Planes of Existence
The term bhúmi can mean plane or grade of citta as well as plane of existence. Bhúmi as plane of existence is the world or place where living beings are born. There are thirtyone planes of existence, and these are in conformity with the different grades of citta which condition birth in these planes. The planes of existence are the following:
11 sensuous planes, kåmabhúmi
This is a classification as thirtyone planes by way of different levels. Actually there are many more places of birth included in each of these planes. Even this human plane is not the only human world, besides this human world there are others.
The eleven classes of kåma-bhúmi include:
four unhappy planes
the human plane
six heavenly planes or deva planes
The four unhappy planes can be summarized as: hell planes, the animal world, the world of ghosts or petas (pettivisaya) and the world of demons (asuras or asurakåyas).
There is not only one abyss of hell. There is a great abyss of hell and this has several abysses, such as the Sañjíva Hell, the Kalasuta Hell, the Sanghåta Hell, the Roruva Hell, the Mahå-roruva Hell, the Tåpana Hell, the Mahå-tåpana Hell and the Avíci Hell. Apart from the big hells there are smaller hells, but in the scriptures there is not much reference to these in detail. The Buddha explained about the different planes in order to point out cause and result. Kusala kamma and akusala kamma are causes which bring their corresponding results. What one cannot see clearly through direct experience should not be explained in such a detailed way and to the same extent as the realities one can verify oneself through the development of insight.
There are four classes of unhappy planes where living beings can be reborn. If rebirth is the result of very heavy akusala kamma there is rebirth in the Great Hell, the Avíci Hell, where one suffers extreme torments. When one is freed from that great abyss of hell and the working of kamma is not yet exhausted, one is reborn in a small abyss, a minor hell. When someone commits very heavy akusala kamma, he does not realize that rebirth in a hell plane lies ahead, since he has not gone there yet. So long as one is still a human being, living in this world, one does not go to another plane, even though the cause of rebirth in an unhappy plane, akusala kamma, may be already there. When someone has committed akusala kamma it is a condition for rebirth in an unhappy plane after he has passed away.
The result of akusala kamma of a lesser degree conditions rebirth in other unhappy planes, such as the animal world. We can notice that there is an extraordinary variety in the bodily features of animals. Some kinds have many legs, some only a few, some are without legs. Some have wings, some are without wings. They live in the water or on land. It is due to the variegated nature of citta that their bodily features are so varied. The variety of bodily features of human beings is not as manifold as those of animals. All humans have a body and they generally have eyes, ears, nose and tongue. It is true that there are differences in skin colour and the length of the body, and that there is variety in outward appearance. However, even if one would take into account the differences in bodily features of all humans in the world, including people in the past, the present and the future, their diversity is not as great as the diversity of animals. The amount of variety in animals, including those in the water, on land and those which can fly, is far greater. All this is due to kamma which causes such variety.
The result of kamma of a lesser degree than that which conditions rebirth in the animal world, conditions rebirth in the planes of ghosts or petas. A ghost is tortured all the time by hunger and weariness. There are many different ghost planes.
Every human being has a daily recurring disease, namely hunger, and that is the reason why one can say that it is impossible to be without disease. Hunger is a grave disease, one can notice this when one suffers from hunger. If there is but a slight feeling of hunger and one eats then delicious food, one forgets that hunger is a kind of suffering, something that has to be completely cured. It may happen that someone is very hungry but unable to eat because of circumstances, and then he will know the nature of suffering from hunger.
A person who had many friends received one day their telephone calls from morning until evening, and thus he had no time to eat. Late at night he realized that hunger is a great torment and he understood the expression pangs of hunger, used for the stings in the stomach or the intestines caused by hunger. He experienced what they were like. When he could finally eat, it was not possible to take a lot of food, all at once, to cure his hunger. This is harmful for the body and can cause fainting. He had to eat little by little, but he still fainted. This example shows that hunger is a grave disease, a daily recurring disease. Ghosts suffer so much of hunger, for in the ghost plane there is no means of curing hunger. Agriculture is not possible on that plane, one cannot plant rice or obtain other crops. One cannot prepare any food, there is no trade by means of which one could obtain food. Thus, birth in a ghost plane is the result of akusala kamma. Ghosts can rejoice in the kusala of humans when these extend merit to them in order to let them share in their kusala. When ghosts rejoice with kusala citta in the good deeds of others it can be a condition for them to receive food which is suitable in that plane. Or they may become released from life in the ghost plane, they may pass away from that life and be reborn in another plane. This can happen if the kamma which conditioned their birth as a ghost has been exhausted.
Another unhappy plane is the plane of the asuras, demons. Rebirth as an asura is the result of akusala kamma which is less grave than the akusala kamma which produces rebirth in one of the other unhappy planes. If someone is reborn as an asura he has no entertainment, no way to amuse himself with pleasant objects, such as there is in the human plane and in the heavenly planes. In the human plane one can read books, one can watch plays and attend concerts. In the asura plane there are no such ways of amusement with pleasant objects. Since akusala kammas are various and of different degrees, the planes where one can be reborn are also various, in conformity with the kammas which cause rebirths.
