Kun gzhi

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Key Term kun gzhi
Topic Variation universal ground
Hover Popup Choices kun gzhi; kunzhi; kunshi; all-ground; ālaya
In Tibetan Script ཀུན་གཞི་
Wylie Tibetan Transliteration kun gzhi
Devanagari Sanskrit Script आलय
Romanized Sanskrit ālaya
Tibetan Phonetic Rendering kunzhi
English Standard universal ground
Jeffrey Hopkin's English Term basis-of-all
Dan Martin's English Term all basis
Ives Waldo's English Term all-ground
Term Type Noun
Source Language Sanskrit
Basic Meaning Although it is commonly used as an abbreviation of ālayavijñāna (kun gzhi'i rnam shes), in later Tibetan traditions, particularly that of the Kagyu and the Nyingma, it came to denote an ultimate or pure basis of mind, as opposed to the ordinary, deluded consciousness represented by the ālayavijñāna. Alternatively, in the Jonang tradition, this pure version is referred to as ālaya-wisdom (kun gzhi'i ye shes).
Has the Sense of This term entered the Tibetan lexicon as a translation of ālaya, and thus it is often rendered back to its Sanskrit antecedent in modern scholarship and translations. However, as a Tibetan term it is more commonly read literally as the compound all-ground, or ground of everything. As such it is often used to describe a common locus, or substrate, out of which both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa emerge.
Related Terms gzhi
Definitions
Usage Example

In his Entering the Way of the Great Vehicle, Rongzompa states,

ཐེག་པ་གོང་མའི་ཚུལ་ལས་ནི།་ཀུན་གཞིའི་མཚན་ཉིད་གདོད་མ་ནས་བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་ཞེས་བྱ་བལ་ཉོན་མོངས་པ་དང་གནས་ངན་ལེན་གྱི་བག་ཆགས་ནི་གློ་བུར་གྱི་དྲི་མ་སྟེ་གསེར་གཡས་གཡོགས་པའམི་ནོར་བུ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་འདམ་དུ་སྦུབས་པ་བཞིན་ཡོན་ཏན་ཅུང་ཟད་མི་སྣང་བར་ཟད་དེལ་རང་བཞིན་ཉམས་པར་བྱས་པ་མེད་དོ།

"In the higher vehicles, the characteristic of the ālaya [kun gzhi] is that it is the primordial awakened mind [bodhicitta]. The afflictions and the imprints that lead to birth in the lower realms are adventitious obscurations, like oxide covering gold, or dirt covering a precious jewel. Although the buddha qualities are temporarily hidden, their nature is not defiled."

-Translated in Sam van Schaik. Approaching the Great Perfection: Simultaneous and Gradual Approaches to Dzogchen Practice in Jigme Lingpa's Longchen Nyingtig. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2004: p. 63.


In his Treasury of Words and Meanings, Longchenpa defines four types of kun gzhi: the primordial universal ground (ye don gyi kun gzhi), the linking universal ground (sbyor ba don gyi kun gzhi), the universal ground of varied karmic propensities (bags sna tshogs pa'i kun gzhi), and the universal ground of the karmic propensities(-derived) body (bag chags lus kyi kun gzhi).

-David F. Germano and William S. Waldron. "A Comparison of Ālaya-Vijñāna in Yogācāra and Dzogchen." In Buddhist Thought and Applied Psychological Research: Transcending Boundaries. New York: Routledge, 2006: p. 53.


Although it is commonly used as an abbreviation of ālayavijñāna (kun gzhi'i rnam shes), in later Tibetan traditions, particularly that of the Kagyu and the Nyingma, it came to denote an ultimate or pure basis of mind, as opposed to the ordinary, deluded consciousness represented by the ālayavijñāna. Alternatively, in the Jonang tradition, this pure version is referred to as ālaya-wisdom (kun gzhi'i ye shes).

Although it is commonly used as an abbreviation of ālayavijñāna (kun gzhi'i rnam shes), in later Tibetan traditions, particularly that of the Kagyu and the Nyingma, it came to denote an ultimate or pure basis of mind, as opposed to the ordinary, deluded consciousness represented by the ālayavijñāna. Alternatively, in the Jonang tradition, this pure version is referred to as ālaya-wisdom (kun gzhi'i ye shes).

Although it is commonly used as an abbreviation of ālayavijñāna (kun gzhi'i rnam shes), in later Tibetan traditions, particularly that of the Kagyu and the Nyingma, it came to denote an ultimate or pure basis of mind, as opposed to the ordinary, deluded consciousness represented by the ālayavijñāna. Alternatively, in the Jonang tradition, this pure version is referred to as ālaya-wisdom (kun gzhi'i ye shes).

Although it is commonly used as an abbreviation of ālayavijñāna (kun gzhi'i rnam shes), in later Tibetan traditions, particularly that of the Kagyu and the Nyingma, it came to denote an ultimate or pure basis of mind, as opposed to the ordinary, deluded consciousness represented by the ālayavijñāna. Alternatively, in the Jonang tradition, this pure version is referred to as ālaya-wisdom (kun gzhi'i ye shes).

Although it is commonly used as an abbreviation of ālayavijñāna (kun gzhi'i rnam shes), in later Tibetan traditions, particularly that of the Kagyu and the Nyingma, it came to denote an ultimate or pure basis of mind, as opposed to the ordinary, deluded consciousness represented by the ālayavijñāna. Alternatively, in the Jonang tradition, this pure version is referred to as ālaya-wisdom (kun gzhi'i ye shes).

The Nyingma, which is often described as the oldest tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, traces its origin to Padmasambhava, who is said to have visited Tibet in the eighth century.

Mental stains that are not inherent to the nature of mind, but rather are temporarily present as the residue of past actions or habitual tendencies.

Often referred to as poisons, these are a class of disruptive emotional states that when aroused negatively affect or taint the mind.

Literally that which obscures or conceals. They are often listed as a set of two obscurations (sgrib gnyis): the afflictive emotional obscurations (Skt. kleśāvaraṇa, Tib. nyon mongs pa'i sgrib pa) and the cognitive obscurations (Skt. jñeyāvaraṇa, Tib. shes bya'i sgrib pa). By removing the first one becomes free of suffering and by removing the second one becomes omniscient.

Along with Madhyamaka, it was one of the two major philosophical schools of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Founded by Asaṅga and Vasubandhu in the C. 4th Century, many of its central tenets have roots in the Saṃdhinirmocanasūtra and the so-called Third Turning of the Dharma-Wheel (See tridharmacakrapravartana).