Māyā (mental factor)

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Māyā (T. sgyu སྒྱུ་) is identified as a mental factor in the Sanskrit Abhidharma tradition. In this context, it is translated as "pretense," "deceit," etc.

Specifically, māyā is identified as:


The Khenjuk states:

  • Tib. སྒྱུ་ནི་རྙེད་བཀུར་སོགས་ཀྱི་ཕྱིར་རང་ལ་མེད་པའི་ཡོན་ཏན་ཡོད་པར་འཆོས་ནས་བདེན་པ་མིན་པས་གཞན་སླུ་བྱེད་རྨོངས་ཆགས་ཀྱི་ཆར་གཏོགས་པ་ཉོན་མོངས་དང་ཉེ་ཉོན་གྱི་གྲོགས་བྱེད་ཅིང་ལོག་འཚོ་སྒྲུབ་པའི་རྟེན་བྱེད་པའོ།
  • Pretense is to deceive others through what is untrue, pretending to possess virtuous qualities which one is not endowed with for the sake of such things as honor and gain. It belongs to the category of delusion and attachment, and forms the support for disturbing emotions and subsidiary disturbing emotions, as well as for establishing wrong livelihood.[1]

Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics (Vol. 2) states:

Associated with attachment or delusion, [pretense] is a mental factor that, out of attachment to gain and respect, wants to show, with an intention to deceive others, that one has good qualities that one does not actually have. It functions to establish wrong livelihood. The Compendium of Knowledge says: “What is pretense? Associated with attachment and delusion, this is a mental factor that, out of excessive attachment to gain and respect, displays what is not a genuine quality. It functions as a basis of wrong livelihood.”[2]

Alexander Berzin states:

Pretension (sgyu) is in the categories of longing desire (raga) and naivety (moha). Because of excessive attachment to our material gain and the respect we receive, and activated by wanting to deceive others, pretension is pretending to exhibit or claiming to have a good quality that we lack.[3]

See also


  1. Mipham Rinpoche 2004, s.v. Pretense.
  2. Thupten Jinpa 2020, s.v. The twenty secondary mental afflictions.
  3. Berzin, s.v. Pretension.


External links

  • Rangjung a-circle30px.jpg sgyu, Rangjung Yeshe Wiki