There are seven happy planes of rebirth which are the results of kåmåvacara kusala kamma, namely, one human plane and six heavenly planes or deva planes.
In the Tipiìaka it is explained that there are four human planes where one can be reborn:
1. The Pubbavideha continent, situated to the East of Mount
2. The Aparagoyåna continent, situated to the West of Mount
3. The Jambudípa continent, situated to the South of Mount Sineru,
and this is the human world where we live.
4. The Uttarakurú continent, situated to the North of Mount
Sineru 1 .
Human beings who live in this world, the Jambudípa continent (Rose-Apple Land), can only perceive this world. Wherever they travel, they see only the objects of the Jambudípa continent. They are not able to go to the other three human worlds.
There are six heavenly planes and these have different degrees of excellence. As to the first plane, this is the heaven of the four deva rulers or guardians of the world, the cåtu-mahåråjika plane 2. These four deva rulers are:
Dhaìarattha, sometimes called Inda, ruling over the East, over the Gandhabba devas;
Virúîha, sometimes called Yama, ruling over the South, over the Khumbhaùèa devas;
Virúpaka, sometimes called Varuùa, ruling over the West, over the Nagas;
Kuvera, sometimes called Vessavaùa or Vesuvanna, ruling over the North, over the Yakkas.
The heavenly plane of the four deva rulers is the lowest class of heaven and this is not as far away from the human world as the higher heavenly planes.
There are higher deva planes and these have different degrees of excellence corresponding with the levels of these planes. The second heavenly plane is the Heaven of the Thirtythree, Tåvatimsa, and this plane is higher than the plane of the four deva rulers. Inda is the chief of this plane. In the heaven of the Thirtythree there are four heavenly groves:
Nandana Grove in the East 3 ;
Cittalatå Grove in the West;
Missaka Grove in the North;
Phårusaka Grove in the South.
The third heavenly plane is the Yåma heaven, which is higher than the heaven of the Thirtythree.
The fourth heavenly plane is Tusita, which is higher than Yama.
The fifth heavenly plane is the heaven of the devas who delight in creating, Nimmånarati, which is higher than Tusita.
The sixth heavenly plane is the heaven of devas who rule over others creations, Paranimittavasavatti, which is higher than Nimmånarati. This plane is the highest of the sense sphere planes.
To which heavenly plane would we like to go? Someone who is not an arahat still has to be reborn, but where will he be reborn? It will probably not be in a brahma plane, because birth as a brahma in a brahma plane is the result of kusala jhånacitta, if this arises just before dying, as has been explained. Thus, rebirth in a sensuous plane is more likely. Whether there will be rebirth in an unhappy plane or a happy plane depends on the cause which produces rebirth, namely kamma, a deed which has been performed during the cycle of lives.
The rúpåvacara bhúmis, fine material planes of existence, are the planes where rúpa brahmas are born. Birth in these planes is the result of fine-material jhåna, rúpa-jhåna. There are sixteen rúpa brahma planes 4.
The result of the first jhåna can be birth in three planes:
birth in the Pårisajjå plane, the result of kusala jhånacitta of a weak degree;
birth in the Purohitå plane, the result of kusala jhånacitta of medium degree;
birth in the Mahåbrahmå plane, the result of kusala jhånacitta of superior degree.
The result of the second jhåna of the fourfold system (and the third jhåna of the fivefold system 5) can be birth in three planes. This depends on the degree of jhåna which can be weak, medium or superior. These planes are:
The result of the third jhåna of the fourfold system (and the fourth jhåna of the fivefold system) can be birth in the following three planes, depending on the degree of jhåna:
The result of the fourth jhåna of the fourfold system (and the fifth jhåna of the fivefold system) can be birth in the Vehapphala bhúmi.
Moreover, there can be birth in the Asaññåsatta bhúmi as result of the fifth jhåna. Beings who are born in this plane are born only with rúpa, not with citta and cetasika 6.
There are five Suddhåvåså planes (Pure Abodes) for anågåmís and these births are the results of the fourth jhåna of the fourfold system (and the fifth jhåna of the fivefold system). They are:
There are four arúpa-brahma planes. Birth in these planes is the result of immaterial jhåna, arúpa-jhåna. The meditation subject of arúpa-jhåna is no longer dependent on rúpa. Corresponding with the four stages of arúpa-jhåna, these planes are the following:
the plane of infinite space, åkåsånañcåyatana bhúmi,
the plane of infinite consciousness, viññåùañcåyatana bhúmi,
the plane of nothingness, åkiñcaññåyatana bhúmi,
the plane of neither perception nor non-perception, nevasaññå-
In these four arúpa-brahma planes there are only the nåma- khandhas, citta and cetasikas, there is no arising of any rúpa at all.
