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An old blind man groping for his way with a cane, the image for ignorance in the Wheel of Life

Ignorance or mis-knowing (Skt. avidyā; Tib. མ་རིག་པ་, ma rigpa, Wyl. ma rig pa) — one of the fifty-one mental states defined in Abhidharma literature. According to the Compendium of Abhidharma, it belongs to the subgroup of the six root destructive emotions. It is also the first of the twelve links of dependent origination and the basis of all other destructive emotions.


In the Khenjuk, Mipham Rinpoche says:

  • Tib. མ་རིག་པ་ནི་ལས་འབྲས་དང་བདེན་པ་དཀོན་མཆོག་རྣམས་ཀྱི་ཚུལ་མི་ཤེས་པ་སྟེ། ཀུན་ཉོན་རྣམས་འབྱུང་བར་བྱེད་པའོ།
  • Ignorance is not knowing [the law of] karma of cause and effect, the [four] truths, and the [virtues of the] Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It causes the thorough affliction to arise.(Rigpa Translations)
  • Ignorance means not knowing the [law of] actions and their effects, the [four] truths, and the [virtues of the] Precious Ones. It causes all affliction to occur. (Erik Pema Kunsang)

In the Dzogchen teachings ignorance is said to be the failure to recognize our true nature.

Alternative Translations

  • Unawareness (Matthew Kapstein)
  • Delusion (for (rmongs pa), David Karma Choepel)

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