The alternative would be to use an adequate paraphrase culled from analytical terminology each time the term occurs, putting the original in parentheses; the term is used as an operational counfer by the pandit and the Tibetan translator, and he knows its particular import from the context which can, of course, not be known through any occidental translation using vague generic terms. For example, we might say: `mental events (sems) recurrent associative event (sems) etc. Personally, I would incline towards the second method. There is the possibility of a combination of the two methods, if we agree that a particular occidental term be used as an `operational counter' each time the Tibetan `operational counter' appears in the text, provided the former is never used to translate any other original term. Thus, if we choose `spirituality' for `sems', we must not use 'spirituality'. to render any other term, like 'thugs'; at least not as long as we do not know for certain that 'thugs' and `sems' arc not complete synonyms in scholastic literature.
This basis is not a substratum in the Brahmanical sense (which later incidentally converges with the Thomistic notion of a `substratum'), but a sort of pool into which things merge and from which they arise again. I think it could be likened to a 'flying start' in a horse-race: the 'flying-start' is not really a location but a function located on a particular line. The Yogacara call this the 'alayavijnana (kun ghi rnam par Les pa), the 'consciousness-receptacle' (Frauwallner translates it `Schatzkammerbewusstsein' which sounds very nice but does not seem too helpful).
In their world view, which at times seems to me to be dangerously close to solipsism, the term covers the entire natural realm, somewhat in a Berkeleyan fashion except that esse is a totaliter percipi, there being no divine mind as a separate ontological ens. Popular literature on Buddhism (Humphreys, Glascnapp) uses 'subjective-objective' and tries to explain how the objective merges in the subjective; which is an outsider's diction, there being no 'objective' of any kind in Vijnanavada nor, for that matter, in any important school of Buddhism. Jaeschke lists 'perfect knowledge, consciousness'; 'perceptions, cognitions' (i.e. as one of the five skandhas or aggregates phun po); and the inevitable 'soul', even though only that of the departed. Then, however, Jaeschke adds something very wise in parentheses: 'the significations. I presume, should be distinguished, as is done here, according to the different spheres in which they are used and not to be explained out of the other'.