We read in the Kindred Sayings (I, Sagåthå 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 1. 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 2. There is not only citta which sees, citta which 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 rúpas (material phenomena) which appear through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, bodysense 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 Dhammasangaùi, Book I, Part I, Ch I, § 6) several synonyms for citta have been given. Citta is called mind (mano or månasa), heart (hadaya), that which is pure(paùèara), mind-base (manåyatana), faculty of mind (manindriya), consciousness (viññåùa), the khandha of consciousness (viññåùakkhandha), the element of mind-consciousness (mano-viññåùa dhåtu) 3.
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 Atthasåliní, the Commentary to the Dhammasangaùi, (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 Påli 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 Atthasåliní states that citta is called mind (mano), because it determines and knows an object (åramaùa or ålambana). The word object, årammaùa, 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, årammaùa.
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, colour 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 4. Mindfulness of citta (cittanupassanå satipaììhåna) 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, satipaììhåna 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. Paññå can be developed in conformity with the Dhamma the Buddha taught. Then paññå 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 streamwinner (sotåpanna), of the once-returner (sakadågåmí), of the non-returner (anågåmí) and the stage of the arahat.
In the Dhammasangaùi the citta is called pure or luminous (paùèara), and according to the Atthasåliní 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 bodysense 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 ones 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 bodysense or the mind-door. The bhavanga-cittas arise in between the processes of cittas which experience objects through the six doors 5 and this goes on continuously until the end of ones lifespan as this particular person.
The Atthasåliní (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, bodysense 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 vedanå cetasika, the cetasika which is feeling. Citta as well as cetasika are nåma, but citta is the chief, the leader in knowing an object. Citta is different from vedanå 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 satipaììhåna could be aware of the characteristics of realities which are appearing 6 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, anattå, and thus also dosa is anattå. 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 paññå and realized the four noble Truths to the degree of the third stage of enlightenment, the stage of the non-returner, anågåmí.
At each stage of enlightenment the four noble Truths are realized. The first Truth is the noble Truth of dukkha. All conditioned dhammas (saùkhåra 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 (tanhå), 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 nibbåna. Nibbåna is the reality which makes an end to dukkha because when nibbåna 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 gåmini paìipadå). This is the eightfold Path, which is the development of satipaììhåna, the development of paññå 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 nibbåna for the first time when he attains enlightenment, is a streamwinner, sotåpanna. The sotåpanna has eradicated wrong view (diììhi) and doubt about the characteristics of realities.
When the sotåpanna has developed paññå further he can reach the second stage of enlightenment, the stage of the once-returner, sakadågåmí. Then he realizes the noble Truths to the degree of that stage and experiences nibbåna again. The more coarse attachment to visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object is eradicated at that stage.
When the sakadågåmi has developed paññå further he can reach the third stage of enlightenment, the stage of the non-returner, anågåmí. Then he realizes the noble Truths to the degree of that stage and experiences nibbåna again. Attachment to visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object, and also aversion, dosa, are completely eradicated at that stage.
When the anågåmí has developed paññå 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 nibbåna 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 parinibbåna), he does not have to be reborn anymore.
Thus we see that the lokuttara (supramundane) paññå of the ariyan, 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 paññå 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 (paùèara), he also used the term manåyatana, mind-base, for citta, so that the characteristic of citta would be understood even more clearly. Åyatana is explained in the Atthasåliní ( 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, odour, flavour 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 (sahajåta-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 anattå if we know that citta is manåyatana, base on which other realities depend, place of birth, meeting-place and cause.
