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Key Term ālayavijñāna
Hover Popup Choices ālaya-consciousness; all-ground consciousness; storehouse-consciousness; eighth consciousness
In Tibetan Script ཀུན་གཞིའི་རྣམ་ཤེས་
Wylie Tibetan Transliteration kun gzhi'i rnam shes
Devanagari Sanskrit Script आलयविज्ञान
Romanized Sanskrit ālayavijñāna
Tibetan Phonetic Rendering kunshi namshe
Chinese Script 阿賴耶識‎; 藏識
Chinese Pinyin ā lài yé shí; cáng shí ‎
Japanese Transliteration arayashiki; zōshiki
English Standard ground consciousness
Karl Brunnhölzl's English Term ālaya-consciousness; ground consciousness
Richard Barron's English Term consciousness as the basis/ ground of all (ordinary) experience; conscious aspect of the basis/ ground of all experience
Jeffrey Hopkin's English Term storehouse-consciousness; foundation-consciousness; mind-basis-of-all
Gyurme Dorje's English Term substratum consciousness
Ives Waldo's English Term all-ground consciousness
Alternate Spellings kun gzhi'i rnam par shes pa; kun gzhi rnam par shes pa; kun gzhi rnam shes
Term Type Noun
Source Language Sanskrit
Basic Meaning A neutral base consciousness that is posited as the storehouse for the seeds of past karmic actions in which they remain in a latent state until the circumstances arise for them to ripen as karmic consequences.
Has the Sense of A central tenet of the Yogācāra school, in which it is listed as the eighth consciousness. It is also sometimes equated with tathāgatagarbha, in particular in its latent or impure form at the stage of ordinary sentient beings.
Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism In Sanskrit, “storehouse consciousness” or “foundational consciousness”; the eighth of the eight types of consciousness (vijñāna) posited in the Yogācāra school. All forms of Buddhist thought must be able to uphold (1) the principle of the cause and effect of actions (karman), the structure of saṃsāra, and the process of liberation (vimokṣa) from it, while also upholding (2) the fundamental doctrines of impermanence (anitya) and the lack of a perduring self (anātman). The most famous and comprehensive solution to the range of problems created by these apparently contradictory elements is the ālayavijñāna, often translated as the “storehouse consciousness.” This doctrinal concept derives in India from the Yogācāra school, especially from Asaṅga and Vasubandhu and their commentators... (p. 31)
Rangjung Yeshe's English Term All-ground consciousness, as one of the eight collections of cognitions; consciousness as ground of all (ordinary/ samsaric) experience.
Tshig mdzod Chen mo rnam shes tshogs brgyad kyi nang gses/ ma bsgribs lung ma bstan pa'i gtso bo'i rnam shes gang zhig bag chags kyi bgo gzhir gyur pa rnam smin dang sa bon thams cad kyi rten du gyur cing don gyi ngo bo rig pa
Other Definitions Ālaya-vijñāna (storehouse consciousness) refers to a level of subliminal mental processes that occur uninterruptedly throughout one’s life and, in the Buddhist view, one’s multiple lifetimes. It represents, in effect, one’s personal continuity along with the continuity of one’s accumulated karmic potential (hence, “storehouse”). Ālaya-vijñāna—along with Consciousness-Only (vijñapti-mātra) and the Three Natures (trisvabhāva)—is one of the distinguishing doctrines of the Yogācāra (“Practitioners of Yoga”) school of Indian Buddhism. The Yogācāra school flourished in India from the 3rd to 5th centuries of the Common Era and influenced all later types of Buddhism, particularly in Tibet and East Asia; the development of the concept of ālaya-vijñāna parallels this history. Initially, ālaya-vijñāna addressed a series of problems created by the Abhidharmic emphasis on the momentary nature of all mental processes, mostly concerning personal continuity: the continuity of karmic potential and the afflictions (kleśa) in a latent state, the gradual path to liberation, and the problem of rebirth. Once articulated, this underlying level of subliminal consciousness also allowed for a more robust explanation of the constructed nature of perception (“consciousness-,” “representation-,” or “appearance-only,” vijñapti-mātra) as well as the commonality of our experienced world (bhājana-loka). And since it represents the “store” of one’s past karma, ālaya-vijñāna is what must be eliminated, transformed, or purified on the path to liberation, when it becomes a “stainless consciousness” (amala-vijñāna). In some texts, it is even equated with tathāgatha-garbha (roughly, “buddha-nature”), a relationship later Tibetan and Chinese Buddhists developed along with other aspects of the Yogācāra traditions they received from India. More recently, ālaya-vijñāna has been compared with theories of unconscious mental processes in depth psychology and cognitive science. - William S. Waldron