Formations not concurrent with mind

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Formations not concurrent with mind (S. cittaviprayuktasaṃskāra; T. sems dang ldan pa ma yin pa'i 'du byed སེམས་དང་ལྡན་པ་མ་ཡིན་པའི་འདུ་བྱེད་; C. xin buxiangying fa 心不相應法) are “conditioned phenomena (saṃskṛta) that are neither material form nor consciousness.”[1][2]

Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics (Vol. 1) states:

They are called “non-associated formative factors” since they are the aggregate of formation that is not concomitant with the mind. Instances include the three characteristics of the arising, disintegrating, and enduring of a vase; time in terms of years, months, and days; persons, propensities, things, impermanence; functions such as a vase holding water; and directions such as east, south, west, and north, and so on.[1]

These factors (dharmas) are listed as a separate category in the lists of dharmas in the Sanskrit Abhidharma tradition.

Brief explanation

Steven Goodman states:

The Buddha and those who followed in his footsteps noticed ... that there seemed to be general laws that regulated consciousness, but those laws were not only true when they were an experience. For example, what is the difference between psychological and logical reality? They noticed just one simple thing for which thousands of pages have been written in the West. And what was observed was the following: they noticed the fact that 2 + 2 = 4 is not only true when we’re thinking it. It is not only true when it is an experience for us. This is the vexed problem, the difference between psychological space and logical space. Where is mathematics when I am not thinking it?
A very precise language was developed in the West in the early part of the 1900s to investigate this point. Husserl, in his Logical Investigations, criticized the conflation of “truth” as a psychological, present reality and “truth” in the sense of what is logically true, what is not a psychological truth, meaning not dependent on being present for the mind as an experience. This is the difference between “truth of experience,” “experiential truth,” and “logical truth.” ...
[In the Abhidharma, these factors are] classified as “not conjoined with mind” (chitta viprayukta), meaning the “reality of these factors does not depend on being connected to the mind.”
[A mental factor] has to be connected or conjoined with mind (chitta samprayukta) for it to be experientially true. Perception, idea, will, touch, energy, fraudulence, and arrogance all have something rather interesting in common. They’re true only when they are an experience for me. They are different from [the non-associated factors]. [The non-associated factors] consist of aspects associated with the “truth” of language, logic, and mathematics, as well as other seemingly “abstract” items.
To reiterate, [the non-associated factors] are not always present in a moment of consciousness. The technical term for this class of things is dharmas conditioned but not arising with mind. It is the difference between psychological or experiential space and logical or mathematical space.[3]

Lists of factors

The lists of non-associated formations from traditional texts include:

According to the Gateway to Knowledge, these lists are not exclusive. The actual number of non-concurrent formations is beyond counting.[4]

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism also states that non-associated formations "constituted an open category, and new forces could be posited as the need arose in order to resolve thorny doctrinal issues."[5]


Why are these factors (dharmas) called formations not concurrent with mind?

Because they are in the aggregate of formation, they are called formations (saṃskāra). Because they are not mental factors and hence are not concurrent with mind, they are called non-concurrent.[2]

In the Tibetan tradition, these factors are commonly referred to by the shorter name of non-concurrent formations (S. viprayukta saṃskāra; T. ldan min 'du byed).[2]

Alternative Translations

  • Formations that are not concurrent with mind (Rangjung Yeshe Wiki, David Karma Choephel)
  • conditioned forces dissociated from thought (Princeton Dictionary)[5]
  • elements neither substantial forms nor mental functions (Goodman)
  • dharmas conditioned but not arising with mind (Goodman)
  • factors not conjoined with mind (Goodman)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Thupten Jinpa 2017, s.v. Chapter 10.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rangjung a-circle30px.jpg ldan_min_'du_byed, Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
  3. Goodman 2020, s.v. Chapter 10.
  4. Mipham Rinpoche 2004, s.v. Formations.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. cittaviprayuktasaṃskāra.


Further Reading

  • Book icoline.svg Thupten Jinpa (editor), Ian James Coghlan (translator), Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Volume 1: The Physical World (Wisdom: 2017), 141-150
  • Erik Pema Kunsang (translator), Light of Wisdom, Volume 1 (Rangjung Yeshe Publications: 1999), pages 184-185.