yab-yum (T): The unification of a male and a female deity (originally: father-mother), means also the unity of clarity and emptiness, symbolised by vajra/bell or vajra/lotus. In the Tibetan pantheon, male and female deities are represented in sexual union (yab-yum) with their consorts. Peaceful deities are portrayed sitting in union, while wrathful emanations are usually standing.

yaksha (S): Tibetan: gnod sbyin. A class of spirits. Beings mentioned in the Buddhist Canon who are divine in nature and possess supernatural powers. In many cases Yaksas are wild, demonic, sexually prolific beings who live in solitary places and are hostile toward people, particularly those who lead a spiritual life. They often disturb the meditations of monks and nuns by making noise.

Yama (S): Lord of Death.

Yamantaka (S): also Vajra Bhairava. Tibetan: Dorje Jig-je and Shinjé. Conqueror or Slayer of Death, the wrathful emanation of Manjusri. He is a member of the Vajra Family of Akshobya and concerned with overcoming the poison of hatred. He is usually dark blue and is depicted in his simplest form with one bullhead and two arms. He wears a crown of skulls, has a third eye, a skullcap in his left hand and a vajra chopper in his right. In thankas he most often has nine heads, 16 feet and 34 arms; all his hands hold objects associated with tantric symbols.

yama-niyama: The first two of the eight limbs of raja yoga, constituting Hinduism's fundamental ethical codes, the ten yamas and ten niyamas are the essential foundation for all spiritual progress. The yamas are the ethical restraints; the niyamas are the religious practices. See: raja yoga.

yana (S): Tibetan: theg-pa. Vehicle, way, school, teaching. Althought the literal meaning is "vehicle", it is applied to the Buddhist path. Three yanas are distinguished in the early period of Buddhism; the shravakayana, the pratyekabuddhayana, and the bodhisattvayana. The first two belong to so-called hinayana (T. thegpa men) or "small vehicle." Briefly stated, the main feature of these two yanas is that practitioners strive manly for individual liberation. The third yana, bodhisattvayana, is the so-called mahayana (thegpa chenpo) or "large vehicle". T practitioner of this yana strives to attain enlightenment through compassion and wisdom for the benefits of all beings. Thus, his responsibility extends beyond that indicated in the hinayana. Mahayana can be further subdivided into sutrayana and tantrayana, both of which lead toward the same goal. However, in the tantrayana, the practitioner has access to an arsenal of highly effective means for developing compassion and wisdom and purifiying obstacles. Vajrayana, Phalayana and Mantrayana are synonyms for Tantrayana.

Yarlung: 416 BC -Nyatri Tsenpo founds a dynasty in Yarlung valley, according to legend. Yarlung Valley yar - up, upper; klung - valley [of a river], drainage basin, or cultivated field. A river valley in Central Tibet, the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Birthplace of Tibetan Culture and breadbasket of the region. The mixture of grasslands with farming all surrounding one is spectacular to behold...

yeshe (T): Sanskrit: jnana. Primordial awareness; primal wisdom.

Yeshe Tsogyal (T): "Princess of the Wisdom Lake." Lived from C.E. 757-817. The most important female figure in the tradition of the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma school was a young wife of Tibetan King Trisong Detsen who became the intimate companion of Padmasambhava at the age of 16. The famous Indian yogi and tantric master, believed to be the second reincarnation of the historical Buddha, brought Buddhism to Tibet, where he was known as Pema Junge, Guru Rinpoche. Padmasambhava took Yeshe as his consort and transmitted to her the teachings of the phurba cycle. She codified countless of her guru's teachings in Terma texts and also composed his extensive biography, "Padma Kathang." In the last part of her life she was active mainly in eastern Tibet. She is venerated up to the present day as a dakini. Tsogyal received full initiation into the Tantra and became a female adept of the highest order. Padmasambhava said to her, "The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human body. Male or female, there is no great difference. But if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment, the woman's body is better." For many years after the passing of Padmasambhava, Tsogyal worked for the good of all -- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and instructing the ignorant. She died at a great age, and is now venerated as Tibet's top female Tantric master. She is thought to have reincarnated since then as a number of important female adepts, including Machig Lapdron (1055—1145) and Yomo Memo (1248—1283). In turn, Yeshe Tsogyal herself is regared as an incarnation of the fierce dakini Vajravarahi (Tib., Dorje Phagmo).

