Alaya consciousness - many questions.

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Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby tellyontellyon » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:09 pm

What is Alaya consciousness?

I've read it is called store-house consciousness? Is that correct?

Does that mean it is just like a sort of diary that we all get to write in... developing, but once written, essentially fixed?

Is it anything like Jung's 'collective' unconscious?

How does it operate/function?

How does it relate to Karma?

What about Rupert Sheldrakess idea of morphic resonance?



Sorry to ask so many questions. :oops:




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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby theanarchist » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:21 pm

As far as I know it's the "place" where all karmic tendencies are "stored" as seeds along with fundamental ignorance that shrouds the enlightened mind. From it arises all the samsara we create in our minds.

Correct me if that is wrong.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:26 pm

Ok, since we are asking for clarifications, I too have a question. Is the alaya-vijnana the all-base with ignorance, and the alaya-jnana the enlightened mind/buddha nature? I posted something to that effect on another thread then had doubts about it long after the 'edit' option had expired.

I'd direct this to Malcolm, but I don't think he's very sympathetic to the entire idea to begin with. Does anyone know for sure about it?
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What I am pretty sure about is that the all-base consciousness is a Mahayana construction that allows for 'something' to go between one life and another with continuity. The buddhist principle of no-self is maintained by saying that it is infinitely mutable, and therefore there is no unchangeable identity associated with it. But I could be wrong about that.

See? Clarifications needed by somebody that knows their stuff.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Punya » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:41 pm

My understanding it is not that it is just a mahayana construction but that it is specific to the yogacara (cittamatra) school and that according to Vasubandhu there are eight consciousnesses: the five sense-consciousnesses, mind (perception), manas (self-consciousness), and storehouse-consciousness.

Sorry but I have more questions. If the storehouse conciousness is not accepted, presumably by the prasingikas, what is their explanation? I seem to remember something about consciousness carrying forward moment to moment but I've never understood it properly. Also, what are the manas? I've tried to research this without success.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby LastLegend » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:17 am

I think Alaya is when you go to sleep and you get lost in your dream, or when you sit on a rainy day you think about what happened in the past, and you become upset or angry.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby TrimePema » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:59 am

from my understanding, which is very, very minimal, the alaya is all cause and effect latencies, possibilities, and the shift or play of such karma.

when karmic effects are actualized, it is in the form of the rest of the 7 consciousnesses, which are all included in alaya but are subsumed by it.

according to the 3 kayas sutra, the alaya is the fundamentally pure ground of all arising, which is part of why all beings have buddha nature and all phenomena contain seeds for enlightenment; alaya is also how those seeds are perceived by each being.

alaya is like an all encompassing "stream of words" that make up every possible mode of "existing". "you" have "your own" line in this stream, but it is intricately
connected to every other part and does not exist on its own, so believing it is "yours" is a misconception.

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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby asunthatneversets » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:24 am

There's ālaya [kun gzhi] and ālayavijñāna [kun gzhi rnam shes]. The ālaya consciousness is the latter. Both can carry different meanings and may be defined differently depending on the tradition concerned.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby TrimePema » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:29 am

i think manas is the recognition of mental objects. alaya is where the unformed mental objects are. the other 6 consciousnesses are the play of the arising of the objects that are recognized in each moment, stored in the alaya.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby dude » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:16 am

[quote="tellyontellyon"]What is Alaya consciousness?

I've read it is called store-house consciousness? Is that correct?

Does that mean it is just like a sort of diary that we all get to write in... developing, but once written, essentially fixed?

Is it anything like Jung's 'collective' unconscious?

How does it operate/function?

How does it relate to Karma?

What about Rupert Sheldrakess idea of morphic resonance?



