by Nina van Gorkom | 1999 | 122,172 words

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Chapter 12 - Zeal


Chanda, which is usually translated as zeal, desire or wish-to-do, is another cetasika among the six "particulars" which arises with cittas of the four jatis- but not with every citta. When we hear the word "desire", we may think that chanda is the same as lobha. However, chanda can be kusala, akusala, vipaka or kiriya. The cetasika chanda which is classified as one of the "particulars" is not the same as lobha, it has its own characteristic and function. [1]

The Visuddhimagga (xiv, 150) defines chanda as follows:

Zeal (chanda) is a term for desire to act. So, that zeal has the characteristic of desire to act. Its function is scanning for an object. It is manifested as need for an object. That same (object) is its proximate cause. It should be regarded as the extending of the mental hand in the apprehending of an object. .

The Atthasalini (I, part iv, Chapter 1, 132) gives a similar definition. Chanda searches, looks for the object which citta cognizes. Chanda needs that object which is also its proximate cause.

Chanda arises with the eight types oflobha-mula-citta. When chanda arises with lobha-mula-citta it searches for the desirable object, it needs that object. Although chanda is different form lobha which can only be of the jati which is akusala, when they arise together it is hard to distinguish between them. When we like to obtain a pleasant object, lobha is attached and it is chanda which can accomplish the obtaining of that desired object. Lobha could not accomplish anything by itself. However, also when we do not need to obtain an object we are attached to, there is chanda accompanying the lobha-mula-citta.

Chanda arises also with the two types of dosa-mula-citta. Chanda "searches" the object the dosa-mula-citta dislikes. Here we see more clearly that chanda is quite different from lobha which is attached to an object and which can never accompany dosa-mula-citta.

Chanda does not accompany the two types of moha-mula-citta. one type of moha-mula-citta is accompanied by doubt (vicikiccha). Doubt has "wavering" as function, it is not sure about the object, and thus there cannot be at the same time chanda which searches for the object it needs. As we have seen, this type of moha-mula-citta also lacks "decision" (adhimokkha), which is sure about the object. As to the second type of moha-mula-citta, which is accompanied by restlessness or distraction (uddhacca-sampayutta), this type cannot be accompanied by chanda either.

As regards ahetuka cittas, "rootless" cittas, chanda does not accompany these types of cittas. Seeing-consciousness, an ahetuka vipakacitta which sees visible object; does not need chanda in order to perform its function of seeing. Sampaticchana-citta which merely "receives" the object which was seen by seeing-consciousness does not need chanda in order to perform its function of receiving. It is the same with santirana-citta and the other ahetuka cittas, they do not need chanda in order to perform their functions.

If the functions of patisandhi (rebirth), bhavanga (life-continuum) and cuti (dying) are performed by ahetuka citta [2], the citta is not accompanied by chanda.

As regards the kamavacara sobhana cittas, they are always accompanied by chanda. Whenever we perform kusala, the kusala citta is accompanied by chanda which is zeal for kusala, which desires to act in the wholesome way. It searches for the object the kusala citta cognizes and it assists the kusala citta in carrying out its task.'

One may wonder what the difference is between kusala chanda and kusaIa cetana which "wills" kusala. Kusala cetana is the wholesome intention, karuna, which can motivate a wholesome action and which is able to produce its result later on. Moreover, kusala cetana directs the accompanying dhammas in carrying out their functions in a wholesome way. Thus, its characteristic and function is different from the characteristic and function of chanda.

Chanda is a necessary factor for all kinds of kusala, for dana, for sila and for bhavana. When we, for example, visit a sick person, when we want to console someone who is in trouble or when we try to save an insect from drowning, there has to be kusala chanda which assists the kusaIa citta. If there were no wholesome zeal, 'wish to act', we could not perform such acts of metta (loving kindness ) and karuna (compassion).

Chanda is also a necessary factor for the development of calm, The Atthasalini (I, Part V, Chapter 13, 1941 states in the section on the development of the meditation subjects which are the "divine abidings" (brahma viharas) of metta, karuna, mudita (sympathetic joy) and upekkha (equanimity) :

...the wish-to-do (chanda) is the beginning; the discarding of the hindrances is the middle; absorption is the end..,

In order to develop a meditation subject the wish-to-do is necessary. Without this wholesome desire one could not develop it. When calm has been developed more the hindrances can be temporarily eliminated and jhana can be attained. Also at the moment of jhanacitta there is chanda.