The Secret Autobiography of Yeshe Tsogyal (Bodhi Jomo Yeshe Tsogyal) is believed to have been dictated by the lady herself to Namkhai Nyingpo in the early 9th century. Once completed, the text was treated as an earth treasure (see terma): written on the mysterious indestructible yellow parchment, assigned a protective spirit, hidden (in Kham, eastern Tibet). A number of possible discoverers (Tibetan, "terton") were prophesied who might reveal this treasure text. This did happen, in the early 18th century, although the discovery seems to have been in the form of a so-called "mind treasure" (see terma). That second version was recorded by the terton Taksham Nuden Dorje, b. 1655, and shows, according to translator Keith Dowman, that it was composed by someone with historical knowledge far beyond Tsogyal's time of death. However, both texts are similar enough to credibly represent a secret autobiography of Yeshe Tsogyal (757-817), probably the most important and influential woman of the Tantric tradition as practiced in Tibet. The work recounts her adventurous life, first as student and consort/lover of Padmasambhava and subsequently as a fully accredited teacher in her own right. Yeshe Tsogyal relates the events surrounding her initiations, explains the sexual rituals she practiced with Padmasambhava and others, her austerities and temptations as well as her efforts in spreading the then new teachings of the Inner Tantras.

yi-dak (T): yi-dvags. Sanskrit: Preta. Hungry Ghosts, occupants of one of the three unfortunate realms of samsara (i.e., Hell-Beings, Hungry Ghosts and Animals). The yidaks are tormented by unappeasable appetites and depicted as having needle-thin necks and enormous stomachs.

yidam (T): "Firm mind." Derives from T. yid, which means intellect and dam from T. dam-tsig, commitment or solemn bond (S. samaya). The Yidam or tutelary deity is an emanation of the mind of the buddhas. The power of this deity as well as the possibility of obtaining the realization in dependence upon the practice, is conferred at the time of the initiation by the Lama. The energy of the tutelary deity is associated with the mantra which attaches the mind of the initiated with the mind of the Lama through the form of the deity. Because each mind has particularities of personal and cultural habit, each Yidam manifests the nature of Buddha's Wisdom in through one of many possible aspects, . The meditation on the Yidams and performing the yogas which are associated with them, is one of the skilful methods utilized in Vajrayana to rapidly reach liberation. In this manner, one frees oneself from Samsara by using exactly the means which enchain oneself; the mind is committed to the practice of the Yidam by the engagement of the yogi to meditate on his body, his speech and his mind as being the same as that of the Yidam. In this manner, the three doors of the practicioner are progressively transformed into the three doors of the Buddhas of which the disciple realizes the four kayas thanks to the spiritual influence of the Yidam. The essence of the yidam is the Lama, present manifestation of all the Buddhas. Yidams are manifestations of the sambhogakhaya (buddha-body of delight) and are visualized in meditative practice, i.e. perceived with the inner eye. They can take on either a peaceful or wrathful form of manifestation. Tibetan Buddhism does not particularly regard yidams as protective deities (as the personal deities are regarded in Hindu Tantra); rather their function is as an aid in the transformative process in which the practitioner comes to acknowledge his or her own basic personality structure. The yidams also serve to bring the practitioner to a sense of ultimate connection with the traditional lineage whose teaching he or she follows.

yoga (S): "Union." From yuj, "to yoke, harness, unite." The philosophy, process, disciplines and practices whose purpose is the yoking of individual consciousness with transcendent or divine consciousness. One of the six darshanas, or systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy. Yoga was codified by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras (c. 200 BCE) as the eight limbs (ashtanga) of raja yoga. It is essentially a one system, but historically, parts of raja yoga have been developed and emphasized as yogas in themselves. Prominent among the many forms of yoga are hatha yoga (emphasizing bodily perfection in preparation for meditation), kriya yoga (emphasizing breath control), as well as karma yoga (selfless service) and bhakti yoga (devotional practices) which could be regarded as an expression of raja yoga's first two limbs (yama and niyama). See: austerity, bhakti yoga, danda, hatha yoga, raja yoga, siddhi.

