by Sujin Boriharnwanaket | 129,875 words
A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas is a guide to the development of the Buddha's path of wisdom, covering all aspects of human life and human behaviour, good and bad. This study explains that right understanding is indispensable for mental development, the development of calm as well as the development of insight The author describes in detail all ment...
We read in the "Kindred Sayings" (I, Sagāthā vagga, The Devas, Ch 7, § 2, Citta Sutta) that a deva asked:
Now what is that whereby the world is led?
And what is that whereby it is drawn along?
And what is that above all other things
That brings everything under its rule?
The Buddha answered:
It is citta whereby the world is led,
And by citta it is ever drawn along,
And citta it is above all other things
That brings everything under its rule.
This Sutta shows us the power of citta . Citta is an element, which experiences something, a reality which experiences an object. It is the "chief", the leader in knowing the object which appears . There is not only citta, which sees, citta that hears, citta which smells, citta which tastes or citta which experiences tangible object, there is also citta which thinks about many diverse subjects. The world of each person is ruled by his citta. The cittas of some people have accumulated a great deal of wholesomeness (kusala). Even when they meet someone who is full of defilements they can still have loving kindness, compassion or equanimity because of their accumulations of wholesomeness. Whereas the world of someone else may be a world of hatred, annoyance, anger and displeasure, according to his accumulations. Thus, in reality, each person is all the time his own world.
It seems that we are all living together in the same world. However, in reality all the different rupas (material phenomena) which appear through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body-sense and mind, all those different phenomena could not appear and be of such importance, if there were no citta, the element which experiences them. Since citta experiences the objects, which appear through the sense-doors and through the mind-door, the world of each person is ruled by his citta.
Which world is better? The world where a great deal of wholesomeness has been accumulated, so that kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity can arise, or the world of hatred, anger and displeasure? Different people may meet the same person and know the same things about him, but the world of each one of them will evolve with loving kindness or with aversion, depending on the power of the citta which has accumulated different inclinations in the case of each person.
Because of visible object which appears through the eyes it seems as if there are many people living together in this world, at a certain time and in a particular location. However, if there is clear comprehension of the characteristic of the element which experiences, the Dhamma which arises and sees the object which appears at that moment, one will know that, while there is seeing just for a short moment, there is only the world of seeing. Then there are no people, other living beings or different things. At the moment of seeing there is not yet thinking about shape and form, there is not yet thinking of a story about what is seen.
When we think that there is the world, beings, people or different things, we should know that this is only a moment of citta, which thinks about what appears to seeing, about visible object. Seeing occurs at a moment different from thinking about what appears. For everyone there is citta, which arises just for a moment and is then succeeded by the next one, and this happens continuously. Thus, it seems that there is the whole wide world with many different people and things, but we should have right understanding of what the world is. We should know that realities appear one at a time, and that they appear only for one moment of citta. Since cittas arise and fall away, succeeding one another very rapidly, it seems that there is the world which does not disintegrate, the world which lasts, with beings, people and many different things. In reality the world lasts just for one moment, namely, when citta arises and cognizes an object just for that moment; and then the world falls away together with the citta.
In the "Buddhist Psychological Ethics" ( the "Dhammasangaṇi", Book I, Part I, Ch I, § 6) several synonyms for citta have been given. Citta is called mind (mano or mānasa), heart (hadaya), "that which is pure" (paṇḍara), mind-base (manāyatana), faculty of mind (manindriya), consciousness (viññāṇa), the khandha of consciousness (viññāṇakkhandha), the element of "mind-consciousness" (mano-viññāṇa dhatu) .
The Buddha used several synonyms of citta so that the characteristic of citta which is common to everybody could be understood. Citta is reality, it is an element which experiences something, but it is difficult to understand what exactly the characteristic is of the element which experiences. People may more or less understand what citta is; they know that it is the mind which is common to everybody, but if one only knows this and does not really investigate the nature of citta, one will not know at which moment citta occurs.
