A Manual of Abhidhamma

by Nārada Thera | 80,494 words | ISBN-13: 9789380336510

In the Abhidhammattha Sangaha there is a brief exposition of the Law of Dependent Origination, followed by a descriptive account of the Causal Relations that finds no parallel in any other philosophy. Edited in the original Pali Text with English Translation and Explanatory Notes by Narada Maha Thera....

Form Sphere Consciousness

rūpāvacara cittāni

(rūpāvacara kusala cittani-5)

§ 7.

  1. Vitakka-vicāra-pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam pathamajjhāna-kusalacittam.
  2. Vicāra-pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam dutiyajjhāna-kusalacittam,
  3. Pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam tatiyajjhāna-kusalacittam,
  4. Sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam catutthajjhāna-kusalacittam,
  5. Upekkh'ekaggatā-sahitam pañcamajjhāna-kusalacittañ c'āti.

Imāni pañca'pi rūpāvacara-kusalacittānināma.

(rūpāvacara vipāka cittāni-5)

  1. Vitakka-vicāra-pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam pathamajjhāna-vipākacittam,
  2. Vicāra-pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam dutiyajjhāna-vipākacittam,
  3. Pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam tatiyajjhāna-vipākacittam,
  4. Sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam, catutthajjhāna-vipākacittam,
  5. Upekkh'ekaggatā-sahitam pañcamajjhāna-vipākacittañ c'āti.

Imāni pañca'pi rūpāvacara-vipākacittāni nāma.

(rūpāvacara kriyā cittāni-5)

  1. Vitakka-vicāra-pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam pathamajjhāna-kriyācittam,
  2. Vicāra-pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam dutiyajjhāna-kriyācittam,
  3. Pīti-sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam tatiyajjhāna-kriyācittam,
  4. Sukh'ekaggatā-sahitam catutthajjhāna-kriyācittam,
  5. Upekkh'ekaggatā-sahitam pañcamajjhāna-kriyācittañ c'ati.

Imāni pañca'pi rūpāvacara-kriyācittāni nāma.
Icc'evam sabbathā'pi pannarasa rūpāvacara kusala-vipāka-kriyācittāni samattāni.

Pañcadhā jhānabhedena - rūpāvacaramānasam
Puññapākakriyābhedā - tam pañcadasadhā bhave.


(Form-Sphere Moral Consciousness - 5)

§ 7.

  1. First Jhāna moral consciousness together with initial application, sustained application, joy, happiness, and one-pointedness.
  2. Second Jhāna moral consciousness together with sustained application, joy, happiness, and one-pointedness,
  3. Third Jhāna moral consciousness together with joy, happiness, and one-pointedness,
  4. Fourth Jhāna moral consciousness together with happiness and one-pointedness.
  5. Fifth Jhāna moral consciousness together with equanimity and one-pointedness.

These are the five types of Form-Sphere Moral consciousness.

(Form-Sphere Resultant Consciousness - 5)

  1. First Jhāna Resultant consciousness together with initial application, sustained application, joy, happiness, and one-pointedness,
  2. Second Jhāna Resultant consciousness together with sustained application, joy, happiness, and one-pointedness,
  3. Third Jhāna Resultant consciousness together with joy, happiness, and one-pointedness,
  4. Fourth Jhāna Resultant consciousness together with happiness and one-pointedness,
  5. Fifth Jhāna Resultant consciousness together with equanimity and one-pointedness.

These are the five types of Jhāna Resultant consciousness.

(Form-Sphere Functional Consciousness-5)

  1. First Jhāna Functional consciousness together with initial application, sustained application, joy, happiness and one-pointedness,
  2. Second Jhāna Functional consciousness together with sustained application, joy, happiness, and one-pointedness,
  3. Third Jhāna Functional consciousness together with joy, happiness, and one-pointedness,
  4. Fourth Jhāna Functional consciousness together with happiness and one-pointedness.
  5. Fifth Jhāna Functional consciousness together with equanimity and one-pointedness.

These are the five types of Form-Sphere Functional consciousness.

Thus end, in all, the fifteen types of Form-Sphere Moral Resultant, and Functional consciousness.


Form-Sphere consciousness is fivefold according to different Jhānas. That becomes fifteen fold according to Moral, Resultant and Functional types.



