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་, namshé tsok gyé, Wyl. rnam shes tshogs brgyad) are mentioned in the sutras of the third turning of the Wheel of Dharma, as well as 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 and
8.  All-ground consciousness.

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)

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.