There may be conditions for the arising of visible object, sound, odour, flavour, 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, odour, flavour, 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 colour at our back cannot appear, because it does not meet the citta, it cannot impinge on the eyesense and does not contact the citta. Hence citta cannot arise and see the object which is at the back. Although kamma conditions the eyesense which is arising and falling away continuously, throughout life, provided we have not become blind, the citta which sees cannot arise continuously. Whenever colour appears, the citta is manåyatana, meeting-place for the rúpa which is visible object impinging at that moment on the eyesense (cakkhuppasåda rúpa). The rúpa which impinges on the eyesense is rúpåyatana, the åyatana of visible object, and the eyesense which is impinged on by visible object is cakkhåyatana, the åyatana of eyesense. All the dhammas which meet or associate at that moment are åyatanas.
The same is true when sound impinges on the earsense and can meet the citta which arises and experiences it. Thus, citta is manåyatana, the meeting-place of the dhammas which are appearing.
As we have seen, the Atthasåliní states that citta is cause or condition for phassa, contact, and for the other cetasikas which accompany citta. Phassa, one among the fiftytwo types of cetasikas, is a kind of nåma 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 rúpa which is sound may impinge on the rúpa which is earsense, but if phassa does not arise and contacts the sound impinging on the earsense, the citta which hears cannot arise at all.
Phassa is a type of nåma 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 (nåma and rúpa), citta and cetasika must always arise at a particular rúpa which is the place of origin for citta and cetasikas. That rúpa is called vatthu rúpa, physical base. The eyesense is vatthu rúpa, the eye-base, since it is the place of origin for seeing-consciousness and the cetasikas which arise together with it 7.
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, sahajåta-paccaya 8.
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 saòkhåra 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, sahajåta-paccaya. Other dhammas arise before the dhammas they condition, they are prenascence-condition, purejåta-paccaya. Other dhammas again arise after the dhammas they condition, they are postnascence-condition, pacchåjåta-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, rúpa and nibbåna. 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 rúpas, although not all cittas condition the arising of rúpa. Cetasika conditions the arising of citta and of rúpa, except in some cases. Rúpa is a condition for the arising of other rúpas. Rúpa 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 rúpa 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 (uppåda khaùa)
the moment of presence (tiììhi khaùa), when it has not fallen away
the moment of dissolution (bhanga khaùa)
Citta cannot direct the arising of rúpa. Rúpa which is conditioned by citta (cittaja rúpa) arises simultaneously with the citta, immediately at the arising moment of citta. However, it is different at the moment the rebirth-consciousness (paìisandhi-citta) arises. At that moment there is no rúpa conditioned by citta, but only rúpa conditioned by kamma (kammaja rúpa) 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 rúpa to arise simultaneously with it. From that moment on, throughout life, citta conditions rúpa. However, the sense-cognitions are an exception, they do not produce any rúpa. There are five pairs of sense-cognitions, one citta of each pair is kusala vipåka (result of wholesome kamma) and one citta is akusala vipåka (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 rúpa. Apart from these types of cittas, each type of citta arising in the planes where there are five khandhas conditions rúpa to arise simultaneously with it at its arising moment 9.
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 satipaììhåna it can be developed. All kinds of kusala which are accumulated are beneficial, they can be perfections (påramís), 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 satipaììhåna, satipaììhåna is still weak. The clinging to the concept of self is deeply rooted. No matter whether one is seeing or hearing, dislikes ones akusala or performs kusala, one takes all these realities for self. One believes that ones 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 satipaììhåna. Satipaììhåna 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 saùkhårakkhandha ( the khandha including all cetasikas, also all sobhana, beautiful cetasikas, except feeling and remembrance) for the arising of sati of satipaùììhåna. Sati can be aware of the characteristic of citta which is nåma, the element which experiences an object at this very moment. In this way paññå can develop and eliminate the wrong view which takes all realities for self. This should be the aim of our study of the Dhamma.
1. What is life-continuum, bhavanga-citta?
2. When is there citta which is called that which is pure
(paùèara) ? And why is it so called?
3. For the arising of which realities can citta and cetasika be a
4. For the arising of which realities can rúpa be a condition?
5. How many stages of enlightenment, that is, of realizing the
noble Truths, are there?