The "Atthasālinī", the Commentary to the "Dhammasangaṇi", (Expositor I, Book I, Part IV, Ch II, 140) states that the reality which is citta is so called because of its variegated nature (the Pali term vicitta means variegated or various). There is not only one kind of element which experiences, one kind of citta, but there are many different kinds. Citta is variegated. Its variegated nature appears when we think of different subjects, when we think, for example, about what we are going to do on a particular day. When we consider this more, we shall find out that thinking occurs according to the variegated nature of all the different cittas which arise.
What shall we do today, this afternoon, tomorrow? If there were no citta we could not perform any action. The fact that we all can perform different actions in a day is due to the variegated nature of the citta of each one of us. We can see that all our actions in daily life through body and speech are different because of the variegated nature of the cittas of each one of us. When we are thinking, citta is the reality which thinks, and each person thinks in a different way. Different people who are interested in the Dhamma and study it, consider it and ponder over it in different ways. They also have different points of view as far as the practice is concerned. The world evolves in accordance with the variegated nature of the cittas of different people. The world is constituted by different people living in different countries and participating in different groups and these different individuals condition the events in the world. This occurs because of the variety of thinking of each individual. The world of today evolves in this particular way according to the variegated nature of the cittas of people in this time. How will the world be in the future? It will be again just according to the variegated nature of the cittas which think of many different subjects.
Hence we see that citta is of a variegated nature. The citta which sees through the eye-door is one type of citta. It is different from the citta which hears through the ears, which is another type of citta. The citta which thinks is again another type of citta.
The "Atthasālinī" states that citta is called "mind" (mano), because it determines and knows an object (āramaṇa or ālambana). The word object, ārammaṇa, means: that which is known by citta. When citta, the Dhamma which experiences, arises, it cognizes what is called an "object".
Sound is a reality. When hard things contact each other, it is a condition for the arising of sound. However, when the citta which arises does not experience sound at that moment, sound is not an object. Anything may arise because of conditions, but if citta does not experience it, it is not an object, ārammaṇa.
Citta is named "heart", hadaya, because it is an inward reality. Citta is internal because it is a reality which experiences the object which appears. The object is outside, it is that which citta experiences.
The study of citta is actually investigation of the realities which are appearing at this moment, the realities which are internal as well as those which are external, and in this way we shall come to understand the characteristic of citta. Citta is a reality, but where is it? Citta is an internal reality. When there is seeing, color appears outside and citta is the reality which is within, it experiences what appears through the eyes.
When we develop understanding, we should investigate the characteristics of realities as they are, according to the truth which the Buddha realized through his attainment of Buddhahood, and which he taught to others. He taught the four "Applications of Mindfulness" . Mindfulness of citta (cittanupassanā satipaṭṭhāna) means that, when there is for instance seeing, sati is mindful, non-forgetful, of its characteristic. We should investigate, study and apply our attention to the reality of seeing so that we shall gradually have more understanding of it. We can come to know it as the element which experiences what is appearing through the eyes.
When there is hearing of sound, sati can arise and be aware of it, so that hearing can be known as a reality which experiences, and this is an internal reality. It is not easy to investigate this reality and to know it as it is. The reality which hears sound arises, experiences the sound which appears, and then falls away immediately. This is true for each citta: it arises, experiences an object just for an extremely short moment and then it falls away very rapidly. When one has right understanding of the citta which sees, the citta which hears or the citta which thinks, satipaṭṭhāna can arise and be aware of the characteristic of citta at that moment, and it can be known as the reality, the element, which experiences something. Paññā can be developed in conformity with the Dhamma the Buddha taught. Then paññā can penetrate the characteristics of realities, so that the four noble Truths can be realized and defilements can be eradicated at the different stages of enlightenment. These stages are: the stage of the "stream winner" (sotāpanna), of the "once-returner" (Sakadagami), of the "non-returner" (Anagami) and the stage of the arahat.
In the "Dhammasangaṇi" the citta is called "pure" or "luminous" (paṇḍara), and according to the "Atthasālinī" this refers to the "life-continuum", bhavanga-citta.
