Anuśaya (P. anusaya; T. bag la nyal ba; C. suimian) refers to unwholesome mental states that lead to suffering. This term is translated as "underlying tendency," "proclivity," "predisposition," etc.
Germano and Waldron state:
- We can see this in something we all experience: habit-formation. We do something enjoyable, like drinking caffeine or alcohol, which affects our bodies and minds in certain, mostly pleasurable, ways. In the process, these experiences create (or reinforce) specific neural pathways in the brain and body, whose very presence supports their repetition, just as storm runoff creates furrows in the ground that attracts further runoff. As a result, we start to crave (S: tṛṣṇā, P: taṇhā), both physically and psychologically, the pleasures these actions bring and so tend to repeat them. In this way, our actions reinforce the conditions that lead to their repetition, creating neuro-psychological complexes we call dispositions. In Pali these are the anusaya, underlying tendencies.
- These tendencies are the latent counterparts to the three afflictions of greed, hatred, and ignorance, which make actions karmically consequential, that is, actions that lead to effects that may be experienced in the future. They "are called anusaya, underlying tendencies," a later Pali commentary explains, "in the sense that they have not been abandoned in the mental continuum to which they belong and because they are capable of arising when a suitable cause presents itself" (MN 1995, 1241, n. 473).
Types of anuśaya
A common list of six types of anuśaya is:
- kamaraga, sexual passion (see kama and raga)
- pratigha, hostility
- māna, pride
- avidya, ignorance
- dristi, views
- vicikitsā, doubt
- Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. anuśaya
- Germano, David F. and William S. Waldron. “A Comparison of Alaya-Vijnana in Yocācāra and Dzogchen,” in Buddhist Thought and Applied Psychological Research. Edited by Nauriyal, D. K., et al. Routledge, 2006, p. 39
- Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. Abhidharmakośabhāṣya