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Summary of the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra

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Dan Lusthaus and Charles Muller

[py] Yu2qie2 shi1di4 lun4 [wg] Yü-ch'ieh shih-ti lun (ko) Yuga saji non [ja] Yuga shiji ron ||| The Yuqie shidi lun; commonly abbreviated as Yuqielun 瑜伽論. The Yogācāra-bhūmi-śāstra. The "Discourse on the Stages of Concentration Practice." The definitive text of the Yogācāra 瑜伽行派 school of Buddhism. One hundred fascicles, composed in India between 300 and 350 CE; translated into Chinese by Xuanzang 玄奘 from July 3, 646 to June 11, 648. In East Asia the putative author is thought to be Maitreya 彌勒, but Tibetan tradition considers it to have been composed by Asaṅga 無著.

In the process of explaining the spiritual states, practices and fruits incurred in the course of the seventeen stages leading to Buddhahood, the text delves deeply into discussions of fundamental Yogācāra concepts such as the ālaya-vijñāna 阿賴耶識, three natures (trisvabhāva) 三自性 and three non-natures (triniḥsvabhāva) 三無自性, seeds (bījā) 種子, perfumation (vāsanā) 熏習, the two hindrances (āvaraṇa) 二障 and mind only (vijñapti-mātra, vijñāna-mātra) 唯識. The text has five major divisions: the first division, which comprises about half the treatise is called the "main stages division" (bahubhūmika) 本地分 and contains seventeen sections, each describing one of the successive seventeen stages, or bhūmis. These are (as found in Xuanzang's 100 fascicles):

[Initial Phenomenology]


(1) The stage of the five consciousnesses associated with the body - pañca-vijñāna-kāya-saṃprayukta-bhūmi 五識身相應地. (First fascicle)
(2) The stage of mental intent - mano-bhūmi 意地. (fascicles 1-3)

Dhyāna Levels]

(3) The stage of (initial meditative) investigation and analysis - savitarkā-savicarā-bhūmi) 有尋有伺. (fascicles 4-10)

Note: Xuanzang includes the next two bhūmis within the title of this bhūmi)

(4) The stage of analysis without investigation - avitarka- savicarā-bhūmi 無尋唯伺地.
(5) The stage of neither investigation nor analysis - avitarka-avicārā-bhūmi 無尋無伺地.
(6) The stage of samāhita (thought "collected" in meditation) - samāhita-bhūmi 三摩呬多地. (fascicles 11-13)
(7) The stage of non-samāhita - asamāhita-bhūmi 非三摩呬多地. (fascicle 13)
(8) The stage with mind - sacittaka-bhūmi 心地. (fascicle 13)
(9) The stage without mind - acittaka-bhūmi 無心地. (fascicle 13)

Hearing, Thinking, Cultivation)

(10) The stage of actualizing what one has heard (i.e., the teachings) - śrutamayī-bhūmī 聞所成地. (fascicles 13-15)


This deals with the five fields of knowledge, pañca-vidyā 五明:

1. 'Inner knowledge,' adhyātma-vidyā 內明 (i.e., the truths of Buddhism);
2. medicine, cikitsā-vidyā 藥明;
3. logic, hetu-vidyā 因明;
4. grammar and language, śabda-vidyā 聲明; and
5. the arts, śilpakarma-vidyā 工巧.

(11) The stage of actualizing what one has thought (about the teachings) - cintāmayī-bhūmi 思所成地. (fascicles 16-19)
(12) The state of actualizing what one has practiced - bhāvanā-bhūmi 修所成地. (fascicle 20)


(13) The stage of the Śrāvaka - śrāvaka-bhūmi 聲聞地. (fascicles 21-34, divided as follows)

(13a) The types and natures of the first Yoga Capacity 初瑜伽處種性地 (fascicle 21)
(13b) Interest to Enter the first Yoga Capacity 初瑜伽處趣入地 (fascicle 21)
(13c) Going beyond the first Yoga Capacity 初瑜伽處出離地 (fascicles 22-25)
(13d) The second Yoga Capacity 第二瑜伽處 (fascicles 26-29)
(13e) The third Yoga Capacity 第三瑜伽處 (fascicles 30-32)
(13f) The fourth Yoga Capcacity 第四瑜伽處 (fascicles 33-34)



