The Eight Kinds of Consciousness

by Rangjung Dorje

The Third Karmapa

Tibetan Buddhism, Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, eight consciousnesses, Karl BrunnhölzlFor the meditation on the nature of your own mind it is customary to ask your teacher for pointing-out instructions. Some practitioners are lucky enough to realize their true nature of mind straight away, whereas others merely perceive a sensation of it, a certain experience of the true nature of mind. But if they don't know exactly how mind and the consciousnesses function, their experience will dissolve after a few days.

The understanding of mind and the eight kinds of consciousness is obtained through the highest understanding (Skt. “prajñā”) of listening and reflecting. When we really meditate on this basis and glimpse the true nature of mind, we will be able to steadily increase our experience of it through all subsequent meditation. That’s why it is extremely useful to know about the eight kinds of consciousness.



—from Luminous Heart: The Third Karmapa on Consciousness, Wisdom, and Buddha Nature, translated and introduced by Karl Brunnhölzl


For more information:

The Third Karmapa

The Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339) was a scholar of fabled erudition. He mastered texts and teachings across sectarian boundaries, wrote treatises on medicine and astrology, built monasteries, and was spiritual advisor to the last Yuan emperor.



Karl Brunnholzl

Karl Brunnhölzl, MD, was trained as a physician and also studied Tibetology. He received his systematic training in Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy and practice at the Marpa Institute for Translators, founded by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Since 1989 he has been a translator and interpreter from Tibetan and English. He is presently involved with the Nitartha Institute as a teacher and translator.


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