In the Gradual Sayings (I, Book of the Threes, Ch VIII, § 80, Abhibhu, 2) we read that the Buddha explained to Ånanda about the manifold worldsystems. In the thousand lesser worlds, are included a thousandfold of the four human planes, of the deva planes and of the Brahma worlds. We read that the Buddha said:
As far as moon and sun move in their course and light up all quarters with their radiance, so far extends the thousandfold world-system. Therein are a thousand moons, a thousand suns, a thousand Sinerus, lords of mountains; a thousand Rose-Apple Lands, a thousand Western Ox-wains (Aparagoyåna), a thousand northern Kurus, a thousand Eastern Videhås; four thousand mighty oceans, four thousand Mighty Rulers, a thousand Four Great Rulers (the four world guardians), a thousand heavens of the Thirtythree, a thousand Yama worlds, a thousand heavens of the Devas of Delight, a thousand heavens of the Devas that delight in creation, a thousand heavens of the Devas that delight in others creations, and a thousand Brahma worlds. This, Ånanda, is called The system of the thousand lesser worlds. A system a thousandfold the size of this is called The Twice-a-thousand Middling Thousandfold World-system. A system a thousandfold the size of this is called The Thrice-a-thousand Mighty Thousandfold World-system. Now, Ånanda, if he wished it, the Tathågata could make his voice heard throughout this last-named world-system, or even further, if he chose.
The explanation of the world-systems may not be as detailed as some people who have doubts would wish, but it shows the perfection of wisdom (paññå påramí) of the Buddha, who is the Knower of the Worlds (lokavidú), the person who clearly knows all worlds.
As we have seen, the fourth aspect of citta, mentioned by the Atthasåliní is that citta is variegated according to circumstance, because of the sampayutta dhammas, the accompanying cetasikas. Therefore, cittas can be classified as different kinds in various ways. Cittas can be classified by way of the four jåtis of kusala, akusala, vipåka and kiriya. Cittas can also be classified by way of the four planes of consciousness: kåmåvacara citta, rúpåvacara citta, arúpåvacara citta and lokuttara citta.
Kåmåvacara cittas can be of the four jåtis of kusala, akusala, vipåka and kiriya. The cittas of the higher planes, namely rúpåvacara cittas, arúpåvacara cittas and lokuttara cittas, cannot be of the jåti of akusala. Lokuttara cittas cannot be of the jåti of kiriya either.
Thus, rúpåvacara cittas can be of three jåtis: kusala, vipåka and kiriya. Rúpåvacara kusala citta can cause the arising of rúpåvacara vipåkacitta which performs the function of rebirth in one of the rúpa-brahma planes of existence. The rúpåvacara kusala citta of the fifth stage of jhåna can condition rebirth as asaññåsatta, a being with only rúpa, in the asaññåsatta plane. As we have seen, there are sixteen rúpa-brahma planes in all. The arahat who attains the stages of rúpa-jhåna has rúpåvacara kiriyacitta.
The arúpåvacara kusala citta can cause the arising of arúpåvacara vipåkacitta which performs the function of rebirth in one of the four arúpa-brahma planes. The arahat who attains the stages of arúpa-jhåna has arúpåvacara kiriyacitta.
Rúpåvacara citta and arúpåvacara citta are sublime consciousness, mahaggata citta. The Atthasåliní (I, Book I, Part I, Måtikå I, Triplets, 44) states:
...Sublime (mahaggatå) means, having reached greatness 7 , from ability to discard corruptions, from the abundance of fruition, from the length of duration...
It is most difficult to discard defilements. As soon as we have seen an object, like or dislike arises. However, when there is attainment concentration (appanå samådhi), thus, when there is jhånacitta, the citta is calm and one-pointed on the meditation subject which is experienced through the mind-door. At such moments there is no seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or the experience of tangible object. When there are jhånacittas, no matter for how long, there cannot be bhavanga-cittas in between, such as in the case of kåmåvacara cittas 8. Kåmåvacara cittas experience an object for an extremely short moment, they are insignificant dhammas, paritta dhammas. The kåmåvacara cittas of seeing, hearing or thinking occur in processes which are of extremely short duration, they experience an object just for a moment. When cittas of the eye-door process arise and experience visible object which appears through the eye-door, and then fall away, there have to be bhavanga-cittas immediately afterwards. Bhavanga-cittas arise before there are cittas in the mind-door process which cognize the visible object which was experienced in the preceding eye-door process. Kåmåvacara dhammas, which are visible object, sound, odour, flavour, tangible object as well as the cittas which experience these sense objects, are all insignificant dhammas, paritta dhammas.
The mahaggata cittas, sublime cittas, namely the rúpåvacara cittas and the arúpåvacara cittas, are cittas which have reached excellence because they can subdue defilements. When there is attainment concentration, when jhånacittas arise and fall away in succession, there is no seeing, no hearing, no experience of an object trhough one of the sense-doors, neither is there thinking about these objects. That is the reason why it is said that mahaggatå citta discards defilements. However, when the jhånacittas have fallen away completely, kåmåvacara cittas arise again. When there are cittas arising in processes which experience objects through the different doorways, akusala javana-citta has the opportunity to arise if one does not perform kusala. So long as defilements have not been eradicated completely, akusala citta is likely to arise after seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and the experience of tangible object. Do we realize that akusala citta arises time and again? If one does not realize this, one cannot subdue defilements nor can one develop the way leading to the eradication of defilements.
