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Ālāyavijñāna - Eighth Consciousness - Store-house Consciousness

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The **all-ground consciousness** (Skt. //ālayavijñāna//; Tib. ཀུན་གཞི་རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ, //kun shyi nampar shépa//; Wyl. //kun gzhi rnam par shes pa//) is the eighth of the eighth consciousnesses posited by the Chittamatra and Svatantrika-Madhyamika schools. In these systems, there are three mental consciousnesses, of which two are active (the sixth and seventh) and one is inactive (the eighth). It is a subtle, neutral level of consciousness, in which traces of past actions are stored as 'seeds' ready to ripen into future experience.


Tib. ཀུན་, //Kun// means ‘all’, Tib. གཞི, //shyi// means ‘ground’, Tib. རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ་, //nampar shépa// is ‘consciousness’.

Mipham Rinpoche explained:

The state of consciousness that is mere clarity and knowing, which does not veer off into an active sense cognition, and which is the support of habitual tendencies, is called the alayavijnana, the consciousness that is the universal ground (ཀུན་གཞི་རྣམ་ཤེས, kun gzhi rnam shes The Adornment of the Middle Way ,

Thrangu Rinpoche explains:

The eighth consciousness ... is the basis or ground for the arising of all other types of consciousness. It is that fundamental clarity of consciousness, or cognitive lucidity, that has been there from the beginning. As the capacity for conscious experience, it is the ground for the arising of eye consciousness, ear consciousness, etc. Like the seventh, it is constantly present, constantly operating, and it persists until the attainment of final awakening.[1]


The all-ground consciousness is divided into a 'seed aspect' and a 'maturation aspect'.

Alternative Translations

[[ངོ་བོ་ནི་སེམས་སེམས་བྱུང་གིས་ཉེ་བར་བསྡུས་པས་འཁོར་འདས་ཀྱི་ལས་དང་བག་ཆགས་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་རྟེན་དུ་གྱུར་པ་སྟེ། མ་རིག་པའི་ལུང་མ་བསྟན་ཏེ།]]

Chinese Hanzi Characters

ālaya , , 執藏, , 所著, 梨耶

alaya 無没

ālaya 眞如, , , ,處所, 賴耶, 阿利耶, 阿梨耶, 阿賴耶, 黎耶

ālayavijñāna , 所知依, 根本識, 無没識, 眞識

ālaya-vijñāna 藏識, 賴耶識, 阿梨耶本識, 阿梨耶識

ālayavijñāna 阿賴耶識

ālaya-vijñāna 阿黎耶識

ālayavijñāna - 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì -

Pronunciations of ālayavijñāna - 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì

py ālàiyé shì

wg alai-yeh shih

[hg] 아뢰야식

[mc] aroeya sik

[mr] araya sik

[kk] アラヤシキ

[hb] araya shiki

[qn] a lại da thức

Basic Meaning of 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì


Senses of ālayavijñāna - 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì

Transliteration of the Sanskrit, meaning store consciousness. (Tib. kun gzhi rnam shes pa). The store-house consciousness, a distinctive concept of the Yogâcāra school 瑜伽行派 ('b745c-4f3d-884c-6d3e')) of Buddhism, originated in 3-5th century CE India and closely associated with the treatises of the ācāryas Asaṅga 無著 ('b7121-8457')) and Vasubandhu 世親 ('b4e16-89aa')). See Footnote 1

The notion of the store consciousness arose out of early problems surrounding the continuity of both karmic potential and the afflictions (kleśa; nyon mongs; 煩惱 -'b7169-60f1')) in a latent state (anuśaya; bag la nyal ba; 隨眠 -'b96a8-7720')) that had been generated by the Abhidharma emphasis upon momentary processes of mind. How, after all, could these two essential components of saṃsāric existence, which are eliminated only toward the end of the path, continuously persist if one's mental stream (saṃtāna -'b76f8-7e8c'); rgyud; 相續) were comprised solely of whatever dharmas (chos; -'b6cd5')) were momentarily present and manifest in mind? See Footnote 2

