Glossary of Terms often used in

Tantric Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism


O to Y


Ojas ("vitality"):

the subtle energy produced through practice, especially the discipline of chastity



Seed mantra composed of three sounds, a-u-m, embracing within it the "sound" of our own inmost divine consciousness, the "sound" of all of creation, and the "sound" of the Supreme Being creating reality.




Lotus; symbolic name of the chakras.



Lotus yogic posture in which one sits with legs crossed, right foot placed on left thigh, left foot crossed over on right leg, soles of feet turned upwards, with hands holding the toes.



The five gross elements; earth, water, fire, air, ether, space or soul


Life force, the vital force that nourishes both body and mind; the breath of life; five major aspects are prana, apana, vyana, udana, and samana; and five minor aspects: naga, kurma, krikara, devadatta, and dhananjaya; also the cosmic vibratory power underlying creation.

Prana Anusadhana

Examination, study, research, or investigation of prana; usually in the context of breath awareness training or pranayama.


Prana Dharana

Concentration and stabilization of the pranic force using pranayama and inner focus to direct and hold prana in a specific inner field; activating, intensifying, and stabilising prana shakti.


Parama-atman or Paramatman ("supreme self"):

 the transcendental Self, which is singular, as opposed to the individuated self (jiva-atman) that exists in countless numbers in the form of living beings


Parama-hamsa, Paramahansa/ ("supreme swan"):

an honorific title given to great adepts, such as Ramakrishna and Yogananda


Pingala-nadi ("reddish conduit"):

the prana current or arc ascending on the right side of the central channel sushumna-nadi and associated with the sympathetic nervous system and having an energizing effect on the mind when activated


"The one born of the mountain (Himalaya)." Consort of Shiva. Parvati represents not only physical but spiritual beauty.


PC muscles. Pubococcygeus (PC) muscles:

Both women and men have PC muscles, which run from the pubic bone to the tailbone in a figure eight around the genitals. They play a vital role in both male and female sexual response. Strong PC muscles help to increase blood flow in the pelvic region, heighten sexual sensation, intensify orgasm, and help women to achieve orgasm and ejaculation.



One of the three principal channels of the subtle body. It is the (male, solar) nadi opposite the ida nadi. It spirals around the central sushumna channel and terminates in the right nostril. It has a positive polarity.



The body's vital energy or life force; air; breath.  The total energy, manifest and unmanifest of the cosmos. It is known to the earth sphere as the seven-rayed emanation from the sun. Also refers to the “vital air” or power of the breath.



the opposite of spiritual ignorance (ajnana, avidya); one of two means of liberation in Buddhist yoga, the other being skillful means (upaya), i.e., compassion (karuna)


Prakriti ("creatrix"):

 nature, which is multilevel and, according to Patanjali's yoga-darshana, consists of an eternal dimension called pradhana or "foundation", levels of subtle existence called

sukshma-parvan, and the physical or coarse realm called sthula-parvan; all of nature is deemed unconscious (acit), and therefore it is viewed as being in opposition to the transcendental Self or Spirit (purusha)


Prakriti-laya ("merging into Nature"):

 a high-level state of existence that falls short of actual liberation (kaivalya); the being who has attained that state


Prana ("life/breath"):

life in general; the life force sustaining the body; the breath as an external manifestation of the subtle life force



Prana means "life force" and yama comes from ayama or "expansion." Pranayama serves to instill meditative peace and to foster calm, alertness, and concentration.


Prasada* ("grace/clarity"):

divine grace; mental clarity


Pratyahara ("withdrawal"):

sensory inhibition, the fifth limb (anga) of Patanjali's eightfold path



Flirtation. One of the eight aspects of coition.



Love, wherein there is no longer a distinction between the love and the beloved.


Earth principle.



Rapture or inspiration.


Worship or celebration. There are different kinds of pujas that include many forms of ceremonial worship. In modern Tantric practice, there are community or group pujas, a transformational ritual gathering which awakens and brings forth the priest/priestess, the shaman, and the god-essence in each of us. It is an opportunity for the renewal of body, mind, and spirit.



Inhalation process in the practice of yogic breathing.