Chanda accompanies all types of sobhana cittas. Chanda accompanies the rupavacara cittas and the rupavacara cittas. The chanda which accompanies these types of cittas is not kamavacara (of the sense-sphere), but rupavacara or arupavacara. Chanda is different as it accompanies different types of citta of different planes of consciousness. Chanda which accompanies jhanacitta "searches for' the meditation subject which the jhanacitta experiences with absorption.

The lokuttara cittas are accompanied by chanda which "searches for' nibbana. This kind of chanda is lokuttara, it is different from longing for nibbana. It assists the Iokuttara citta to carry out its function. The lokuttara citta and thus also the accompanying chanda directly experience nibbana [3].

How do we know when chanda is kusala and when it is akusala? For instance, when we have desire for sati, is this kusala chanda or attachment? We have accumulated a great deal of attachment and thus there is likely to be more often attachment than kusala chanda. We are attached to a concept of sati and we believe that we can cause its arising. Wanting to have sati is different from the moment sati arises. There are many moments of forgetfuless but sometimes there may be a moment of mindfulness of only one object at a time appearing through one of the six doors. When sati arises it is accompanied by kusala chanda which performs its function.

Kusala chanda is a necessary factor for the development of the eightfold Path. if there is no wish-to-do one does not develop it. However, we do not have to try to have chanda, it arises because of its own conditions together with the citta which develops the eightfold Path.

We read in the Kindred Sayings (V, Maha-vagga, XLV, Kindred sayings on the Way, chapter IV, II, Restraint of Passion, 3) that chanda is one of the factors which are "forerunners" of the arising of the ariyan eightfold Path :

Just as, monks, the dawn is the forerunner, the harbinger of the arising of the sun, so possession of desire (chanda) is the forerunner, the harbinger of the arising of the ariyan eightfold way. Of a monk who is possessed of desire, monks, it maybe expected that he will cultivate the ariyan eightfold way, that he will make much of the ariyan eightfold way...

When we develop kusala, chanda may be predominant; it may have predominance over the accompanying dhammas, there are four factors which can be predominant, but only one at a time can be predominant. The four predominant factors (adhipatis) are: chanda, viriya, citta (particular types of citta) and "investigation" or "reflection" (vimamsa, which is panna cetasika).[4]

When these factors have been developed they become the four " Roads to success" (iddhipadas) leading to the attainment of the "supernormal powers" (abhinnas). There are five "supernormal powers" which are developed through jhana (Vis. chapter XIII. The sixth power, which is the extinction of all defilements, is developed through vipassana. Chanda or one of the three other "Roads to success" can be predominant in the development of vipassana. [5]

Thus we see that there are many kinds and degrees of chanda. Chanda is conditioned by the citta and other cetasikas it accompanies. chanda is sankhara dhamma, conditioned dhamma. Different kinds of chanda arise due to different Conditions.

It is hard to distinguish the different kinds of cetasikas from each other since there are several cetasikas at a time which accompany citta and assist it in carrying out its function. As we have seen, the "universals" arise with each citta, summarizing them, they are:

  1. contact (phassa)
  2. feeling (vedana)
  3. remembrance or "perception" (sanna)
  4. volition (cetana)
  5. concentration (ekaggata)
  6. life-faculty (jivitindriya)
  7. attention (manasikara)

As regards the six "particulars", they do not arise with every citta but they arise with cittas of the four jatis. summarizing them they are:

  1. applied thinking (vitakka)
  2. sustained thinking (vicara)
  3. determination (adhimokkha)
  4. energy or effort (viriya)
  5. enthusiasm or rapture (piti)
  6. zeal or wish-to-do (chanda)

The "universals" and the particulars" arise with cittas of the four jatis and these thirteen cetasikas are classified as one group: "annasamana cetasikas".[6]

The annasamana cetasikas are different from the akusala cetasikas which only arise with akusala cittas and different from sobhana cetasikas which only arise with sobhana cittas. However, this does not mean that the "universals" and the "particulars" cannot be akusala or sobhana. When the annasamana cetasikas arise with akusala they all are akusala; they assist the akusala citta to carry out its function in an unwholesome way. When they accompany kusala citta they all are kusala; they assist the kusala citta in carrying out its function in a wholesome way. Cetasikas are conditioned by the citta and the other cetasikas they accompany and they are of an entirely different quality as they accompany akusala citta, kusala citta, vipakacitta or kiriyacitta.

