ālayavijñāna--conventional or ultimate existent?

A forum for scholastic discussion/debate.

Re: ālayavijñāna--conventional or ultimate existent?

Postby joda » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:41 am

Hi :hi:

conebeckham wrote:OK, attempting to get back on track, and keeping in mind the original question as noted in my title, as well as Namdrol's question above...

It would be interesting to hear what you call ultimate or really existing as neither you nor Namdrol have defined what you mean by those words.
When I read the texts at hand I for example do not see any ultimacy there. I just see that the author says that certain things are there and others are not.

Mahayanasamgraha, II,32:

In the other-dependent, the imaginary does not exist.
The perfect exists in it.
Therefore, as for these two, in it,
Nonobservation and observation occur together.

If the perfect exists in it, does that mean the dependent is necessarily ultimate?

The meaning is apparent when you look up in the text. In the same paragraph it says

How should the natures of these dharmas be explained? - In the dependent nature , the imaginary nature does not exist but the absolute nature is present.(MGS, II,32)

So what is said here is simply that our imaginations about the world do not truly represent the dependent nature (pratityasamutpada). But the absence of duality is present there - there is emptiness. Or again in other words: in the interplay of cittas, cetasikas and rupas there is the absence of the two-fold self.
In case you wonder why I say that dependent-nature is not (only) the Alaya I say this because Asanga himself states that. He says

What is the dependent nature ?(...)
v) tadupabhoktṛvijñapti: the concept which knows the preceding
(ibid II,1)

So the dependent nature includes the 6 sense-consciousnesses. He also states

The real meaning of conditioned production is (...) the fact of dependency (paratantrārtha) (Abhidharmasamuccaya 22,7)

The last line of my quote seems to indicate, to me, that nonobservation of the imaginary and other-dependent occurs, as does observation of the perfect nature (once one is liberated from afflicted phenomena).

The texts states

Thus, by someone who does not see the truth and by someone who does see it, these two natures, imaginary and absolute, are simultaneously not perceived or perceived as existent and non-existent respectively.(MGS II,32,ii)

So what the verse says in a rather convoluted manner is that in a Worldling there is perception of the imaginations but not perception of how it truly is and in the saint there is no perception of the wrong imaginations but there is perception of how it truly is.
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:30 pm

Re: ālayavijñāna--conventional or ultimate existent?

Postby Mr. G » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:59 pm

    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
User avatar
Mr. G
Posts: 4031
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:36 am
Location: Spaceship Earth

Re: ālayavijñāna--conventional or ultimate existent?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:27 am

conebeckham wrote: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)

YBŚ, Viniścāya:
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.

~~ Huifeng
User avatar
Posts: 1473
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am

Re: ālayavijñāna--conventional or ultimate existent?

Postby White Lotus » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:55 pm

in the yogacara leaning Lankavatara sutra we are told ''as things are there is no universal mind, no noble wisdom and no ultimate reality; for the wise all things are wiped away and even the imageless ceases to exist.''

there may be a perception of energy/presence of emptiness, this however is merely an arising mirage, a phantom. ultimately there is no ultimate to speak of, nor is there a conventional. this is a duality understanding where there is ultimately no duality.

we live in the conventional perhaps with a perception of the ultimate... the alayavijnana does not exist except as a conventional explanation of what is not.

please note that this is a complex subject and i may certainly be wrong, but i do have the dharma eye.

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
White Lotus
Posts: 630
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:56 pm


Return to Academic Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Inge, Yahoo [Bot] and 11 guests