Before the Buddhas enlightenment there were people who saw the disadvantages and the danger of akusala cittas which arise very soon after seeing, hearing and the other sense-cognitions. Therefore, they tried to find a way to temporarily subdue defilements. They found out that the only way leading to that goal was not to see, to hear or to experience the other sense objects. When one experiences sense objects one cannot prevent the arising of defilements. People who understood this could cultivate the way of kusala which leads to true calm, temporary freedom from attachment (lobha), aversion (dosa) and ignorance (moha), and this is realized at the moment of attainment concentration, appanå samådhi.
At the moment of jhånacitta there are no sense impressions. There is only the experience of the meditation subject through the mind-door and this is a condition for the citta to be firmly established in calm and one-pointedness on that object. Attainment concentration which is reached when jhånacitta arises does not lead to the complete eradication of defilements. When the jhånacittas have fallen away defilements have the opportunity to arise again. Only at the moments of rúpåvacara citta and arúpåvacara citta, citta has reached excellence, it is mahaggatå citta, because it can subdue defilements by not seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or experiencing tangible object. This is different from the situation of the anågåmí (non-returner), the person who has reached the third stage of enlightenment. He sees, but there is no attachment to visible object, since he has eradicated attachment to sense objects. He hears, smells, tastes and experiences through the bodysense the tangible objects of heat, cold, hardness, softness, motion and pressure, but he has no attachment, he has eradicated attachment to these objects. The lokuttara kusala citta, which is the magga-citta, path-consciousness, can eradicate defilements completely. Thus we see that citta is variegated as there are four planes of citta which are the four grades or levels of kåmåvacara, rúpåvacara, arúpåvacara and lokuttara.
Rúpåvacara citta and arúpåvacara citta can be of three jåtis: kusala, vipåka and kiriya. Lokuttara citta can be of two jåtis: kusala and vipåka. There is no lokuttara kiriyacitta.
There are eight types of lokuttara citta, corresponding with the four stages of enlightenment. For each stage there is the magga-citta, path-consciousness, which is lokuttara kusala citta, and the fruition-consciousness, phala-citta, which is lokuttara vipåkacitta. The eight types of lokuttara cittas are the following:
path-consciousness of the sotåpanna (sotåpatti magga-citta), which
is lokuttara kusala citta
fruition-consciousness of the sotåpanna (sotåpatti phala-citta)
which is lokuttara vipåkacitta
path-consciousness of the sakadågåmí (sakadågåmí magga-citta),
which is lokuttara kusala citta
fruition-consciousness of the sakadågåmí (sakadågåmí phala-citta),
which is lokuttara vipåkacitta
path-consciousness of the anågåmí (anågåmí magga-citta), which
is lokuttara kusala citta
fruition-consciousness of the anågåmí (anågåmí magga-citta),
which is lokuttara vipåkacitta
path-consciousness of the arahat (arahatta magga-citta), which
is lokuttara kusala citta
fruition-consciousness of the arahat (arahatta phala-citta), which
is lokuttara vipåkacitta
The lokuttara kusala citta is the condition for the lokuttara vipåkacitta to succeed it immediately, there is no other type of citta arising in between the lokuttara kusala citta, which is cause, and the lokuttara vipåkacitta, which is result. Apart from the lokuttara kusala citta, no other type of kusala citta can produce vipåkacitta immediately succeeding it.
As soon as the magga-citta of the sotåpanna, which is lokuttara kusala citta, has fallen away, it is succeeded by the phala-citta which is lokuttara vipåkacitta. It is the same in the case of the magga-citta and the phala-citta of the sakadågåmí, the anågåmí and the arahat.
The four types of lokuttara vipåkacitta, the phala-cittas, cannot perform the functions of rebirth, bhavanga and dying. They are different from mundane vipåkacittas 9. The lokuttara vipåkacitta which immediately succeeds the lokuttara kusala citta also has nibbåna as object. The lokuttara vipåkacitta, the phala-citta, performs the function of javana in the same process as the lokuttara kusala citta which precedes it. The phala-citta is the only type of vipåkacitta which can perform the function of javana in a process. It performs the function of javana because it has nibbåna as object. Each type of lokuttara kusala citta arises only once in the cycle of birth and death and it eradicates defilements completely, in conformity with the stage of enlightenment which has been attained. However, there are two or three lokuttara vipåkacittas arising after the lokuttara kusala citta; these succeed one another and have nibbåna as object. It depends on the type of person who attains enlightenment whether phala-citta arises two or three times.
The sotåpanna cannot be reborn more than seven times. As we have seen, the phala-citta of the sotåpanna cannot perform the function of rebirth. Which type of vipåkacitta of which plane of consciousness performs for the sotåpanna the function of rebirth depends on the plane of existence where he will be reborn. If the sotåpanna is reborn in a heavenly plane, kåmåvacara vipåkacitta performs the function of rebirth. If the sotåpanna is reborn in a brahma plane, rúpåvacara vipåkacitta or arúpåvacara vipåkacitta performs the function of rebirth in accordance with that plane.