(14) The stage of the Pratyekabuddha - pratyekabuddha-bhūmi 獨覺地. (fascicle 35


(15) The stage of Bodhisattva - bodhisattva-bhūmi 菩薩地. (fascicles 35-50)
Its subdivisions are:

[1st Bodhisattva Section]

(15a) First taking hold of Yogic Capacities (āyatana)初持瑜伽處 (fascicles 35-46):

(15a.1) Chapter on Their Types and Natures - gotra 種性品 (fascicle35)
(15a.2) Chapter on (arousing the) Mind (aspiring to Bodhi) – prathama-cittopāda 心品 (fascicle 35)
(15a.3) Chapter on Benefiting Self and Others - svaparārtha 自他利品 (fascicles 35-36)
(15a.4) Chapter on the Realities Referred to (by these capacities) - tattvārtha 實真義品 (fascicle 36)
(15a.5) Chapter on Awesome Power - prabhāva 威力品 (fascicle 37)
(15a.6) Chapter on Bodhi 菩提品 (fascicle 38)
(15a.7) Chapter on the Power [affecting] types of Births - balagotra 力種生 (fascicle 38)


[Six Pāramitās


(15a.8) Chapter on Giving (dāna) 施品 (fascicle 39)
(15.a.9) Chapter on Behavioral Discipline (śīla) 戒品 (fascicles 40-42)
(15a.10) Chapter on Forebearance (kṣānti) 忍品 (fascicle 42)
(15a.11) Chapter on Vigor (vīrya) 精進品 (fascicle 42)
(15a.12) Chapter on Quieting Mental Anxiety 靜慮品
(15a.13) Chapter on Insight (prajñā) (fascicle 43)

[1st Bodhisattva Section Miscellania]

(15a.14) Chapter on Select Topics 攝事品(fascicle 43)
(15a.15) Chapter on Giving Unlimited Offerings to those near and far 供養親近無量品 (fascicle 44)
(15a.16) Chapter on Divisions of Bodhi 菩提分品 (fascicles 44-46)

Bodhisattva follows good or bad inherent abilities and good or bad cognitive bases

(15a.17) Chapter on the Qualities (guṇāḥ) of a Bodhisattva 菩薩功德品 (fascicle 46)

Ten Basic Qualities (in the pursuit of Unexcelled Complete Awakening):

1. Inherent Capacity - gotra-stha 種性(=
2. Entry - avatīrṇa入
3. Intention not yet Purified - aśuddhāśaya 未凈意
4. Intention Purified - śuddhāśaya 凈意樂
5. Not yet Matured - aparipakva 未成熟
6. Already Matured - paripakva 已成熟
7. Undetermined (i.e., still capable of backsliding) - āniyati-patita 未墮決定
8. Determined (i.e., incapable of backsliding) - niyati-patita 已墮決定
9. Bound to One (more) birth - eka-jāti-pratibandha 一生所繫
10. Final Body - carama-bhavika 最後身


This chapter offers multiple lists of practices for the benefit of other sentient beings, such as:

1. When the Bodhisattva gives rise to the Thought (cittotpāda 發心) vowing to attain Great Bodhi (bodhicitta 大菩提), he benefits all sentient beings by giving rise to an Equalizing Mind.
2. Bodhisattva's mind sympathizes (with the suffering) of all sentient beings equally.
3. Bodhisattva's mind loves all sentient beings as if each were his only son.
4. Knowing the dispositions of one sentient being, he knows all, helping all.
5. Benefitting one sentient being, he benefits all equally.

There are ten types of āyatanas (meditative capacities):

1. Capacity to fully detach from bad saṃskāras 遠離惡行處
2. Capacity to fully detach from desires 遠離諸欲處
3. Capacity to become fully engrossed without transgression 專精無犯犯已能出處
4. Capacity to secretly guard all the sensory faculties 密護一切諸根門處
5. Capacity to abide in correct knowledge 正知住處
6. Capacity to detach from troubles and anxieties 離憒鬧處
7. Capacity to fully detach, detaching from all bad meditative reflections 於遠離處遠離惡尋思處
8. Capacity to fully detach from obstacles 遠離障處
9. Capacity to fully detach from being wrapped up in kleśa (mental disturbances) 遠離一切煩惱纏處
10. Capacity to fully detach from all kleśas and the crude barriers (dauṣṭulya)


In this chapter Asaṅga also offers a numerical list of 'truths':

1. One truth, without a second.
2. Two Truths, vyavahāra and paramārtha
3. Three Truths: characteristic, language and function 相諦語諦用諦
4. Four Noble Truths
5. Five Truths: truth of cause, truth of effect, truth of wisdom, truth of a sense-object, best truth (hetu 因諦phala 果諦prajñā 智諦viṣaya 境諦勝諦); Etc., (up to Ten truths).