Purana ("Ancient [History]"):

 a type of popular encyclopaedia dealing with royal genealogy, cosmology, philosophy, and ritual; there are eighteen major and many more minor works of this nature


Purusha ("male"):

 the transcendental Self (atman) or Spirit, a designation that is mostly used in Samkhya and Patanjali's yoga-darshana



Raja Yoga:

"Royal yoga." Emphasizes the mental and spiritual rather than physical. Its aim is to make one a "ruler" over all one's mental and spiritual equipment, the general aim of all Tantric schools.


Recaka ("expulsion"):

exhalation, an aspect of breath control (pranayama)


Red Tantra:

The aspect of Tantra that relates to the mastery of sexual skills.



Sacred Space:

A sacred space is a place of tranquility created through intention, respect and focus. It is about cultivating an environment that is filled with energies that support, uplift, comfort, and transform our inner and outer awareness and benefits our highest good.


Sacred Spot:

An energetic pole for sexual fulfillment. In a woman it is the energetic access to the second chakra located on or around the G spot in the Yoni. In a man it is located at the root of the second chakra located within the upper wall of the base chakra.


Sacred Spot Massage:

An internal Yoni massage intended to heal past wounds and awaken and release unlimited orgasmic energy.

An internal or external massage for men to awaken and release orgasmic energy



A teacher of spiritual wisdom.



One who practices Tantric disciplines.



Meditative practice combining the physical rituals of Tantra; Spiritual discipline.



Holy person.



The thousand-petaled chakra located on the crown of the head and represented by the lotus flower. Considered the seat of the unmanifested Shiva.



Saiva-Agamas, texts expounding the doctrines of Siva, known as sastras.



The Sakti presiding over the Visuddha chakra located in the throat area.






In kundalini yoga, the path through which kundalini ascends.


Samadhi ("putting together"):

 the ecstatic or unitive state in which the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation, the eighth and final limb (anga) of Patanjali's eightfold path; there are many types of samadhi, the most significant distinction being between samprajnata (conscious) and/asamprajnata (supraconscious) ecstasy; only the latter leads to the dissolution of the karmic factors deep within the mind; beyond both types of ecstasy is enlightenment, which is also sometimes called sahaja-samadhi or the condition of "natural" or

"spontaneous" ecstasy, where there is perfect continuity of superconscious throughout waking, dreaming, and sleeping



Created forms. The world in which the law or reincarnation operates.


Samatva or samata ("evenness"):

 the mental condition of harmony, balance


Samkhya ("Number"):

one of the main traditions of Hinduism, which is concerned with the classification of the principles (tattva) of existence and their proper discernment in order to distinguish between Spirit (purusha) and the various aspects of Nature (prakriti); this influential system grew out of the ancient pre-Buddhist Samkhya-Yoga tradition and was codified in the Samkhya-Karika of Ishvara Krishna  350 C.E.


Samnyasa ("casting off"):

the state of renunciation, which is the fourth and final stage of life and consisting primarily in an inner turning away from what is understood to be finite and

Secondarily in an external letting go of finite things.

Samsara ("confluence"):

 the finite world of change, as opposed to the ultimate Reality brahman or nirvana


Samskara ("activator"):

 the subconscious impression left behind by each act of volition, which, in turn, leads to renewed psychomental activity; the countless samskaras hidden in the depth of the mind are ultimately eliminated only in asamprajnata-samadhi


Samyama ("constraint"):

 the combined practice of concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and ecstasy (samadhi) in regard to the same object


Sat ("being/reality/truth"):

the ultimate Reality


Sat-sanga ("true company/company of Truth"):

the practice of frequenting the good company of saints, sages, Self-realized adepts, and their disciples, in whose company the ultimate Reality can be felt more palpably


Satya ("truth/truthfulness"):

truth, a designation of the ultimate Reality; also the practice of truthfulness, which is an aspect of moral discipline



Spiritual peace.



The material body, substance.



Sacred books of divine authority, scriptures.



The “corpse-like” yogic posture for complete relaxation. One of the sexual asanas in which the male lies corpse-like and the female completes the sexual act without movement from the male.



"She who flows.": The Goddess of arts and learning and patroness of the "Sixty-four Arts." Saraswati is the feminine energy counterpart of Brahma. She is typically portrayed holding a lute (vina).



are widely known as intermediaries who use trance and spirit guides to travel between realms. ... Both Tantra and Shamanism use specific principles and practices for sexual healing and enlightenment. Some of the basic tools include breath, sound, movement, prayer, chanting, lovemaking and ritual.



