Abhidhamma in Daily Life (by Ashin Janakabhivamsa)

by Ashin Janakabhivamsa | 66,666 words

English translation of "Abhidhamma in Daily Life" by Professor Ko Lay. Revised by Sayadaw U Silananda, International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, 1999...

The function of cetana cetasika is not instil volition (will) in the cittas (mind) and mental factors (cetasikas) that arise together with it.

A detailed explanation is as follows: When mind or consciousness takes on some kind of arammana (sense-object), it is phassa cetasika which makes contact with the arammana. This is followed by vedana which feels the sensation and sañña which recognizes it. Other mental factors such as ekagga, jivitindriya and manasikara which will be explained later, perform their respective functions and occur simultaneously with consciousness. When the mind takes on a certain arammana, it is also associated with good wholesome factors such as saddha and sati, or with unwholesome factors such as lobha and dosa.

Cetasikas always accompany citta to perform their respective functions, and each cetasika never lags behind citta, nor fails to perform their functions. All cetasikas and cittas arise and pass away simultaneously; they are always in unison and in pairs. The instigating force which prompts the mind and the mental factors to be always together on the objects is none other than cetana (volition).

Further explanations: All cetasikas which arise and disappear simultaneously, and the mind itself may be taken collectively as a group. In this group citta is the president, while cetana cetasika is the secretary. As the secretary if an association is usually very busy working hard for the good of the group, so also is cetana cetasika.

It, being the secretary of the group, has twice the amount the responsibilities as that of others. It is the busiest factor in the mind. It has to do its own work as well as of others, and may be compared to the commander of an army in the battlefield.

Therefore if your goodwill, if your cetana, your inner urge is feeble, all other remaining cittas and cetasikas will also be likewise; if your will is forceful and eager, all other cetasikas will follow suit. At the same time your physique also becomes alert and active. Then both mind and body become full of vigor. Therefore, cetana is the prime maker of your destiny. This cetana decides your fate and makes you what you are.

Cetana is Kamma

The Buddha says that cetana is kamma; volition is ethical action whether good or bad in daily life, cetana; volition is the chief. Let us assume a man was brutally attack and killed by a mob. In this atrocious deed, the blows of the most attackers were ineffective; only one member of the mob, prompted by a strong will, cruelly gave blow after blow which resulted in the victim’s death. So only this man will be the culprit of the murder. Like wise a number of combinations of citta-cetasika function together in both kusala kamma (good actions) such as making of offering (Dana) or observance of precept (Síla) and akusala kamma (bad actions) such as killing (panatipata). In such activities it is the strong cetana (will) which is the most potent and post responsible and which determines your destiny and appropriate results here or hereafter.

Cetana (volition) is the strongest force in the world, prompting or encouraging all kinds of kamma (actions) and their effects. Cetana is the true motive force of all kamma actions; hence the saying, “Cetana is the maker, the true culprit of kamma actions.”

Therefore the Buddha explicitly taught, “Cetanaham Bhikkhave kammam vadami - O Bhikkhus! I declare that cetana (will) to be kamma (action).” So a strong will makes a robust kamma, moral or immoral. If your will is feeble your action is also week.

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