Reposted, after some editing, as off-topic on the Chandarkirit/Alaya thread.
The question is, whether ālayavijñāna is posited to be truly existent, or merely conventionally existent, in Yogacara texts....If it is a given that Yogacara texts do posit an ultimate existent, which I think is beyond argument, is that ultimate existent the ālayavijñāna itself, or some sort of "under-structure" or "basic element" which merely "holds" the seeds? I'm not interested in later Tibetan commentary, really, but only in Indian source texts, pro or con. I think we can all agree that Nonconceptual Wisdom is not the ālayavijñāna as it is normally defined.
First of all, I think we must be open to the idea that different "Yogācāra texts" may have differing views on the matter. This is what I meant earlier when I pointed out that we should be text specific. The development of thought in what was subsequently called the "Yogācāra" is fairly well known. This includes not only the classic śāstras, but also the later Tathāgatagarbha-Ālāyavijñāna texts, too.
As such, here are a few citations from the Yogācārabhūmi śāstra, one of the earlier texts in this genre:
(CBETA, T30, no. 1579, p. 345, a13-16)YBŚ, Śrutamayī:
The ultimate sense (paramārtha) establishment, that is, only in the sphere of cessation without remainder (nirūpadhiśeṣanirvāṇadhātu) is the ground of no-mind. For what reason? Because within this sphere (dhātu), the store cognition (ālāyavijñāna) is forever ceased. The other establishments, due to the cessation of the operating cognition (pravṛtivijñāna) are named grounds of no mind, but because the store cognition (ālāyavijñāna) is not yet forever extinguished, in terms of the ultimate sense (paramārtha), it is not the ground of no mind.
Sorry, but I couldn’t track down the actual Sanskrit for this passage.
Whatever the case, it states fairly clearly – at least to my mind – that it is the cessation (nirodha / kṣāya) of ālāya-vijñāna that qualifies as “ultimate sense” (paramārtha).
(CBETA, T30, no. 1579, p. 651, b13-18)
I shall now explain the distinctions of establishing the ultimate principle (*paramārtha-nāya). What is said to be the distinctions of establishing the ultimate principle? It is, in brief, the two cognitions (vijñāna). One, the storehouse cognition (ālāyavijñāna); two, the operating cognition (pravṛti-vijñāna). The storehouse cognition is that which is based upon, the operating cognition is that which bases upon it. Furthermore, there are seven kinds. That is, the eye cognition, up to, the mind cognition. By simile, it is like water waves base themselves on a flooding torrent; or, as a reflection bases itself on a bright mirror. In this way, the distinctions of establishing the ultimate principle are that which is based upon, and that which bases.
The term for “base” here being √āśāya, etc.
I think that Namdrol’s earlier question, ie. rather than asking about the ultimate status of ālāya or not, instead ask about the fully accomplished nature (pariniṣpanna-svabhāva), is a very good one. After all, the very name itself is closely connected to the notion of being “ultimate” (paramārtha) --> “accomplished” (pariniṣpanna). Still, the development of Yogācāra ideas will again mean that we must pay attention to how this changes over time. In particular, the status of other dependent nature (paratantra-svabhāva)is very important. But, if as the later tradition tends to assert, the other dependent nature (paratantra-svabhāva) is basically ālāyavijñāna, then we can just plug this term into the equation.
I could find a few more statements from the YBŚ on this one, but will maybe leave that until a little later when I have a bit more time.