Yogacara (yōˌgəkärˈə) [key] [Skt., = yoga practice], philosophical school of Mahayana Buddhism, also known as the Vijnanavada or Consciousness School. The founders of this school in India were Maitreya (270–350), his disciple Asanga (c.375–430), and Asanga's younger half-brother Vasubandhu (c.400–480), who was also the greatest systematizer of the Abhidharma type of Buddhist philosophy. The school held that consciousness ( vijnana ) is real, but its objects are constructions and unreal. The school's teachings are thus often characterized by the phrase "consciousness-only" ( citta-matra ) or "representation-only" ( vijnapti-matra ). The content of consciousness is produced not by independently existing objects but by the inner modifications of consciousness itself. A theory of eight kinds of consciousness was formed to explain how this process functions. The deepest level of consciousness is the "store-consciousness" ( alaya-vijnana ), which is both individual and universal and contains the seeds or traces of past actions, which are projected into manifestation through the "defiled mind" and the six sense-consciousnesses (the five physical senses plus mind or thought). The school was transmitted to China as the Fa-hsiang. It eventually syncretized with the Madhyamika school.
See D. T. Suzuki, Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra (1930); S. Radhakrishman and C. A. Moore, A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy (1957); A. K. Chatterjee, The Yogacara Idealism (1962); C. L. Tripathi, The Problem of Knowledge in Yogacara Buddhism (1972).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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