Shambhala Glossary

Shambhala Glossary

Aspiration Practice A practice in which we aspire to expand the four limitless qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity by extending them to others.

Bodhichitta (Skt.) The awakened heart of loving-kindness and compassion.  Absolute bodhichitta is our natural state, experienced as the basic goodness that links us to every other lining being. It hs been defined as openness, Ultimate truth our true nature, soft spot, tender heart, or simply with a is.  It combines the qualities of compassion, unconditional openness, and keen intelligence.  It is free from concepts opinions and dualistic notions of “self” and “other.”  Relative bodhichitta is the courage to realize this tender openhearted quality by tapping into our capacity to love and care for others.

Buddha (Skt.) “Awakened one.”  The founder of Buddhism, a prince named Siddhartha Gautama, born in the sixth century, BCE in what is now Nepal.  He let his palace at the age of twenty-nine and set out on a spiritual journey that resulted in his attaining enlightenment and becoming the Buddha.  He devoted the rest of his life to showing others how to experience this awakening and liberation from suffering.  We too are buddhas.  We are the awakened ones – the ones who continually leap, who continually open, who continually go forward.

The Eight Worldly Dharmas These are four pairs of opposites – four things we like and become attached to and four things we don’t like and try to avoid.  The eight worldly dharmas are pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disgrace, gain and loss.  The basic message is that when we are caught up in the eight worldly dharmas, we suffer.

The Four Limitless Qualities  Love, compassion, joy and equanimity.  They are called limitless because our capacity to experience and extend them has no limit.

Lojong (Tib.) “Mind training,” our inheritance from the eleventh-century Buddhist master Atisha Dipankara.  Mind training includes two elements: sending-and-taking practice (tonglen), in which we taken in pain and send out pleasure, and slogan practice, in which we use pithy slogans to reverse our habitual attitude of self-absorption.  These methods instruct us in using what might seem like our greatest obstacles – anger, resentment, fear, jealousy – as fuel for awakening.

Maitri (Skt.)  “Unconditional loving-kindness.”  A direct, unconditional relationship with all aspects of ourselves and others.  Without loving-kindness for ourselves, it is difficult if not impossible, to genuinely feel it for others.

Paramitas (Skt.)  “That which has reached the other shore.” These are six qualities that take us beyond our habitual ways of seeking solidity and security.  The six paramitas are generosity, patience, discipline, exertion, meditation and prajna, or wisdom.

Prajna (Skt.) “Wisdom.”  As the sixth paramita, prajna is the highest form of knowledge, the wisdom that experiences reality directly, without concept.

Samsara (Skt.)  “Journeying.”  The vicious cycle of suffering that results from the mistaken belief in the solidity and permanence of self and other.

The Three Jewels  The Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.

Tonglen (Tib.)  “Sending and receiving.” Also described as exchanging self for other.  In the practice of tonglen, we breathe in whatever feels bad and send out whatever feels good.

Sangha (Skt.)  “Crowd host.” The Buddhist community.  All others on the path of the bodhisattva-warrior.

Warrior-Bodhisattva  One who aspires to act from the awakened hear of bodhichitta for the benefit of others.

Excerpted from: Chodron, P., (2002). Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 teachings on cultivating fearlessness and compassion,. Boston: Shambhala Publications.



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