Citta is a reality which arises and then falls away immediately. The falling away of the preceding citta is a condition for the arising of the succeeding citta. The citta which sees arises and falls away, there is not continuously a citta which sees. Neither is there continuously a citta which hears, a citta which experiences tangible object or a citta which thinks. When we are fast asleep and not dreaming, there are cittas arising and falling away, succeeding one another. However, at such moments citta does not experience an object through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body-sense or the mind-door. The citta which does not experience an object through any of the six doors is the bhavanga-citta. This citta keeps one alive, it maintains the continuity in one’s life as this particular person. Bhavanga-cittas are arising and falling away until there is another type of citta arising which experiences an object through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body-sense or the mind-door. The bhavanga-cittas arise in between the processes of cittas which experience objects through the six doors and this goes on continuously until the end of one’s lifespan as this particular person.
The "Atthasālinī" (Expositor I, Book I, Part IV, Ch II, 140) states: "Mind also is said to be ‘clear’ in the sense of ‘exceedingly pure’ with reference to the bhavanga-citta." The citta is pure only at the moment it does not experience an object through the doors of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body-sense or mind. Everybody who is fast asleep looks innocent, pure, he does not experience like or dislike, he is not jealous, stingy, conceited, he has no loving kindness nor compassion; thus, unwholesome or wholesome qualities do not arise because he does not see, hear, experience tangible object or think. However, it should be known that whenever the citta which arises experiences an object through one of the six doors, citta is not pure. The reason is that many different defilements have been accumulated in the citta and these condition the arising of pleasure and attachment when one sees something pleasant, and the arising of displeasure and annoyance when one sees something unpleasant.
When citta arises and cognizes an object through one of the six doors, what kind of feeling is there? Pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling and indifferent feeling are not the reality which is citta. They are types of cetasika, mental factor, which the Buddha has called vedanā cetasika, the cetasika which is feeling. Citta as well as cetasika are nama, but citta is the "chief", the "leader" in knowing an object. Citta is different from vedanā cetasika which feels pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent about the object which is appearing. Dhammas which arise cannot arise singly, they are dependent on other Dhammas which arise simultaneously with them and which condition them. Citta must arise simultaneously with cetasikas and cetasikas must arise simultaneously with the citta. Citta and cetasikas which arise together fall away together. They experience the same object and they arise and fall away at the same physical base. Each citta which arises is conditioned by different cetasikas which accompany it, and each citta performs a different function, and thus, there is a great diversity of types of cittas.
We do not like it when the citta is annoyed, disturbed, restless, sad or anxious. We like it when the citta is happy, when it is full of joy and when it is infatuated with pleasant objects. However, when the citta is joyful, when it is happy and absorbed in pleasure, the citta is not pure, because it is accompanied by the cetasika which is attachment, lobha cetasika. Lobha is the Dhamma which takes pleasure in the object, which clings to it and is absorbed in it. The Buddha taught people to study and investigate realities so that sati of satipaṭṭhāna could be aware of the characteristics of realities which are appearing and right understanding of them could be developed. This means that one should investigate realities, notice their characteristics and be aware of them in order to know them precisely, just as they are. In this way we can come to know which Dhammas are kusala, which are akusala and which are neither kusala nor akusala. We can come to know akusala as akusala, no matter of what degree, be it coarse or more subtle. It should be known that not only aversion, dosa, is akusala Dhamma, but that there are also many other types of akusala cetasikas.
People ask what they should do to prevent anger. All Dhammas are non-self, anattā, and thus also dosa is anattā. Dosa arises because of its appropriate conditions. There are people who can eradicate dosa for good, so that it does not arise again. Those people have developed paññā and realized the four noble Truths to the degree of the third stage of enlightenment, the stage of the non-returner, Anagami.
At each stage of enlightenment the four noble Truths are realized. The first Truth is the noble Truth of dukkha. All conditioned Dhammas (saṇkhāra Dhammas) are impermanent. They arise and fall away immediately and therefore they are dukkha, unsatisfactory, not worth clinging to; they cannot be any refuge. The second noble Truth is the origin of dukkha (dukkha samudaya). This is craving (tanhā), which is lobha cetasika. Clinging or craving is the origin, the cause, of the arising of dukkha. The third noble Truth is the cessation of dukkha (dukkha nirodha) and this is nibbāna. Nibbāna is the reality which makes an end to dukkha because when nibbāna is attained, defilements are eradicated which cause the arising of dukkha. The fourth noble Truth is the way leading to the cessation of dukkha (dukkha nirodha gāmini paṭipadā). This is the eightfold Path, which is the development of satipaṭṭhāna, the development of paññā which can realize the four noble Truths. This is the practice leading to the cessation of dukkha.
