholesome roots and progress on the path of enlightenment. This includes the internal difficulties encounterd by the practitioner. There are four kinds: 1) skandha-mara or incorrect view of self; 2) klesha-mara or being overpowered by negative emotions; 3) matyu-mara or death that interrupts the spiritual practice; and 4) devaputra-mara or becoming stuck in the bliss that comes from meditation.

Medicine Buddha: See the Merits and Original Vows of Tathagata Medicine Guru with Lapis Lazuli Light Sutra

Nagarjuna: Famous Indian Dharma King, founder an exponent of the Mādhyamika (Middle Way) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Scholars generally place him in South India during the 2nd century CE. He is best known in the West for his writings on emptiness, especially as set forth in his most famous work, the Madhyamika-shastra (“Treatise on the Middle Way,” also known as the Mulamadhyamakakarika, “fundamental Verses on the Middle Way”). In several of Nagarjuna's works he defended the Mahayana sutras as the authentic word of the Buddha. He compiled an anthology, entitled the Sutrasamuccaya (“Compendium of Sutras”), consisting of passages from 68 sutras, most of which were Mahayana texts.  Nagarjuna is particularly associated with the Prajnaparamita (“Perfection of Wisdom”) sutras in this corpus. According to legend, he retrieved from the bottom of the sea a perfection-of-wisdom sutra that the Buddha had entrusted to the king of the Nagas (water deities) for safekeeping. Nagarjuna also composed hymns of praise to the Buddha and expositions of Buddhist ethical practice. 

Nagas: One of the eight types of celestial beings. Chinese term means dragon. Non-human being not normally visible to humans. Nagas usually live in the oceans of the world. They are very powerful, some being benevolent and some malevolent. Their upper half is said to be human while their lower half serpent. Virupaksa is their king. When a thunderstorm broke out, a naga king, Mucalinda, came and protected the Buddha while he was meditating in Bodhgaya. This is the significance of the art depicting a hooded cobra poised over the Buddha. It was to the nagas that the Buddha entrusted the great prajnaparamita and other teachings. The great Dharma King Nagarjuna was so named because he is said to have gone to the land of the nagas to retrieve certain of these scriptures. His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III has said that 70% of the Buddha-dharma possessed by Shakyamuni Buddha can be found at the Palace of the Naga King. His Holiness also told us that while living on this earth 2500 years ago Shakyamuni Buddha only transmitted 30% of the Buddha-dharma He possessed.

Nine Stages of Mental Development: Meditation through cultivating the nine stages of mental development, ultimately leads to the highest form of concentration, with total absence of mental distraction and mental dullness. Once the individual reaches the highest form of mental concentration, they can remain in a meditative state, for hours, weeks or months without breaking the meditation session. This highest form of mental concentration has the capacity to sustain the body. According to Buddhist metaphysics there are four things that have the potential to sustain our gross human physical body: Gross material food, sleep, meditation or samadhi, and smells. See the "Perfection of Concentration" by Geshe Rabten Rinpoche

Nirvana: The state of liberation from the suffering of cyclic existence. The goal of spiritual practice in all branches of Buddhism. However, the concept of nirvana differs in hinayana, mahayana, and vajrayana Buddhism.

Nyingma Sect: One of the five major sects of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded by Master Shantarakshita and Master Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Also called the ancient school, as it is the oldest of the four major Tibetan sects.They are known as the Red Hats or Red Sect to the Chinese. Dzogchen is the highest dharma of Nyingma school, also called Atiyoga and the Great Perfection Dharma. Within this Dharma are methods for realizing the "rainbow body."

Paramita Path (also known as the six paramitas or six perfections): They are generosity (dana), moral discipline (sila), patience (ksanti), energy or vitality or diligence or effort (virya), concentration (dhyana or samadhi), and wisdom (prajna). These represent the fundamental practices of mahayana Buddhism. They are the virtues perfected by a Bodhisattva in the course of his or her development. The exoteric or open mahayana path is also called the paramita path and usually takes eons to complete. However, no matter what particular school of vajrayana Buddhism one may belong to, one must still constantly practice the six paramitas as is done on the open path.

Pabongka: (1878-1941): Dharma King of the Geluk Sect who wrote Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand (Lamrim). His root Guru or Spiritual Guide was Dagpo Lama Rinpoche. Pabongka received his formal spiritual education at Sera Mey Monastery, where he studied hard to be a Geshe.  According to Ribur Rinpoche "Dagpo Lama Rinpoche would teach him a Lam-rim topic and then Pabongka Rinpoche would go away and meditate on it. Later he would return to explain what he’d understood: if he had gained some realization, Dagpo Lama Rinpoche would teach him some more and Pabongka Rinpoche would go back and meditate on that. It went on like this for ten years."

