A list of several recurring terms and concepts in the texts. These are explained in a succinct manner so as to give the reader a basic understanding of these concepts.

Arhat: ‘One who has overcome the foe’ – namely one who has overcome the foe of disturbing conceptions and attained liberation from a cyclic existence.

Avalokiteshvara: The ‘lord of the word’, the name of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Bodhisattva: A being, who having developed the Awakening mind, devotes their life to the task of achieving Buddhahood for all sentient beings.

Buddha: One who is totally purified from all defilements and has realised all that can be known.

Conditioned Existence (Samsara): Existence conditioned by disturbing conceptions and tainted actions; the same as cyclic existence.

Dakini: A form of being somewhat similar to a fairy or nymph. Some exist within this cyclic existence and others are free from it.

Deceptive Truth: This term refers to all existent phenomena other than emptiness – everything apprehended by the valid cognitions of ordinary beings. They are deceptive because the way in which they appear and the way in which they exist do not correspond: they appear as truly existent whereas in reality they are found to be empty of true existence.

Dharma: Generally religion, but in particular, the doctrine of the Buddha.

Dharmakaya: The fully realized and awakened mind of the Buddha.

Emptiness: The ultimate nature of all phenomena, the lack of an absolute existence. (shunyata)

Hinayana: The ‘lesser’ spiritual pursuit of the Shravaka and the Pratyekabuddha aimed at one’s personal liberation alone.

Identitylessness: In the Madhyamika system, it refers to the emptiness of true existence of either the person or other phenomena.

Madhyamika: The follower of the Madhyamika philosophical school founded by Arya Nagarjuna.

Mahayana: The ‘great spiritual pursuit’ of the Bodhisattva.

Manjughosha: The ‘smooth, melodious one’ referring to the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.

Merit: The wholesome forces and tendencies accumulated from virtuous actions of body, speech and mind.

Nagarjuna: A Buddhist sage, who, with Asanga, helped revive the Mahayana; noted for his elucidation of the Madhyamika philosophy of emptiness.

Nirvana: The state of liberation from the sorrowful condition of a cyclic existence. Sometimes this is used as the synonym for emptiness.

Samantabhadra: ‘The all-good one’ – the name of a Bodhisattva.

Samkhya: The follower of a Hindu school of philosophy.

Sangha: ‘Those who aspire for virtue’, the realised beings who assist in one’s spiritual development.

Shravaka: ‘A hearer’, or a follower of the Hinayana tradition noted for living in communities.

Special Insight (Vipasyana): The heightened analytical faculty of the mind that cognizes subtle impermanence and emptiness.

Sutra: A discourse preached by the Buddha.

Tatagatha: An epithet for the Buddha.

True Existence: The object to be negated in the investigation of emptiness.

Ultimate Truth: The true nature of all phenomena, that is, their emptiness and identity-less-ness.

Veda: Ancient Indian hymns believed to be of divine origin.

Yama: The lord of Death.

Yogi: A being who has developed calm abiding and special insight.


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