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...
Cittas can be classified as sobhana and asobhana. Sobhana Dhammas are realities which are "beautiful". Sobhana Dhammas do not only comprise kusala Dhammas, but also Dhammas which are kusala vipāka, the result of kusala kamma, and sobhana kiriya Dhammas, the cittas of the arahat who has neither kusala nor akusala.
Asobhana Dhamma is the opposite of sobhana Dhamma. Asobhana Dhammas are Dhammas which are not sobhana, not beautiful. Asobhana Dhammas do not only comprise akusala citta and cetasika, but also all cittas and cetasikas which are not accompanied by sobhana cetasikas. Thus, when cittas are classified by way of associated Dhammas, sampayutta Dhammas, which condition citta to be varied, cittas can be differentiated as sobhana and asobhana. This means that cittas are classified as accompanied or unaccompanied by the cetasikas which are the sobhana hetus of alobha, adosa and paññā. The sobhana hetus are sobhana cetasikas which condition citta to be sobhana. Therefore, the classification of citta as sobhana and asobhana should follow upon the classification of citta by way of hetus. All cittas which are accompanied by sobhana hetus are sobhana cittas and all cittas which are not accompanied by sobhana hetus are asobhana cittas.
When we study paramattha Dhammas we should carefully investigate cause and result. If we clearly understand cause and result we shall not have any misunderstanding as to sobhana Dhammas and asobhana Dhammas.
Akusala citta arises together with the akusala cetasikas of lobha, dosa and moha and thus it is clear that it is not sobhana citta.
Seeing-consciousness cannot arise together with lobha, dosa or moha, nor with any of the sobhana cetasikas. Seeing-consciousness is accompanied only by seven cetasikas: contact (phassa), feeling (vedanā), remembrance (saññā), volition (cetanā), one-pointed-ness or concentration (ekaggatā), life-faculty (jīvitindriya) and attention (manasikāra). These seven cetasikas are the "universals" (sabbacitta-sādhāraṇā), they have to accompany each and every citta. Citta cannot arise without these seven cetasikas, no matter whether it is akusala citta, kusala citta, vipākacitta, kiriyacitta, lokuttara citta or any other type of citta.
The seven "universals" and six other cetasikas, the "particulars" (pakiṇṇakā) which do not arise with every citta, can be of four jātis according to the type of citta they accompany  . The "universals" and the "particulars" are together the "aññāsamāna cetasikas"  . When the aññasamāna cetasikas arise with akusala citta, they are akusala, and when they arise with kusala citta, they are kusala. Whereas akusala cetasikas accompany only akusala citta and sobhana cetasikas accompany only sobhana citta.
Seeing-consciousness is vipākacitta which is accompanied only by the seven universals, not by sobhana cetasikas nor by akusala cetasikas. Thus, seeing-consciousness is asobhana citta, but it is not akusala citta.
When one studies the Dhamma one should understand precisely the difference between akusala Dhammas and asobhana Dhammas. Akusala Dhammas are realities which are mean, inferior, dangerous. They are causes which produce unpleasant and sorrowful results. Asobhana Dhammas are citta and cetasika which are not accompanied by sobhana cetasikas. The Buddha taught the Dhamma by various methods and under different aspects, according to the true characteristics of realities. When we study the Dhamma we should investigate the characteristics of realities in detail, so that we can understand them as they are. As we have seen, Dhammas can be classified as threefold, as kusala Dhamma, akusala Dhamma and avyākata (indeterminate) Dhamma.
We should remember that kusala Dhammas are realities which are cause, producing kusala vipāka. Akusala Dhammas are realities which are cause producing akusala vipāka. Avyākata Dhammas are realities which are neither kusala nor akusala. They are vipākacitta and cetasika, kiriyacitta and cetasika, rupa and nibbāna. Thus, avyākata Dhamma comprises not only citta and cetasika which are vipāka and kiriya, but also the paramattha Dhammas which are rupa and nibbāna. Rupa and nibbāna cannot be kusala nor akusala because they are not citta or cetasika. Thus, all four paramattha Dhammas can be classified as these three groups of Dhammas. When Dhammas are classified as four jātis this classification refers only to citta and cetasika.
