according to wikipedia anyway:

The noumenon (/ˈnɒuːmɨnɒn/) is a posited object or event that is known (if at all) without the use of the senses.

I know that the term is used in Buddhism, at least after its sinification. Often noumenon seems to mean reality itself, the buddha nature.

Avoiding that last gloss, may I ask if the "noumenon" is "mind"?

And whether extinction, be that impermanence, nirvana or final nirvana, is noumenally real?

3 Answers 3


I think that this might be the result of a translation problem. The concept of a noumenon in western philosophy is very foreign to Buddhism I think. In western philosophy a noumenon is the opposite of a phenomenon. A phenomenon is something that is experienced, whereas a noumenon is something that is somehow outside of experience all together but somehow exists anyways.

Most forms of Buddhism don't settle well with the idea of any kind of reality having some sort of existence that is independent like that because it falls into the error of essentialism, or at least it appears to.

I think you may be coming across this word in an off translation or something relying on such a translation, because I suspect a translator may be trying to translate the concept of 體用 (tǐ yòng, usually now translated as essence and function) as noumena-phenomena, but I don't think this is a very good comparison at all. Definately the term 體 does not mean noumena, but something more like the nature of something.


Well actually in the teachings with regard to the sense-consciousnesses, six are enumerated:

  1. Auditory consciousness (sense of hearing, the ear, its "objects" like sounds)
  2. Visual consciousness (sense of seeing, the eye, its "objects" like sights)
  3. Scent consciousness (sense of smelling, the nose, " " smells/scents/odors/aromas)
  4. Taste consciousness (sense of tasting, the tongue, " " tastes)
  5. Tactile consciousness (sense of touching, the body/skin, " " textures, etc.)
  6. Mind consciousness, or mental consciousness

The raw perceptions of the first 5 themselves have no dialogue, no commentary, no "story" ... the sixth one can meld and blend the first 5

So in Buddha's teachings, there is nothing outside the Six sense-consciousnesses, and therefore it seems untenable that one could argue that mind is "knowable but beyond the senses" unless one is referring to a different breakdown of the sense faculties, their focal points/objects, and the combined consciousness.

You should know that it is possible for a yogin to "withdraw" from the five coarse sense perceptions and experience the luminosity and delight of the sixth sense-consciousness. There are instructions in the suttas/sutras, most notable is perhaps the Buddha's discourse on breathing meditation, which is in most traditions the foundation to introspection, insight, attainment, and liberation.


Yes, Noumenon is our Tathagata nature, our Buddha Nature, Tao, God, Allah, Brahmin... whatever that thing is that is beyond the dualism of existence and non-existence: the Mind.

Noumenon is the opposite of phenomena, things that are perceivable through the senses or in Buddhist terms are a part of the five skandhas (see Surangama Sutra).

This is why it is so important to become more detached from phenomena because they detract the Buddhist from realizing the only worthy goal of the Noumenon, the Source of all things, the Us that is beyond time and space.

The more one develops a worldly way, the more one is attached to meaning-ful phenomena be it money, sensual pleasure, relationships, and the infinite dualities that trap us to the wheel.

The more one grows in the spiritual path, the more one is able to perceive the foundational unity of all things. The profound truth in Emptiness. One is unable to be so attached to any particular thing--not with a numbness, but with a crystal clear clarity developed through the understanding of Dharma and most importantly through the transformation of consciousness itself that takes place by success in meditation/awareness/vipassana.

This is the Right Path as espoused by the Eightfold Path and the last question you asked is different question, that would take an entire paper to discuss, but basically yes.

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    This is really a misleading new-age'ish answer, concepts don't cross cultures and noumenon (in Kantian sense) has definitely nothing to do with God, Allah or whatever else you mention.
    – eudoxos
    Feb 24, 2015 at 16:38
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    "concepts don't cross cultures" this is incorrect. concepts do not become owned by a culture. information is freely shared and the spiritual path, all spiritual paths, however tangential they may become, are connected to this path of acheiving "whatever that thing is that is beyond the dualism" of the senses (your "Kantian" definition)
    – Ahmed
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:31
  • If you read Kant, you will see that he defined noumenon very technically, and that it does not overlap with "God" (he was Christian). You can use concepts in vague ways, but it is just not helpful. Equating Tao, Mind, "whatever is beyond the dualism of existence and nonexistence" etc is just a pseudo-intellectual reverie.
    – eudoxos
    Feb 27, 2015 at 21:22
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    Ohh OK. I'm not talking about that technical stuff. Just "whatever that thing is that is beyond the dualism of existence and non-existence: the Mind." I'm pretty sure a lot of other religions would get mad at my usage of their God-terms as well to reference to this All Important Concept.
    – Ahmed
    Feb 28, 2015 at 22:45
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    Nonetheless however New Agey it may feel, I think it is valuable to make these kind of references to the common student who dislikes philosophy because I've seen plenty of philosophy students light up when they see how what they were actually looking for was Buddhadharma all along. I think Buddha left the most important concepts behind to support our practice and oftentimes a lot of complex ideas are easily expressed with Buddhadharma..
    – Ahmed
    Feb 28, 2015 at 22:48

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