Sunday, June 17, 2007

kun gzhi rnam par shes pa - all ground consciousness

Different Buddhist schools have different interpretation how las (karma) and its bag chags are stored. This is a simplified presentation. For the lower schools, this is actually material, a form of aura that is formed around the being.

For the mind only school, all this is stored in the mind, in the kun gzhi rnam par shes pa, or alaya-vijnana in Sanskrit. Usually it's translated as all-ground consciousness. It's also sometimes shortened to kun gzhi, which means all ground, kun -- all, gzhi -- foundation, or in this case ground.

rnam par is very, completely, used when translating the Sanskrit prefix vi. shes pa here means consciousness. So in the Mind-Only school, there are more consciousnesses than the five senses plus mental consciousness. This consciousness will pick up all karmic seeds and bag chags and from this consciousness they are ripening.

The higher schools of Buddhist thought, Madhyamika, showed that this is not that simple. With kun gzhi have the problem of the mind examining the mind, and where does it stop. Also, it is not existing from its own side, it has interdependence to other things. Ultimately, in this presentation, karma and bag chags are just mental projections in the mind stream. Which is good news, if they are not self-existent, the reasons for these karmas and bag chags to trigger could be changed due to dependent origination, neutralized -- and this enables the possibility to cleaning up the min stream and have an enlightened mind free from obstructions, mental suffering and so on.

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