Pratyekabuddhas: (pratyekas or paccekabuddha): This term refers to one who attained the goal of enlightenment without the help of a guru in that lifetime, and who remains in seclusion and does not teach the dharma to others. They are also known as Solitary Realizers, Solitarily Enlightened Ones or Private Buddhas. They can also be known as those “Enlightened to Conditions” (became enlightened by means of the twelve links of dependent origination). This is not as virtuous a state as that of a Bodhisattva who out of a compassionate concern for others is motivated to teach the path of liberation to others. Disliking bustle, the pratyekabuddha teaches the Dharma with his silent body, displays various miracles, and realizes the result of a self-realized victor arhat. This type of being is not a true Buddha. Pratyekabuddhayana refers to the vehicle of the pratyekabuddhas.

Pure Land: Like Ch'an this form of Buddhism also originated in 6th century China within the Profound or Wisdom Lineage of Nagarjuna. This school focused on the practitioner reciting the name of Amitabha and having faith that he/she would be reborn in the Western Paradise where more favorable conditions exist for obtaining enlightenment. It was based on the assumption that conditions were not suitable and the practitioners were not capable of achieving enlightenment in this lifetime. It has as its scriptural foundation the various Pure Land sutras including the Sukhavatvyuha Sutra. It was exported to Japan in the 12th century. It was one of the first forms of Buddhism to come to North America, being brought here by the Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. It is also a growing practice in the US.

Refuge: Taking refuge means turning toward and relying upon the Three or Four Jewels, as your standard for living in the world. more

Reincarnation: Reincarnation only happens in two ways. In one, you voluntarily comes back and in the other you will reincarnate according to your karma, you do not control what or who you come back as. As a noun, it refers to a system of recognizing certain individuals as reincarnations of famous lamas or tulkus that began in Tibet with the first Karmapa (1110-1193). The system has been corrupted over time with much misinformation currently being dispersed. 

Rinpoche: As used in Tibet, literally means “precious guru” or lama and is usually applied to tulkus (reincarnated lamas). However, not all rinpoches are tulkus nor are all lamas considered rinpoches. A rinpoche is someone who saves living beings, carries out the responsibilities of a vajra master (acharya), educates people, expounds the dharma, and has been recognized as such by an appropriate source. Rinpoches are venerated by their disciples since they are authentic embodiments of the Buddhas’ teachings. The Chinese use the term “Living Buddha” or "Huo-Fo" to refer to rinpoches who represent the power of the Buddha-dharma and who may be reincarnations of previous rinpoches, but the literal translation of the Chinese term itself is not really valid.  If there are “living” buddhas, there must be “dead” buddhas as well, which is not correct. It is a term coined during the Qing Dynasty by Empress Dowager Tsu Hsi (1834-1908). The term "Huo-Fo" is more correctly translated to mean guru or lama. Actually the term Rinpoche has two meanings. It refers to a holy one who has come back by choice, but it can also refer to a an ordinary lama who has achieved the level of Rinpoche Master in a given lifetime. A true rinpoche has been certified as such according to the rules of the Tibetan dharma.

Rontong view: A view of emptiness that the Buddha taught in the second turning of the wheel at Vulture Peak, which maintains that voidness is devoid of inherent existence as contrasted with the “shentong view,” which maintains that voidness in indivisible from luminosity or the essence of wisdom. The rontong view is held by most Geluks who view it as the definitive teaching of the Buddha on emptiness.