The four noble Truths are realized when enlightenment is attained, but there are different degrees of realization at the four stages of enlightenment. The person who has realized the noble Truths and experiences nibbāna for the first time when he attains enlightenment, is a stream winner, sotāpanna. The sotāpanna has eradicated wrong view (diṭṭhi) and doubt about the characteristics of realities.
When the sotāpanna has developed paññā further he can reach the second stage of enlightenment, the stage of the once-returner, Sakadagami. Then he realizes the noble Truths to the degree of that stage and experiences nibbāna again. The more coarse attachment to visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible object is eradicated at that stage.
When the Sakadagami has developed paññā further he can reach the third stage of enlightenment, the stage of the non-returner, Anagami. Then he realizes the noble Truths to the degree of that stage and experiences nibbāna again. Attachment to visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible object, and also aversion, dosa, are completely eradicated at that stage.
When the Anagami has developed paññā further he can reach the fourth and last stage of enlightenment, the stage of the perfected one, the arahat. He realizes the noble Truths to the degree of that stage and experiences nibbāna again. All remaining akusala Dhammas are completely eradicated at that stage. When the arahat passes away there is the full extinction of the khandhas (khandha parinibbāna), he does not have to be reborn anymore.
Thus we see that the lokuttara (supra-mundane) paññā of the Aryan, the person who has attained enlightenment, eradicates defilements stage by stage, that is, according to the stage of enlightenment which has been attained. When we understand this we should carefully consider what the right way of practice is for the development of paññā which clearly discerns the Dhammas which appear and which can eradicate defilements. The practice should be in conformity with the Dhamma the Buddha taught.
The Buddha explained citta not only as "that which is pure" (paṇḍara), he also used the term "manāyatana", mind-base, for citta, so that the characteristic of citta would be understood even more clearly. "Āyatana" is explained in the "Atthasālinī" ( same section, 140, 141) as "dwelling place", place of birth, place of association and cause. It is explained that place of birth, meeting-place and cause are suitable terms for citta. Citta is place of birth, because contact, phassa cetasika, and the other cetasikas arise "in the citta". Citta is a place of association, because objects from outside, such as visible object, sound, odor, flavor and tangible object, "meet" in the citta by being its object. As to the meaning of cause, hetu, citta is the cause or condition for contact, phassa, and for the other cetasikas arising together with it, it is conascent-condition (sahajāta-paccaya) for them.
Each citta is a reality, an element, which experiences an object. We shall understand more clearly that citta has the characteristic of anattā if we know that citta is manāyatana, base on which other realities depend, place of birth, meeting-place and cause.
There may be conditions for the arising of visible object, sound, odor, flavor, tangible objects such as cold, heat, softness or hardness. However, if citta does not arise and experiences these objects, if citta is not the "meeting-place" for them, none of these objects can appear. Then what can be experienced through the eyes cannot appear, neither can sound, odor, flavor, cold, heat, softness or hardness appear. This is because citta is the reality which experiences an object, it is the base, the place of birth, the meeting-place, the cause that realities appear. The color at our back cannot appear, because it does not "meet" the citta, it cannot impinge on the eye-sense and does not contact the citta. Hence citta cannot arise and see the object which is at the back. Although kamma conditions the eye-sense which is arising and falling away continuously, throughout life, provided we have not become blind, the citta which sees cannot arise continuously. Whenever color appears, the citta is manāyatana, meeting-place for the rupa which is visible object impinging at that moment on the eye-sense (cakkhuppasāda rupa). The rupa which impinges on the eye-sense is rūpāyatana, the āyatana of visible object, and the eye-sense which is impinged on by visible object is cakkhāyatana, the āyatana of eye-sense. All the Dhammas which "meet" or associate at that moment are āyatanas.