As we have seen, the word bhúmi, plane, can refer to the grade of citta as well as to the plane of existence for living beings. Summarizing, when bhúmi is used in the sense of grade of citta, there are four bhúmis: kåmåvacara citta, rúpåvacara citta, arúpåvacara citta and lokuttara citta. When bhúmi is used in the sense of the place where living beings are born, the world where they live, there are thirtyone planes and these correspond with the different grades of citta: eleven kåma bhúmis, sixteen rúpa-brahma planes and four arúpa-brahma planes.
1. What is the Suddhavåsa plane (Pure Abodes) and who can be born there?
2. Of how many jåtis can rúpåvacara citta and arúpåvacara citta be?
3. Of how many jåtis can lokuttara cittas be?
4. Which types of citta are mahaggatå, sublime?
5. Which type of víthi-citta, citta arising in a process, is the lokuttara citta ?
6. What kind of function performs the lokuttara vipåkacitta in a process?
Cittas are variegated because of different sampayutta dhammas, accompanying cetasikas. Cittas can be classified by way of the different accompanying feelings:
cittas which are accompanied by unpleasant feeling, somanassa
cittas which are accompanied by unpleasant feeling, domanassa
cittas which are accompanied by indifferent feeling (neither
pleasant nor unpleasant), upekkhå sahagata
citta which is accompanied by bodily pleasant feeling, sukha
citta which is accompanied by (bodily) painful feeling, dukkha
Each citta which arises is accompanied by the cetasika which is feeling, vedanå. The different cittas are accompanied by specific feelings, depending on the type of citta. Citta is the leader in knowing the different characteristics of objects and cetasika is the dhamma which feels on account of the object which is experienced; it can be happy feeling, unhappy feeling, pleasant bodily feeling, painful feeling or indifferent feeling.
Citta is different according as it is of the jåti which is kusala, akusala, vipåka or kiriya, and the accompanying cetasikas are of the same jåti as the citta. Akusala cetasikas cannot accompany kusala citta, vipåkacitta or kiriyacitta. Kusala cetasikas cannot accompany akusala citta, vipåkacitta or kiriyacitta. Vipåka cetasikas cannot accompany akusala citta, kusala citta or kiriyacitta. Feeling is, just as in the case of the other cetasikas, different, as it is kusala, akusala, vipåka or kiriya. If the Buddha had not explained in detail the characteristics of all kinds of dhammas, people would continue to have wrong understanding about vedanå cetasika, feeling. For example, painful feeling which is experienced when one has discomfort, sickness or pain, arises together with body-consciousness, the vipåkacitta which experiences tangible object through the bodysense just for one short moment. This feeling is not the same as (mental) unpleasant feeling, domanassa, arising when one is annoyed about the unpleasant object which impinges on the bodysense. Cittas are varied as they are accompanied by different feelings. The Buddha taught in detail which kind of feeling accompanies each kind of akusala citta, kusala citta, vipåkacitta and kiriyacitta, and this is a most intricate subject.
Whenever we feel pain there is bodily painful feeling and this is akusala vipåka. However, when we are unhappy, disturbed and anxious because of that painful feeling, it is not vipåka. At that moment akusala feeling accompanies akusala citta which is displeased.
When we study the Abhidhamma in detail we can have right understanding of vedanå cetasika which accompanies citta. If one does not study realities one does not know whether feeling at a particular moment is kusala, akusala, vipåka or kiriya, and therefore, one is bound to be infatuated with pleasant mental feeling, pleasant bodily feeling or indifferent feeling.
We read in the Gradual Sayings (I, Book of the Twos, Ch VIII, On Characteristics, § 7) that the Buddha said:
Along with feeling, monks, arise evil, unprofitable dhammas, not without them. By abandoning just those feelings, those evil, unprofitable dhammas do not exist.
Then the same is said about the other nåma-khandhas, apart from vedanåkkhandha, namely: saññåkkhandha, saòkhårakkhandha and viññåùakkhandha.
Vedanå cetasika, feeling, is the basis of clinging and clinging is very persistent. If one does not know the truth about vedanå cetasika one cannot abandon the view that feeling is self.
The understanding of the nature of vedanå cetasika is a supporting condition for sati to begin to be aware of the characteristic of feeling. If one does not understand what feeling is, one will not notice that feeling is reality; that it arises time and again in our daily life, just as the other dhammas which appear through the sense-doors and the mind-door. These dhammas can only appear because citta arises and experiences them, and each citta is accompanied by feeling. We should remember that if there were no feeling on account of what is seen, heard, smelt, tasted and experienced through the bodysense, there would not be anxiety, akusala dhamma would not arise. However, since feeling arises, there is clinging to feeling, holding on to it. One wants to obtain for oneself things which can condition pleasant feeling. Thus, akusala dhammas continue to arise, but one does not notice this. All dhammas are anattå, nobody can prevent feeling cetasika from arising. No matter what type of citta arises, it must be accompanied by feeling cetasika which feels on account of the object which is experienced at that moment. Now, at this very moment, there must be some kind of feeling, be it indifferent feeling, bodily pleasant feeling, painful feeling, (mental) pleasant feeling or unpleasant feeling. The study of the Dhamma is not merely knowledge of names and numbers, the aim of the study is knowing the characteristics of realities, thus also of feeling which arises now. There may not yet be awareness of the characteristic of the feeling of this moment, but we should remember that the feeling of this moment is a reality which has arisen and fallen away already. If one does not know the true characteristic of feeling, one is bound to take pleasant and painful bodily feeling, mental pleasant and unpleasant feeling and indifferent feeling for self.
