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Home > Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism > Level 5: Analysis of the Mind and Reality > Mental Labeling in the Case of a Buddha

Mental Labeling 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), but it does have mental labeling (ming btags-pa). For limited beings (sems-can, sentient beings), mental labeling is always conceptual; it involves not just a name (ming), but also a meaning category (don-spyi). For a Buddha, mental labeling is nonconceptual. It has only names, and that would be in all languages, but without any meaning categories.

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

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

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.