Eight consciousnesses

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A monkey swinging in a tree, the image for consciousness in the Wheel of Life

The eight consciousnesses, or more literally, eight collections of consciousness (Skt. aṣṭavijñānakāya; Tib. རྣམ་ཤེས་ཚོགས་བརྒྱད་, Wyl. rnam shes tshogs brgyad) are mentioned in the writings of the Mind Only school.


The six consciousnesses

  1. Visual (or eye) consciousness (Skt. cakṣur-vijñana; Tib. མིག་གི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, Wyl. mig gi rnam shes)
  2. Auditory (or ear) consciousness (Skt. śrotra-vijñana; Tib. རྣ་བའི་རྣམ་ཤེས་,Wyl. rna ba'i rnam shes)
  3. Olfactory (or nose) consciousness (Skt. ghrāṇa-vijñana; Tib. སྣའི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, Wyl. sna'i rnam shes)
  4. Gustatory (or tongue) consciousness (Skt. jihva-vijñana; Tib. ལྕེའི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, Wyl. lce'i rnam shes)
  5. Tactile (or body) consciousness (Skt. kāya-vijñana; Tib. ལུས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, Wyl. lus kyi rnam shes)
  6. Mental (or mind) consciousness (Skt. mano-vijñana; Tib. ཡིད་ཀྱི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, Wyl. yid kyi rnam shes)

The seventh and eighth consciousness

To the six consciousnesses mentioned in the Abhidharma texts of the basic vehicle are added:

7.  Defiled mental consciousness or emotional consciousness (Skt. kliṣṭamanas; Tib. ཉོན་ཡིད་, Wyl. nyon yid) and
8.  All-ground consciousness (Skt. ālaya vijñāna; Tib. ཀུན་གཞི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, kunshyi namshé; Wyl. kun gzhi rnam shes).

Transformation into Five Wisdoms

According to Mipham Rinpoche, the eight consciousnesses transform into the five wisdoms in the following way:

Alternative Translations

  • Eight avenues of consciousness (LCN)

Oral Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Edited Teachings

  • Sogyal Rinpoche, 'The Eight Consciousnesses', Rigpalink December 2003, 6 November 2003, Zurich (available in English, French and German, ordernumber 361)

Further Reading

  • A Treasury of Dharma, aka The Mengak Study Pack (Lodève: The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2005), pages 90-92 & CD2, tracks 4-6.