Six supercognitions

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The six supercognitions (Skt. ṣaḍabhijñā; Tib. མངོན་ཤེས་དྲུག, ngönshé druk; Wyl. mngon shes drug) or the six 'superknowledges', which are included among the twenty-one sets of immaculate qualities, are:

  1. the supercognition of the divine eye (Wyl. lha’i mig gi mngon shes), which is a perception of all forms—subtle and gross, near or far—and an ability to see the births and deaths of beings; it arises due to the power of samadhi meditation on the support of a subtle eye faculty belonging to the realms of form;
  2. the supercognition of the divine ear (Wyl. rna ba’i mngon shes), which is the ability to hear all sounds and languages spoken, whether nearby or at a great distance; it too is based on the ear faculty of someone in the higher realms;
  3. the supercognition of knowing the minds of others (Wyl. gzhan sems shes pa’i mngon shes), which is an ability to know the minds of other beings that comes about through samadhi;
  4. the supercognition of one’s own and others’ past lives, which is the knowledge of where births occurred in the past, and whatever pleasant or unpleasant experiences were undergone;
  5. the supercognition that is the ability to perform miracles (Wyl. rdzu ‘phrul gyi mngon shes), which allows the display of various miracles, such as turning many things into one, or multiplying one thing so that it becomes many, radiating light, or blazing with fire and spouting jets of water;
  6. the supercognition of the exhaustion of the defilements (Wyl. zag pa zad pa mkhyen pa’i mngon shes).

The first five supercognition can be achieved through any of the four dhyanas (Tib. samten shyi), but in the case of bodhisattvas they are achieved through the utterly pure fourth dhyana. When they are combined with non-conceptual wisdom, they are superior to the supercognition of practitioners who have not transcended the world and shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.

Alternative Translations

  • Six clear perceptions
  • Six extrasensory perceptions
  • Six superhuman faculties
  • Six supernatural perceptions