The all-ground consciousness (Skt. ālayavijñāna; Tib. ཀུན་གཞི་རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ་, kun shyi nampar shépa; Wyl. kun gzhi rnam par shes pa) is the eighth of the eight consciousnesses posited by the Chittamatra and Svatantrika-Madhyamika schools. In these systems, there are three mental consciousnesses, of which two are active (the sixth and seventh) and one is inactive (the eighth). It is a subtle, neutral level of consciousness, in which traces of past actions are stored as 'seeds' ready to ripen into future experience.
Mipham Rinpoche explained:
- The state of consciousness that is mere clarity and knowing, which does not veer off into an active sense cognition, and which is the support of habitual tendencies, is called the alayavijnana, the consciousness that is the universal ground (ཀུན་གཞི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, Wyl. kun gzhi rnam shes).
- The alaya or all-ground consciousness is neutral, neither positive nor negative.
- It is not as coarse as the other seven forms of consciousness.
Thrangu Rinpoche explains:
- The eighth consciousness [...] is the basis or ground for the arising of all other types of consciousness. It is that fundamental clarity of consciousness, or cognitive lucidity, that has been there from the beginning. As the capacity for conscious experience, it is the ground for the arising of eye consciousness, ear consciousness, etc. Like the seventh, it is constantly present, constantly operating, and it persists until the attainment of final awakening.
The all-ground consciousness is divided into a 'seed aspect' and a 'maturation aspect'.
- Consciousness as the basis of all ordinary experience (LCN)
- Ground-of-all consciousness (Gyurme Dorje)
- Store consciousness (Pettit)
- Storehouse consciousness
- Stratum-bound perceptivity (HVG)
- The Adornment of the Middle Way, p.238
- Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, appendix, Creation and Completion, p.126
- Lambert Schmithausen, Alayavijñâna. On the Origin & the Early Development of a Central Concept of Yogâcâra Philosophy. International Inst. for Buddhist Studies (Tokyo 1987).
- William S. Waldron, The Buddhist Unconscious: The Alaya-Vijñana in the Context of Indian Buddhist Thought, RoutledgeCurzon 2003
- Ben Connelly, Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara: A Practitioner's Guide, Wisdom Publications, 2016, ISBN 978-1614292845