Turning Earth into Gold: The Early Yogācāra Understanding of Experience Following Non-Conceptual Knowledge

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


According to the early Indian Yogācāra, following the attainment of non-conceptual cognition (nirvikalpajñāna) the Bodhisattva attains another kind of insight – the “cognition obtained subsequent to it” (tatprsthalabdhanirvikalpajnāna). This cognition appears to involve a unique kind of conceptual activity, very different from the ordinary one, which allows one to remain and operate effectively within Samsara. In the Trimśikā-bhāsya Sthiramati correlates this cognition to the understanding of the Dependent nature as the causal interconnectedness of all essenceless phenomena; and the Mahāyānasamgraha and its commentaries present intriguing descriptions of what such knowledge entails in terms of the Yogic perception of the external world. Examining these texts as well as passages from other Yogācāra treatises, the paper will unpack the phenomenological and conceptual aspects of the School’s conception of the “cognition obtained subsequent to it,” exploring its relevancy to contemporary philosophical discussion of qualia; its implications for the adequacy of the shared/private distinction with respect to experience and for the understanding of perception given the possibility of non-conceptual experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuddhist philosophy of consciousness
Subtitle of host publicationtradition and dialogue
EditorsMark Siderits, Ching Keng, John Spackman
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBrill Rodopi
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789004440913
ISBN (Print)9004440917, 9789004440890
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameValue Inquiry Book Series
ISSN (Print)0929-8436


  • Consciousness -- Religious aspects -- Buddhism


Dive into the research topics of 'Turning Earth into Gold: The Early Yogācāra Understanding of Experience Following Non-Conceptual Knowledge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this