Sakya: This Tibetan school, founded in 1073, has a hereditary leadership within the Khon family with married lamas and leaders, but it traces its Buddhists roots back to the eighth century to one of the seven original monks ordained by Master Shantarakshita. Its highest teachings include the “Hevajra Dharma” which was transmitted to the Indian Mahasiddha Virupa by Nairatmya, the consort of Hevajra Buddha who is the wrathful form of Akshobhya Buddha. In the eleventh century Drokkmi (992-1074) went to India from Tibet to receive these teachings which he transmitted to the first Khon patriarch, Konchok Gyalpo (1034-1102). Its most famous leader was Dharma King Sakya Pandita (1182-1251) who along with his nephew, Drogon Chogyal Phakpa or Choegyal Phagpa (1235-1280), were instrumental in converting the Mongolians to Buddhism. The Sakya School was politically influential in Tibet during the 13th and 14th centuries. Although it was the smallest of the four major Tibetan schools, it also has many groups established in the West with its main temple located in Walden, New York. H. H. Sakya Trizin Ngawang Kunga (1945-) is the current supreme head of the school. The leadership of the school has alternated between two branches of the Sakya clan with the head of the other branch, H. H. Dharma King Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (1929-) living in the USA. There are two main sub-sects, the Tsar, that was headed by the late H. E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, and the Ngor, headed by H. E. Luding Khen Rinpoche. H. H. Sakya Trizin's sister, H. E. Jetsun Chimey Luding, and H. H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya's wife, H. E. Dagmo Kusho Sakya, both have centers and disciples in North America as well.

Samadhi: A state of mental absorption in meditation. Above the level of the desire realm, there are eight levels of worldly samadhi. The first four levels are the four dhyanas of the form realm. The next four levels are the four samadhis of the formless realm: Boundless Space, Boundless Consciousness, Nothingness, and Neither with Nor without Perception.

Sambhogakaya: is the subtle or bliss body of a Buddha that is only visible to great adepts (Bodhisattvas) and sometimes referred to as the bliss or reward body. The various Buddhas use their sambhogakaya form to communicate the Dharma to select audiences of Bodhisattvas and celestial beings (devas). In tantric Buddhism it is considered to be the equivalent of the speech vector of a Buddha's activities. The sambhogakaya beings do have form, but of a different type than of the nirmanakaya that is visible to most humans.

Samsara: Conditioned existence of ordinary life in any of the “six realms of existence.” Literally means "going around" as a wheel in motion. Used to describe the endless cycle of birth and death sustained by desire (greed), anger (hatred), ignorance (delusion), and the power of karma. It is contrasted to “nirvana.” see Twelve links of Dependent Origination, Maha-nidana Sutta, Mahaparinirvana Sutra.

Sentient Beings: Sentient beings is a term used to designate the totality of living, conscious beings that constitute the object and audience of Buddhist teaching. Translating various Sanskrit terms (jantu, bahu jana, jagat, sattva), sentient beings conventionally refers to the mass of living things subject to illusion, suffering, and rebirth (Saṃsāra). Getz (2004: p. 760)

Shakyamuni Buddha: is the Buddha of our time. He was born between 566-563 BCE, into the Shakya clan in Lumbini in what is now Nepal. His parents were King Suddhodana and Queen Maya. He is the historical founder of what came to be known as Buddhism. King Suddhodana invited a Brahmin who was conversant with the three Vedas to name the child. He named the child Siddhartha (meaning “one whose aim is accomplished”). Siddhartha Gautama was the worldly name of the Buddha. Gautama was his family name. Shakyamuni, his name after he became a buddha, means "Sage of the Shakyas." Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment at the age of thirty-five years. The location where He became enlightened is Bodhgaya in present-day India. For forty-five years after He became enlightened, He preached the dharma and saved living beings. At the age of eighty, between two sala trees in the city of Kusinagara, He entered nirvana. more

Shariputra (Sariputra or Sariputta): The chief disciple of the Buddha who was second only to the Buddha in his understanding of the Dharma. Older than the Buddha, he died shortly before the Buddha. Some of the Sutras were taught by Shariputra (Devadaha Sutta) as per the instructions of the Buddha. He was also a lifetime friend of the other chief disciple of the Buddha, the Venerable Mahamaudgalyana. Ven. Shariputra and Ven. Mahamaudgalyana were born on the same day. He was the brother of Maha-Cunda Thera and the nephew of Mahakaushthila. Before he became a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha he was a very powerful heretic possessing very great skills. His stupa still stands at Nalanda.

Shentong view: View of "other-emptiness" developed by Jonang Sect based on the Buddha's Third Turning of the Wheel on Buddha nature that developed into teachings of the Yogachara School in India. The 11th century tibetan Kalachakra yogi Yumo Mikyo Dorje, a disciple of the Kashmiri scholar Somanatha, was one of the earliest articulators of this view of the absolute radiant or luminous nature of reality. The great Jonang scholar and practitioner Dolpopa wrote the main text, Mountain Doctrine: Tibet’s Fundamental Treatise on Other Emptiness and the Buddha Matrix. This view is not held to be orthodox by Geluks, but essential to understanding of higher tantras practiced in other sects. In contrast to the “rontong” or self-empty view which maintains that emptiness is devoid of inherent exhistence, the shentong view maintains that emptiness is indivisible from “luminosity” or contains the essence of wisdom which we also know as our Buddha Nature. Also referred to as zhentong.

