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Term Definition
four noble truths

The subject of Buddha's first turning of the wheel of Dharma. The truths of suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path to the cessation of suffering as seen by an arya.

Gelug (Tib)

The Virtuous Order. The order of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Lama Tsongkhapa and his disciples in the early fifteenth century and the most recent of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Developed from the Kadam School founded by Atisha and Dromtönpa. Cf Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya.

Gelugpa (Tib)

A follower of the Gelug tradition.

Mandala (Skt; Tib: khyil- khor)

A circular diagram symbolic of the entire universe. The abode of a meditational deity.

Mandala offering

The symbolic offering of the entire purified universe to the spiritual teacher (guru) and the visualized merit field.


Positive imprints left on the mind by virtuous, or Dharma, actions. The principal cause of happiness. Accumulation of merit, when coupled with the accumulation of wisdom, eventually results in rupakaya. See also the two accumulations.

Middle way

The view presented in Shakyamuni Buddha's prajñaparamita sutras and elucidated by Nagarjuna that all phenomena are dependent arisings, thereby avoiding the mistaken extremes of self-existence and non-existence, or eternalism and nihilism. Cf Madhyamaka.

Ngagpa (Tib)

A lay tantric practitioner.

Nyingma (Tib)

The old translation school of Tibetan Buddhism, which traces its teachings back to the time of Padmasambhava, the eighth century Indian tantric master invited to Tibet by King Trisong Detsen to clear away hindrances to the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. The first of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Cf. Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug.

Nyingmapa (Tib)

follower of the Nyingma tradition.


OM MANI PADME HUM (Skt) The mani; the mantra of Chenrezig, Buddha of Compassion.


The eighth-century Indian tantric master mainly responsible for the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet, revered by all Tibetan Buddhists, but especially by the Nyingmapas.

Puja (Skt)

Literally, offering; a religious ceremony, usually used to describe an offering ceremony such as the Offering to the Spiritual Master (Guru Puja).

Ratnasambhava (Skt)

One of the five Dhyani Buddhas, yellow in color, representing the purification of the feeling aggregate and the wisdom of equality.


The door to the Dharma path. Fearing the sufferings of samsara, Buddhists take refuge in the Three Jewels with the faith that Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have the power to lead them to happiness, liberation, or enlightenment.

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