Shakti means power, force, and feminine energy. The word shakti is derived from the Sanskrit root shak, meaning "potency" or "the potential to produce." She represents "the fundamental creative instinct underlying the cosmos, and is the energizing force of all divinity, of every being, and every thing." The Goddess Shakti is the feminine counterpart to each of the Gods of the Hindu pantheon, especially of Shiva.


Shakti-pata ("descent of power"):

 the process of initiation, or spiritual baptism, by means of the benign transmission of an advanced or even enlightened adept (siddha), which awakens the shakti within a

disciple, thereby initiating or enhancing the process of liberation

Shishya ("student/disciple"):

the initiated disciple of a guru



The male divine symbol of the transcendental. Shiva stands for growth and transformation. In Tantra, Shiva represents pure consciousness manifesting in the creative union with his consort Shakti.

Shiva and Shakti. These two divine lovers are commonly portrayed in ecstatic embrace - yab-yum. Together they symbolize cosmic union between male and female, yin and yang. This condition of Unity or Oneness is another of Tantra's ultimate goals.


Shiva-Sutra ("Shiva's Aphorisms"):

like the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, a classical work on yoga, as taught in the Shaivism of Kashmir; authored by Vasugupta (ninth century C.E.)


Shodhana ("cleansing/purification"):

 a fundamental aspect of all yogic paths; a category of purification practices in hatha yoga


Shraddha ("faith"):

 an essential disposition on the yogic path, which must be distinguished from mere belief


Shuddhi ("purification/purity"):

 the state of purity; a synonym of shodhana


Siddha ("accomplished"):

 an adept, often of Tantra; if fully Self-realized, the designation maha-siddha or "great adept" is often used


Siddha-Yoga ("Yoga of the adepts"):

a designation applied especially to the yoga of Kashmiri Shaivism, as taught by Swami Muktananda (twentieth century)


Siddhi ("accomplishment/perfection"):

spiritual perfection, the attainment of flawless identity with the ultimate Reality; paranormal ability, of which the yoga tradition knows many kinds There are two types of siddhis: 

1. accomplishments on the spiritual path like renunciation, compassion, unshakeable faith, realization of the correct view, the supreme accomplishment of complete enlightenment, ... 

2. eight mundane accomplishments such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, flying in the sky, becoming invisible, everlasting youth, powers of transmutation, ...


The Sixty-Four Arts:

In ancient Tantra, the series of arts and sciences that the dedicated Tantrika aspired to master. The art of sexual love was the noblest of the sixty-four arts and relied on the other arts for its support. Included in this list are musicianship, culinary arts, dancing, flower arranging, swordsmanship, among others.



A certain type of vine from which wine was made.


Spanda* ("vibration"):

a key concept of Kashmir's Shaivism according to which the ultimate Reality itself "quivers," that is, is inherently creative rather than static



Male seed.



The all-encompassing emptiness.





Subtle Body:

A field of force, with energy vortexes at the psychic centers (chakras).



The principal nadi of the subtle body located in the spinal column. This psychic channel controls spiritual evolution and is the "highway" that connects this world with the next.


Sushumna-nadi* ("very gracious channel"):

the central /prana/ current or arc in or along which the serpent power (/kundalini-shakti/) must ascend toward the psychoenergetic center (/cakra/) at the crown of the head in order to attain liberation (/moksha/)


Sutra ("thread"):

an aphoristic statement; a work consisting of aphoristic statements, such as Patanjali's Yoga Sutra or Vasugupta's Shiva-Sutra


Svadhyaya ("one's own going into"):

 study, an important aspect of the yogic path, listed among the practices of self-restraint (niyama) in Patanjali's eightfold yoga; the recitation of mantras



Tai Chi:

A spiritual and physical discipline, developed in China over millennia to bring balance to the body and flowing peace to the mind.



The five sensory potentials or subtle elements, the subtle aspect of the material elements of sense experience; the potentials of sound (shabda), touch (sparsha), form (rupa), taste (rasa), and odour (gandha).

