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Mūlavijñāna (Skt., mūla, ‘root’, + vijñāna, ‘consciousness’). A doctrine characteristic of the Mahāsāṃghika school of early Indian Buddhism. As a consequence of the centrality of the teachings on impermanence (anicca), and notself (anātman), it was felt necessary in the developing Buddhist systems to account for mental continuity in individuals, particularly between one existence and another, and after deep meditational trances, without committing the essentialist fallacy of Upaniṣadic teachers who posited a permanent soul (ātman). The notion of a basic consciousness (mūlavijñāna) is the solution arrived at by the Mahāsāṃghikas. It is an anticipation of the distinctive Yogācāra/Vijñānavāda idea of a ‘store-consciousness’ (Ālaya-Vijñāna).

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