The ālayavijñāna thus came to denote the mental processes that underlie each and every moment of the traditional six forms of manifest cognitive awareness (pravṛtti-vijñāna; 'jug pa'i rnam par shes pa; 轉識 -'b8f49-8b58'), 六識 -'b516d-8b58')) — a term coined to distinguish it from the continuous yet subliminal 'ālaya' (阿賴耶 -'b963f-8cf4-8036')) or 'home' awareness. Consonant with traditional definitions of cognitive awareness (vijñāna; rnam par shes pa; 轉識 -'b8f49-8b58')), the ālaya awareness is said to dependently arise based, on the one hand, on both the material sense faculties and the cognitive and affective formations (saṃskāra; 'du byed; -'b884c')) which comprise one's sentient existence, as well as, on the other hand, its own specific object, an indistinct (asaṃdvidita; aparicchinna) apprehension of an external world (bhājana-loka; snod kyi 'jig rten; 器世間 -'b5668-4e16-9593')). Moreover, the ālaya awareness is said to 'grow, develop and increase' — also like traditional forms of vijñāna (S II 65, 67, 101; III 54) — by the seeds of karma (bīja; sa bon; 種子 -'b7a2e-5b50')) and the impressions (vāsanā; bag chags; 熏習 -'b718f-7fd2')) of the afflictions which have accumulated 'since beginningless time' through the various experiences of conscious awareness (pravṛtti-vijñāna).

Although this subliminal ālaya awareness thus enjoys a continuously evolving and reciprocal relationship with active aspects of consciousness, it still reflects—in Indian Buddhist scholasticism at least — its original function as the central locus of accumulated karmic potential and latent afflictions, effectively constituting one's saṃsāric existence and serving as the virtual 'subject' of saṃsāra (also not unlike earlier notions of vijñāna). It is for this reason that ignorant beings typically mistake the ālaya awareness as their self (ātman; bdag; -'b6211')), a form of ignorance and self-grasping that was thought to so continuously and subliminally arise that it too came to be considered a distinctive mental process, called 'afflictive mentation' (kliṣṭa-manas; nyon mongs pa can gyi yid; 染汚意 -'b67d3-6c5a-610f')) and considered in the Chinese Buddhist tradition as the seventh consciousness, with the ālayavijñāna as the eighth consciousness or 第八識 -'b7b2c-516b-8b58').

Commensurate with these multiple functions, the ālayavijñāna is denoted by a variety of synonyms, most importantly: the root consciousness (mūla-vijñāna; rtsa ba'i rnam par shes pa) 本識 -'b672c-8b58')), the 'mind with all the seeds' (sarvabījaka-citta; sa bon thams cad pa'i sems; [一切種子識]] -'b4e00-5207-7a2e-5b50-8b58')), and the appropriating consciousness (ādāna-vijñāna; len pa'i rnam par shes pa; 阿陀那識 -'b963f-9640-90a3-8b58')).

Although in its systematic descriptions in early Yogâcāra treatises such as the Yogâcārabhūmi 瑜伽論 ('b745c-4f3d-8ad6')) and the Mahāyāna-saṃgraha 攝大乘論 ('b651d-5927-4e58-8ad6')), the ālaya-vijñāna is largely commensurate with other Indian Buddhist notions of consciousness (vijñāna) (indeed it was specifically couched in Abhidharmic terms), the very metaphors used to describe it — as a repository consciousness that receives and stores the karmic seeds which thereafter serve as the cause (hetu; rgyu; 因緣 -'b56e0-7de3')) of conscious experience — seem to have invited its interpretation as a reified entity, as an unchanging mind which serves as the sole basis, the primordial ground, from which the entire phenomenal world arises. And this in spite of the fact that Indian Yogâcāra doctrine itself explicitly and repeatedly states that taking the ālayavijñāna as a self (ātmadṛṣṭi; bdag tu lta ba; 我見 -'b6211-898b')) is one of the main causes of accumulating karma and perpetuating saṃsāric existence!