If sati is not aware of the characteristic of feeling, it will not be possible to abandon the wrong view that dhammas are living beings, persons or self. We all consider feeling as something very important in life. We all want pleasant feeling, nobody wants to have unpleasant feeling. Therefore, we strive with all means to have bodily pleasant feeling or mental pleasant feeling. However, one may not know that there is at such moments clinging, that one tries to hold on to feeling which arises because of its own conditions and then falls away again.
The Buddha classified feeling cetasika as a separate khandha, vedanåkkhandha, because people attach great importance to feeling and cling to it. It is a reality people take for self, as a living being or a person, as being of the greatest value. It is necessary to listen to the Dhamma and study it evermore in detail, to consider what one has learnt and to investigate the truth of dhammas in daily life, so that sati can arise and be aware of the characteristics of the dhammas which appear.
Vedanå cetasika can be of the four jåtis of kusala, akusala, vipåka and kiriya. Feeling is a conditioned dhamma. saòkhåra dhamma, it arises because of its appropriate conditions. Feeling which is vipåka arises because of kamma-condition, kamma-paccaya. Feeling which is kusala, akusala or kiriya is not vipåka, it cannot arise because of kamma-condition, but it arises because of other conditions. There are different ways of classifying feelings, but when it is classified as fivefold 11, pleasant bodily feeling and painful feeling are of the jåti which is vipåka, they are the results of kamma. Kamma which has been performed in the past conditions accordingly the arising of the feelings which are vipåka, which feel on account of the objects impinging on the sense-doors and the mind-door.
Seeing-consciousness which is vipåkacitta is accompanied by indifferent feeling, which is vipåka cetasika, and also by other cetasikas. It is the same in the case of hearing-consciousness, smelling-consciousness and tasting-consciousness. However, it is different in the case of body-consciousness. Body-consciousness which is akusala vipåka and which experiences a characteristic of tangible object impinging on the bodysense, is accompanied by painful feeling. Body-consciousness which is kusala vipåka is accompanied by pleasant bodily feeling. Nobody can change the conditions for the arising of the feelings which accompany these different types of citta. Body-consciousness arises because of kamma-condition. When the great Elements (hardness, softness, heat, cold, motion or pressure) which are pleasant objects (iììhårammaùa) impinge on the rúpa which is bodysense (kåya pasåda rúpa), pleasant bodily feeling arises. When the great Elements which are unpleasant objects (aniììhårammaùa) impinge on the bodysense, painful bodily feeling arises. The feeling which arises at the bodysense can only be painful feeling or pleasant bodily feeling, not indifferent feeling, pleasant (mental) feeling or unpleasant feeling. The bodily feelings and the mental feelings should be distinguished from each other. When body-consciousness arises, the accompanying feelings, pleasant bodily feeling and painful feeling, are of the jåti which is vipåka, they are results of past kamma. However, when one is disturbed or anxious, there is uhappy feeling and this is not the result of past kamma. It arises because it is conditioned by accumulated akusala dhamma.
Apart from painful and pleasant bodily feeling which can only be of the jåti which is vipåka, and unpleasant feeling, which can only be of the jåti which is akusala, there are other kinds of feelings, namely pleasant (mental) feeling and indifferent feeling, and these can be kusala, akusala, vipåka or kiriya. The fact that there is such variety of feelings makes it clear to us that realities can only arise because of their appropriate conditions.
Have we ever been aware of the characteristics of different feelings? At this moment feeling arises and falls away. Some people may have begun to be aware of the characteristics of rúpas appearing through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue or the bodysense. Others may be inclined to consider and be aware of characteristics of nåmas, elements which experience objects, when there is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, body-consciousness or thinking. However, this is not enough. Sati should be aware of the characteristics of dhammas which are classified as the five khandhas: rúpakkhandha, vedanåkkhandha, saññåkkhandha, saòkhårakkhandha (formations or activities, the cetasikas other than vedanå and saññå, remembrance) and viññåùakkhandha. If sati is not yet aware of these dhammas defilements cannot be eradicated. Defilements cannot be eradicated if there is ignorance of realities, thus, if sati is not aware of the characteristics of all realities which are appearing.
Is there feeling while we are asleep? Dhamma is a subject which we should reflect on time and again. The more we investigate the Dhamma the more shall we gain clear understanding of it. Therefore, we should consider whether there is feeling cetasika, also while we are asleep. When we are fast asleep we do not experience any object of this world. There are no objects appearing through the six doors. At such moments we do not think, nor do we dream. What we saw or heard before, what we liked or thought about does not appear. However, also when we are fast asleep, there must be cittas arising and falling away, so long as our life term has not come to an end. These are bhavanga-cittas, life-continuum, which preserve the continuity in ones life as this particular individual. As soon as we wake up the objects of this world appear, until it is time to go to sleep again.