36. Rūpāvacara-

There are three planes of existence-namely, Sensuous Sphere (kāmaloka), Form-Sphere (rūpaloka), and Formless-Sphere (arūpaloka). The four states of misery (apāya), human realm (manussa), and the six celestial realms (devaloka) constitute the kāmaloka. It is so called because sense-desires play a predominant part in this sphere. The four states of misery are called duggati (evil states). Evil-doers are born in such states. The remaining seven are called sugati (good states). The good are born in these states of sensuous bliss.

The more evolved persons, who seek no delight in ordinary sense-desires, but are interested in higher spiritual progress, must naturally be born in congenial places in harmony with their lofty aspirations. Even in the human realm it is they who retire to solitude and engage themselves in meditation.

Such meditation (bhāvanā) is of two kinds - samatha (concentration) and vipassanā (insight). Samatha, which means calm, or tranquillity is gained by developing the Jhānas. Vipassanā is seeing things as they truly are. With the aid of Jhānas one could develop higher psychic powers (abhiññā). It is vipassanā that leads to Enlightenment.

Those who develop Jhānas are born after death in higher Form-Spheres (rūpaloka) and Formless-spheres (arūpaloka).

In the Formless-Spheres there is no body but only mind. As a rule, both mind and body are interrelated, interdependent, and inseparable. But by will-power there is a possibility for the mind to be separated from the body and vice versa temporarily. Beings born in celestial realms and Form-Spheres are supposed to posses very subtle material forms.

The Compendium of Philosophy states that "Rūpaloka is so called because the subtle residuum of matter is said, in that place of existence, to be still met with. Arūpaloka is so called because no trace of matter is held to be found in it".

That which frequents the Rūpa-Sphere is rūpāvacara. There are fifteen cittas pertaining to it. Five are kusalas, which one can develop in this life itself. Five are their corresponding vipākas which are experienced after death in the Rūpa-sphere. Five are kriyā cittas, which are experienced only by Buddhas and Arahats either in this life or by Arahats in the Rūpa-Sphere.

37. Jhāna - Sanskrit dhyāna-

The Pāli term is derived from the root "jhe", to think. Venerable Buddhaghosa explains Jhāna as follows, "Aramman'upanijjhānato paccanīkajhāpanato vajhanam", Jhāna is so called because it thinks closely of an object or because it burns those adverse things (hindrances - nīvaranas).

By Jhāna is meant willful concentration on an object.

Of the forty objects of concentration, enumerated in the 9th chapter of this book, the aspirant selects an object that appeals most to his temperament. This object is called parikamma nimitta - preliminary object.

He now intently concentrates on this object until he becomes so wholly absorbed in it that all adventitious thoughts get ipso facto excluded from the mind. A stage is ultimately reached when he is able to visualize the object even with closed eyes. On this visualized image (uggaha nimitta) he concentrates continuously until it develops into a conceptualized image (patibhāga nimitta).

As an illustration let us take the pathavī kasina.

A circle of about one span and four inches in diameter is made and the surface is covered with dawn-colored clay and smoothed well. If there be not enough clay of the dawn color, he may put in some other kind of clay beneath. This hypnotic circle is known as the parikamma nimitta. Now he places this object about two and half cubits away from him and concentrates on it, saying mentally or inaudibly - pathavī or earth. The purpose is to gain the one-pointedness of the mind. When he does this for some time - perhaps weeks, or months, or years - he would be able to close his eyes and visualize the object. This visualized object is called uggaha nimitta. Then he concentrates on this visualized image, which is an exact mental replica of the object, until it develops into a conceptualized image which is called patibhāga nimitta.

The difference between the first visualized image and the conceptualized image is that in the former the fault of the device appears, while the latter is clear of all such defects and is like a "well-burnished conchshell". The latter possesses neither color nor form. "It is just a mode of appearance, and is born of perception".

As he continually concentrates on this abstract concept he is said to be in possession of "proximate concentration" (upacāra samādhi) and the innate five Hindrances to progress (nīvarana), such as sense-desire (kāmacchanda), hatred (patigha), sloth and torpor (thīna-middha), restlessness and brooding (uddhacca-kukkucca), and doubts (vicikicchā) are temporarily inhibited.

Eventually he gains "ecstatic concentration" (appanā samādhi) and becomes enwrapped in Jhāna, enjoying the calmness and serenity of a one-pointed mind.

