The Eight Consciousnesses

Excerpt from post reply to question “What is the difference between Vijñāna, Manas and Citta?” posted on Buddhism Beta; post link


8 consciousnesses diagram

This is what i’ve gathered from reading about this in the Plum Village (Thich Nhat Hanh) tradition and from my own experience.

The image contains an example where a seed in the store (Citta) has been watered (maybe by something we have seen or heard together with our perceptions) and that seed has manifested in the mind consciousness

There are eight consciousnesses (not counting Vijnana which is split into six parts):

  • Vijnana
    • Eye Consciousnesses
    • Ear C.
    • Nose C.
    • Tongue C.
    • Body C.
    • Mind C.
  • Manas
  • Citta (Store C.)


The “top level” of conciousness – we are most conscious of the experiences happening in this part of the mind

The first five c.

The first five consciousnesses have access to “reality in itself” with no discrimination/dualism (me and you, subject and object, etc). They are in “direct contact” with reality. They are not distorted by our thinking and our past experiences.

The sixth c.

The sixth conciousness “mind” is the part of our mind with ideas and it has access to (at least parts of) all the seven other conciousnesses. When the sixth conciousness collaborates with the first five the connection with “reality in itself” is interrupted

The sixth is itself suspended for example while sleeping without dreaming. When dreaming the sixth is active and gets all it’s information from the eigth conciousness (Citta)


Strongly connected with the sixth conciousness (mind c.), it grasps at experiences

Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

In the seventh consciousness there are four basic afflictions: self-delusion, self-love, self-view, and self-conceit. The basic illusion inherent in all four afflictions is the illusion about self: this body is mine, is me; this feeling is me; these emotions are me; this consciousness is me and I am independent from everything else


Unconcious, contains all experiences we’ve had, all is stored here

About Still Water Sangha of MN

We are a community, formed with enthusiasm and joy, practicing Mindfulness and Meditation together in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. We meet on Monday nights from 7-8:30pm in a private home in Stillwater, Minnesota.
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