Sorry to ask so many questions. :oops:



Yes, it's called the storehouse consciousness because it is the accumulated force of all causes made in the past.
It IS karma.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:41 am

tellyontellyon wrote:Does that mean it is just like a sort of diary that we all get to write in... developing, but once written, essentially fixed?
No, it is not fixed. It is malleable. One can add and remove seeds from the Alaya Vijnana. Like in the Lonphala Sutta.
Is it anything like Jung's 'collective' unconscious?
No, not really. Though "my" Alaya Vijnana and "yours" may have some similar (even identical) seeds stored in them, these seeds are not shared collectively. They are individual. You cannot/will not undergo the outcomes of my actions and vice versa.
How does it relate to Karma?
The traces of action (karma) are stored in the Alaya Vijnana and await the correct causes and conditions to manifest.
What about Rupert Sheldrakes idea of morphic resonance?
What about it?
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:30 pm

Punya wrote: If the storehouse conciousness is not accepted, presumably by the prasingikas, what is their explanation? I seem to remember something about consciousness carrying forward moment to moment but I've never understood it properly. Also, what are the manas? I've tried to research this without success.


Candrakirti accepts the ālayavijñāna. Tsongkhapa did not.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Simon E. » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:23 pm

Can you expand a little of the implications for later doctrinal developments Malcolm ?
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby cloudburst » Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:12 pm

Malcolm wrote:Candrakirti accepts the ālayavijñāna. Tsongkhapa did not.


This is incorrect. Chandrakirti rejected the alayavijnana as it is is being used in this discussion.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Punya » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:14 pm

cloudburst wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Candrakirti accepts the ālayavijñāna. Tsongkhapa did not.


This is incorrect. Chandrakirti rejected the alayavijnana as it is is being used in this discussion.


What do you mean by 'as it is is being used in this discussion' cloudburst?
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Last edited by Punya on Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Punya » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:21 pm

Could someone confirm that the alaya vijnana is the all base with ignorance? (As asked by smjc earlier.)
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:34 pm

Punya wrote:Could someone confirm that the alaya vijnana is the all base with ignorance? (As asked by smjc earlier.)
If one adheres to a system that posits a Alaya "above" the Alaya vijnana, then yes it is the all base with ignorance. Some systems stop at the Alaya vijnana. Some do not include it at all in their categorisation of the mind.
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Will » Sat Jan 04, 2014 7:52 pm

One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby conebeckham » Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:49 pm

cloudburst wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Candrakirti accepts the ālayavijñāna. Tsongkhapa did not.


This is incorrect. Chandrakirti rejected the alayavijnana as it is is being used in this discussion.


Chandrakirti rejects Alayavijnana as storehouse of habitual tendencies, etc--even on a conventional level of seeming?

This is not the intepretation of Chandra that I'm familiar with.....
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Punya » Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:54 pm

Will wrote:Waldron knows his stuff: http://www.misterdanger.net/books/Buddh ... scious.pdf


Thanks Will. I'm really interested in understanding yogacara better. Any other book suggestions (by anyone) would be welcome too.

And sorry telly if I seem to be hijacking your thread. I hope my questions are helping you too.
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Re: Alaya consciousness - many questions.

Postby Adamantine » Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:36 pm

From an interview with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche via the Chronicles Project:


According to the Tibetan understanding of the yogachara view, there are eight consciousnesses. The eighth, called the alaya-vijnana, is the basis for the other seven. The ati tradition presents an ultimate alaya (San.; "abode, receptacle"; Tib. künshi; "ground of all"), which is the basis of both samsara and nirvana. The Vidyadhara described this ultimate alaya and the split from it in this way:

This basic ground does not depend on relative situations at all. It is natural being which just is. Energies appear out of this basic ground and those energies are the source of the development of relative situations. Sparks of duality, intensity and sharpness, flashes of wisdom and knowledge—all sorts of things come out of the basic ground. So the basic ground is the source of confusion and also the source of liberation. . . . As for ego's type of ground, the eighth consciousness, this arises when the energy which flashes out of the basic ground brings about a sort of blinding effect, bewilderment. That bewilderment becomes the eighth consciousness, the basic ground for ego. [Garuda IV: The Foundations of Mindfulness; p. 58]

In addition to the alaya of the eighth consciousness and the alaya of the basic ground, the Vidyadhara here presents a third type of alaya, a knowing that is self-aware and self-luminous (Tib. shepa rang rik rang sel).



