Ta’er Si (Kumbum): One of the six most important Geluk monasteries in Tibet. It was originally built in 1560 upon the birth place of the founder of the Gelukpa Sect, Je Tsongkhapa. The present Dalai Lama, now in exile in India, also studied and lived here.
Tagara: A fragrant powder obtained from a particular kind of shrub.
Tang Dynasty: A period in China from 618-907 CE during which Buddhism flourished .
tantra (mi-xu): Secret teachings of the Buddha that when followed correctly provide a more rapid means to achieve enlightenment. The term is used to describe both the practices themselves and the scriptures or texts used in vajrayana practices. The four classes are Action (kriya) Tantra, Performance (carya) Tantra, Yoga Tantra, and Highest Yoga (anuttarayoga) Tantra. The term is also used in English to mean the whole system of tantric practice, but this is more correctly referred to as mantrayana or vajrayana. See “vajrayana Buddhism” and TANTRA.
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. Each cagtegory has many “dharma methods.”
Tara: One of the many ancient buddhas who can help living beings on their evolutionary journey to buddhahood. She is also known as the Savioress for her work in helping those in trouble or in need. It is said that she came into being from the tears of Avalokiteshvara (Kuan Yin) Bodhisattva who wept out of compassion for the suffering of living beings and their unwillingness to let go of that which caused their suffering. When she was a devout and accomplished princess, some monks approached her and suggested that because of her level of attainment she should next pray to be reborn as a male to progress even further. At this point she lets the monks know in no uncertain terms that from the point of view of Enlightenment it is only “weak minded worldlings” who see gender as a barrier to attaining enlightenment. However, she sadly noted that there have been few who wish to work for the welfare of beings in a female form. She then resolved to always take a female form, until samsara is no more. Ekajati is a form of Tara.
Tarantha: Famous Jonang Dharma King who lived from 1575-1641. Very prolific writer famous for his historical works on Buddhism and the tantras of the sarma or new translation period, especially the Kalachakra Tantra. He was friendly with the Mongolians.
tathata: true suchness.
Tathagatha: Refers to one who has attained supreme enlightenment. It is one of the ten epithets or titles of the Buddha, which he himself used when speaking of himself or other Buddhas. Literally means “thus comes one” or “thus goes one.”
Tathagathagarbha doctrine: Literally means “Buddha Womb/Buddha Matrix” or “Buddha Embryo” This notion is explained by the Buddha at thethird turning of the wheel and in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra to refer to the “True Self” or “Essence of the Self” within all sentient beings – the unconditioned, boundless, nurturing, sustaining, deathless and diamond-like Self of the Buddha, which is indiscernible to worldly, unawakened vision, as a result of conceptual obscurations, inappropriate mental and behavioural tendencies and unclear perception. See “Buddha-Nature.”
ten dharma protectors: The Dorje Chang Buddha Lineage Refuge Treeincludes Lion Vajra, Kalachakra, Ekajati, Vajrakilaya, Yamataka,Chakrasamvara, Hayagriva, Mahakala, Yama, and Guhyasamaja. See “dharma protectors.”
ten dharma realms: The six realms of existence plus the four holy realms of the buddhas, bodhisattvas, pratyekabuddhas, and arhats. Sometimes the term dharma realm is used to connote only the four holy or supramundane realms beyond existence or samsara.
ten directions: The four cardinal points (North, South, East, West), the four intermediary ones (NE, SE, SW, NW), the zenith, and the nadir.
ten fetters: See “The Four Stages on Becoming an Arhat.”
ten good characteristics or virtues (dasa-kusala-karmapatha) are transmitted as part of the refuge ceremony. They are practiced by all on any of th five vehicles. Also referred to as the Ten Meritorious Deeds. See “punya,” the Janussonin Sutta and the Saleyyaka Sutta.
