The Compendium of Buddhist Terminology

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The Compendium of Buddhist Terminology

Postby phantom59 » Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:30 pm

The major practice traditions are often referred to in Tibetan literature as the Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The Eight Chariots refer to the eight major practice lineages of Tibetan learning and attainment, traditions which can be traced directly back through the centuries of the history of Tibet and beyond that into India. These traditions encompass the major schools and lineages within Tibet:

1. The main doctrinal lineage of Kama, the Ancient Translation School known as Nyingmapa
2. Atisha's lineage, the Old Kadampa School, and the New Kadampa
3. The lineage of the glorious Sakyapa
4. The Four Major Schools and Eight Minor Schools of the lineage of the Marpa Kagyü Tradition
5. The Shangpa Kagyü
6. Phadampa Sangye's and Machik Lapdron's lineage
7. Vajra Yoga Instruction Lineage
8. The Great Yogi Orgyenpa Rinchenpal's Lineage

Each of the Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineages of Tibetan Buddhism has developed its own individual terminology within the context of specific practices, oral explanations and regional understandings. An image of Padmasambhava, the originator of many of the oral traditions and written texts used by one of the Eight Chariots, the Nyingma schoolSimilar or identical terms are used differently within the contexts of each tradition's systems, and carry different meanings. Accordingly, there is enormous confusion among research scholars and translators in explaining and translating terms from different traditions.

The Tibetan tradition, which continued and developed Indian philosophical and soteriological traditions begun over 2500 years ago, is highly nuanced and complex, and the vocabulary of the written works which embodies those traditions is commensurately difficult to understand outside Tibetan traditions. Moreover, oral explanations and practical experience are a necessary accompaniment to any living tradition of scholarship and practice. In Tibet, these oral traditions are even more necessary for understanding Tibetan texts, for each text is interpreted within the context of a living lineage which passes down its critical understanding and applications of the text. Thus, the Tibetan traditions cannot be preserved merely by reading Tibetan books -- the next generation must be taught how to read and understand the terms found in those books.

The Compendium of Buddhist Terminology will provide analytic explanations and comparisons of the key terms used by the major practice traditions of Tibet. Though these traditions share similar goals and outward clothes, each tradition provides a discipline and vocabulary specific to the tradition. The vocabulary used to transmit the wisdom of the tradition has been finely honed over thousands of years by great scholars and practitioners of the tradition. These terms are used in specific ways, and the traditions cannot be understood without a precise understanding of the nuances of the terms.

The abilities to use computers to digitize the Tibetan corpus and use electronic search and data extraction techniques provides a scholarly resource that was unavailable in classical Tibet. Thus, we have a unique opportunity to create reference works today that were not available in Tibet. But these advances will be misdirected if they are not commenced by scholars familiar with traditional Tibetan methods as well as modern resources. Nitartha international, through its combination of scholarly and technical resources, it thus in a unique position to make major advances in Tibetan scholarship.

Nitartha international was founded by The Dzogchen Ponlop, Rinpoche to aid in the support of Tibetan educational systems, and to preserve the precious heritage of Tibet, which is in such great danger of being lost. Under his leadership, Nitartha international has amassed an extensive digital library of Tibetan texts that can be searched electronically to assist in creating references for the Compendium. Nitartha has completed over 80,000 pages of text input at its input center in Nepal, and edited several thousand pages of text so far, despite limited manpower and resources.

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