As he is about to gain appanā samādhi a thought process runs as follows:- bhavanga, mano-dvārāvajjana, parikamma, upacāra, anuloma, gotrabhū, appanā.

When the stream of consciousness is arrested, there arises the Mind-door consciousness taking for its object the patibhāga nimitta. This is followed by the Javana process which, as the case may be, starts with either parikamma or upacāra. Parikamma is the preliminary or initial thought-moment. Upacāra means proximate, because it is close to the appanā samādhi. It is at the anuloma or "adaptation" thought-moment that the mind qualifies itself for the final appanā. It is so called because it arises in conformity with appanā. This is followed by gotrabhū, the thought-moment that transcends the kāma-plane. Gotrabhū means that which subdues (bhū) the Kāma-lineage (gotra). All the thought-moments of this Javana process up to the gotrabhū moment are kāmāvacara thoughts. Immediately after this transitional stage of gotrabhū there arises only for a duration of one moment the appanā thought-moment that leads to ecstatic concentration. This consciousness belongs to the Rūpa-plane, and is termed the First Rūpa Jhāna. In the case of an Arahat it is a kriyā citta, otherwise it is a kusala.

This consciousness lasts for one thought-moment and then subsides into the Bhavanga state.

The aspirant continues his concentration and develops in the foregoing manner the second, third, fourth, and fifth Jhānas.

The five Jhāna vipākas are the corresponding Resultants of the five Morals. They are experienced in the Form sphere itself and not in the Kāma-sphere. Kusala and Kiriyā Jhānas could be experienced in the Kāma-sphere continuously even for a whole day.

The five factors, vitakka, vicāra, pīti, sukha, ekaggatā collectively found in the appanā consciousness, constitute what is technically known as Jhāna. In the second Jhāna the first factor is eliminated, in the third the first two are eliminated, in the fourth the first three are eliminated, while in the fifth even happiness is abandoned and is substituted by equanimity.

Sometimes these five Jhānas are treated as four, as mentioned in the Visuddhi-Magga. In that case the second Jhāna consists of three constituents as both vitakka and vicāra are eliminated at once.

38. Vitakka - is derived from "vi" "takk" to think. Generally the term is used in the sense of thinking or reflection. Here it is used in a technical sense. It is that which directs the concomitant states towards the object. (ārammanam vitakketi sampayuttadhamme abhiniropeti' ti vitakko). Just as a king's favourite would conduct a villager to the palace, even so vitakka directs the mind towards the object.

Vitakka is an unmoral mental state which, when associated with a kusala or akusala citta, becomes either moral or immoral. A developed form of this vitakka is found in the first Jhāna consciousness. A still more developed form of vitakka is found in the Path-consciousness (magga citta) as sammā-sankappa (Right thoughts). The vitakka of the Path-consciousness directs the mental states towards Nibbāna and destroys micchā (wrong or evil) vitakka such as thoughts of sense-desire (kāma), thoughts of hatred (vyāpāda), and thoughts of cruelty (vihimsā). The vitakka of the Jhāna consciousness temporarily inhibits sloth and torpor (thīna-middha) one of the five Hindrances (nīvarana).

Through continued practice the second Jhāna is obtained by eliminating vitakka. When four Jhānas are taken into account instead of the five, the second Jhāna is obtained by eliminating both vitakka and vicāra at the same time.

39. Vicāra is derived from "vi" + "car" to move or wander. Its usual equivalent is investigation. Here it is used in the sense of sustained application of the mind on the object. It temporarily inhibits doubts (vicikicchā).

According to the commentary vicāra is that which moves around the object. Examination of the object is its characteristic. Vitakka is like the flying of a bee towards a flower. Vicāra is like its buzzing around it. As Jhāna factors they are correlates.

40. Pīti is zest, joy, or pleasurable interest. It is derived from "pi", to please, to delight. It is not a kind of feeling (vedanā) like sukha. It is, so to say, its precursor. Like the first two Jhāna factors, (pīti) is also a mental state found in both moral and immoral consciousness. Creating an interest in the object is its characteristic pīti inhibits vyāpāda, ill-will or aversion.