6. What is the rúpa which is base, vatthu-rúpa?
7. What is åyatana, and which are in particular the åyatanas?
8. What is conascence-condition, sahajåta-paccaya?
9. What is the meaning of cittaja rúpa? When does it arise? Which
cittas in the five khandha planes of existence are not a condition
for cittaja rúpa?
10. What is the right motivation for the study of the Dhamma?
Citta knows an Object
As we read in the Atthasåliní in the section about the aspects of citta (I, Book I, Part II, 63), citta is so called because it thinks of its object, it clearly cognizes its object. We then read:
Or, inasmuch as this word citta is common to all states or classes of citta, that which is known as mundane, lokiya 10 : kusala (wholesome), akusala (unwholesome), or mahå-kiriya 11 , is termed citta, because it arranges itself in its own series or continuity by way of javana (impulsion), in a process of citta 12. And the vipåka is also termed citta because it is conditioned by accumulated (cita) kamma and the defilements.
Moreover, all (four classes 13) are termed citta because they are variegated (vicitta) according to circumstance. The meaning of citta may also be understood from its capacity of producing a variety or diversity of effects.
When we study the commentaries which have been composed later on we shall find that they deal with six characteristics of citta. These aspects are actually taken from the Atthasåliní which is the Commentary to the Dhammasangaùi (Buddhist Psychological Ethics), the first Book of the Abhidhamma. The aspects of citta can be classified as six categories:
Citta is so called because it thinks (cinteti 14) of an object, it clearly knows an object.
Citta is so called because it arranges itself in its own series or continuity, by way of javana 15 in a process.
Citta is so called because it is result (vipåka), conditioned by accumulated (cita) kamma and defilements.
Citta is so called because it is variegated (vicitta), according to circumstances. In the Commentaries composed later on this aspect has been given as twofold:
Citta is variegated because it experiences different objects,
Citta is variegated because of the accompanying cetasikas, sampayutta dhammas.
Citta is so called because of its capacity of producing a diversity of effects.
All these aspects will be dealt with systematically, so that the characteristic of citta will be understood in conformity with the explanation of the Atthasåliní.
Citta is so called because it thinks of its object, it clearly knows its object. All of us are thinking time and again. If we notice that we are thinking and carefully investigate this, we shall see that we are really quite occupied with thinking, that we think for a long time of a variety of things. We cannot prevent thinking, it goes on and on. Therefore, some people do not want to think, they want to be calm. They believe that it is beneficial to prevent thinking because they see that when they are thinking, they have worry and anxiety, they are restless and disturbed because of attachment or aversion. We should know that citta is actually the reality which thinks. Rúpa cannot think. When we consider what the subjects are citta thinks about, we shall know why citta thinks about them, even though we sometimes do not like to think about them at all. It is quite natural that citta arises and thinks time and again about what appears through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the bodysense and the mind-door. We believe that all the subjects citta thinks about are very serious and important, but thinking only occurs because citta arises and thinks of an object, and then it falls away. If citta would not think about all those things we take very seriously, they would not exist at all. As we read in the Atthasåliní, citta is so called because it thinks, it clearly knows an object.
As to the dhammas which experience an object, there are different types of realities, each with their own characteristic, which experience an object. Cetasika is a reality which experiences an object, but it is not the leader in cognizing an object. Cetasikas arise together with the citta and they experience the same object as the citta, but they each perform their own function. Phassa cetasika (contact), for example, arises together with the citta, but it performs its own function, it experiences the object in contacting it. If phassa cetasika does not arise and performs its function while it experiences the object, there is no contact with the object. Phassa cetasika experiences the object only in contacting it, but it does not know the object in the same way as citta which clearly cognizes the object. Paññå is another cetasika which knows, for example, the characteristics of realities which appear as non-self, not a living being, not a person. It penetrates the true characteristics of realities which appear through the six doors. As regards citta, this is the reality which clearly knows its object, as has been explained. However, citta knows the object in a way different from phassa, which just contacts the object, or saññå (perception or remembrance) which recognizes the characteristic of the object, or paññå which penetrates the true nature of realities.