The cittas and cetasikas of the four jātis can be classified as sobhana and asobhana in the following way:
- akusala citta and accompanying cetasikas which are: asobhana
- kusala citta and accompanying cetasikas which are: sobhana
- vipākacitta and kiriyacitta unaccompanied by sobhana cetasikas such as alobha and adosa which are: asobhana
- vipākacitta and kiriyacitta accompanied by sobhana cetasikas which are: sobhana
Seeing-consciousness which is kusala vipāka and seeing-consciousness which is akusala vipāka are accompanied only by the seven universals. It is the same for the other four pairs of sense-cognitions, they are accompanied only by the seven universals. Thus, the five pairs of sense-cognitions, the dvipañcaviññāṇa, are asobhana cittas. Moreover, there are cittas other than these ten which are asobhana, not accompanied by sobhana cetasikas.
Some kusala vipākacittas are asobhana and some are sobhana, accompanied by sobhana cetasikas. Each citta which arises in daily life is different. The rebirth-consciousness arising in the human plane of existence is different from the rebirth-consciousness arising in an unhappy plane, they are results produced by different kammas. A being born in an unhappy plane has a rebirth-consciousness which is akusala vipāka, the result of akusala kamma. Rebirth-consciousness which is akusala vipāka can arise in a hell plane, a ghost plane (pitti visaya), in the plane of demons (asuras) or in the animal world. The rebirth-consciousness arising in the human plane or in one of the deva planes is kusala vipākacitta; birth in these planes is a happy rebirth, the result of kusala kamma.
Rebirth-consciousness arising in the human plane is kusala vipāka, but there are different degrees of kamma producing kusala vipāka. Those who are handicapped from the first moment of life have a rebirth-consciousness which is the result of a very weak kusala kamma, unaccompanied by the sobhana cetasikas of alobha, adosa and paññā. Since the rebirth-consciousness of such a person is the result of weak kusala kamma, akusala kamma has the opportunity to cause him to be troubled by a handicap from the time of his birth.
As regards human beings who are not handicapped from the first moment of their life, they are born in different surroundings: they are born into different families, some of which are poor, some rich; they are of different ranks; there are differences in the number of their attendants or companions. All these varieties are due to a cause, namely, the difference in strength of the kusala kamma which produced as result the vipākacitta performing the function of rebirth. If kusala kamma is accompanied by paññā of a low degree or unaccompanied by paññā, it can produce as result rebirth-consciousness which is kusala vipāka accompanied by sobhana cetasikas and the two hetus of alobha and adosa. That person is then dvi-hetuka, born with a rebirth-consciousness accompanied by two sobhana hetus but without paññā. In that life he cannot attain jhāna nor enlightenment.
When someone is born with a rebirth-consciousness accompanied by paññā, as result of kamma accompanied by paññā, he is then tihetuka, born with a rebirth-consciousness accompanied by the three sobhana hetus of alobha, adosa and amoha or paññā. When that persons listens to the Dhamma, he is able to consider the Dhamma and to understand it. He can in that life, if he develops paññā of the level of samatha, attain jhāna. Or he can develop insight and, if the right conditions have been accumulated, he can realize the four noble Truths and attain enlightenment. Nevertheless, one should not be neglectful as to the development of paññā. Someone may have been born with three sobhana hetus and he may have accumulated sati and paññā, but if he neglects developing kusala or listening to the Dhamma, he will only be skillful as to worldly knowledge. If one does not develop insight one will not realize the characteristics of realities as they are.
In former lives people may have been interested in the Dhamma, they may have studied it and they may even have been ordained as a Bhikkhu or a novice. However, for the attainment of enlightenment it is necessary for everybody to develop paññā, no matter whether he is a Bhikkhu or a lay follower. Nobody knows in what state of life, as a Bhikkhu or a layman, he will attain enlightenment. One must know as they are the characteristics of realities which are appearing; paññā must be developed life after life, until, during one life, it has become so keen that it can penetrate the four noble Truths.
