Ālayavijñāna from a Practical Point of View

Nobuyoshi Yamabe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In 1987, Lambert Schmithausen published an important extensive monograph on the origin of ālayavijñāna (Ālayavijñāna: On the Origin and the Early Development of a Central Concept of Yogācāra Philosophy). In his opinion, the introduction of ālayavijñāna was closely linked to nirodhasamāpatti, but it was not meditative experience itself that directly lead to the introduction of this new concept. Rather, according to Schmithausen, it was dogmatic speculation on a sūtra passage about nirodhasamāpatti. My own hypothesis is that the introduction of ālayavijñāna was more directly based on meditative experiences. Focusing on the “Proof Portion” of the Viniścayasaṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi, the present paper examines this hypothesis. My examination reveals that ālayavijñāna is the physiological basis of the body, and as such it is correlated to the state of the body and mind. When one’s body and mind are transformed from an inert to a well-functioning state through meditative practice, the transformation seems to hinge on the transformation of ālayavijñāna itself. It appears that Yogācāra meditators intuitively realized this mechanism at the stage of darśanamārga. This paper also responds to some points raised by Schmithausen on my hypothesis in his recent monograph on early Yogācāra (The Genesis of Yogācāra-Vijñānavāda: Responses and Reflections, 2014). Through these discussions, this paper sheds light on the importance of the correlation between body and mind in meditative contexts and proposes that this was the key issue in the introduction of the ālayavijñāna theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-319
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Indian Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 1


  • Yogācārabhūmi
  • dauṣṭhulya
  • ekayogakṣema
  • mind-body correlation
  • praśrabdhi
  • ālayavijñāna

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Philosophy


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