Citta is the reality which cognizes, which clearly knows the different characteristics of the objects which appear. Is what is appearing through the eyes at this moment one and the same colour or are there different colours appearing? Reality is true dhamma (sacca dhamma), it can be verified. We should find out whether at this moment we see only one thing, only one colour, or whether we see that which is appearing as different colours, in a detailed way, so that we can distinguish between different things which are perceived. Can we, for example, distinguish between a real diamond and a synthetic diamond?
Citta is the reality which sees and knows clearly, it clearly knows the different characteristics of the different objects, and that even into the smallest details. At this moment the rúpa which is the eyesense has as its characteristic a special clarity, it can be compared to a mirror in which the image of whatever passes is clearly reflected. The eyesense can come into contact with visible object. The earsense can come into contact just with sound, smellingsense just with odour, tastingsense just with flavour, and bodysense just with those rúpas which are tangible object.
Whatever colour appears, colour of a real diamond, of a synthetic diamond, of jade, of a stone, even the colour of the look in someones eyes which expresses envy, all that can appear to the citta which sees. What appears at this moment through the eyes appears to citta which clearly knows it. It sees all the colours of the different objects which appear, and thus the meaning of things can be known, the shape and form perceived, and there can be thinking about what has appeared through the eyes.
Are sounds which appear through the earsense entirely the same or are there different sounds? Each sound is different depending on the conditions which cause the arising of that sound. No matter how many people there are, the sound of each individual is different. Citta clearly knows each of the different sounds which appear. Citta knows the sound of ridicule, of sarcasm, of contempt, of a fan, of a waterfall, the cry of an animal, the different calls of various kinds of animals, or even the sound of a man who imitates the sound of an animal. Citta clearly knows the characteristics of the different sounds, it hears each different sound.
All kinds of realities can appear when citta arises and clearly knows the object which presents itself. The citta which smells through the nose can arise and clearly know the different odours which appear. It can clearly know the smell of different kinds of animals, plants or flowers, the smell of food, of curry and of sweets. Even if we only smell without seeing anything, we can know what kind of smell it is.
The citta which experiences flavour through the tongue can arise and clearly know different flavours. There are many flavours of food, such as flavour of meat, vegetable or fruit,there is the flavour of tea, coffee, salt, sugar, orange juice, lemon or tamarind. All these flavours are completely different, but the citta which tastes clearly knows each of the different flavours which appear. Citta is able to distinguish clearly the most subtle differences in flavour, it knows them in a detailed way. For example, when we sample food, the citta which tastes the flavour knows exactly whether there is still something lacking. It knows which ingredient should be added, how the food should be seasoned so that it is more tasty.
The citta which experiences tangible object impinging on the bodysense, clearly knows the different characteristics of tangible object. It knows, for example, the characteristic of cold of the air, cold of the water, or cold of the weather. It knows the characteristic of silk or of wool which touches the bodysense.
Someone said that while he was standing on the road there was mindfulness of the characteristic of hardness which appeared. He thought that this was hardness of the road, that hardness of the shoes and that hardness of the stockings. All this is thinking about the characteristic of hardness which appears. The citta which thinks arises because of conditions. When hardness impinges on the bodysense and one thinks about what this hardness is, the road, the shoes or the stockings, it can be known that nobody can avoid thinking of different things. However, paññå should understand that citta arises, knows clearly one object at a time and then falls away very rapidly. In this way the characteristics of realities can be known as they are. Thinking about the road, the shoes or the stockings does not occur at the same time as realizing the characteristic of hardness.