The same is true when sound impinges on the ear-sense and can "meet" the citta which arises and experiences it. Thus, citta is manāyatana, the meeting-place of the Dhammas which are appearing.
As we have seen, the "Atthasālinī" states that citta is cause or condition for phassa, contact, and for the other cetasikas which accompany citta. Phassa, one among the fifty-two types of cetasikas, is a kind of nama which contacts the object. The contact which is phassa cetasika is mental, it is different from physical contact, which occurs, for example, when a tree falls down and hits the earth. The rupa which is sound may impinge on the rupa which is ear-sense, but if phassa does not arise and contacts the sound impinging on the ear-sense, the citta which hears cannot arise at all.
Phassa is a type of nama which arises together with the citta and falls away together with it. Phassa experiences the same object as the citta and it arises at the same place of origin as the citta. Therefore, citta is a condition for phassa. In the planes of existence where there are five khandhas (nama and rupa), citta and cetasika must always arise at a particular rupa which is the place of origin for citta and cetasikas. That rupa is called "vatthu rupa", physical base. The eye-sense is vatthu rupa, the eye-base, since it is the place of origin for seeing-consciousness and the cetasikas which arise together with it .
Realities cannot arise singly, on their own. When a reality arises there must be other realities which arise together with it at that moment and which condition it. Whatever reality conditions another reality to arise simultaneously with it, conditions that reality by way of conascence-condition, sahajāta-paccaya .
A conditioning Dhamma, a paccaya, is a Dhamma which asists or supports another Dhamma to arise or to subsist. Thus, it is evident that each Dhamma which arises is saṅkhāra Dhamma, conditioned Dhamma, since it is dependent on other Dhammas which are the condition for its arising. If there were no conditions there could not be the arising of any Dhamma. Different Dhammas are different types of conditions. Some Dhammas condition other Dhammas to arise together with them, they are conascence-condition, sahajāta-paccaya. Other Dhammas arise before the Dhammas they condition, they are prenascence-condition, purejāta-paccaya. Other Dhammas again arise after the Dhammas they condition, they are postnascence-condition, pacchājāta-paccaya.
Citta is conascence-condition for the cetasikas which arise simultaneously and the cetasikas are conascence-condition for the citta they accompany. When contact, phassa, arises and contacts an object, the citta which arises together with phassa cetasika experiences that object, not a different object. When phassa cetasika arises and contacts sound, the hearing-consciousness which arises simultaneously with phassa cetasika, has that sound as object.
There are four paramattha Dhammas: citta, cetasika, rupa and nibbāna. Each of the paramattha Dhammas can be a condition for the arising of other paramattha Dhammas which are sankhata Dhammas, conditioned Dhammas. Citta can condition the arising of cetasikas and of rupas, although not all cittas condition the arising of rupa. Cetasika conditions the arising of citta and of rupa, except in some cases. Rupa is a condition for the arising of other rupas. Rupa conditions the arising of citta when it is vatthu, physical base of citta, and when it is the object of citta. All this evolves according to the nature of the paramattha Dhammas which are conditioned by way of conascence-condition and by other conditions.
Citta and cetasika are conascence-condition for the rupa which arises simultaneously with them immediately at the arising moment of citta. Each moment of citta can be subdivided into three extremely short moments:
- the arising moment (uppāda khaṇa)
- the moment of presence (tiṭṭhi khaṇa), when it has not fallen away yet
- the moment of dissolution (bhanga khaṇa)
Citta cannot direct the arising of rupa. Rupa which is conditioned by citta (cittaja rupa) arises simultaneously with the citta, immediately at the arising moment of citta. However, it is different at the moment the rebirth-consciousness (paṭisandhi-citta) arises. At that moment there is no rupa conditioned by citta, but only rupa conditioned by kamma (kammaja rupa) which arises together with the rebirth-consciousness, which is also conditioned by kamma. When the rebirth-consciousness has fallen away, the succeeding citta, the first bhavanga-citta in that life, conditions rupa to arise simultaneously with it. From that moment on, throughout life, citta conditions rupa. However, the sense-cognitions are an exception, they do not produce any rupa. There are five pairs of sense-cognitions, one citta of each pair is kusala vipāka (result of wholesome kamma) and one citta is akusala vipāka (result of unwholesome kamma). They are the following pairs of citta: seeing-consciousness, hearing-consciousness, smelling-consciousness, tasting-consciousness and body-consciousness. Also, the dying-consciousness of the arahat does not produce any rupa. Apart from these types of cittas, each type of citta arising in the planes where there are five khandhas conditions rupa to arise simultaneously with it at its arising moment .