Tantra: ("Loom")

A spiritual path, originating in India, One of a series of scriptures that emphasize practical ways of self- enlightenment, especially relating to the power of Shakti. A method of attainment of higher powers and spiritual flowering through the use of the physical powers endowed from sexual polarity. a type of Sanskrit work containing Tantric teachings; the tradition of Tantrism, which focuses on the shakti side of spiritual life and which originated in the early post-Christian era and achieved its classical features around 1000 C.E.; Tantrism has a "right-hand" (dakshina) or conservative and a "left-hand" (vama) or unconventional, antinomian branch, with the latter utilizing, among other things, sexual rituals



A practitioner of Tantra.



It includes methods such as mantras and visualizations to work on ones subtle energies directly. Tantrayana is considered an abrupt path to the Enlightenment. It is an alternative to the safer, but longer Sutrayana path.



An epithet for a Buddha, translated usually as thus gone one. This title indicates that a Buddha embodies the fundamental truth of all phenomena and has grasped the law of causality spanning past, present, and future. 


Tapas ("glow/heat"):

austerity, penance, which is an ingredient of all yogic approaches, since they all involve self-transcendence


Tattva ("thatness"):

 a fact or reality; a particular category of existence such as the ahamkara, buddhi, manas; the ultimate Reality



One of the most popular of the Buddhist Goddesses who is adored for her protection from evil and her support in overcoming obstacles. Her name is derived from the verb tara, meaning "to cross," for she enables the devotee to "cross the ocean of existence." Tara is the symbol of tranquility and cosmic peace.


Turiya ("fourth"),

 also called cathurtha: the transcendental Reality, which exceeds the three conventional states of consciousness, namely waking, sleeping, and dreaming


Ten Bhumis

1. Perfect Joy / Supreme Joy   2. Immaculate / Stainless   3. Luminous / Illuminating 4. Radiant / Bhumi of Blazing Wisdom  5. Hard to Keep / Very Difficult to Train For / The Unconquerable   6. Clearly Manifest / Appearance Stage   7. Far Progressed / Gone-Afa    8. Immovable / Unwavering  9. Perfect Intellect / The Wholesome Wisdom

10. Cloud of Dharma


Ten non virtuous actions (tib.: mi ge wa chu)

These are the negative actions described in Buddhist scriptures as some of the most harmful. They are divided in:

- three negative actions committed with body: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct - four negative actions committed verbally: lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, idle talk

- three negative actions committed with mind: covetousness, ill will, wrong views

Tengyur (tib.: ten gyur)

It is a large collection of texts, over 3500 books written mostly by Indian masters in Sanskrit from approximately 200 AD to 1000 AD and were later translated into Tibetan. These books are meant to explain Kangyur collection, but also include other subjects such as poetry, grammar, science, architecture, painting and medicine. It is one of the two (or three, if one includes Sungbum) parts of the Tibetan buddhist canon.


Three Poisons (tib: duk sum)

 These three are the source of all passions and delusions. In The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom (skt.: Mahaprajnaparamita shastra), the three poisons are regarded as the source of all illusions and earthly desires. The three poisons are so called because they prevent people turning their hearts and minds to goodness. They are:

1. (tib: du chag) attachment, desire or greed

2. (tib: zhe dang) hatred or anger

3. (tib: ti mug) ignorance



Literally it means giving (tib. tong) and receiving (tib. len), so in English it is often called taking-and-giving meditation. This meditation is one of the methods to develop Bodhicitta. It involves your taking other beings suffering and its causes onto yourself when inhaling, destroying your ego, and giving your body, happiness, merit and all the good to other sentient beings when exhaling.



Small statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or other religious symbols. Tsatsas are usually made from sun baked mud or pottery (clay).



Upanishad ("sitting near"):

 a type of scripture representing the  concluding portion of the revealed literature of Hinduism, hence the designation Vedanta for the teachings of these sacred works



Literally pursuer of virtue. Genyen is someone who keeps vows known as layman or laywomans vows. These five vows can either be taken all at once, or any of these vows can be taken distinctly, and they can either be taken for ones whole lifetime, or for a period of time that we decide ourselves. The lay ordination, when it is taken fully, is called the Genyen ordination.