Shila or sila: Sanskrit for morality, which can also be translated as moral discipline or moral practice. It is abstaining from all unwholesome actions.

Shri Devi (Palden Lhamo): Only wrathful female dharmapala of the “Eight Guardians of the Law.” She rides sideways on a white mule, over a sea of blood, sitting on the flayed hide of her son who was an enemy of Buddhism.

Six Paramitas: Also known as the six perfections or qualities that a Bodhisattva perfects in the process of becoming a Bodhisattva. They are generosity (dana), virtue (moral discipline or sila), patience (ksanti), energy or exertion or courage (virya), concentration (dhyana or samadhi), and wisdom (prajna). One of the “wholesome dharmas” that produces good “karma.” See the Vajrasamadhi Sutra.

Six Realms of Existence: Sentient beings continually transmigrate to the various realms of existence known as samsara. The human realm is not the only realm that is open to us. Depending on your karma, you can also take birth as animals, hell-beings or hungry ghosts (preta). You can also take rebirth in the higher realms as devas (gods) or other celestial beings, but this is not a permanent state and when your good karma expires (and you don’t normally generate more good karma in those realms), you have to return to the lower realms to pay off your karmic debts. 

Skandha: Sanskrit for aggregates, which according to Buddhist thought, the five skandhas sum up the whole of an individual’s mental and physical existence. The self cannot be identified with any one of the parts, nor is it the total of the parts. They are: (1) matter, or body, the manifest form of the four elements—earth, air, fire, and water; (2) sensations, or feelings; (3) perceptions of sense objects; (4) mental formations; and (5) awareness, or consciousness, of the other three mental aggregates. 

Tantra: Tantra is the secret or esoteric part of Buddhist practice. It is often referred to as the vajrayana or Diamond Path. It is also used as a term for the secret scriptures or esoteric writings. These secret teachings of the Buddha, when followed correctly, provide a more rapid means to achieve enlightenment. Dorje Pa Mu explains that although tantra includes the highest dharma within the Buddha-dharma, you should not consider it to be superior or that the exoteric Buddhism practiced by other sects should be considered a low level of dharma. The Buddha-dharma is not divided into high and low as comparisons. All 84,000 dharma methods came into being in response to the different innate faculties of living beings. The Buddha-dharma has only one truth no matter how it is expressed.

Tantric initiations: There are two general types: outer tantra and inner tantra. Inner tantric initiations can only be performed by a vajra master who can successfully unify with the awesome spiritual power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to come to the mandala and participate in the ceremony. Any initiation where this does not occur can only be called an outer tantra initiation. There are tests that must be passed that demonstrate one's abilities to perform these types of initiation. There is also the category of secret or supreme tantra which is even higher.

Three spheres, triloka (sometimes referred to as three realms): The three spheres or worlds into which thesix (or eighteen/ nineteen or twenty-five) realms of existence are divided. These three spheres are as follows: (1) the material sphere of desire where sexual and other forms of desire predominate. Within this sphere are the hell realm, the animal realm, the preta realm, the human realm, the asura realm, and the first six levels of the heavenly realm. The sixth heaven is the highest heaven in the material or Desire Sphere (Kamaloka). This sphere is the lowest of the three spheres that constitute the universe. (2) The sphere of desireless corporeality or form where desire for sexuality and food falls away, but the capacity for enjoyment continues. This sphere is inhabited by the gods dwelling in the four dhyana (meditation) heavens. (3) The immaterial sphere of bodilessness or formlessness, which is a purely spiritual sphere. The inhabitants of this sphere are free from both desire and the restrictions of matter. It has four non-substantial heavens.

Three turnings of the wheel of dharma: The 84,000 dharma methods are sometimes grouped into three categories that relate to three ways in which the Buddha explained the Dharma: The First Turning of the Wheel, which represents his early teachings to the sravakas at Deer Park in Sarnath on the Four Noble Truths and other elements of the Pali Canon that formed the hinayana doctrine; The Second Turning of the Wheel at Vulture Peak in Rajagrha, Bihar, India, which taught the doctrine of emptiness and became known as the prajnaparamita discourses; and The Third Turning of the Wheel taught at Shravasti, which focused on Buddha-nature and the Tathagatagarbha doctrine that formed the basis of the Yogachara school. The two later categories of teachings were for bodhisattvas and beings from other realms and not generally understood at the time by the human disciples. There is also the fourth turning of the wheel of dharma that relates to the transmission of the secret or esoteric doctrine both by Shakyamuni Buddha while He was alive and the later transmission to very advanced practitioners. 