While we are fast asleep the bhavanga-cittas which are arising and falling away in succession are vipåkacittas, result of past kamma; kamma is the condition for the bhavanga-cittas to arise in succession and to preserve the continuity in the life of a person. Therefore, the person who sleeps does not die yet. The four nåma-kkhandhas, citta and cetasikas, have to arise together, they cannot be separated from each other. Each time citta arises there must be cetasikas which accompany the citta. Feeling arises with each citta. The feeling cetasika which accompanies bhavanga-citta is vipåka cetasika and it feels on account of the object which is experienced by the bhavanga-citta. All the accompanying cetasikas share the same object with the citta. The function of feeling cetasika is feeling on account of the object which is experienced by the citta. The object of the bhavanga-citta is not an object of this world, it is the same object as experienced shortly before the dying-consciousness of the preceding life. We do not know this object. Neither do we know the characteristic of the feeling accompanying the bhavanga-citta.
When we compare the situation of being asleep with the situation of being awake, it helps us to see more clearly the conditions for the experience of objects. The objects of this world can only appear because there are processes of cittas which experience them through the six doorways.
We should investigate further what exactly wakes up when we wake up and what exactly is asleep when we are asleep. Rúpa is the dhamma which does not know anything, thus, rúpa does not wake up nor does it sleep. Nåma is the dhamma which experiences an object. When nåma does not know an object appearing in this world, this state is called being asleep. Also while we are asleep there are cittas arising and falling away in succession, preserving the continuity in ones life, so long as one does not pass away.
When we wake up, what is it that wakes up? Citta and cetasikas wake up, because they arise and experience an object through the eyes, the ears, the nose,the tongue, the bodysense or the mind-door. Thus, when we experience an object of this world we are awake. If we reflect on this fact in a more detailed way, it will be a supporting condition for the development of satipaììhåna. The aim of the teaching of Dhamma is awareness of the characteristics of realities in order to know them as they are. The Buddhas words can encourage us to have right effort (viriya) for satipaììhåna, the development of right understanding of the realities of this moment.
As we have seen, when we wake up citta and cetasikas know the objects of this world. We have to consider more deeply what actually wakes up: citta and cetasikas wake up together. Vipåkacitta arises and sees what appears through the eyes, or it experiences what appears through the ears, the nose, the tongue or the bodysense. Nobody could prevent this, it is beyond control. Vipåkacitta which is the result of kamma arises, experiences an object and then falls away. It would be impossible to sleep continuously; kamma causes ones birth into this life and it does not condition a person to be asleep his whole life until he dies. It is kamma which produces eyes, ears, nose, tongue and bodysense so that there are conditions for the arising of citta which sees a pleasant object, and this is the result of kusala kamma, or citta which sees an unpleasant object, and this is the result of akusala kamma. Citta which hears a pleasant sound is the result of kusala kamma, and citta which hears an unpleasant sound is the result of akusala kamma. It is the same with regard to the other doorways.
Thus, vipåkacitta and cetasikas which arise wake up and experience objects through each of the doorways in daily life. Apart from these types of cittas what else is there? When one has woken up there are also akusala dhammas, all kinds of defilements which begin to wake up. When one is asleep there are no akusala cittas, but there are the latent tendencies of defilements (anusaya kilesas), which lie dormant in the citta. The defilements which have not been eradicated are accumulated from one citta to the next citta, since cittas arise and fall away in succession. Thus, also when one is asleep the accumulated defilements are carried on from one moment of bhavangacitta to the next moment of bhavangacitta. At these moments defilements do not arise and there cannot be like or dislike of an object, since one does not see yet, one does not hear, smell, taste or experience tangible object yet, one does not experience any object of this world. When we are asleep all the defilements are also asleep. However, when we wake up also the defilements wake up. After seeing, hearing and the experience of the other sense objects, all kinds of defilements arise with the akusala citta, depending on the conditions which cause the arising of particular akusala dhammas.
As we have seen, cittas can be classified by way of four planes, bhúmis, of citta, namely, kåmåvacara bhúmi, rúpåvacara bhúmi, arúpåvacara bhúmi and lokuttara bhúmi. As cittas are of higher planes, they are more refined. The cittas of people are mostly of the kåmåvacara bhúmi, of the sense sphere; thus, they experience visible object, sound, odour, flavour or tangible object. Kåmåvacara citta is of the plane which is of the lowest grade. As soon as we wake up we see and hear. Citta turns towards the objects appearing through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the bodysense and the mind-door. Citta frequents these sense objects. The cittas which arise in a day are of the lowest plane and moreover, they are usually of the most inferior jåti, that is, akusala. Usually it is akusala citta which wakes up, unless there are conditions for kusala. When we see, clinging follows seeing most of the time. We hear and then we are attached to the sound which was heard, and this is natural. Citta rooted in attachment arises more often than citta rooted in aversion, the citta which is annoyed, which is coarse.
