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ālayavijñāna (T. kun gzhi rnam par shes pa; C. alaiyeshi/zangshi; 阿賴耶識/藏識), or storehouse consciousness or foundational consciousness is the eighth of the eight consciousnesses presented in the Yogacara school. It is a subtle level of consciousness, in which traces of past actions are stored as 'seeds' ready to ripen into future experience.

The ālayavijñāna is systematically described in treaties by Asanga and Vasubandhu.


From Sanskrit
  • Ālaya is commonly translated as "storehouse" or "receptacle".
  • Vijñāna means consciousness.

Regarding the origins of the term ālaya, William S. Waldron states:

Ālaya means "that which is clung to, adhered to, dwelled in", and thus derivatively, "dwelling, receptacle, house." Yet is also retained an older sense from the earlier texts...of "clinging, attachment, grasping."[1]
From Tibetan

The Tibetan for ālayavijñāna is ཀུན་གཞི་རྣམ་པར་ཤེས་པ་.


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 alayavijñana, the consciousness that is the universal ground (ཀུན་གཞི་རྣམ་ཤེས་, Wyl. kun gzhi rnam shes).[2]


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.[3]


The all-ground consciousness is divided into a 'seed aspect' and a 'maturation aspect'.

Alternative Translations

  • Consciousness as the basis of all ordinary experience (LCN)
  • Ground-of-all consciousness (Gyurme Dorje)
  • Store consciousness (Pettit)
  • Storehouse consciousness
  • Stratum-bound perceptivity (HVG)
  • All-encompassing foundation consciousness (Alexander Berzin)


  1. William S. Waldron, The Buddhist Unconscious (Routledge; 2003), 93
  2. The Adornment of the Middle Way, p.238
  3. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, appendix, Creation and Completion, p.126

Further Reading

  • 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

External links

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