The early Yogācāra theory of no-self

Jenny Hung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I reconstruct early Yogācāra theory of no-self based on works by Asaṅga and Vasubandhu. I introduce the idea of the cognitive schema (CS) of the self, a conception borrowed from the developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. A fundamental CS is a psychological function that guides the formation of perceptions. I propose that Manas can be understood in terms of being the CS of the self, a psychological mechanism from which perceptions of external objects are formed. In addition, I argue that non-imaginative wisdom can be regarded as an experience during which the CS of the self does not function, such that one only possesses pure sensations without perceptions of external objects. After the repeated experience of non-imaginative wisdom, the CS of the self is changed to the purified CS of no-self. It still supports interactions with the external world, but in a way that does not allow the four afflictions (self-delusion, self-belief, self-conceit, and self-love) to arise. Abbreviations: MS: Mahāyānasaṃgraha; TS: Triṃśikā-kārikā; TSN: Trisvabhāvanirdeśa; VVS: Viṃśatikā Vijñaptimātratāsiddhi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-331
Number of pages16
JournalAsian Philosophy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • Self
  • Yogācāra
  • bodily boundary
  • enlightenment
  • perception
  • sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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