In the past someone may have been interested in the Dhamma and occupied with the study of the Dhamma and applied it in his life, but one should never forget that so long as enlightenment has not been attained, accumulated defilements can condition one to go astray. Defilements are so persistent, so powerful, they can condition people to be neglectful of kusala and to be engrossed in akusala. Someone may have been born with a rebirth-consciousness which is ti-hetuka, with alobha, adosa and paññā, but if he is neglectful and does not listen to the Dhamma, if he does not consider it carefully and if he is not aware of realities, there cannot be any development of paññā in that life. It is to be regretted that someone born as ti-hetuka wastes his life by not developing paññā. It is not sure which kamma will produce the rebirth-consciousness of the next life.
It may happen that akusala vipākacitta performs the function of rebirth in an unhappy plane, or that ahetuka kusala vipākacitta performs the function of rebirth, in which case a person is handicapped from the first moment of life, or that dvi-hetuka vipākacitta performs the function of rebirth in a happy plane. In that case someone is born without paññā and he is not able to develop paññā to the degree that the four noble Truths can be realized and enlightenment attained. Instead of neglecting the development of paññā one should persevere with its development so that it can grow and become keener.
When the rebirth-consciousness is sobhana citta the bhavanga-citta is also sobhana-citta. A human being who is not born with an ahetuka kusala vipākacitta, thus, who is not handicapped from birth, has, when he is fast asleep, sobhana bhavanga-cittas. If he is born with the two hetus of alobha and adosa, the bhavanga-cittas which are of the same type as the rebirth-consciousness are also dvi-hetuka. If he is born with the three hetus of alobha, adosa and paññā, the bhavanga-cittas are ti-hetuka. When we are fast asleep defilements do not arise; we have no like or dislike, because we do not yet experience objects through the sense-doors. We do not see, hear, smell, taste, experience objects through the body-sense or think about different objects.
When we wake up, happiness or unhappiness arises due to the different types of akusala cittas which arise in a day. When we are awake there are more asobhana cittas than kusala cittas. Seeing-consciousness arises and sees what appears through the eyes just for one moment and then there are usually akusala javana vīthi-cittas, seven moments of them. Thus, javana citta arises seven times more than seeing-consciousness which performs the function of seeing just for one moment. A great deal of akusala Dhammas have been accumulated from one moment of citta to the next moment, day in day out. Therefore, we should not be neglectful in the development of understanding while we study the Dhamma the Buddha explained in detail. The Buddha explained which cittas are sobhana , which cittas are asobhana and which of the asobhana cittas are akusala, vipāka or kiriya.
Question: Does the arahat have asobhana cittas?
Answer: Yes, he has.
Question: Does the arahat have akusala cittas?
Answer: No, he has not.
The arahat has asobhana cittas but he does not have akusala cittas. For the arahat the sense-cognitions such as seeing or hearing arise, which are asobhana cittas, but he has neither akusala cittas nor kusala cittas.
There are fifty-two cetasikas in all: thirteen aññā-samāna cetasikas which can be of four jātis and which are of the same jāti as the citta and cetasikas they accompany, fourteen akusala cetasikas and twenty-five sobhana cetasikas  .
It is important to have right understanding of the realities which are sobhana or asobhana. The Pali term sobhana is often translated into English as beautiful, but this word may cause misunderstandings. One may believe that everything which is beautiful or pleasant must be sobhana. One may for example think that pleasant bodily feeling is sobhana, but this is not so. We should consider the reality of pleasant bodily feeling. As we have seen, feelings can be classified as fivefold:
- pleasant feeling
- unpleasant feeling
- indifferent feeling
- pleasant bodily feeling
- painful bodily feeling
Pleasant bodily feeling, sukha vedanā, accompanies body-consciousness which is kusala vipāka, experiencing a pleasant tangible object. Body-consciousness is not accompanied by the sobhana cetasikas of alobha, adosa or paññā. Thus, the reality of pleasant bodily feeling is asobhana, not sobhana. If we do not correctly understand the Pali terms which represent the different Dhammas we shall have misunderstandings about them.