Ten Great Disciples: See disciples.
ten great vidya rajas: Knowledge kings who are vajra deities who are capable of destroying all obstacles.
ten indeterminate questions: See “questions.”
ten kinds of sentient beings: eggborn, womb-born, water-born, or born of transformation; whether having form or formless; whether having thought or no thought; whether neither having thought nor no thought.
ten powers of a buddha: See “dasa-bala.”
ten names of a buddha: 1) Tathagata; 2) One Worthy of Offerings; 3) One of Proper and Universal Knowledge; 4) One Perfect in Clarity and Practice; 5) Well Gone One; 6) One Who Understands the World; 7) Unsurpassed One; 8) Great Regulator; 9) Teacher of Gods and People; 10) Buddha, World Honored One.
ten shramanera precepts (dasa-sila):These are the ten basic prohibitions binding on monks and nuns. They are (1) not killing; (2) not stealing; (3) not engaging in prohibited sexual activity; (4) not engaging in wrong speech; (5) not drinking, serving, or dealing in intoxicants or taking substances that befuddle or numb the mind; (6) not eating after noon; (7) not participating in or avoiding music, dance, plays, and other entertainment; (8) not using perfumes or ornamental jewelry for adornment; (9) not sleeping on raised beds or having other luxuries; and (10) refraining from coming into contact with money or other valuables. They are so named because they are the first precepts taken by novice or shramanera monks. This list are the precepts according to the Theravadan tradition. They vary slightly in the various traditions but all are intended as to help eliminate the three root causes of greed, hatred, and illusion. The first five may be taken by the laity. The first eight may be observed by the laity on special occasions.
ten vidyas (rik-ne or rig gnas) : Includes the five major vidyas of craftsmanship, healing, sound, inner realization, and causality (logic) as well as the five minor vidyas of rhetoric (the use of language to persuade or influence as in debate), the study of ornate diction, prosody (the study of the forms and structure of poetry), dramaturgy (skill in the dramatic arts), and the study of astronomy (Tibetan astrology).
Theravada: Literally, the lineage of the elders; The only survininghinayana school of Buddhism that is followed in many countries in South-east Asia including Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
thangkas: Complicated, sacred Tibetan wall hanging containing a painted, embroidered, or appliquéd central panel and an elaborate multi-colored brocade textile mounting. It also usually has a silk cover and streamers that can be drawn up to reveal the picture or lowered to conceal it as appropriate. It is used in tantric practice or ceremonies. The form allowed nomadic lamas to travel with these iconographic images and hang them in tents for teachings and ceremonies in remote regions.
Thangpa, Geshe Langri (1054-1123): A prominent monk of the Kadampa school who founded the Langri Thangpa monastery, situated to the northeast of Lhasa. He is the author of the famous Kadampa text: “Eight Verses for Training the Mind” (blo sbyong tshigs brgyad ma).
Tharchin Rinpoche, Lama: The tenth lineage holder of the Repkong Ngakpas, a non-monastic master of Dzogchen and shaman-yogi who trained with H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche. Established the Vajrayana Foundation in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California to establish theDudjom Tersar lineage in the west. See DISCOURSES.
Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, H.H.: Eldest son of H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche(1904-1987).
thirty-one planes of existence: See “Seven Jewels.”
thirty-seven branches or factors of enlightenment (bodhi-pakshana or bodhipakshika-dharma): Literally this means those things pertaining to enlightenment. They include the prerequisites for the attainment of enlightenment and for those on the hinayana path they include the entire doctrine of the Buddha. They are: four applications or foundations of mindfulness (smrty-upasthana), four right or perfect efforts (samyak-prahana), four bases of psychic power or roads to power (riddhi-pada), five roots or controlling factors or dominants (indriya), five powers (bala),seven limbs (factors or branches) of enlightenment or awakening (bodhyanga), eight-fold path (marga). These plus the five sciences (vidya), six superknowledges (abhijna), and eighteen emptinesses (sunyata) are the supramundane dharmas that are followed by saints or holy ones.
thirty-six currents of craving: The three cravings — for sensual pleasure, for continued existence, and for annihilation — in relation to each of the twelve bases — the six sense organs, including mind, and their corresponding objects.
three bodies of a buddha (san-shen): The three bodies or trikaya are the nirmanakaya or emanation (physical) body which can appear in many forms to save living beings; the sambhogakaya is the subtle or bliss body that is only visible to great adepts and sometimes referred to as the reward body (linked to the speech vector); and the “dharmakaya” or truth or absolute body which represents the mind of the Buddha or the truth of the universe and is experienced by those who obtain the direct realization of emptiness. The fourth or svabhavikakaya is the essential body, the aspect of inseparability of the other three bodies. Sometimes there is also mention of an even more supreme and complete fifth body, the great happiness or bliss-wisdom body. Also sometimes the sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya are combined and referred together as the form body or rupakaya.
