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...

Chapter 5 - Carita (nature, character or habitual conduct)

In The Previous four chapters we have explained the nature of cittas and cetasika. These two are concerned not only with good or bad thoughts in our present lives, but also with traits and predisposition accumulated in the past existences. Those who had accumulated good traits are blessed with good mentalities in this present life. And it is difficult to tame the bad minds of those had amassed bad traits in the past lives.

It is true that we can harness our bad predisposition by associating with the wise but when are parted from the wise and have our own way, we usually give in to the bad habits accumulated from the countless past existences. We lose our morality when not in the company of the virtuous just as molten lac hardens when deprived of heat. Even if you enclose the tail of a dog in a cylinder softening it with oil for twenty years, with a view to straighten it, you will find efforts in vain once the cylinder is removed. The tail will curved as it was.

Habits strongly and rigidly conform to one’s characteristics. For example, even if you feed a dog well he will surely nibble on an old worn out shoe once he gets hold of one. Or at the least he will sniff at the shoe. Likewise a person with bad habits will be mean and base in words and deeds. Even when the noble, the wise help him to a high status he will occasionally expose his bad carita (characteristics or traits). He cannot get rid of his rooted habits. Therefore it is important to examine one’s own carita and of others associated with one. What kind of carita or vasana do you have?

Carita (Nature, Character Or Habitual Conduct)

Carita is a predominant nature in one’s behavioral pattern.

Carita is of six types:

  1. Raga carita (the greedy or passionate nature)
  2. Dosa carita (the angry nature)
  3. Moha carita (the deluded nature)
  4. Saddha carita (the faithful nature)
  5. Buddhi carita (the intelligent nature)
  6. Vitakka carita (the ruminating or pondering nature)

The first three are bad tendencies and the later three are good. A person can have one or a mixture of two or three caritas.

How to Judge A Person’s Carita

One can generally identify a person’s carita by watching attentively his gestures and movements, his style of living, the food he likes and his behavioral pattern. Person with raga carita and those with saddha carita display common carita and those with buddhi carita. And persons with moha carita and those with vitakka carita are similar in nature.

Person with Raga Carita and Saddha Carita

Both persons are usually gentle and polite. They are generally clean, neat and tidy. They prefer sweet, aromatic and tender food. Yet there are vast differences between these two characters. The one with raga carita, the lustful one has attachment to five sensual pleasures. He is wily, cunning, proud and greedy. On the contrary, the one with saddha carita, is more truthful and honest. He is generous in nature, and hence is liberal in charity. He is more or less pious, reveres the Three Jewels and enjoying listening to Dhamma discourses.


Both raga carita and saddha carita person are civilized and are fond of luxury. But the former is greedy, stingy, lustful and cunning while the latter is liberal, generous, devoted and pious.

Person with Dosa Carita and Buddhi

Both types are crude and unbecoming in department. They are usually slipshod and untidy. Both types live lour, salty, bitter or pungent food. They cannot understand sights and sounds. They always react with abusive words, hatred, violence, and wrath. So the dosa dominant person and the buddhi dominant person have common characteristics which become their second nature. (until such tiles as when they begin to reform).

Yet they differ vastly in many respects. The dosa carita person always shows grudge, revenge, envy, jealousy, slander, pride and stubbornness. The buddhi carita person is the opposite pole of the dosa domaint. He is free from grudge, jealousy and is amenable to good advice. He does everything with mindfulness and wisdom. He is quite aware of the coming existences and so is fond of doing good deeds for fulfillment of paramis.

Maxim: A dosa dominant person is crude in manner, untidy and undisciplined, loves pungent food and reacts violently to ugly visual forms, and unpleasant sounds. A buddhi dominant person is free from the evils of the dosa carita. He is ready to learn from the wise and is generally mindful. He is farsighted and fond of virtuous deeds.

Person with Moha Carita and Vitakka Carita

A moha based person is associated with ignorance, delusion and forgetfulness. He is usually perplexed and confused. He cannot distinguished between right and wrong, good and bad. He is incapable of making his own judgments, so follows the opinion of others in denouncing or praising some one. Since he is devoid of sati and paññá (wisdom) he waste his time by being lazy, indolent and skeptic. He is the victim of sloth and torpor.

Like moha carita, the vitakka carita person also lives in the way of uncertainty and skepticism. He is indolent and incapable of doing moral deeds. He flocks with those of the same feather. He indulges in useless babbles, speculations and imaginations, so he becomes a useless person, squandering his time in vain.

Maxim: A moha dominant person is generally idle, confused and deluded. He cannot differentiate vice from virtue and right from wrong. He lacks of power of judgment and is void of sati and paññá. As for vitakka person he is incapable of doing moral deeds being very lazy. He talks away his precious times and does nothing substantial.

The Origin of Carita

Carita distinguished one person from another, people differ in outlook, attitude, habit and tendency. Why? In the previous existences if his deeds were mostly influenced by greed, then kamma and vipaka cause him to be raga dominant. If dosa was significant in his deeds in the past lives his tendency in the present existence would be one of dosa carita. If ignorance accompanied his kamma in the past lives, now the result will be a moha dominant person. If a person loved wisdom in the past and did meritorious deeds pertaining to paññá, he will now be reborn as a buddhi carita person.

In the same fashion, deeds accompanied by saddha and vitaka will correspondingly result in saddha carita and vitakka carita. Thus we can now see that past deeds are the root cause of present carita. We ought, therefore, to perform meritorious deeds accompanied by saddha and paññá so as to acquire good caritas in the next existences.

Vasana (Tendency Continues Life After Life)

Predisposition plays a role in a person’s life, past or present. Tendency to proliferate bad habits in promoted by kelisa (mental defilement). Vasana based on morality or good deeds is classified as samma chanda (wholesome wish). This vasana is inherent in the mind-continuum of all beings. Thus in your past kamma actions if you have cultivated greed along with them, your vasana will now be greedy in nature. If you do not reform this bad tendency in this existence, raga carita vasana will continue to dominate you in your future births as well. Dosa, moha, and vitakka characters also, will continue to dominate likewise. If you are endowed with paññá carita now and if you cultivate wisdom continually, this tendency will produce its own result here and hereafter. You will be reborn a person with paññá in forthcoming existences.

If you had resolved for the attainment of Buddhahood, you can, be virtue of your paññá carita vasana, achieve this supreme goal with paññá predominant, paññá dhika. If you had resolved to become a chief disciple, you may become one like the Venerable Shariputra, second only to the Buddha in wisdom through wisdom based good deeds in the series of past existences. Therefore it is of paramount importance that we abstain from duccarita in this life, to develop a virtuous noble carita in our next life.

Those who have raga carita, should as an antidote, mediate on unpleasant deplorable sense-objects such as decaying corpses. Then only tendency to lust will gradually fade away and disappear totally. As for dosa carita persons they should now practice mettá bhávaná (loving-kindness meditation) constantly; mettá is the cool element which can extinguish the flame of hatred. Moha carita persons should approach the wise and learned and clarify their delusions. And they should practice Anapana (inhalation-exhalation) meditation disappear in due course. Those who already possess good traits such as saddha and paññá should try to develop these virtues further and further with appreciation and satisfaction.

I will now conclude my discussion on carita. May all acquire good caritas through my presentation. May my associates expel bad traits and nurture good ones from this existence and hereafter. May all priceless paññá carita dwell in my mind-continuum forever and ever. And may saddha carita enable me to devote only in the righteous.

[Here Ends The Chapter On Carita]

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