Try our new website New materials, revised articles, guided meditations, new design

The Berzin Archives

The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

Switch to the Text Version of this page. Jump to main navigation.

Home > Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism > Level 5: Analysis of the Mind and Reality > Designation with Words in the Case of a Buddha

Designation with Words in the Case of a Buddha

Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche II
translated, compiled, and edited by Alexander Berzin
Bodh Gaya, India, December 2009

The omniscient mind (rnam-mkhyen) of a Buddha has no conceptual cognition (rtog-pa), thus it does not mentally label anything with categories, but it does have designation (ming btags-pa). For limited beings (sems-can, sentient beings), designation is always conceptual; it involves not just a word or name (ming), but also a meaning category (don-spyi). For a Buddha, mental labeling is nonconceptual. It has only words or names, and they would be in all languages, but without any meaning categories.

[See: Fine Analysis of Objects of CognitionGelug Presentation.]

When a Buddha sees a conventionally existent tree, his untainted aggregate of distinguishing (zag-med ‘du-shes-kyi phung-po) distinguishes the defining characteristic (mtshan-nyid) and knows that it is designated by the word for tree in all languages and that its conventional existence is accounted for merely in terms of what these names refer to. But a Buddha does not veil with a meaning category this cognition of the word and the object on which it is designated.

[See: Imputation, Mental Labeling and Designation.]

A Buddha has five purified aggregates, and so a purified aggregate of the six types of consciousness. According to the Jetsunpa (rJe-btsun Chos-kyi grags-pa) textbook tradition, all these six types of consciousness of a Buddha are omniscient. According to the Panchen (Pan-chen Blo-bzang grags-pa) textbook tradition, only a Buddha’s mental consciousness is omniscient; the five sensory consciousnesses are not omniscient. If it is an omniscient mind, it is constructive, but the five types of sensory consciousness are unspecified and so they cannot be an omniscient mind.