Main CategoriesBuddha and BuddhismWestern Buddhism Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara

Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara

Product no.: 978-1614292845
A practical guide to Vasubandhu‘s classic work Thirty Verses of Consciousness Only that can transform modern life and change how you see the world.

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Publisher's Synopsis
In this down-to-earth book, Ben Connelly sure-handedly guides us through the intricacies of Yogacara and the richness of the Thirty Verses. Dedicating a chapter of the book to each line of the poem, he lets us thoroughly lose ourselves in its depths. His warm and wise voice unpacks and contextualizes its wisdom, showing us how we can apply its ancient insights to our own modern lives, to create a life of engaged peace, harmony, compassion, and joy.

In fourth-century India one of the great geniuses of Buddhism, Vasubandhu, sought to reconcile the diverse ideas and forms of Buddhism practiced at the time and demonstrate how they could be effectively integrated into a single system. This was the Yogacara movement, and it continues to have great influence in modern Tibetan and Zen Buddhism. Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only, or Trimshika, is the most concise, comprehensive, and accessible work by this revered figure.

Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses lay out a path of practice that integrates the most powerful of Buddhism’s psychological and mystical possibilities: Early Buddhism’s practices for shedding afflictive emotional habit and the Mahayana emphasis on shedding divisive concepts, the path of individual liberation and the path of freeing all beings, the path to nirvana and the path of enlightenment as the very ground of being right now. Although Yogacara has a reputation for being extremely complex, the Thirty Verses distills the principles of these traditions to their most practical forms, and this book follows that sense of focus; it goes to the heart of the matter—how do we alleviate suffering through shedding our emotional knots and our sense of alienation?

This is a great introduction to a philosophy, a master, and a work whose influence reverberates throughout modern Buddhism.

"Soto Zen teacher Connelly (Inside the Grass Hut) offers an exploration of Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only, avoiding philosophical analysis while encouraging 'compassionate engagement' with the practice-oriented text. Vasubandhu, a fourth-century Indian monk and scholar who integrated the early Buddhist schools of Abhidharma and Mahayana into Yogacara, argued that the main cause of suffering is the delusion that there is a self separate from other things.

The Thirty Verses presents a breakdown of the forms, feelings, perceptions, volitions, and consciousnesses involved in creating the sense of a separate 'I' and orients practitioners toward nonconceptual meditation to dissolve such barriers to harmonious living with others. Through Connelly’s luminous teaching, some of Yogacara’s most vivid and inspiring innovations come to life. Connelly is careful to remind readers that though Yogacara is the school of 'consciousness only,' it is not a solipsistic perspective. Rather, he argues that in Yogacara, consciousness is 'merely' a matter of karmic projections and conceptualizations and that one must find peace in the midst of this mindset.

His interpretations are lucid considering the density of this Yogacara text, and his ability to impart practical knowledge from such philosophically complex verses is admirable. Newcomers and adherents to this lesser-known Buddhist school alike are lucky to have Connelly as an exceptional guide to the central themes of Yogacara."      ~Publishers Weekly

"While his Brahman half-brother, Arya Asanga, pursued Mahayana Buddhism, the 4th c. Hindu Buddhist Vasubandhu delved deeply into the Hinayana texts known as the Abhidhamma. As both brothers evolved intellectually, neither Hinayana nor Mahayana provided a feasible tenet for absolute Maya and the eternal Atman to coexist. The unqualified nihilism of Nagarjuna's Mahayana dogma didn't jibe with Vasubandhu's yogic meditative experience of a higher Consciousness that transcended our inherited 'storehouses' of karmic conceptions. Thus the new Yogacara school agreed with Mahayana 'emptiness' up to the point of Mind or Consciousness. Once freed of the karmic consequences that resulted in the rebirth of a triune, neurotic entity—the compounded soul (id, ego and Oversoul)—the true, singular Mind (Atman) could permanently maintain supraliminal Consciousness. The latter embodied by Ishvara, the Supreme Being.

It bodes well that another Western Zen Buddhist is coming around to the original teachings of the historical Buddha as they contrast with Nagarjuna's pseudepigraphic sutra, The Perfection of Wisdom. It is vitally important to reexamine the barely extant Yogacara school (virtually eclipsed by the vacuous Mahayana) at this time as it expounds the primordial wisdom of the Hindu scriptures by incorporating the modifications of her most famous protagonist and teacher, Lord Buddha. Kudos, Connelly."       ~Mandala Books


The metaphors "self" and "nature", functioning in so many ways, take place in the transformation of consciousness; this transformation is of three kinds:

maturation, mentation and the perception of sense-fields. Among them, maturation is that called "store-consciousness", it has all the seeds.


Its appropriations and perceptions are not discerned consciously, yet it is always associated with contact, mental attention, feeling, cognition and volition.


There, sensation is equanimous, undefiled and morally indeterminate. The same for contact, etc. It continues like the current of a river.

Its reversal takes place in the state of Arhathood. Based on it, there functions, with it as object, the consciousness called "manas", which consists of mentation.

It is always accompanied by four afflictions, defiled but morally indeterminate and known as the view of self, delusion of self, pride of self and love of self.

Wherever it arises, so do contact and the others. It does not exist in the Arhat, in the attainment of cessation, nor in the supramundane path.

Vasubandhu (4th century AD) lived his life at the center of controversy, and he won fame and patronage through his acumen as an author and debater. His writings, packed as they are with criticisms of his contemporaries' traditions and views, are an unparalleled resource for understanding the debates alive among Buddhist and Orthodox (Hindu) schools of his time.

Author Vasubandhu
Coauthor Connelly, Ben
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 248 pp.
Publisher Wisdom Publications 2016
Browse these categories as well: Western Buddhism, Northern Buddhism, Mahayana Sutras, Hinduism: Gurus and Advaita Vedanta, Noteworthy Releases 2016

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