Three Comprehensive Pure Precepts: Also known as the Three Bodies of Pure Precepts, Three Kinds of Pure Precepts, Three Groups of Purifying Precepts, three Cumulative Precepts. They are three groups of precepts that form the basis for all Bodhisattva practice: (1) Do not what is evil. (2) Do what is good. (3) Be of benefit to all sentient beings.
Three Gems or Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. What one takes refuge in when one becomes a Buddhist. In esoteric Buddhism one takes refuge in the Four Jewels with the master being the fourth who represents the other three and through whom the power and blessings of the lineage passes.
three gradual stages: The first is to correct one’s habits by getting rid of the aiding causes; the second is to truly cultivate to cut out the very essence of karmic offenses; the third is to increase one’s vigor to prevent the manifestation of karma. See “Shurangama Sutra.”
three great matters: Cause, effect, and consciousness. These three matters are void and nonexistent basically. They are neither the self as they are devoid of nature nor are they the True-Self or Buddha-nature. See the Vajrasamadhi Sutra.
three insights are: (1) The insight into the mortal conditions of self and others in previous lives, (2) the insight into future mortal conditions, and (3) the insight into present conditions of suffering so as to overcome all passions and temptations
three karmas: All of one’s bodily actions or conduct, all of one’s verbal actions or speech, and all of one’s mental actions or thoughts–the three vectors of karmic action. See “karma.”
three kinds of enlightenment: Enlightenment of self (basic), enlightenment of others (initial), and the perfection of enlightenment and practice (ultimate). See “enlightenment.”
three marks of existence: impermanence (aniccasaññ?); suffering (dukkha); and non-self (anatta).
three noble truths: The first is called the path of bodhi. This is the noble truth of equality as bodhi-nature is inherent in all sentient beings. It is not a truth about inequality. The second truth is called the noble truth of wisdom attained through great enlightenment. It is not deviated-truth of other pathways. The third truth is that noble truth accessed through the simultaneous cultivation of wisdom and concentration. This truth is not accessed by practising them lopsidedly. Anyone who cultivates these three truths along the path to buddhahood, will not fail to attain the great enlightenment. Accessing the wisdom of the great enlightenment, one exudes extremely great compassion, benefiting both one’s self and others, and attains the bodhi of the Buddhas. See the Vajrasamadhi Sutra.
three poisons: greed, anger or hatred, and ignorance. See “defilements.”
three principal aspects of the path: (1) renunciation (nihsarana); (2) bodhichitta; and (3) correct view (samyakdrsti)
three principle practices or trainings (trisidsa): In exoteric Buddhism they are morality (the precepts), concentration (meditation or samadhi), and wisdom. In esoteric Buddhism they are represented as faith, vows, and practice or action, the latter being the tantric rituals as well as the three trainings of exoteric Buddhism.
three spheres, Triloka (sometimes referred to as three realms or dhatus): The three spheres or worlds into which the six (or eighteen/ nineteen, twenty-five, or thirty-one) realms or planes 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 as one still has a material form, however, of a much finer level than experienced in the desire realm. 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 methodsare 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 Canonthat formed the hinayana doctrine; The Second Turning of the Wheel atVulture 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 onBuddha-nature and the Tathagatagarbha doctrine that formed the basis of the Yogachara school. The two later categories of teachings were forbodhisattvas 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 oresoteric doctrine both by Shakyamuni Buddha while He was alive and the later transmission to very advanced practitioners. Actually the phrase “Turning of the Wheel of Dharma” has a more complex meaning than this that relates to the work of Vajrasattva Mahasattva. The normal explanation given here is but a part of its meaning.
tong len: A meditation practice promulgated by Atisha and recorded by Chekawa Yeshe Dorje in which one takes on the negative conditions of others and gives out all that is positive including all of one’s happiness.
transformation body: See “nirmanakaya.”
transmigration (zhuansheng): To pass into another body or life-form. See “cycle of birth and death.”
transitions: See “Holy Manifestations.”
