roots of merit: Virtuous actions, including dharma practice.
lord of dharma: An epithet generally used to refer to an accomplished teacher, here referring to the Karmapa; one who has completely realized the teachings.
ripened: That is, may one’s inherent buddha nature or basic goodness become fully manifested.
Vajrapani (San; “vajra in hand”): Vajrapani, known as the Lord of Secret, is entrusted with protecting the vajrayana teachings.
worthy vessel: A student who is capable of hearing the dharma properly.
two accumulations: The accumulations of merit and wisdom. The accumulation of merit is creating favorable conditions for following the path, by means of doing virtuous actions. The accumulation of wisdom is the resulting realization.
pacifying . . . destroying: This is a list of the four karmas (see next entry).
four karmas: Four enlightened styles of activity for working with situations; four stages or levels of taming ego completely.
three gates: One’s body, speech, and mind.
all nine ways: There are three levels (ordinary, medium, and profound) each for body, speech, and mind. In general, “body” refers to physically assisting the guru, “speech” refers to following the guru’s command, and “mind” refers to ultimately propagating the dharma.
ten directions: In the four cardinal and four intermediate directions, as well as above and below; in other words, everywhere.
luminous mahamudra: The mahamudra teachings deal with the inseparability of luminosity, or the clarity and vividness of appearances, and their inherent emptiness.
bardo (Tib. “existing in between”): The intermediate state after death and before the next rebirth, usually said to last forty-nine days. Traditionally there are six bardos:
(1) the bardo of life, (2) the bardo of the dream state, (3) the bardo of meditation, (4) the bardo of the moment of death, (5) the bardo of dharmata, and (6) the bardo of becoming. It is this last one that is most commonly referred to by the word “bardo.”
mandala of glorious Vajrasattva: In other words, “May I experience my own inherent purity and brilliance.” Vajrasattva is a buddha of the vajra family, white in color, who is associated with purity.
state of great Vajradhara: This is supreme enlightenment itself.
vajrayana: Due to its wide-ranging methods and various approaches, the vajrayana is also called the upaya-yana, or path of skillful means.
liberator through being seen . . . contact: These are the four ways in which a teacher can enlighten beings.
renunciation . . . revulsion: Abandoning attachment to samsara is the direct result of experiencing nausea toward it.
Joyous Mikyö: Mikyö Dorje (1507-1554), the eighth Karmapa. This supplication was written by Mikyö Dorje himself for the benefit of his students.
only holder of the black crown: The Karmapa.
yidam: In vajrayana, the yidam is the meditation deity who embodies the practitioner’s own awakened nature. Chakrasamvara, who is the principal male deity of the Karma Kagyü, is said here to express the wisdom of all yidams at once.
glorious supreme bliss: This is the literal translation of the Tibetan “Pal Demchok,” another name of Shri Chakrasamvara.
Vajrayogini: The principal female yidam of the Karma Kagyü. She symbolizes the transfor-mation of passion and ignorance into prajnaparamita.
Dorje Pernakchen (Tib. “Great Black-Gowned One”): The principal mahakala of the Karma Kagyü lineage. He is depicted as dwarfishly small, dark blue and very wrathful. He stands on a corpse and a sun and moon disk. He has two arms, three eyes, a skull crown, and dark brown hair streaming upwards. He wears a black kimono and is holding a red copper crescent knife in his right hand, a skull cup of blood in his left.
vajra mind: The ultimate nature of mind, primordially pure and indestructible.
upaya and prajna: Skillful means and transcendent knowledge. Upaya conveys the sense that enlightened beings teach the dharma skillfully, taking into consideration the various needs and capabilities of their students; it is an expression of compassion. Upaya includes the first five of the six paramitas and is related to compassion, or relative bodhichitta. It is said to be the masculine principle. Prajna is the sixth paramita and is the wisdom or knowledge that perceives emptiness, or absolute bodhichitta. It is said to be the feminine principle. The two are unified in the state of enlightenment.
Akanishtha (San.; Tib. Ogmin): The highest of god realms within the realm of form and to a supreme buddha field in general.
Tushita: A god realm. Shakyamuni Buddha left Tushita heaven to come to the human world and teach the dharma. Maitreya is said to reign now in Tushita and teach the dharma there.
ten bhumis (San. “ground,” “level”): The ten levels or stages of realization on the bodhisattva path, which correspond to the ten paramitas.
Maitreya (San. “Friendly One”): Shakyamuni Buddha is the fourth buddha of the good kalpa. Maitreya will be the fifth, the buddha of the next age. His name is related to the word maitri, or loving kindness.
nirmanakaya (San.; Tib. tülku, “emanation body”): A buddha who lives on this earth.
sixth buddha: The buddha following Maitreya will be named Simha (San. “Lion”).
Rochana (San.): The one-thousandth buddha. Karmapa is identified with both the sixth buddha and one-thousandth buddha.
exposition, debate, and composition: Three traditional activities of the monastic sangha.
Vaishravana: Lord of wealth, guardian of the north, and leader of the yakshas. He is gold in color and holds a jewel-spitting mongoose in his left hand and a victory banner in his right.
Upali: The disciple of the Buddha who was responsible for recording the teachings of the vinaya, or monastic discipline.
Avalokiteshvara: The bodhisattva of compassion, also known as Great Compassionate One. He is considered the special protector of the Tibetan people. His six-syllable mantra (OM MANI PADME HUM) is a commonplace throughout Tibet. Both the Dalai Lama and the Gyalwa Karmapa are his incarnations.
west of the kingdom of Tibet: This is an amendment of the original text (“in the snowy north”) to refer to the flourishing of dharma in the Western world.