Trichiliocosm: A concept found in Mahayana Buddhism in which the universe is said to be comprised of three thousand clusters of world-systems each of which consists of a thousand worlds.

Tripitaka: represents the teachings of the Buddha; also regarded as the Buddhist canon or scriptures. Literally, the Tripitaka means the three baskets. The first basket, the Vinaya-pitaka, contains accounts of the origins of the Buddhist order of monks and nuns as well as the rules of discipline regulating the lives of monks and nuns and is primarily concerned with the teaching of morality. The second, the Sutra-pitaka, is composed of the discourses of Shakyamuni Buddha and his eminent disciples and primarily teaches samadhi or concentration. The third, consists of commentaries or shastras including the Abhidharma-pitaka, a compendium of the extracted and systematized philosophy implicit in the teachings and primarily teaches wisdom or prajna. The Pali, Chinese and Tibetan collections are organized somewhat differently. For example, the Pali Canon only contains the Abhidharma and does not include other commentaries or the mahayana sutras, while the Tibetan Canon is divided into the Kanjur (vinaya, sutras, and tantras) and the Tenjur(commentaries).

Tsongkhapa Zong-kaba (1357-1419): Tibetan Dharma King and founder of Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. A manifestation of Manjushri Bodhisattva, he came to this world to correct the errors that had evolved from earlier transmissions.

Vajrayana Buddhism: Secret and more advanced aspects of mahayana that include all of exoteric Buddhism, including hinayana Buddhism.

Venerable Vimalakirti: the famous holy layman (5th-6th BCE-??) from the great city of Vaishali was the first incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha into this world. He demonstrated amazingsupernormal powers and taught Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples the Bodhisattva Path of the Mahayana and why it was superior to the Hinayana Path of the Arhat. He focused on the explication of the meaning of nonduality and expounded the doctrine of emptiness or Sunyata in depth--eventually resorting to silence. The sutra also demonstrates that monks should not per se be considered superior to the laity. The Buddha recognized that all four types of disciples--monks, nuns, lay men and lay women--could become accomplished.

Wheel of Life Bhavachakra (Twelve Link of Dependent Origination): This was and is an important tool to teach the essential teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha had it painted as a gift to a local king and ordered that it be placed at the entrance to all places where the Dhapainted ma was taught. See the Maha-nidana Sutta.

Vidyas: Traditionally, the vidyas of ancient India are divided into the five major vidyas and the five minor vidyas (ten vidyas). However, as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu has explained, these five major categories are much more complex and subtle than these headings would suggest. To think of them as just five items or categories would be incorrect. We would be wrong in our understanding of the five vidyas. Vidyas is an ancient Indian word that is used in many different contexts to mean different things. Taken literally, it represents the opposite of ignorance which is a-vidya or darkness. You might say that vidya then represents the essential truth of everything or all that is bright and good. Venerable Akou Lamo Rinpoche in H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III states it very clearly: "Everything in the universe can be classified into five aspects of brightness and darkness. To develop everything that is good in the universe and that benefits living beings is classified as 'bright.' That which confuses and is evil is classified as 'dark.' This is the real meaning of the Five Vidyas of which the Buddha spoke." More

Yama, King: Bodhisattva assigned by the Buddhas to rule the ghosts and hell realms, but he must not be thought of as the King of the Ghosts, because he is a Bodhisattva and ghosts are ordinary beings. He resides in the Suyama Heaven, the third heaven of the Desire World. Also considered a dharma protector and as one of the “Eight Guardians of the Law” and one of the ten dharma protectors in the Lineage of Dorje Chang Buddha III.

Yogachara (Method Lineage): The second of the two great mahayana schools in India and based on the Third Turning of the Wheel of Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings. It was founded by Dharma King Asanga (4th century) who was taught directly by Maitreya. With his half brother, Vashubandhu, Asanga established the Method or Extensive Lineage (The Vast Bodhisattva Way). It is also known as the “Mind-Only” or Citta-matra School and formed the foundation for the T’ian T’ai (Tendai) and Fa-hsiang schools in China as well as the Great Perfection and Mahamudra Dharmas in Tibet. The Samdhrinirmoncana Sutra is one of the Yogachara School's major scriptures.

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