[2nd Bodhisattva Section]

(15b) Second, Taking Hold of Yogic Capacities by Following the Dharma (fascicles 47-48) 第二持隨法瑜伽處

(15b.1) Chapter on Characteristics of a Bodhisattva - bodhisattva-lakṣaṇa 菩薩相品(fascicle 47)
(15b.2) Chapter on Divisions (of Bodhisattvas) 分品 (fascicle 47)

Divides Bodhisattvas into laity and clerics, both of whom can realize Unexcelled Complete Awakening (anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi).

(15b.3) Chapter on Increasing the Intent (for Buddha-fruit) 增上意樂 *adhipati-adhyāśaya (fascicle 47)

Bodhisattva purifies his intent through understanding and improving his karmic condition.


(15b.4) Chapter on (types of meditative) Abodes 住品 avasthāna (fascicles 47-48)

Detailed discussion of the Twelve types of Meditative Abodes (plus an additional Abode only for Buddhas):

1. Abode of Inherent Capacities in one's present life - gotra-stha-avasthāna 種性(= 姓)住
2. Abode of Practicing with Confident Resolve - adhimokṣa 勝解行住
3. Joyous Abode 極歡喜住

Śīla Samādhi Prajñā

4. Abode of Increasing Behavioral Discipline - adhi-śīla 增上戒住
5. Abode of Increasing Mind (=samādhi) - adhi-citta 增上心住

(6-8. Abodes of Increasing Wisdom - adhi-prajñā 增上慧住)

6. Abode of Increasing Wisdom associated with Awakening 覺分相應增上慧住 (practicing the 37 Bodhipakṣya dharmāḥ)
7. Abode of Increasing Wisdom associated with the truths 諸諦相應增上慧住 (Realization of the Four Noble Truths)
8. Abode of Increasing Wisdom associated with bringing future lives in the samsaric flow of conditioned arising to an end 緣起流轉止息相應增上慧住

(Abodes without Characterisitcs]

PRII large.jpg

9. Abode Without Characteristics, [achieved through] Preliminary Practice (prayoga) and Diligent Implementation (abhisaṃskāra), [so as to] advance on the Way without interruption or impairment, 有加行有功用無間缺道運轉無相住

Knowing "the Suchness of all dharmas with nondiscriminative wisdom" 於一切法真如無分別慧

10. Abode Without Characteristics, [achieved instantaneously] without Preliminary Practice or Diligent Implementation, [so as to] advance on the Way without interruption or impairment 無加行無功用無間缺道運轉無相住

The Bodhisattva, "after much practice in the previous Abodes, spontaneously advances without interruption, without impairment"

(Highest Abodes)

11. Adode of Understanding Without Obstructions 無礙解住 (With good, pure, immovable wisdom, the Bodhisattva "attains Great Bodhi.")
12. Abode of the Highest Fulfillment of a Bodhisattva 最上成滿菩薩住

(Completion of the Path; Anuttara-samyak-saṃbodhi 阿耨多羅三藐三菩提. "Maybe [the Bodhisattva has one more life to live, or this may be the last one.... He is able to do what Buddhas can do.")

Tathāgata's Abode


13. Tathāgatas occupy a "thirteenth" Abode.

"Past all the Bodhisattva Abodes, Awakening to the Great Bodhi Abode, he attains the Final Tathāgata Abode 最後如來住者, the last Yogic Capacity 於後究竟瑜伽處, the final thing to be established 建立品." Asaṅga also suggests that all who attain the twelfth Abode will eventually reach this one.