Each person accumulates inclinations which are variegated (vicitta). Some people accumulate a great deal of akusala (unwholesomeness), others a great deal of kusala (wholesomeness). If one has right understanding of the way of developing satipaṭṭhāna it can be developed. All kinds of kusala which are accumulated are beneficial, they can be "perfections" (pāramīs), supporting conditions for sati to be mindful of the characteristics of realities, which are non-self, not a living being, not a person, so that the four noble Truths can be realized. Defilements can be eradicated in different stages, but for those who begin with the development of satipaṭṭhāna, satipaṭṭhāna is still weak. The clinging to the concept of self is deeply rooted. No matter whether one is seeing or hearing, dislikes one’s akusala or performs kusala, one takes all these realities for self. One believes that one’s kusala belongs to a self.
The study of citta paramattha Dhamma can be a supporting condition for the direct understanding of the characteristic of citta appearing right now, at the present moment. Thus, there can be direct understanding of the characteristic of the citta which sees, hears or thinks now. The aim of the study of Dhamma should be the direct understanding of realities through satipaṭṭhāna. Satipaṭṭhāna can arise and be aware of the characteristic of the element which experiences whatever object appears.
When we study citta we should not believe that we can already immediately have clear understanding of the characteristic of citta. Moreover, the study of citta should not be motivated by the desire to be a person with a great deal of knowledge about citta. The understanding acquired from study can be an accumulated condition as "saṇkhārakkhandha" ( the khandha including all cetasikas, also all sobhana, beautiful cetasikas, except feeling and remembrance) for the arising of sati of satipaṇṭṭhāna. Sati can be aware of the characteristic of citta which is nama, the element which experiences an object at this very moment. In this way paññā can develop and eliminate the wrong view which takes all realities for self. This should be the aim of our study of the Dhamma.
- What is life-continuum, bhavanga-citta?
- When is there citta which is called "that which is pure" (paṇḍara) ? And why is it so called?
- For the arising of which realities can citta and cetasika be a condition?
- For the arising of which realities can rupa be a condition?
- How many stages of enlightenment, that is, of realizing the noble Truths, are there?
- What is the rupa which is base, vatthu-rupa?
- What is āyatana, and which are in particular the āyatanas?
- What is conascence-condition, sahajāta-paccaya?
- What is the meaning of cittaja rupa? When does it arise? Which cittas in the five khandha planes of existence are not a condition for cittaja rupa?
- What is the right motivation for the study of the Dhamma?
Footnotes and references:
Citta is accompanied by cetasikas, mental factors, which also experience the object, but citta is the leader in cognizing the object.
The same synonyms have been given in Maha-Niddesa, Pasūra Sutta, no. 319.
Mindfulness of Body, of Feeling, of Citta and of Dhammas.
Cittas which experience objects through the six doors arise in processes, and each citta in that process performs its own function. This will be explained later on.
Sati, mindfulness, is a cetasika which is non-forgetful of what is wholesome. There are different levels of sati. Sati of satipaṭṭhāna is non-forgetful, mindful of the characteristics of nama and rupa.
There are six rupas which are vatthu. The five senses are vatthus for the sense-cognitions and the heart-base is vatthu for all the other cittas. Vatthu is not identical with āyatana which comprises both nama and rupa.
Saha means together and jāta means arisen.
Citta is one of the four factors which produces rupas of the body. The other factors are kamma, temperature and nutrition. Citta produces groups of rupas, consisting of the eight inseparable rupas, and in addition other types of rupa.