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Intention (Skt. cetanā; Tib. སེམས་པ་, sempa, Wyl. sems 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 five ever-present mental states.


In the Khenjuk,Mipham Rinpoche says:

  • Tib. སེམས་པ་ནི་སེམས་ཡུལ་ལ་གཡོ་ཞིང་འཇུག་པ།
  • Intention is the mind moving towards and engaging with an object (Rigpa Translations)
  • Attraction describes the process of mind [attention] moving towards and becoming involved with an object (Erik Pema Kunsang)

In terms of support, there are six, such as 'intention upon the meeting of the eye' [i.e. between object, sense faculty and consciousness], and so on.

The Ornament of Abhidharma says that if there is intention, it focuses on the six objects, and it makes the mind actually manifest and move toward its object, like iron to a magnet. It can be divided into six, in relation to the six (faculties). Its function is to give rise to the actions of body and speech.

Alternative Translations

  • attraction (Erik Pema Kunsang)
  • mental urge (Berzin)
  • volition (David Karma Choepel, Gyurme Dorje, Tony Duff)
  • resolve (Karl Brunnholz)