When akusala citta arises, it is accompanied by the "universals" and by the "particulars" which are vitakka, vicara, adhimokkha (except in the case of moha-mula-citta accompanied by vicikiccha, doubt), viriya and chanda (except in the case of the two types of moha-mula-citta which are not accompanied by chanda). It is accompanied by piti only when the feeling is pleasant feeling. It is also accompanied by cetasikas which arise only with akusala citta. The "universals" and the "particulars" are all akusala in this case. Cetana, for example, ''wills" akusala; vitakka "thinks" of the object in an unwholesome way; adhimokkha, if it arises, is convinced about the object which is the object of akusala citta; viriya supports the citta and accompanying cetasikas; piti, if it arises, takes an interest in the object; chanda, if it arises, needs the object, searches for it.

When maha-kusala citta (kamavacara kusala citta or kusala citta of the sense-sphere) arises, it is accompanied by the "universals" and by the "particulars" which are vitakka, vicara, adhimokkha, viriya and chanda. It is accompanied by piti only when the feeling is pleasant feeling. It is also accompanied by sobhana cetasikas which arise only with sobhana citta. The "universals" and the ''particulars" are all kusala in this case. Cetana, for example, ''wills" kusala; vitakka "thinks" of the object in the wholesome way; adhimokkha is convinced about the object which is the object of kusala citta; viriya supports the citta and the accompanying cetasikas; piti, if it arises, takes an interest in the object and "refreshes" citta and the accompanying cetasikas; chanda searches for the object in a wholesome way, it assists the citta in the accomplishment of kusala.

As we have seen, the same type of cetasika is very different as it accompanies different cittas. If we realize that cetasikas fall away immediately together with the citta and that the next moment another citta arises accompanied by other cetasikas, we will be less inclined to think that we own such qualities as energy, determination or enthusiasm. The more we study, the more will we understand, at least on the theoretical level, that all phenomena which arise are conditioned phenomena, sankhara dhammas. We still act and think as if there were a self, but as our confidence in the Buddha's teachings grows, we will be inclined to develop the Path in order to directly experience that all phenomena which arise are sankhara dhammas, not self.


  1. What is the difference between chanda and lobha?
  2. How can one know the difference between kusala chanda and lobha?
  3. Does kusala chanda always arise when we perform wholesome deeds?
  4. Akusala cetasikas arise only with akusala cittas and sobhana cetasikas arise only with sobhana cittas. The annasamana cetasikas arise with cittas of the four jatis. Is it correct to say that the latter types are neither wholesome nor unwholesome?
  5. Why is it helpful to know that cetasikas such as viriya or piti can be at one moment kusala and shortly afterwards akusala and thus entirely different?
  6. Can the study of the different cetasikas help us with the development of the Path? In what way?

September 15, 2003

Footnotes and references:


Sometimes the word chanda is used in a composite word such as kamacchanda, sensuous desire, which is one of the five hindrances. This is a form of lobha.


see Abhidhamma in Dally Life, Chapter 11.


For details about the cittas which are accompanied by chanda, see Appendix 6.


See Dhammasangani 269, and Atthasalini I, Part VII, 212, 213. Citta can be a predominant factor, but not all cittas; only the cittas which are accompanied by at least two hetus and perform the function of javana can be predominant. For example, lobha-mula-citta and kusala citta can be predominant, since they are rooted in more than one hetu, but moha-mula-citta cannot, since it is rooted only in moha. In the field of kusala, when chanda, viriya or vimamsa are not predominant, there can be firmness of kusalacitta which is predominant.


The four "Roads to Success" are among the thirty seven factors pertaining to enlightenment, bodhipakkhiya dhammas, Visuddhimagga xxii, 33.


Anna means "other" and samana means "common", the same. The annasamanas which arise together are of the same jati as the citta they accompany and they all change, become "other", as they accompany a citta of a different jati. Akusala is "other" than kusala and kusala is "other'' than akusala.

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