VCTR: Generally, there are different types of alaya: a lower level, or storehouse consciousness, and a higher level, which is basic brilliantness.

JL: It is pure tathagatagarbha.

VCTR: So to speak.

JL: If the higher level of alaya is brilliance, is there also a dharmakaya level of alaya? Is there a formless purity before it becomes luminous?

VCTR: Yes. According to vajrayana, there is the dharmata itself, which you return to at the moment of your death. It is just dissolving. After the moment of death, there is the bardo of dharmata, which goes beyond the alaya, even beyond the brilliance. It is just a kind of blankness—dead. JL: So the vajrayana seems to say that there are three types of alaya: complete purity or dharmata, luminosity, and the alaya that gives birth to grasping.

VCTR: Yes.

RK: I take it that the lower alaya, which is responsible for our ego, is not still.

VCTR: It is fickle.

RK: In shamatha practice, it seems that thoughts are being thrown out, and I am bubbling and throwing them out. There is no sense of complete peace, but there is a sense of being behind the thoughts as they come out. Is that the lower alaya?

VCTR: It could be seeing the lower alaya, though connected with the luminous aspect a little bit. If you are in the state of fickleness, you cannot see it because you are it. You begin to see it because you are beginning to be a little more steady; therefore you have a reference point. The reason you see the fickleness might be because the luminous aspect allows you to step back a little.

JL: Is the point of coemergence, or split, in that luminous alaya?

VCTR: No, the split is at the level of dharmata. When you reach the bardo of dharmata, you have a chance of either splitting downward or not. That is where coemergent ignorance and coemergent wisdom arise.

RK: If you wake up from the bardo of dharmata and go in the direction of coemergent ignorance, are you then presented with the lights?

VCTR: Yes. But that point is slightly hopeless, because you are already in duality.

RK: But if you go in the direction of coemergent wisdom, are you enlightened?

VCTR: Well, you at least glimpse it.

LM: In the past, we have discussed two types of alaya: one that is a sense of very primordial egolike consciousness and the other that is much more kosher. What is the third one?

VCTR: Dharmata.

JL: At that point, there is not even luminosity.

VCTR: There are two kinds of luminosity: that of coemergent wisdom and that of the basic alaya.

JL: Does the luminosity of coemergent wisdom take place after the split?

VCTR: Yes.

JL: Are there two kinds of brilliance, coemergent-wisdom brilliance and a coemergent-ignorance light that continues down into the basic alaya?

VCTR: No. The separation takes place at the level of dharmata, which is dull.

RK: By "separation," do you mean coemergent wisdom?

VCTR: Or ignorance.

RK: Is the lower alaya at the post-split level on the side of samsara?

VCTR: Yes.

RK: Is the higher alaya also post-split?

VCTR: No, the higher alaya is neutral.

LM: Is that the alaya referred to in the slogan, "Rest in the nature of alaya"?

VCTR: Mm-hmm.

LM: What is the term for the higher alaya?

VCTR: It is the "ultimate alaya" (Tib. tön-gyi künshi) or "perfectly pure ultimate alaya" (yangdak pe tön-gyi künshi). Out of that ultimate alaya, you could have a split. Finally, ultimate alaya is the atmosphere where the split can occur.

RK: When you have coemergent wisdom, there is both a sacred side and a samsaric side.

VCTR: Yes.

RK: Where does the sense of enlightenment or sacredness come from? Is it sacred because it comes out of the ultimate alaya?

VCTR: You could say that. Ultimate alaya at least holds the potentialities of the whole thing. We could say that samsara came out of some kind of freedom. That is the basic logic of why anyone can attain enlightenment.

RK: In meditation, is our approach to identify with the ultimate alaya?

VCTR: New practitioners try to meditate with the self-aware, self-luminous aspect.

