Mind Stream

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Template:Use dmy dates Template:Contains Indic text Template:Buddhism Mind Stream (citta-santāna) in Buddhist philosophy is the moment-to-moment continuum (Sanskrit: saṃtāna) of sense impressions and mental phenomena,[1] which is also described as continuing from one life to another.[2]


Template:IAST (Sanskrit), literally stream of mind",[3] is the stream of succeeding moments of mind or awareness. It provides a continuity of the personality in the absence of a permanently abiding "self" (ātman), which Buddhism denies. The mindstream provides a continuity from one life to another, akin to the flame of a candle which may be passed from one candle to another:Template:SfnTemplate:SfnTemplate:Refn Template:Quote

According to Waldron, Template:Quote

The vāsanās (karmic imprints) provide the karmic continuity between lives and between moments.[4] According to Lusthaus, these vasanas determine how one Template:Quote



Citta holds the semantic field of "that which is conscious", "the act of mental apprehension known as ordinary consciousness", "the conventional and relative mind/heart".[5] Citta has two aspects: "...Its two aspects are attending to and collecting of impressions or traces (Sanskrit: vāsanā) cf. vijñāna."[5] Template:IAST or santāna (Sanskrit) holds the semantic field of "eternal", "continuum", "a series of momentary events" or "life-stream".[5]


Citta is often rendered as sems in Tibetan and saṃtāna corresponds to rgyud, which holds the semantic field of "continuum", "stream", and "thread"--Template:IAST is therefore rendered sems rgyud. Rgyud is the term that Tibetan translators (Tibetan: lotsawa) employed to render the Sanskrit term "tantra".[6]

Thugs-rgyud is a synonym for sems rgyud[7]--Thugs holds the semantic field: "Buddha-mind", "(enlightened) mind", "mind", "soul", "spirit", "purpose", "intention", "unbiased perspective", "spirituality", "responsiveness", "spiritual significance", "awareness", "primordial (state, experience)", "enlightened mind", "heart", "breast", "feelings" and is sometimes a homonym of "citta" (Sanskrit).[8] Thugs-rgyud holds the semantic field "wisdom", "transmission", "heart-mind continuum", "mind", "[continuum/ stream of mind]" and "nature of mind."

Chinese, Korean and Japanese

The Chinese equivalent of Sanskrit citta-saṃtāna and Tibetan sems-kyi rgyud ("mindstream") is xin xiangxu (Template:Zh). According to the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, xīn xiāngxù means "continuance of the mental stream" (from Sanskrit citta-saṃtāna or citta-saṃtati), contrasted with wú xiàngxù 無相續 "no continuity of the mental stream" (from asaṃtāna or asaṃdhi) and shì xiāngxù 識相續 "stream of consciousness" (from vijñāna-saṃtāna).

This compound combines xin "heart; mind; thought; conscience; core" and xiangxu "succeed each other", with xiang "each other; one another; mutual; reciprocal" and xu or "continue; carry on; succeed". Thus it means "thoughts succeeding each other".

Xin xiangxu is pronounced sim sangsok in Korean and shin sōzoku in Japanese.

Origins and development

The notion of citta-santāna developed in later Yogacara-thought, where citta-santāna replaced the notion of ālayavijñāna,Template:Sfn the store-house consciousness in which the karmic seeds were stored. It is not a "permanent, unchanging, transmigrating entity", like the atman, but a series of momentary consciousnesses.[9]

Lusthaus describes the development and doctrinal relationships of the store consciousness (ālaya-vijñāna) and Buddha nature (tathāgatagarbha) in Yogācāra. To avoid reification of the ālaya-vijñāna, Template:Quote

Dharmakīrti (fl. 7th century) wrote a treatise on the nature of the mind stream in his Substantiation of Other mind streams (Saṃtãnãntarasiddhi).[10] According to Dharmakirti the mind stream was beginningless temporal sequence.[11]

The notion of mind stream was further developed in Vajrayāna (tantric Buddhism), where "mind stream" (sems-rgyud) may be understood as a stream of succeeding moments,[12] within a lifetime, but also in-between lifetimes. The 14th Dalai Lama holds it to be a continuum of consciousness, extending over succeeding lifetimes, though without a self or soul.[13]

See also



  1. Template:Cite journal
  2. The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/noble8path6.pdf
  3. Keown, Damien (ed.) with Hodge, Stephen; Jones, Charles; Tinti, Paola (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Great Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press. P.62. Template:ISBN
  4. Lusthaus, Dan (2002). Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogācāra Buddhism and the Ch'eng Wei-shih Lun. Routledge. Template:ISBN. Source: [1] (accessed: 13 January 2009) p.472
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Source: [2] (accessed: 13 December 2007)
  6. Berzin, Alexander (2002; 2007). Making Sense of Tantra. Source: [3] (accessed: 13 December 2007)
  7. Dharma Dictionary (28 December 2005). Source: [4] (accessed: 17 July 2008)
  8. Dharma Dictionary (4 October 2006). Source: [5] (accessed: 17 July 2008)
  9. Davids, C.A.F. Rhys (1903). "The Soul-Theory in Buddhism" in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Source: [6] (accessed: Sunday 1 February 2009), pp. 587-588
  10. Source: Template:Cite web (accessed: Wednesday 28 October 2009). There is an English translation of this work by Gupta (1969: pp.81-121) which is a rendering of Stcherbatsky's work from the Russian: Gupta, Harish C. (1969). Papers of Th. Stcherbatsky. Calcutta: Indian Studies Past and Present. (translated from Russian by Harish C. Gupta).
  11. Dunne, John D. (2004). Foundations of Dharmakīrti's philosophy. Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Wisdom Publications. Template:ISBN, 9780861711840. Source: [7] (accessed: Monday 4 May 2010), p.1
  12. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002). Healing with Form, Energy, and Light. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. Template:ISBN. p.82
  13. Lama, Dalai (1997). Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective. Translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa. Snow Lion Publications. Source: stream_that_reincarnates_from_lifetime_to_lifetime.html (accessed: Sunday 25 March 2007)




Further reading

  • Lama, Dalai (1997). Healing Anger: The Power of Patience from a Buddhist Perspective. Translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa. Snow Lion Publications. Source: [8] (accessed: Sunday 25 March 2007)
  • Waldron, William S. (1995). : How Innovative is the Ālayavijñāna? The ālayavijñāna in the context of canonical and Abhidharma vijñāna theory.
  • Welwood, John (2000). The Play of the Mind: Form, Emptiness, and Beyond. Source: http://www.purifymind.com/PlayMind.htm (accessed: Saturday 13 January 2007)

External links


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www.encyclopediaofbuddhism.org Mind Stream