Trayastrimsa (Tavatimsa) heaven: Heaven of the thirty-three gods. The Buddha visited there for three months in the seventh year after his enlightenment in order to teach the Abhidharma to his mother who had been reborn there. It is said to be located atop Mt. Sumeru and its king is Sakra (Indra). It is the highest heaven that maintains contact with the rest of our world. Beneath it is the first heaven of the four great kings and the lesser celestial beings.
Trichen (trizen): Title given to elder son in Tibet. The “Khenchen” is the younger brother.
Trinlay Thaye Dorje: One of the two contenders for the position ofBlack Jewel Crown Karmapa.
Tripitaka (San Zang) 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 theTenjur (commentaries). See “DHARMA-Tripitaka” and “Chart Comparing the Pali, Chinese, and Tibetan Canons.”
true void and wonderful existence (true emptiness and transcendental existence): Another Chinese idiom (zhen-kong-miao-you). The concept of emptiness reveals that all phenomena arise from causes and conditions, and they have no permanent characteristics, but change from time to time instantaneously. If all phenomena are characterized by the nature of emptiness, then emptiness must constitute the absolute and all-embracing nature of existence (i.e. True Suchness). This is a subtle relationship between “true emptiness” and “wonderful existence”. All mental and physical distinctions that we perceive or conceive in our mind must be part of a single underlying unity, (the True Suchness). From this point of view, death and rebirth is in the end identical with “nirvana,” and affliction is the same as enlightenment, etc. It is one of the important concepts in Buddhism. It is difficult to understand because our mind always makes differentiation and distinctions in the phenomenal world through the senses. Also translated as “usages that arise from Buddha-nature.”
truth body: See “dharmakaya.”
truth, ultimate: see “ultimate truth.”
Tsang Nyon Heruka (1452-1507): Crazy yogin who wrote The Life of Milarepa. Known as the “Madman of Tsang” for his outrageious “deliberate behavior” that he practiced to wake people up to their own craziness.
Tsar Sub-sect Sakya School: Headed by H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche (1920-2007).
Tsongkhapa (1357-1419) (Zong-ka-ba): Tibetan Dharma King and founder of Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. A manifestation ofManjushri Bodhisattva, he came to this world to correct the errors that had evolved from earlier transmissions.
Tsultrim Gompo: An incarnation of Khungpo Naljor who compiled the teachings of the Shangpa into a text that is available to whoever is connected karmically to the lineage. Represents the seventh generation of the lineage.
tulku: Tibetan term for great lamas who reincarnate to continue teaching their followers and who usually leave instructions on how find them in their new births. Only the first person in a line of reincarnations is the actual “tulku,” but the term is applied more broadly. See also “nirmanakaya” and “rinpoche.”
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-1996): Popular Tibetan master of both the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages and the main holder of the rare BabromKagyu lineage. Prolific author whose works include his autobiography,Blazing Splendor, and Rainbow Painting.
tummo: Advanced form of tantric practice; Tibetan term for “inner fire.” See discourse on kalachakra.
Tushita Heaven: One of the six heavens of the desire sphere. See “31 Planes of Existence.”
twelve categories of beings: See “Shurangama Sutra.”
twelve links in the chain of conditioned arising: See “dependent origination.”
two truths (satyadvaya, dvisatya, den pa gnyi): The relative truth that is the world as we normally experience it and the ultimate or absolute truth. See also “conventional wisdom” And “ultimate truth.”
two vehicles: The paths of the “sravaka” and pratyekabuddha. Sravaka is a name given to the early disciples who heard the teachings of the Buddha and by practicing them sought to become Arhats.Pratyekabuddha literally means “solitary awakened one.” It refers to one who has attained enlightenment on his own and did not have a master or guru in the lifetime in which he became enlightened and that he was only concerned about his own salvation rather than that of others.
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