Three kinds of perception

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The three kinds of perception (Tib. སྣང་བ་གསུམ, nangwa sum་, Wyl. snang ba gsum) appear in the preliminaries for the Lamdré practice of the Sakya tradition:

  1. impure perception (Tib. མ་དག་པའི་སྣང་བ་, madakpé nangwa, Wyl. ma dag pa'i snang ba)
  2. mixed perception experienced by yogis through practice (Tib. རྣལ་འབྱོར་ཉམས་ཀྱི་སྣང་བ་, naljor nyam kyi nangwa, Wyl. rnal 'byor nyams kyi snang ba)
  3. pure perception (Tib. དག་པའི་སྣང་བ་, dakpé nangwa, Wyl. dag pa'i snang ba)

The source is Virupa's Vajra Verses.

An alternative version of the three kinds of perception appears in the Zindri which quotes Patrul Rinpoche, and is also mentioned by the master himself in The Words of My Perfect Teacher:

  • Deluded perceptions, which arise in the consciousness of the beings of the six realms due to misunderstanding; they are called the impure deluded perceptions of the universe and beings.[1]
  • The perceptions of interdependence, magical illusions, corresponding to the eight similes of illusion which one does not apprehend as real[2]; these are the perceptions of the bodhisattvas of the ten levels in their post-meditation state.
  • The authentic, perfect, perceptions of wisdom; when one has realized the natural state of everything, the beings and the universe appear as the display of the kayas and wisdoms.[3]

Further Reading

  • Deshung Rinpoche, The Three Levels of Spiritual Perception (Boston: Wisdom, 1995, 2003)


  1. Zindri p.266.
  2. The Words of My Perfect Teacher page 252.
  3. Zindri, page 266/7.