This tendency seems to be particularly pronounced in certain later Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, but was no doubt exacerbated by the identification — in a different set of texts such as the Laṅkâvatāra Sūtra 楞伽經 ('b695e-4f3d-7d93')) and, later and more importantly, the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith (Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana — of the ālayavijñāna with the tathāgata-garbha (de bzhin gshegs pa'i snying po 如來藏 -'b5982-4f86-85cf')), the womb or matrix of the Tathāgata (Fundamental Treasury of the Thus Come One or Buddha Matrix or Tathagata Garbha). Although this identification was unquestioned in most later forms of Chinese Buddhism (aided, no doubt, by an early translation of the ālayavijñāna as the 'store' consciousness 藏識 ('b85cf-8b58')), the first character of which, ('b85cf')), was also the standard translation of garbha), it is not found in the standard treatises of Indian Yogâcāra Buddhism. The sixth-century Indian translator Paramârtha's response to this discrepancy was to preserve the ālayavijñāna as a defiled, eighth consciousness, which must be eliminated upon awakening, while interpolating into his texts an additional, undefiled, ninth consciousness, an amala-vijñāna (阿摩羅識 -'b963f-6469-7f85-8b58')), which persists after the ālayavijñāna is eliminated. One of Xuanzang's 玄奘 ('b7384-5958')) aims in retranslating such Yogâcāra texts as the Yogâcārabhūmi and the Mahāyāna-saṃgraha was to recover the earlier, and to his mind more orthodox, sense of the ālayavijñāna as the locus of defiled existence unrelated to the notion of the tathāgata-garbha. Similar developments occurred in Tibetan schools associated with the doctrine of 'extrinsic emptiness' (gzhan stong), who self-consciously departed from Indian Yogâcāra models and posited a primordial ālaya wisdom (kun gzhi ye shes) apart from defiled and discursive forms of vijñāna (rnam shes).

These varying notions of post-nirvanic forms of consciousness, typically expressed in Mahāyāna traditions as a transformation from vijñāna into jñāna, reflect similar ambiguities found in the earliest collections of Buddhist teachings, in which the consciousness of a Buddha or Arhat, for example, is no longer bound by grasping or appropriation (anupādāna), but is said to be '[[nonabiding' or 'unsupported' (appatiṭṭhita-viññāṇa; D III 105; S I 122; S II 66, 103; S III 54; 無住 -'b7121-4f4f'), 無依 -'b7121-4f9d')).

In sum, this core Yogâcāra concept touches upon some of central-most concerns of Buddhist soteriology and analysis of mind, but its interpretations vary radically depending upon which school, which text, and which time period one is investigating. [W. Waldron]

The ālayavijñāna has a variety of connotative synonyms that describe its various aspects, including: 有情根本之心識 the fundamental mind-consciousness of sentient beings; 無沒識 ('b7121-6c92-8b58')) inexhaustible mind, because none of its seeds are lost; 現識 ('b73fe-8b58')) manifesting mind, because all things are revealed in or by it; 種子識 ('b7a2e-5b50-8b58')) seeds mind, as it is made up of nothing but karmic seeds; 所知依識 the basis of all knowledge; 異熟識 ('b7570-719f-8b58')) differential maturing consciousness, because it is the locus for the differentiated maturation of karma; 執持識 ('b57f7-6301-8b58')) or 阿陀那 ('b963f-9640-90a3')) appropriating consciousness, as that which holds together, or is the reification for another rebirth; 第一識 ( the prime or supreme mind or consciousness; 宅識 ('b5b85-8b58')) abode (of) consciousness. In the interpretations derived from the Awakening of Mahāyāna Faith and so forth, it is known as the 無垢識 ('b7121-57a2-8b58')) unsullied consciousness, i.e. the Tathāgata. 〔成唯識論 T 1585.31.7c15 -,31,0007c13:1585_,31,0008a13.html〕

The Cheng weishi lun also describes the ālayavijñāna as 'store' as having three connotations 'storer,' 'that which is stored,' and 'that which is appropriated.'

See 藏三義 ('b85cf-4e09-7fa9')). [cmuller] References of ālayavijñāna - 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì

Brown, Brian Edward. The Buddha Nature: A Study of Tathāgatagarbha and ālayavijñāna . Delhi: 1991, 1994.

Frauwallner, Erich. “ Amalavijñānam und ālayavijñānam .” Festschrift Walther Schübring: Beiträge zur indischen. Philologie und Alterkumskunde. Hamburg: 1951.

Osaki, Akiko. “Jung's collective unconsciousness and the ālayavijñāna .” Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies . Tokyo: vol. 35.1, 1986.

Rahula, Walpola. “ ālayavijñāna .” Mahābodhi. Colombo: vol. 72, 1964.

Sastri, N. Aiyaswami. “Store consciousness (ālayavijñāna)—a ground concept of the Yogâcāra Buddhism.” Bulletin of Tibetology. vol. 9.1, 1972.