We should know precisely which Dhammas can be sobhana and which Dhammas cannot be sobhana. Rupa cannot be sobhana Dhamma, although it can be a beautiful, pleasant object. Rupa is the Dhamma which does not know anything, it can neither be kusala nor akusala. It cannot be accompanied by kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy or any other sobhana Dhamma. Only citta and cetasika can be sobhana or asobhana. Rupa can be an object which conditions citta to arise and to like or dislike it, but rupa itself is indeterminate Dhamma, avyākata Dhamma. Rupa does not know that citta likes it or dislikes it. Rupa itself has no intention or wish to be liked or disliked by citta, since rupa is not a Dhamma which can experience something. Citta experiences objects, it wants to see visible object, to hear sound, to smell odor, to experience pleasant tangible object, so that happy feeling can arise again and again. One wants pleasant feeling every day, whenever objects are experienced through the senses, or even whenever there is thinking about all these objects.
The five khandhas are objects of clinging, and this is shown in different similes. In the Commentary to the "Visuddhimagga", the "Paramattha Mañjūsa" (See Vis. XIV, 221, footnote 83)  it is said that rupakkhandha is like a dish because it bears the food which will bring happiness. Vedanākkhandha is like the food in that dish. Saññākkhandha is like the currysauce poured over the food which enhances its flavor, because, owing to the perception of beauty it hides the nature of the food which is feeling. Saṅkhārakkhandha is like the server of the food being a cause of feeling. Viññāṇakkhandha is like the eater because it is helped by feeling.
Citta is the leader in knowing an object. Citta and cetasikas, the four nama-kkhandhas, must arise together, they know the same object and they cannot be separated from each other. All four nama-kkhandhas must arise together, there cannot be less than four nama-kkhandhas. In the planes where there are five khandhas, the nama-kkhandhas are dependent on rupa-kkhandha which conditions their arising.
We study the different types of citta so that we can understand precisely the characteristics of cittas which can be classified in different ways. They can be classified by way of the four jātis, the four classes as to their nature of kusala, akusala, vipāka and kiriya; by way of the three groups of kusala Dhamma, akusala Dhamma and indeterminate Dhamma, avyākata Dhamma; by way of hetus; by way of asaṅkhārika and sasaṅkhārika; by way of sobhana and asobhana. These classifications make it clear to us that cittas are accompanied by different cetasikas which cause them to be variegated. If we understand these classifications it can be a condition for sati to arise and to be aware of realities, so that they are known as anattā, not a self or a being. They are just nama and rupa, each with their own characteristic, appearing one at a time. Visible object appearing through the eyes is one characteristic of reality, sound is another characteristic of reality. Odor, flavor and tangible object are all different realities, each with their own characteristic. Kusala citta and avyākata citta are different realities each with their own characteristic.
If there is more understanding of all these realities which each have their own characteristic, conditions are accumulated for the arising of sati which can be aware and which can investigate the characteristics of realities which appear. In this way the true nature of each Dhamma can be penetrated.
- Can rupa be sobhana Dhamma? Explain the reason.
- What is the difference between a person born with a rebirth-consciousness which is kusala vipākacitta unaccompanied by sobhana cetasikas and a person born with a rebirth-consciousness which is kusala vipākacitta accompanied by sobhana cetasikas?
- What type of kamma produces as result rebirth-consciousness accompanied by two hetus, thus, which is dvi-hetuka?
- What is the difference between a person who is dvi-hetuka and a person who is ti-hetuka (born with three hetus)?
- When a person is fast asleep is the citta then sobhana or asobhana?
Footnotes and references:
This will be explained further in the Appendix.
Aññā means other and samāna means common. When kusala citta is taken into account, akusala citta is taken as "other", and vice versa.
This will be explained further in the Appendix.
See also "Dispeller of Delusion", Ch I, Classification of the Aggregates, Definition, 32.