Yogacara (S): Yoga practice. Philosophical school of Mahayana Buddhism, also known as the Vijnanavada or Consciousness School. The founders of this school in India were Maitreya (270-350 CE), his disciple Asanga (375-430), and Asanga's younger half-brother Vasubandhu (400-480), who was also the greatest systematizer of the Abhidharma type of Buddhist philosophy. The Yogacara school, is a fourth century outgrowth of Madhyamika Buddhism. It has been said that Madhyamika is best for regarding emptiness (sunyata) while the Yogacara has proven valuable as the school that teaches knowing (Vijnanavada) or the understanding of the primacy of mind. The school held that consciousness (vijnana) is real, but its objects are constructions and unreal. The school's teachings are thus often characterized by the phrase "consciousness-only" (cittamatra) or "representation-only" (vijnaptimatra). The content of consciousness is produced not by independently existing objects but by the inner modifications of consciousness itself. A theory of eight kinds of consciousness was formed to explain how this process functions. The deepest level of consciousness is the "store-consciousness" (alaya-vijnana), which is both individual and universal and contains the seeds or traces of past actions, which are projected into manifestation through the "defiled mind" and the six sense gates (five physical senses plus mind or thought). The school was transmitted to China as the Fa-hsiang. In some lineages, it eventually syncretized with the Madhyamika school.

The yogic goal is to clarify alaya-vijnana, to attain cognizance of alaya, the "true home," and place the light of meditation awareness upon it, so that the mind can be liberated from the alaya’s propensities toward illusion; beyond the pure emptiness of space there is awareness of universal light. Follower of yogacara practice great virtues (paramitas) and meditative concentration (samadhi). They follow a path consisting of four distinct stages: 1. Prayoga marga, a preparatory stage where there is teaching of the doctrine that all exists only in the mind. 2. Darsana marga, the "path of seeing," where understanding and not just knowledge of the teaching develops (intuitive awareness of the identity of subject and object) - and the first of the "ten lands" or bhumi is entered on the "meditation way of the bodhisattvas"; the kleshas (defilements which are the cause of all misery and affliction) start to be eliminated and the alaya-vijnana to be clarified. 3. Bhavana marga, the "path of meditation," where the ten lands (bhumis) of the bodhisattva are passed through and further progress made in insight and cleansing from defilements. 4. Asaiksa marga, the "path of no-more-learning" or "path of fulfilment," when the kleshas are totally eliminated, the alaya-vijnana clarified ("the ground converted") so the cycle of existence is over and the bodhisattva actualizes the dharmakaya or "body of the great order," absolute-body awareness characterized as the "great awakening" and one of the trikaya (three bodies) of a buddha.

yogi / yogin (S): Tibetan: Naljor-pa / Naljor-ma. In general, a term used for a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. It is also used as a special term for a practitioner who is experiencing his/her mind on the absolute and the relative level simultaneously, or someone who experiences his/her mind in its natural form. Such yogis may well be teachers not bound by monastic vows. A male yogi is a "yogin;" female yogi, "yogini."

yoni (S): Vulva, womb, source; the entire female genital system. A term from India's ancient language, Sanskrit or "devanagari" (divine language). It can be translated by several English concepts ("origin", "source", "womb", "female genitals") and is the most respectful word available with nothing as respectful available in our modern language. The term yoni heralds from a culture and religion in which women have long been regarded and honored as the embodiment of divine female energy - the goddess known as Shakti - and where the female genitals are seen as a sacred symbol of Her.