blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1


NORMAN DUBIE | The Spirit Tablets at Goa Lake


References are to the first instance of a phrase's use in the poem. The letters and Roman numerals in parentheses refer to the book and section. JW = The Book of the Jewel Worm; JP = The Book of Jaspers; CK = The Book of the Crying Kanglings.

Items indicated by an asterisk (*) are defined solely in the context of The Spirit Tablets at Goa Lake

Akashic (JP III): Of the ether, which contains both physical and nonmaterial bodies.

Askobya (JP I): Buddha of the Vajra family, sometimes called Vajrasattva.

Bardo (JW XVII): The state between death and rebirth. See also Thödal.

Bodhisattva (JW XI; Bodhiset, JP XXI): An enlightened being who defers nirvana until all people achieve enlightenment; effectively, a deity.

Bon (JP XVI): Tibetan religion prior to Buddhism.

Buddhadharma (CK VI): Bodhidharma, legendary founder of Ch'an or Zen Buddhism.

Cakra (JP VII): Any of the six centers of spiritual power located in the body; these are identified with specific deities and can be accessed through certain exercises. (Also Kalachakra, JP XIV; Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, CK VII.)

Charnel Ground (JP XXI): A place of corpses, either waiting cremation or partially cremated; a particularly sacred place for Buddhist meditation, where desire and grasping can be relinquished.

Chenrezig (JW XI): A bodhisattva identified with compassion and especially revered in Tibet. His Indian name is Avalokiteshvara, and he is also identified with Kuan-Yin. "Om mani padme hung" is his sacred mantra, and the Dalai Lama is believed to be an incarnation.

Chöd (JW XX): A tantric tradition (literally, "cutting through") derived through an 11th-century Tibetan yogini, Machik Lapdrön. (Also C. tea, JP XXV; red C., CK VII.)

Daka (JP XVI): Male counterpart of a dakini. See Dakini.

Dakini (JW preface): Sanskrit term for a capricious female deity who functions similarly to an angel, guiding and warning the worshipper. Usually translated as "sky-dancer." Dakinis are sometimes identified with human historical figures, including mystics and shamans. See also Khandro and Mk'hagro. (Also red D., JP XVI; blue and red D.'s, CK I; unsworn D., CK XII.)

Dakini Script (JW XV): A type of coded or magic script used by Yeshe Soygal (considered to be a dakini) to record the teachings of Guru Rinpoche on scrolls which were then hidden in rocks, lakes, and caskets. See also Dza, Gek, and Yeshe Soygal.

Delog (JP XXII): A type of possession in which a female shaman-to-be undergoes actual death and rebirth.

Deva (JP XVIII): Goddess, female deity (Sanskrit generic term).

Dharma (JW XXII): Religious law or duty, especially Buddha's teachings; also the nature of either an individual or the universe; obedience to that nature.

Din'é (JP XVI): The Navajo term for themselves (literally, "people").

Dorje (JP V): Lightning bolt. See Va jra. (Also Mother D. Phagmo, CK XIV.)

*Dza (JW XV): Dakini magic script encrypted in gold ribbon within a volcanic cylinder left by the extinct Keet Sleet civilization on Mars. The Jewel Worm. See also Gek and Dakini Script. (Also D. Obum, JP VIII.)

Dzi (JW XV): "Thunderstone," a stone believed to have fallen from Heaven.

Dzogchen (JW V): A Buddhist tradition, practice, or series of teachings.

Ekajati (JW preface): Family name of the protagonist Paul Ekajati (literally, "one topknot"); also an aspect of the female deity Tara, called Ekajati (the blue Tara). She is the ferocious protector of Vajrayana teachings, the mantra and Dzogchen in particular, and helps the initiate to understand occult symbols.

Emaho (JP V): Expression of wonder and joy.

*Ffee (JW XX): An evil spirit, periodically killed and reborn. (Also Wickle Ffee, JW XX; Mazda-Ffee, JP IV; Magus-ur, JP V; Beckett Carol Talbout [new identity], CK XV.)

