Is yogacara some form of solipsism? every Buddhist who believes in Yogacara should believe that only he has consciousness, while other people and living beings around him do not have consciousness and that they are just philosophical zombies that exist only in his imagination?


2 Answers 2


No. Yogacara school cannot be a form of solipsism because they are the development of Madhyamika school. As such, they believe in the ultimate reality. For Yogacarins, the conventional reality is Mind-Only.

The important piece is that our mind is in contact with the ultimate reality through storehouse consciousness (ālāyavijñāna), but it is "tainted" by the Self-grasping (manas) 1. It means that we never perceive things in themselves, but merely mind representations of them. Those representations and their nature always grow from karmic seeds.

In practice, this is very close to Kantianism.

If you want to read a thorough account of Yogacara and their multi-leveled concept of mind, read Transformation at the Base: Fifty Verses on the Nature of Consciousness by Thich Nhat Han.

  • "It means that we never perceive things in themselves, but merely mind representations of them" In Kantianism there is still a notion that the "thing in itself" exists independently of the mind even if we can never get beyond our own representations. I would think this would be a point on which Mahayana doctrines like Yogacara would disagree, since it seems to go against the teachings on emptiness/interdependence (Thich Nhat Hanh uses the term "interbeing", see here for ex.)
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 19:56
  • @Hypnosifl Well, yes. Two truths are ultimately one in Yogacara. Kant didn't explicitly take the same leap as Schopenhauer did, who took Kant to his conclusive and proclaimed monism. And so Yogacara is typically associated with Schopenhauer in terms of influence. But Kant wasn't a dualist either; he was agnostic about it. There are many implications and implicit readings of Kant since we know that a phenomenon is merely a manifestation of noumenon - its object of interest. Not a separate substance. Also, see note on Saam Trivedi's interpretation en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogachara#Idealism Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 21:19

the collectivity of consciousness, yields the metaphysical explication of mutual interdependence and the prescription of norms for compassionate actions.


Yogacarins have been, historically, warned of their arrogance, however

Running through all of these controversies is an undercurrent of resentment at the Yogācāras' “undigested pride” in their interpretation of the central texts of the Mahāyāna. Bhāviveka provides the most extensive available evidence about the intellectual and emotional shape of this controversy in what might be called the classic period of Indian Yogācāra (the period of Dharmapāla, Sthiramati, and Xuanzang). Like the sixth-century proponents of the Yogācāra, one ignores Bhāviveka at one’s peril.


  • that is, a Buddhist who believes in yogachara, believes that other people exist independently of his imagination and that all people have individual streams of mind?
    – Jerry
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 14:04
  • inter-dependently, but that doesn't prohibit different "streams" and causal "series"
    – user62233
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 14:58
  • i don't know the precise definition of "individual" in philosophy, sorry
    – user62233
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 15:12
  • I mean, how can other minds exist in Yogachara if all reality arises in my imagination?
    – Jerry
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 15:58
  • it's not just "your" imagination. there are layers to a lot of buddhist thinking. read the link first! @Jerry
    – user62233
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 21:03

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