AMITABHA BUDDHA: one of the five Dhyana-Buddhas, the Buddha of Boundless Light, and discriminating wisdom.

AVALOKITESHVARA: The compassionate Bodhisattva of mercy.

BARDO: An intermediate state following on death, and before the aggregates of the individual take re-birth. It is usually considered to last for 49 days. The Tibetan Book of the Dead explains the Bardo teachings.

BHIKSHUNI: Another term for an ordained Buddhist nun.

BODHICITTA: The enlightened mind, often associated in practice with the thought of enlightenment, or seed of Buddhahood.

BODHISATTVA: one without ego, who works to liberate all sentient beings.

DHARMA: Doctrine of the Buddha, also the Law.

DHARMAKAYA: The Logos, Truth itself. The primordial ground of all appearance understood as shunyata. The all embracing ground of consciousness.

GAMPOPA: Lineage teacher of the Kagyu sect. A pupil of Tilopa, the poet. A renowned scholar and founder of the Kagyu school, and Karmapa lineage.

GELONGMA: An ordination which gives a nun the equivalent status as that of the monk. The gelongma ordination comes through a line of Zen teachings.

HINAYANA: The Lesser Vehicle. The orthodox form of Buddhism as established in the lifetime of Gautama Buddha. The Hinayana claims never to have left the true doctrine, which is set forth in the Pali Canon.

KAGYU SECT: A Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Marpa, the translator, in the eleventh century. The sect emphasises the oral or "ear-whispered" transmission.

KARMA GATHERER: one who naturally can help others by their own actions.

MAHAMUDRA: The Great Symbol. An ultimate meditation practice in which all experience is transmuted into transcendental knowledge combined with skilful means.

MAHAYANA: The Great Vehicle, the schools of Buddhism that followed on the reform of the Hinayana between 100 A.D. and 200 A.D. It embodies the bodhisattva idea. The realisation of shunyata, or voidness is emphasised in the Mahayana Schools. Its doctrines derive from the Sanskrit version of the Buddhist canon.

NIRMANAKAYA: The historical Gautama Buddha is a manifestation of the Nirmanakaya. An earthy form of a Buddha, or Bodhisattva.

NIRVANA: A state achieved following the experience of enlightenment.

NYINGMAPA SECT: The original sect of Tibetan Buddhism founded by Padmasambhava.

PADMASAMBHAVA: The Founder of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet itself, in the middle of the eighth century. He established the Nyingmapa sect, known as the ancient ones.

PHOWA: The doctrine of the transference of Consciousness at death as taught by the Siddha Naropa, and connected with Six Yogas of Naropa.

PRATYEKABUDDHA: one who meditates to achieve enlightenment for himself alone.

SAMADHI: 0ne pointed meditation free from all clinging to experience and sensory perception.

SAMATHA MEDITATION: The development of "one pointedness" of mind. Concentrated and calm stage of mind.

SAMBHOGAKAYA: A blissful form of Buddha activity pertaining to the bodhisattvas, which inspires ordinary people to strive for Buddhahood.

SAMSARA: The world as perceived by ordinary people, and generally considered unsatisfactory.

SUKHAVATA: The blissful paradise of the Buddha Amitabha. 

SHUNYATA: Emptiness. Voidness. The ultimate reality.

TANTRA: A spiritual system that uses all circumstances to achieve ultimate reality.

TARA: A compassionate mother goddess, known generally in a Green or White form.

VAJRAYANA: The Way of the Vajra. Tibetan Buddhism is known as the Adamantine path, the short path to enlightenment.

VAJRAYOGINI: An important and fierce female deity of the Kagyu Sect.

VIPISSANA MEDITATION: "Insight" or "awareness" of the mind. The quality of examination of mind.

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