There are five kinds of pīti:-

  1. Khuddaka pīti, the thrill of joy that causes "the flesh to creep".
  2. Khanika pīti, instantaneous joy like a flash of lightning.
  3. Okkantika pīti, the flood of joy like the breakers on a seashore.
  4. Ubbega pīti, transporting joy which enables one to float in the air just as a lump of cotton carried by the wind.
  5. Pharana pīti, suffusing joy, which pervades the whole body like a full blown bladder or like a flood that overflows small tanks and ponds.

41. Sukha is bliss or happiness. It is a kind of pleasant feeling. It is opposed to uddhacca and kukkucca (restlessness and brooding). As vitakka is the precursor of vicāra, so is pīti the precursor of sukha.

The enjoyment of the desired object is its characteristic. It is like a king that enjoys a delicious dish.

Pīti creates an interest in the object, while sukha enables one to enjoy the object.

Like the sight of an oasis to a weary traveler, is pīti. Like drinking water and bathing therein, is sukha.

This mental sukha which should be differentiated from ahetuka kāyika (physical) happiness is identical with somanassa. But it is a joy disconnected with material pleasures. This pleasurable feeling is the inevitable outcome of renouncing them (nirāmisa sukha). Nibbānic bliss is yet far more subtle than Jhānic bliss. There is no feeling in experiencing the bliss of Nibbāna. The total release from suffering (dukkhūpasama) is itself Nibbānic bliss. It is comparable to the "ease" of an invalid who is perfectly cured of a disease. It is a bliss of relief.

42. Upekkhā - literally, means seeing (ikkhati) impartially (upa = yuttito). It is viewing an object with a balanced mind, Atthasālini states: - "This is impartiality (majjhattam) in connection with the object, and implies a discriminative knowledge (paricchindanakam ñānam)".

This explanation applies strictly to upekkhā found in sobhana consciousness accompanied by wisdom. Upekkhā found in the akusalas and ahetukas is just neutral feeling, without the least trace of any discriminative knowledge. In the kāmāvacara sobhanas, too, there may arise that neutral feeling, as in the case of one hearing the Dhamma without any pleasurable interest, and also a subtle form of upekkhā that views the object with deliberate impartiality and discriminative knowledge, as in the case of a wise person who hears the Dhamma with a critical and impartial mind.

Upekkhā of the Jhāna consciousness, in particular is of ethical and psychological importance. It certainly is not the ordinary kind of upekkhā, generally found in the akusala consciousness which comes naturally to an evil-doer. The Jhāna upekkhā has been developed by a strong will-power. Realizing that pleasurable feeling is also gross, the Yogi eliminates it as he did the other three Jhāna factors, and develops the more subtle and peaceful upekkhā. On the attainment of the fifth Jhāna breathing ceases. As he has transcended both pain and pleasure by will-power, he is immune to pain too.

This upekkhā is a highly refined form of the ordinary tatramajjhattatā, even-mindedness, one of the moral mental states, latent in all types of sobhana consciousness.

In the Pāli phrase - upekkhā satipārisuddhi - purity of mindfulness which comes of equanimity - it is the tatra-majjhattatā that is referred to. This is latent in the first four Jhānas too. In the fifth Jhāna this tatra-majjhattatā is singled out and becomes highly refined. Both neutral feeling upekkhā vedanā) and equanimity that correspond to the one Pāli term upekkhā are found in the fifth Jhāna.

Thus there appear to be four kinds of upekkhā viz:-

  1. just neutral feeling, found in the six akusala cittas,
  2. sensitive passive neutral feeling (anubhavana upekkhā) found in the eight ahetuka sense-door consciousness (dvipañca-viññāna) (excluding kāyaviññāna),
  3. intellectual upekkhā, found mostly in the two sobhana kriyā cittas, accompanied by knowledge, and sometimes in the two sobhana kusala cittas, accompanied by knowledge,
  4. ethical upekkhā, found in all the sobhana cittas, especially in the fifth Jhāna.

Brahmavihārupekkhā and sankhārupekkhā may be included in both intellectual and ethical upekkhā.

The first is equanimity amidst all vicissitudes of life. The second is neither attachment nor aversion with respect to all conditioned things.

Visuddhi-Magga enumerates ten kinds of upekkhā. See the Path of Purity -Vol. II pp. 184-186.

43. Ekaggatā (eka + agga + tā) lit., one-pointedness. This is a mental state common to all Jhānas. By sammā samādhi (Right Concentration) is meant this ekaggatā found in the Path-consciousness. Ekaggatā temporarily inhibits sensual desires.

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