唯識宗的基本觀念是一切唯心所造。從生死、乃至入涅槃之因，皆依於識（或稱為心之分別）而生滅。唯識學的特色在於對法相作了深廣的探究。因為我們如果能區別真妄，即能區別分別意識與原本清淨明潔的真心，我們便可迅速地捨妄歸真。憨山大師（公元 1546-1623 年 ）曾說：開示唯識於小乘，小乘即可知諸法不離自心。如果不能以心見心，則不能見一切相。因此，培養參禪的功夫時，便要學習去參究什麼是離心、意、識的境界，什麼是無染污的境界。
The work, written by Tripitaka Master Xuanzang (AD 596-664) at the request of his foremost disciple and successor Dharma Master Kuiji (AD 632-682), is a summary of the doctrine contained in Xuanzang's most celebrated work, Treatise on Consciousness-Only. The Treatise on Consciousness-Only is a commentary on the Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only by the Bodhisattva Vasubandhu (fl. 4th cent. AD). The Treatise is based on the Sanskrit commentary of the Venerable Dharmapala (fl. 6th cent. AD) and nine other Indian masters. Dharmapala was the teacher of Master Xuanzang's own teacher, Silabhadra, the Abbot of Nalanda Monastery in India.
Vasubandhu's Thirty Verses on Consciousness Only is in turn a verse summary of the major systematic work of the Consciousness-Only School, the Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice, which is alternately attributed to Vasubandhu's older brother the Bodhisattva Asanga (fl. 4th cent. AD) according to the Tibetan tradition, or to Asanga's supramundane master the Bodhisattva Maitreya according to the Chinese tradition. At any rate, according to Xuanzang's biography (Huili, Life of Xuanzang), Asanga entered samadhi and ascended to the inner courtyard of the Tusita Heaven to learn the doctrine of Consciousness-Only from the Bodhisattva Maitreya.
In brief, the Verses Delineating the Eight Consciousnesses is a verse summary of a commentary on a verse summary of the Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice. Only a simple explanation of the meaning of the lines of the Verses is presented here.
The starting point of the Consciousness-Only School is that everything is created from the mind as is "consciousness-only". Everything, from birth and death to the cause of attaining Nirvana, is based upon the coming into being and the ceasing to be of consciousnesss, that is, of distinctions in the mind. Consciousness-Only doctrine is characterized by its extensive and sophisticated inquiry into the characteristics of dharmas. For if we can distinguish what is real from what is unreal, if we can distinguish what is distinction-making consciousness and not mistake it for the originally clear, pure, bright enlightened mind, then we can quickly leave the former and dwell in the latter. Chan Master Hanshan (AD 1546-1623) has said, "When Consciousness-Only was made known to them (i.e., those of the Hinayana vehicles), they knew that [all dharmas] had no existence independent from their own minds. If one does not see the mind with the mind, then no characteristic can be got at. Therefore, in developing the spiritual skill necessary for meditative inquiry, people are taught to look into what is apart from heart, mind, and consciousness and to seek for what is apart from the states of unreal (polluted) thinking."
Part One: The First Five Consciousnesses
The direct, veridical perception of natural states can involve any of the Three Natures.
Three consciousnesses--eyes, ears, and body--occupy two grounds.
[They interact with] the universally interactive, the particular states, the eleven
Two intermediate grades, eight major grades, greed, anger, and foolishness.
The five consciousnesses are all supported by organs of pure form.
That with nine preconditions and those with seven and eight are close neighbors.
Three perceive the world of defilement by contact and
two perceive it at a distance.
The foolish have difficulty distinguishing consciousness from organ.
The transformation of the perceived division in the
contemplation of emptiness is merely Later Attained Wisdom.
At the fruition, if there is still self, there is not total truth.
At the initial emergence of perfect clarity, the stage of no
outflows is realized.
Using Three Kinds of Transformation Bodies, one brings the wheel of suffering to rest.
to be continued