RK: When meditators practice coemergent wisdom, is the sense of the ground what makes it coemergent wisdom instead of coemergent ignorance?

VCTR: Yes. You try to tune yourself into the ultimate alaya, and from there you try to flash.

RK: You flash on phenomena evolving? VCTR: Yes.

RK: You drop back to the point before thought arises, then you let the thought arise, but you flash on it as it arises.

VCTR: Not quite. You do not flash "on course." You just flash.

LM: It is like saturating yourself first, then you let go of that. VCTR: Yes. When you create pressure, then you can pop the balloon.

JL: Are you popping the balloon of your thoughts?

VCTR: You are popping your alaya.

JR: Then quite anything could come out [laughter].

SW: Does it come out as sacred?

VCTR: Absolutely, yes. You have sacred outlook.

RK: It is like you have a balloon full of water and a swimming pool. You drop the balloon into the swimming pool and then pop it.

LM: Or you swell up your balloon with whatever, then pop it by going out.

VCTR: Yes.

LM: And what you pop into would be sacred, the ultimate alaya.

VCTR: Then you could go a little beyond the ultimate alaya.

JR: Does this relate to "First thought, best thought"?

VCTR: Yes, very much so.

RK: So it is like you hold it, pop it, and then drop into ultimate alaya, or a little bit before.

VCTR: You hold it in the ultimate alaya. You pass beyond the luminous mind, or lower level. You hold it in the ultimate alaya, and then you pop it there.

LM: Then that is what you are left with.

VCTR: That is the level where you can actually transcend karmic force. Once you slowly go downward toward the luminous mind, you are bound by karma. So you are helpless in some sense; you have been forced. That is where the seventh consciousness comes from.

JL: Once it is popped, you start coming back down again. You expand back in through phenomena.

VCTR: Sometimes you just pop and then come back, because you cannot sustain it. But if you pop it many times, you are able to sustain it more. The idea is to flash as much as you can so that you will finally be able to sustain it.

JL: Then you just dwell there.

VCTR: "Dwell" is not exactly the right word.

JL: How would you describe it?

VCTR: There is some level of awake and space, I suppose.

JL: No subject and no object.

VCTR: No. You come down from the dharmakaya level to the sambhogakaya level.

LM: So are we talking about the dharmakaya principle?

VCTR: We are talking about the "first buddha," which we usually refer to as Samantabhadra and which is higher than Vajradhara.

LM: So this is the dharmakaya of dharmakaya.

VCTR: Right, which is a very early stage, even beyond the ultimate alaya.

LM: Would the ultimate alaya have more sense of dharmakaya or sambhogakaya?

VCTR: There is not very much there. It is just the atmosphere where the split can occur, a sort of neutral ground. It is not related to the kayas at all.

SW: It is like dharmadhatu?

VCTR: Dharmadhatu is beyond that. Dharmadhatu is before the first buddha. That is why we describe it with such terms as "simplicity," "unchanging," and "fresh."

RK: When you hold yourself back in the ultimate alaya, is there a sense of holding discursive thoughts still?

VCTR: You have to retreat back to the origin. It is holding discursive thoughts and also going beyond the luminous aspect.

RK: You cannot possibly hold it, so you drop it.

VCTR: You pop it.

RK: And you do not entertain any doubts about this process.

VCTR: That is why it is called the "fourth moment beyond the three." It is so minute. It is subtle and vajra, like the middle of space.

JL: Therefore it is outside of time.

VCTR: Yes.

JL: Therefore there is no karma.

VCTR: Yes.

LM: Since coemergence occurs before the luminous alaya, could the result or footprint of coemergence tie into the experience of that alaya? It comes after you have coemerged, but you notice it somewhat after the fact. There is some dropping of fixation, but it is not complete, since there is still some samsaric mind.

VCTR: You poke your head up, but it goes back because you are still pulled back by your karma.

RK: So you keep on poking your head up.

VCTR: That is right.

RK: The more pokes, the better.

VCTR: Yes.



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