Terma are various forms of hidden teachings that are key to Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhist and Bon religious traditions. The belief is that these teachings were originally esoterically hidden by various adepts such as Padmasambhava and dakini such as Yeshe Tsogyal (consorts) during the 8th century, for future discovery at auspicious times by other adepts, who are known as tertöns. As such, terma represent a tradition of continuous revelation in Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism. Termas are a part of tantric literature.
Tertön is a term within Tibetan Buddhism meaning a person who is a discoverer of ancient hidden texts or terma.
Origin of the Tertöns
Many tertöns are considered to be incarnations of the twenty five main disciples of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), who foresaw a dark time in Tibet.
Padmasambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal hid teachings to be found in the future to benefit beings.
According to generally accepted history, the rediscovering of terma began with the first .
In Tibetan Buddhist scholasticism, Buddhist philosophy is traditionally propounded according to a hierarchical classification of four classical Indian philosophical schools, known as the "four tenets" (drubta shyi).
While the classical tenets-system is limited to four tenets (Vaibhāṣika, Sautrāntika, Yogācāra, and Madhyamaka), there are further sub-classifications within these different tenets.
This classification does not include Theravada, the only surviving of the 18 classical schools of Buddhism.
It also does not include other Indian Buddhist schools, such as .