Upaya ("means"):

 in Buddhist yoga, the practice of compassion




“Left hand” or physical sexual path of Tantra.



the original source books of India, revealed knowledge of the Aryans, consisted of 100,000 verses and are in four divisions, the Rig-Veda from about 2000 BC, considered the oldest literature of the world; the Yajur-Veda; the Sama- Veda; the Atharva-Veda. Written in Vedic, an early Sanskrit dialect.



Literally means diamond or thunderbolt. A tantric implement symbolizing method (compassion or bliss), held in the right hand (the male side), usually in conjunction with a bell, which symbolizes wisdom and is held in the left hand (the female side)



Also called Tantrayana (path of Tantra) or Vajrayana (path of Diamond) or Mantrayana (path of Mantra). It includes methods such as mantras and visualizations to work on ones subtle energies directly. Tantrayana is considered an abrupt path to the Enlightenment. It is an alternative to the safer, but longer Sutrayana path.


Ancient Indian/Hindu philosophy and science with a holistic approach. The Vedic period is dated c. 2500-500 b.c.e. The Vedas are considered to be the oldest extant scriptures in the world.



"The Preserver." The aspect of Brahma known as the protector of all humanity.



The principal meditation taught in the Theravada tradition. It is sometimes called mindfulness meditation. In the Mahayana, vipashyana can have a different meaning: investigation of and familiarization with the actual way in which things exist and is used to develop the wisdom of emptiness. If a state of mind is one of vipashyana, it is combined with shamatha. Therefore, although we may work on vipashyana before attaining shamatha, we cannot actually attain vipashyana without having first attained shamatha.




is a Earth-centered religion with roots in the ancient practices of our shamanic ancestors. Its practitioners, who call themselves Wiccan's, honor the life-giving and life-sustaining powers of Nature through ritual worship and a commitment to living in balance with the Earth.

White Tantra:

White Tantra relates to the yogic or spiritual aspects of Tantric practice and consists of exercises or postures (asanas) combined with special breathing (pranayama), hand or finger gestures (mudras), internal muscular exercises (bhandas), chanting (mantra), and meditation. The skills and benefits of White Tantra practices increase ones ability to master Red (sexual) Tantra.




Seated astride position. An asana in which a woman sits astride facing her partner, heart-to-heart. The Tantric image of yab-yum represents the male principle uniting in perfect balance with the female principle, creating an image expressing the sacredness of sexuality as a spiritual path to enlightenment.



The first stage of Tantra which restrains and controls the physical.



The seed mantra of the Anahata chakra.



A geometric diagram, usually of interlocking triangles and circles, used as a focus for healing meditation. The Sanskrit word yantra derives from the root yam meaning "to sustain," or "hold." In metaphysical terms a yantra is visualized as a "receptacle" of the highest spiritual essence.


Yellow Emperor.

Known as Huang-Ti (2697-2598 b.c.e.), he figures prominently in the medical and sexological teaching of Taoism. The oldest books on love known as the Chinese "Handbooks of Sex" were written by this legendary emperor some 5000 years ago. He is said to have ascended to heaven, "having perfected himself through practicing the Sexual Secrets."


Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang are complementary and interdependent aspects of a single unifying

is warm, solar, active, productive, masculine, and external. Each is relative to the other and both contain a small amount of the other. These opposite forces interact in order to create balance. This is seen in the yin/yang symbol, illustrating the light within the dark and the dark within the light.



Yoga is a term for spiritual discipline and derives from the Sanskrit yuj, which means, among other things, to "yoke," "to join together," "union and communion." Yoga is a holistic way of relating to the body that involves an increasing awareness on all levels: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. The basic philosophy of yoga acknowledges the presence of divine energy in all people, all place, and all things.



A student of yoga; feminine, yogini.



One who seeks to attain essential identity with the Reality.


The female sexual organ and representation of the Goddess. It is a Vedic term meaning "the source of all life."

It is loosely translated as "sacred space" or "sacred temple." In Tantra the Yoni is seen from a perspective of love and respect, offering an alternative for many of the less honoring Western terms


Yoni Asana

Secret sexual positions generally taught by ones guru.



Yogic posture in which the adept is required to sit in siddhasana and contract the perenium.



“Yoni-place” or perineum, corresponding to the position of the female opening to the vagina.