If we clearly understand that it is not self who thinks, that it is citta which knows the subject about which it thinks, it can be a condition for paññå to develop, so that it comes to know precisely the characteristics of realities as they are. The citta which thinks is different from the citta which sees. The citta which sees knows an object through the eyesense, whereas the citta which thinks knows an object through the mind-door. When a reality appears through the bodysense, be it the characteristic of softness or hardness, it is natural that at that moment we do not know yet what it is that is impinging on the bodysense. Later on we know what the object is that is hard or soft. If we touch something in the dark we may turn on the light in order to see what we are touching. Thus, we can understand that at the moment citta experiences hardness it does not think, that thinking is another type of citta. When citta experiences just hardness, there is not the world of the road, the shoes or the stockings. There is not the world of conventional truth, of concepts. There is only the reality which experiences the characteristic of hardness. The reality which experiences hardness is not a living being or a person, it is just a type of nåma which arises and then falls away. The citta which arises later on can think about what has appeared through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the bodysense or the mind-door. It thinks about a story, about concepts of what has appeared. Since we are so occupied with our thinking we forget that the citta which arose and experienced hardness and the rúpa which is hardness have fallen away already. Also the cittas which are thinking about the hard substance fall away immediately. Nåma as well as rúpa arise and fall away. Cittas arise and fall away in succession continuously and also rúpas arise and fall away one after the other; this happens so rapidly that we do not realize their arising and falling away. We do not realize that the nåma dhammas and rúpa dhammas which arise and fall away are non-self.
Citta is the reality which clearly knows the object which appears, be it through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the bodysense or the mind-door. Whatever object phassa cetasika contacts, the citta which arises together with it clearly knows the characteristic of that object, it knows each different object. When it is said of citta, the reality which experiences something, that it has the characteristic of clearly knowing an object, we should understand what that means. It means that citta knows the different characteristics of the different objects appearing through the senses or through the mind-door. Citta is the reality which clearly knows an object, and the object is a condition for citta to arise and to experience that object. The object is object-condition (årammaùa-paccaya), it is a condition for the arising of citta by being its object. Citta cannot arise without knowing an object, but besides object-condition there are also several other conditions for each type of citta which arises.
1. Which are the different ways of knowing an object in the case of phassa cetasika, saññå cetasika, paññå cetasika and citta?
2. What is object-condition?
3. Which objects can be object-condition?
1 Pronounce: chitta.
2 Citta is accompanied by cetasikas, mental factors, which also experience the object, but citta is the leader in cognizing the object.
3 The same synonyms have been given in Mahå-Niddesa, Pasúra Sutta, no. 319.
4 Mindfulness of Body, of Feeling, of Citta and of Dhammas.
5 Cittas which experience objects trhough the six doors arise in processes, and each citta in that process performs its own function. This will be explained later on.
6 Sati, mindfulness, is a cetasika which is non-forgetful of what is wholesome. There are different levels of sati. Sati of satipaììhåna is non-forgetful, mindful of the characteristics of nåma and rúpa.
7 There are six rúpas 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 åyatana which comprises both nåma and rúpa.
8 Saha means together and jåta means arisen.
9 Citta is one of the four factors which produces rúpas of the body. The other factors are kamma, temperature and nutrition. Citta produces groups of rúpas, consisting of the eight inseparable rúpas, and in addition other types of rúpa.
10 Mundane, lokiya, is not lokuttara, supramundane. Lokuttara cittas experience nibbåna. Cittas other than lokuttara cittas are mundane. This will be explained in Ch 23.
11 The arahat has instead of mahå-kusala cittas mahå-kiriyacittas.
12 In this context the Påli term cita derived from cinåti is used, which means heaped up, accumulated.
13 Kusala, akusala, vipåka, result, and kiriya, neither cause nor result. This will be explained further on.
14 The different Påli terms used here are all derived from the word citta and they represent the different aspects of citta.
15 In a process of cittas there are seven javana cittas which are, in the case of non-arahats, kusala cittas or akusala cittas. This will be explained later on.