Storehouse consciousness and the unconscious: A comparative study of Xuan Zang and Freud on the subliminal mind

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Abstract

The postulation of storehouse consciousness, layavijñna, is a major theoretical accomplishment of the Yogcra School of Buddhism. It is formulated as a subliminal consciousness to account for our sense of self and the continuity of our experience without resorting to any form of reification, a taboo in Mahyna Buddhism. Its subliminal character has tempted some Buddhist scholars to compare it with the unconscious in modern psychoanalysis. However, layavijñna was developed in a radically different cultural, historical, and philosophical milieu from the modern notion of the unconscious. Hence, before using the term unconscious to interpret layavijñna, we should carefully investigate the two concepts and the larger theoretical paradigms within which they are respectively located. Through a comparative study this article addresses several fundamental differences between them and explores some possible reasons behind such differences by revealing certain basic operative presuppositions embedded in the two formulations of the subliminal consciousness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-139
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Religion
Volume72
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies

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