[3rd Bodhisattva Section]

(15c) Third, taking hold of the final Yogic Capacities 第三持究竟瑜伽處 (fascicles 48-50)

(15c.1) Chapter on Births 生品 (fascicle 48)
On the five types of birth in the Final Yoga Abode:

1. Born to Do Away with Calamities 除災生
2. Born According to Type (of previous existence or practice) 隨類生
3. Born into Great Authority 大勢生
4. Birth as an Improvement (over last life) 增上生
5. Final Birth 最後生

(15c.2) Chapter on Gathering and Receiving (Sentient Beings to Buddhism) 攝受品 (fascicle 48)
(15c.3) Chapter on Stages (bhūmi) 地品 (fascicle 49)


(Redefines terms from earlier chapters, such as 15a.17, Chapter on the Qualities of a Bodhisattva)

(15c.4) Chapter on Practices 行品 (fascicle 49)

"In all the Bodhisattva paths, from beginning to end, there are, in reality, only four practices":

1. Practice of the Pāramitās 波羅密多行
2. Practice of the 37 Bodhiparikṣya dharmāḥ 菩提分法行
3. Practice of the Abhijñā 神通行
4. Practice of (bringing all) Sentient Beings to Maturity 成熟有情行

(15c.5) Chapter on Establishing 建立品 (fascicle 49)

On the One Hundred Forty Special dharmas of a Tathāgata: ]]32 Marks of a Great Person)];80 minor marks; 4 types of purity; 10 powers; 4 Fearlessnesses; 3 anusmṛtis; etc.

(15c.6) Chapter on the Established 立品 (fascicle 50)

[4th Bodhisattva Section]


(15d) Fourth, taking hold of the Successive Order of Yogic Capacities 第四持次第瑜伽處 (fascicle 50)

(15d.1) Chapter on the Correct Equalization of the Bodhi Mind 正等菩提心品

[End of Bodhisattva- bhūmi


Nirvana with and without Remainder]

(16) The stage of (nirvana with) remainder - sopādhika bhūmi 有餘衣地 (fascicle 50)
(17) The stage of (nirvana with) no remainder - nirupādhika bhūmi 無餘衣地 (fascicle 50)



The second division of the text - Viniścaya ('doctrinal exegesis') 攝決擇分 - comprising fascicles 51-80, is a discussion of the problematic points of the seventeen stages discussed in the prior section. Breakdown by fascicle is as follows:

On "Association of five consciousnesses and body" bhūmi. (fasc. 51-57).
On Vitarka-vicāra bhūmis (fasc. 58-61).
On Samāhita bhūmi (fasc. 62-63).
On Śrutamayī-prajñā bhūmi. (fasc. 64).
On Cintamayī-prajñā bhūmi. (fasc. 65-66).
On Bhāvanā-prajñā bhūmi. (fasc. 67).
On Śrāvaka-bhūmi. (fasc. 67-71).
On Bodhisattva-bhūmi. (fasc. 72-80).

The third division - *vyākhyāna-saṃgrahanī 攝釋分(fasc. 81-82) - discusses the positions of the various sutras on these points. The preponderance of Sutras cited and discussed are Āgamas, Sanskrit corollaries of the five Nikāyas extant in the Pali canon (Dīrgha-āgama, Saṃyutta-āgama, Madhyama-āgama, etc., and especially a no longer extant Sanskrit version of the Udana quite different from the Pali version). Incidentally these Āgamas are the texts he cites throughout the entire Yogācārabhūmi, even in the Bodhisattvabhūmi sections (though he does cite a few Mahāyāna works in those sections, notably the Daśabhūmika sūtra - Sutra on Ten Stages).


The fourth division - paryāya-saṃgrahinī 攝異門分 (fasc. 82-84) - explains the name and meaning of all the dharmas explained in the sutras.


The fifth section - Vastusaṃgrahanī 攝事分 - addresses the key points of the Buddhist teaching as found in the Tripitaka (primarily Āgamas). Fasc. 85-88 deal with saṃskāras . Fasc. 89-92 deal with āyatanas . Fasc. 93-96 deal with pratītya-samutpāda 緣起食諦界. Fasc. 97-98 deal with Bodhi 菩提.

The last two fascicles (99-100) - included by Xuanzang under the heading of Vastusaṃgrahanī 攝事分中調伏事總擇攝 (Collected Matters: Selected General Matters of Discipline) - discuss rules for behavioral discipline 調伏 (vinaya, damana).

T 1579.30.279-882.