Five wisdoms

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The five wisdoms (Skt. pañcajñāna; T. ye shes lnga, ཡེ་ཤེས་ལྔ; C.wuzhi rulai; J. gochi nyorai) are five aspects of the wisdom of the buddhas, according to the Sanskrit Mahayana tradition. The five wisdoms appear when the mind is purified of disturbing emotions. In the Tibetan tradition, the five wisdoms correspond to the Five Tathāgatas.

The five wisdoms are:

  1. Dharmadhātu-jñāna (wisdom of dharmadhatu)[1] or Tathatā-jñāna (wisdom of tathatā), "the bare non-conceptualizing awareness" of Śūnyatā, the universal substrate of the other four jñāna;[2]
  2. Ādarśa-jñāna, the wisdom of "Mirror-like Awareness", "devoid of all dualistic thought and ever united with its 'content' as a mirror is with its reflections";[2][note 1]
  3. Samatā-jñāna, the wisdom of the "Awareness of Sameness", which perceives the sameness, the commonality of dharmas or phenomena.[2]
  4. Pratyavekṣaṇa-jñāna, the wisdom of "Investigative Awareness", that perceives the specificity, the uniqueness of dharmas.[2]
  5. Kṛty-anuṣṭhāna-jñāna, the wisdom of "Accomplishing Activities", the awareness that "spontaneously carries out all that has to be done for the welfare of beings, manifesting itself in all directions".[2]

The five wisdoms "emerge through a transformation (parāvṛtti) of the eight consciousnesses at the moment of enlightenment".[2]

Alternate translations

Alternate translations for pañcajñāna include:

  • Five wisdoms
  • Five awarenesses
  • Five aspects of pristine awareness
  • Five pristine cognitions.

Transformation of the eight consciousnesses

According to the Yogacara tradition, the eight consciousnesses are transformed into the five wisdoms when the mind is completely purified of obscurations.

This transformation is described by Mipham Rinpoche as follows:[3]

See also


  1. Ādarśa is Sanskrit for "mirror", the term may be parsed into the etymon of darśana with a grammatical adposition


  1. Princeton Dict icon 166px.png Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. pañcajñāna
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Keown 2003, p. 209.
  3. RW icon height 18px.png Eight consciousnesses


  • Kalupahana, David J. (1991), Buddhist Thought and Ritual, Paragon House 
  • Keown, Damien (2003), A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-860560-9 
  • Thrangu Rinpoche (author) & Peter Roberts (translator) (1998). The Five Buddha Families and The Eight Consciousnesses. Boulder, CO, USA: Published by the Namo Buddha Seminar. Source: [1] (accessed: November 22, 2007)

Further reading

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