Garuda (G. transport, JP XXII): A legendary eagle-like bird. (Also G. ruby, CK XII)

*Gau (JP XIV): Amulet.

*Gek (JW XV): A ribbon of dakini script found in a volcanic cylinder of the Keet Sleets. This type is "just a vapor of elation in the brain." See also Dza and Dakini Script.

Guru (JW VII): Religious leader, advisor, mentor. "Lama" is a synonym in Tibet. See also Lama and Root Guru.

Guru Rinpoche (JW VII): Epithet of Padma Sambhava. See Lotus Birth.

Hatted Attendants (CK VIII): Adherents of different schools of Buddhism wear hats of different colors, representing certain rituals.

Hayagriva (JW XII): A fierce god, the dark red form of Chenrezig, crowned with a horse's head.

Hevajra (JP I): Male deity whose consort is Nairatma, together the principal gods of the Hevajra-tantra practice. (Also H. totem, CK II.)

Hornpout (JP XXVII): A type of bullhead catfish.

Kangling (JP XXVII and CK): Trumpet-like musical instrument made from a human thighbone.

Karma (JW XXII): Causality, evolutionary law of cause and effect, action with inevitable results.

Karma Kagyu (CK VI): Early Tibetan Buddhist sect founded by Marpa and based on an oral esoteric tradition. (Also K. K. sadhus, CK XVII.)

Karmapa (CK VI): Title of the spiritual leader of the Kagyu sect or school. (Also the Child K., CK XVII; 21st K., CK XXIII.)

Karma Pakshi (JP XVI): The second Karmapa (1204-1283). (Also K. P. Shint, JP V.)

*Keet Sleet (JW preface): An extinct civilization of Mars, being studied by Paul Ekajati.

Khandro (JW preface): Tibetan word for dakini. See also Dakini and Mk'hagro. (Also K. of Lux, JW VII; K. of Sumtsek [Urze], JP XXVII.)

Khenpo Karthar (JW VIII): Name of a Buddhist scholar and mystic.

Kro'die (JP VII): Goddess.

Lama (JW IX): Priest in Tibetan Buddhism. See Guru.

Lingam (JP XIV): Phallus.

Longchempa (CK XVII): Name of a teacher of meditation.

Lotus Birth (JW X): Type of mystical birth associated with Padma Sambhava, "the lotus-born," Buddhist sage allegedly born as a rainbow-trailing meteor, which issued from the mouth of Amitabha Buddha; later a lotus sprang up where the meteor struck, holding a child who became the sage. In the Pure Land realms (a sort of alternative universe), certain beings are born in lotus buds.

Lu (JW XVIII): A female naga. See Naga.

Mahamudra (JW VIII): "Great Seal," teachings of direct perception of dharma or ultimate reality. See Dharma.

Maitreya (M. calendar, JW VIII): A bodhisattva accompanying Askobya. Also the next Buddha to come to earth. (Also M. Crayon, CK XX.)

Mala (JW IV): Rosary of 108 beads for counting meditations. (Also Skull Mala, CK II: A mala of bone beads carved into the shape of skulls, representing overcoming fear of death.)

Mandala (JW XI): A geometric representation of the universe, usually circular, also representing the locus of an individual's enlightenment.

Mantra (JW II): A word or phrase used repetitively in chanting.

Marpa (JP XXVI): Founder of the school of Kagyupa or Kagyu. He studied at Nalanda and returned to Tibet to translate the sacred texts from India. See also Nalanda.

Mk'hagro (JW VIII): "Khandro" in the Wylie system of transliteration. See Dakini.

Mudra (JP XXIV): Arm or hand gesture associated with a particular emotion or attitude, found in representations of a deity and in classical Indian dance.

Naga (JW XI): Divine water serpent.

Nagarjuna (JP XVI): Proper name, after an Indian guru whose teachings influenced Tibetan Buddhism.

