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Perception (Skt. saṃjña; Tib. འདུ་ཤེས་, dushé, Wyl. ‘du shes) is the third of the five skandhas. In Abhidharma literature, it also appears in the list of fifty-one mental states, in the subgroup of five ever-present mental states.


In the Khenjuk, Mipham Rinpoche says:

  • Tib. འདུ་ཤེས་ནི་མཚན་མར་འཛིན་པ།
  • Perception is apprehending characteristics (Rigpa Translations)
  • Perceptions consist of the grasping of distinguishing features (Erik Pema Kunsang)

Alternative Translations

  • Conception (David Karma Choepel)[1]
  • Cognition (Tony Duff)
  • Discernment or recognition (Berzin)
  • Identifications (Peter Alan Roberts)
  • Mental representations or notions (Cornu)


  1. David Karma Choepel: ‘du shes or samjna is commonly translated as 'perception', but that has several meanings in English and this aggregate refers to only one of them. The aggregate of feeling, part of the aggregate of formations, and the aggregate of consciousness are also perception, and so calling this aggregate perception is potentially confusing and misleading. What this aggregate refers to is the mental process of forming an idea about the object: it is like when one sees a vase and thinks “That is big” or “That is small.” Additionally, in other contexts the word ‘du shes matches the usage of the English words 'conception' or 'idea'.