The term is also generally used as an honorific title for an advanced Buddhist practitioner to designate a level of spiritual attainment and authority to teach.
In the Tibetan tradition, six types of lamas are identified:
- the teacher who is a guide
- the mind-liberating teacher
- the teacher who grants pith instructions
- the vow-restoring teacher
- the teacher who gives empowerments and samayas
- a general teacher