Nairatma (JW XIII): Consort of Hevajra. See Hevajra. (Also Mother N., JW XIII; Blue N., JW XXII.)

Nalanda (JW IV): An ancient Indian college of Buddhist teaching, destroyed by invading Muslims. See also Marpa.

Om mani padme hung (JP XI): Mantra, translated as "om jewel of the lotus om (or hum)." See also Chenrezig.

Palden Lhamo (JP XIV): Protector of the Dalai Lama and patron deity of the city of Lhasa, the only female among a group of fierce protective deities.

Pali (JW XIX): The Indian language of Buddhist texts.

Panchen Lama (JW XI): Title of a Tibetan spiritual leader second only to the Dalai Lama.

Phurba (P. dance, JW XIX): Dagger with magic powers used in sacred dances. (Also P. language, JW XXI.)

Potala (JP XII): Palace in Lhasa, formerly the winter home of the Dalai Lama.

Po'vah (P. empowerment, CK XIX): "Soul-transmission."

Prajna Paramita (JW VII): The ten perfections ("paramita" = perfection) of the Bodhisattvas; a sutra on the perfection of Wisdom; a female deity ("Mother of All Buddhas") representing Wisdom.

Ringsels (JW XXIII): Multi-colored beads or jewels left after the cremation of a great lama.

Rinpoche (JP III): Title, "venerable" or "precious." See also Guru Rinpoche and Tsultrim. (Also Kalzang R., JP XVI.)

Root Guru (JP XXIV): The "Three Roots" that safeguard or energize the being of a practitioner are his/her guru or lama, a specific deity, and a dakini.

Sadhana (JP XIV): Tantric practices.

Sakya (S. parapet, JP XVI): A Buddhist order and the monastery where it was founded. It teaches the Hevajra Tantra and is a rival to the Kagyu order.

*Septaguant (JW XX): Warrior who kills Wickle Ffee, an incarnation of the Ffee. See also Ffee.

*Shint (JP VII), Shintling (JP XVI): Sect, faction, society; member of a sect.

Siddhi (JP I): Supernatural power.

Sutra (JP XIV): Sacred text, especially a sermon of the Buddha.

Tara (JW XXI): One of the principal female deities, the consort or feminine aspect of a bodhisattva, embodying energy and compassion. (Also Kadampa T., CK XIV.)

Thödal (JP III; the Bardo T., CK XIII): Known in English as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a guide read to the dying to instruct them in the Bardo.

Tsongkhopa (Lord T., CK XIX): 15th-C. Buddhist reformer who founded the school on which the lineage of the Dalai Lama is based.

Tsultrim (JW XI): Epithet for a teacher. (Also Yeshe T., JW XI; Gyurmey T., JW XXIII.)

Tulku (JW XIV): Title for a lama believed to be the intentional reincarnation of an enlightened one (literally, "emanation of the Buddha"). (Also Arak T., JP VIII.)

Tummo (JP XVIII): "Inner heat," a demanding spiritual exercise.

Va jra (JP II; Vajra, JP XXV): Thunderbolt or diamond, representing universal compassion. Vajrayana is the school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Vajrasattva (JP XXI): A Buddha-deity, especially a Buddha of tantric lore. (Also V. Prayer, CK XIV)

Yeshe (Lama Y., JW IX): Wisdom, sometimes a title of respect. (Also Y. Tsultrim, JW XI.)

Yeshe Khandro (JW preface): A "wisdom dakini," a fully enlightened deity.

Yeshe Soygal (JP III): Name of Padma Sambhava's female disciple, considered to be a dakini. See Dakini Script and Lotus Birth.

Yeti (CK II): The "abominable snowman," legendary humanoid creature of the Himalayas.



Simmer-Brown, Judith. Dakini's Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism. Shambala, 2002.

Levenson, Claude B. Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. Barnes & Noble; Assouline, 2003.

Thurman, Robert A. F., trans. The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Bantam, 1994.  

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