Schmithausen, Lambert. Ālayavijñāna: On the Origin and the Early Development of a Central Concept of Yogâcāra. Philosophy. Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1977. Studia Philologica Buddhica Monograph Series.

Tokiwa, Gishin. “The ālayavijñāna of the śraddhôtpāda.” Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies. Tokyo: vol. 23.1, 1974.

Waldron, William S. “How Innovative is the Ālayavijñāna? The Ālayavijñāna in the Context of Canonical and Abhidharma Vijñāna Theory, Part I.” Journal of Indian Philosophy. vol. 22, 1994.

The Buddhist Unconscious: The ālaya-vijñāna in the Context of Indian Buddhist Thought. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

Weinstein, Stanley. “The Ālaya-vijñāna in Early Yogâcāra Buddhism—a Comparison of the Meaning in the Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra. and Vijñapti-mātratā-siddhi. of Dharmapāla.” Transactions of the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan. Tokyo: Toho Gakkai, 1958.

Search SAT for ālayavijñāna - 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì - Notes on ālayavijñāna - 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì

1. The apparent synonym 阿梨耶識 ('b963f-68a8-8036-8b58')) usually has special connotations, so that entry needs to be consulted when that form of Chinese is used.

2. See the entry 間斷'b9593-65b7') Dictionary References on ālayavijñāna - 阿賴耶識 - ālàiyé shì

Bukkyō jiten (Ui) 14

Bulgyo sajeon 549a

Zengaku daijiten (Komazawa U.) 11a

Iwanami bukkyō jiten 16

Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary (Daitō shuppansha) 10b/11

Japanese-English Zen Buddhist Dictionary (Yokoi) 13

Zen Dust (Sasaki) 312

Bukkyōgo daijiten (Nakamura) 10d

Bukkyō daijiten (Mochizuki) (v.1-6)100b,38a,119c,142b,4208c

Bukkyō daijiten (Oda) 41-2*23-1-5*689-1-6

Fo Guang Dictionary 3676

Buddhist Chinese-Sanskrit Dictionary (Hirakawa) 1208

Sanskrit-Tibetan Index for the Yogâcārabhūmi-śāstra (Yokoyama and Hirosawa)

The rights to textual segments (nodes) of the DDB are owned by the author indicated in the brackets next to each segment. For rights regarding the compilation as a whole, please contact Charles Muller. Please do not reproduce without permission. And please do not copy into Wikipedia without proper citation!

Entry created: 1993-09-01 Updated: 2010-01-13

Fair Use Source:'b963f-8cf4-8036-8b58')

藏識 zàngshì

Pronunciations of 藏識 zàngshì

[py] zàngshì

[wg] tsang-shih

[hg] 장식

[mc] jangsik

[mr] changsik

[kk] ゾウシキ

[hb] zōshiki

[qn] tạng thức Basic Meaning of 藏識 zàngshì

to store consciousness

Senses of 藏識 zàngshì

The container consciousness; the eighth consciousness, or ālaya-vijñāna as taught by the Yogâcāra or Consciousness-Only School or Mind-Only School. See 阿賴耶識 ('b963f-8cf4-8036-8b58'))(Skt. vijñānâlaya). 〔成唯識論 T 1585.31.7c24 -,31,0007c22:1585_,31,0008a22.html〕

cmuller; source(s): Nakamura, JEBD, Hirakawa]

Search SAT - Dictionary References of 藏識 zàngshì

Bukkyō jiten (Ui) 670

Bulgyo sajeon 762a

Iwanami bukkyō jiten 512

A Glossary of Zen Terms (Inagaki) 72

Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary (Daitō shuppansha) 339b/376

Bukkyōgo daijiten (Nakamura) 883d

Ding Fubao Buddhist Chinese-Sanskrit Dictionary (Hirakawa) 1029

Bukkyō daijiten (Mochizuki) (v.1-6)100c,3025b

Bukkyō daijiten (Oda) 676-1

In the Lamdré teachings however, it refers to the indivisible union of awareness and emptiness. This is also how the term is used when it appears in the Seven Points of Mind Training.


  1. //Creation and Completion//, p.126
  2. From the //Treasury of Word and Meaning//; translation from Tulku Thondup in //The Practice of Dzogchen// (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1996 & 2002), page 211.