Maya (Buddhist mental factor)

Māyā (Sanskrit; Tibetan wyl.: sgyu) is a Buddhist term translated as "pretense" or "deceit" that is identified as one of the twenty subsidiary unwholesome mental factors within the Mahayana Abhidharma teachings. In this context, it is defined as pretending to exhibit or claiming to have a good quality that one lacks.[1][2]

Translations of
Sanskritmaya, māyā
(Wylie: sgyu;
THL: gyu
Glossary of Buddhism


The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is deceit? It is a display of what is not a real quality and is associated with both passion-lust (raga) and bewilderment-erring (moha) by being overly attached to wealth and honor. Its function is to provide a basis for a perverse life-style.[1]

Alexander Berzin explains:

Pretension (sgyu) is in the categories of longing desire (raga) and naivety (moha). Because of excessive attachment to our material gain and the respect we receive, and activated by wanting to deceive others, pretension is pretending to exhibit or claiming to have a good quality that we lack.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Guenther (1975), Kindle Locations 900–901.
  2. ^ Kunsang (2004), p. 25.
  3. ^ Berzin (2006)


Further readingEdit

  • Goleman, Daniel (2008). Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Bantam. Kindle Edition.