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Translations of
English attention,
ego-centric demanding
Pali manasikāra
Sanskrit manasikara, manasikāra
Chinese 作意 (T) / 作意 (S)
Korean 작의
(RR: jakeui)
Tibetan ཡིད་བྱེད
(Wylie: yid byed;
THL: yi jé

Manasikara (Sanskrit and Pali, also manasikāra; Tibetan Wylie: yid la byed pa or yid byed) is a Buddhist term that is translated as "attention" or "ego-centric demanding". It is defined as the process of the mind fixating upon an object.[1][2] Manasikara is identified within the Abhidharma teachings as follows:



Bhikkhu Bodhi states:

The Pali word [manasikāra] literally means “making in the mind.” Attention is the mental factor responsible for the mind’s advertence to the object, by virtue of which the object is made present to consciousness. Its characteristic is the conducting (sāraṇa) of the associated mental states towards the object. Its function is to yoke the associated states to the object. It is manifested as confrontation with an object, and its proximate cause is the object. Attention is like the rudder of a ship, which directs it to its destination, or like a charioteer who sends the well-trained horses (i.e. the associated states) towards their destination (the object). Manasikāra should be distinguished from vitakka: while the former turns its concomitants towards the object, the latter applies them onto the object. Manasikāra is an indispensable cognitive factor present in all states of consciousness; vitakka is a specialized factor which is not indispensable to cognition.[3]

The Atthasālinī (I, Part IV, Chapter 1, 133) and the Visuddhimagga (XIV, 152) define manasikāra as follows:

...It has the characteristic of driving associated states towards the object, the function of joining (yoking) associated states to the object, the manifestation of facing the object. It is included in the saṅkhārakkhandha, and should be regarded as the charioteer of associated states because it regulates the object.[4]


Geshe Tashi Tsering writes:

The last always-present mental factor is attention, which focuses the mind on a specific object to the exclusion of other objects. Attention also helps to keep the object before the mind. Without it, the mind would be unable to remain oni the object for even a second.
Attention is the factor that filters information. Considering the vast amounts of sensory information we receive every moment, imagine our experience if we could not focus on one thing and exclude others. Our minds may skip from object to object from one moment to the next, but within a given moment, the mind attends to a single object, and it is the always-present aspect that is pertinent here. Through meditation, of course, we can enhance this attention and learn to direct it voluntarily and sustain it indefinitely, and this becomes a powerful tool for liberation.[5]

The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is manasikara? It is a continuity having the function of holding the mind to what has become its reference.[1]

The Necklace of Clear Understanding states:

It is a cognition that keeps the complex of mind in its specific objective reference.[1]

The difference between cetanā and manasikara is that cetanā brings the mind towards the object in a general move, while manasikara makes the mind fixate upon this particular objective reference.[1]

Related terms

Yoniso manasikara

Yoniso manasikara can be translated as "appropriate attention" or "wise reflection".[6]

Thanissaro's view is that yoniso manasikara encompasses the three components of mindfulness: they are sati ( the remembering of dhamma tactics from the past), alertness to the present, and ardency, but is only applied through the fourth establishing of mindfulness, because it is concerned with appropriate attention, and therefore concerned with distinguishing between the seven factors of enlightenment and the three unwholesome roots, the five hindrances and the other factors under the fourth foundation.[7]

Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes:

The Sabbasava Sutta (MN 2) states that one's release can be "fermentation-free" only if one knows and sees in terms of "appropriate attention" (yoniso manasikara). As the discourse shows, appropriate attention means asking the proper questions about phenomena, regarding them not in terms of self/other or being/non-being, but in terms of the four noble truths. In other words, instead of asking "Do I exist? Don't I exist? What am I?" one asks about an experience, "Is this stress? The origination of stress? The cessation of stress? The path leading to the cessation of stress?" Because each of these categories entails a duty, the answer to these questions determines a course of action: stress should be comprehended, its origination abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed.[8]

Ayoniso manasikara

Ayoniso manasikara is translated as "inappropriate attention".[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Guenther (1975), Kindle Locations 406-410.
  2. Kunsang (2004), p. 23.
  3. Bhikkhu Bodhi 2012, Kindle Locations 2225-2232.
  4. Abhidhamma Vipassana icon.png Cetasikas by Nina van Gorkom
  5. Geshe Tashi Tsering 2006, p. 37.
  6. Access to Insight Yoniso
  7. Dharmawheel [1]
  8. One Tool Among Many (Access to Insight)
  9. Access to Insight Yoniso


  • Bhikkhu Bodhi (2012), A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangaha (Vipassana Meditation and the Buddha's Teachings), Independent Publishers Group Kindle Edition 
  • Geshe Tashi Tsering (2006). Buddhist Psychology: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought. Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
  • Guenther, Herbert V. & Leslie S. Kawamura (1975), Mind in Buddhist Psychology: A Translation of Ye-shes rgyal-mtshan's "The Necklace of Clear Understanding" Dharma Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  • Kunsang, Erik Pema (translator) (2004). Gateway to Knowledge, Vol. 1. North Atlantic Books.
  • Abhidhamma Vipassana icon.png Cetasikas by Nina van Gorkom

External links

This article includes content from Manasikara on Wikipedia (view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikipedia logo