We should face the truth that there are in a day more often akusala cittas than kusala cittas. If we do not realize this we cannot develop kusala in order to be free from cittas which are inferior and mean. Then there will continue to be innumerable akusala cittas, just as usual. When we do not see the danger and disadvantage of akusala, we may even enjoy our akusala. Thus, we should remember that it is usually defilement, kilesa, which wakes up. Defilements arise in the processes of the eye-door, the ear-door, the nose-door, the tongue-door, the door of the bodysense and the mind-door.
It depends on the individual to what extent defilements will cause suffering of mind and body. When we realize the confusion and suffering caused by defilements, we shall apply ourselves to the development of kusala, be it dåna, síla, samatha or satipaììhåna. When one develops satipaììhåna, there is awareness of the characteristics of the realities which are appearing.
Some people believe that they should try to eradicate lobha first, so that they are able to develop the paññå which leads to the stage of enlightenment of the sotåpanna. However, this is impossible. Lobha, attachment, arises, it is a type of reality which arises because of the appropriate conditions. It is not a being, person or self. However, paññå should consider the characteristic of lobha so that it can be known as it is: a type of reality which arises and then falls away.
The types of feeling arising with different cittas can be classified as fivefold in the following way:
pleasant bodily feeling, accompanying body-consciousness which
is kusala vipåka
painful feeling, accompanying body-consciousness which is
unpleasant feeling, accompanying the two types of dosa-múla-
pleasant (mental) feeling }
and } which can accompany cittas which
indifferent feeling } are kusala, akusala, vipåka and kiriya
Unpleasant feeling cannot accompany cittas which are kusala, vipåka and kiriya. It can accompany only akusala citta, namely, the two types of dosa-múla-citta, citta rooted in aversion 12. If one does not know this, one may take for kusala what is in fact akusala. This may happen, for example, when one feels sorry for people who suffer and who are in trouble. One wants to help them so that they are relieved from their distress. There may be conditions for kusala citta with true compassion, karuùa cetasika. However, one should know the characteristic of the feeling which accompanies the citta, one should know whether one has unpleasant feeling or not. If one has unpleasant feeling, if one is sad, there is akusala citta. Akusala citta is completely different from kusala citta which is accompanied by compassion, karuùa cetasika. If one truly understands this, one can abandon the sad, unhappy feeling which is akusala. Then one will be able to help someone else to be free from suffering with feeling which is happy, not unpleasant or sad. Therefore one should know precisely when the citta is akusala, so that akusala can be eliminated. People usually believe, when they have compassion for someone who suffers, that they should also take part in his sadness and unhappiness. They do not realize that this is not true compassion.
People are usually ignorant of their feelings. If someone is asked what feeling he has at this moment, he may only know vaguely whether he feels indifferent, happy or unhappy. Feeling arises with each citta, but it is not easy to realize its true nature, even when there is awareness of feeling. Feeling is only a reality which experiences, a kind of nåma. When sound appears the citta which is hearing-consciousness hears sound. At that moment there is feeling, vedanå cetasika, which accompanies hearing-consciousness. When the cetasika which is contact, phassa, contacts the object, vedanå cetasika must also arise. If sati can begin to be aware of the characteristic of citta or of feeling, supporting conditions are accumulated for being less forgetful of realities when we have indifferent feeling, happy feeling, bodily pleasant feeling, painful feeling or unhappy feeling. We may be sad, but instead of giving in to unhappy feeling, there can be sati which is aware of it and then it can be known as only feeling cetasika arising because of conditions. Thus we see that satipaììhåna is beneficial, that right understanding can relieve suffering when one is distressed and feels unhappy.
1. Of which jåtis can indifferent feeling and pleasant feeling be?
2. Of which jåti are painful feeling and bodily pleasant feeling?
3. Of which jåti is unpleasant feeling?
4. Of which jåti is the feeling when one is fast asleep?
5. Can rúpa wake up or be asleep? Explain the reason.
1 See Visuddhimagga, VII, 42, footnote 15. A circle of world-sphere mountains encloses the ocean. In the centre of the ocean is Mount Sineru or Mount Meru. The Southern continent of Jambudípa, Rose-Apple Land, is the known inhabited world. Sometimes Jambudípa refers to India.
2 See Visuddhimagga VII, 40, footnote 14.
3 See Jåtakas VI, no. 545.
4 See the Second Book of the Abhidhamma, the Book of Analysis, Ch 18, 6, Age limit.
5 For some individuals rúpa-jhåna is of four stages, and for some it is of five stages. Jhånafactors are successively abandoned as higher stages of jhåna are reached. For those who have abandoned the two factors of applied thinking and sustained thinking at the second stage there are only four stages of jhåna. For those who have abandoned only the factor of applied thinking and not the factor of sustained thinking at the second stage, there are five stages of jhåna.
6 They have seen the disadvantages of nåma and this is the condition for them to be reborn without nåma.
7 Mahå means great and gata means gone or reached.
8 Those who are skilled in jhåna can have jhånacittas in succession for a long period of time. That is why jhånacitta is called sublime because of its duration. During the attainment of jhåna there is no bodily suffering. The jhånacitta is sublime because of its fruition, it can cause rebirth in rúpa-brahma planes and arúpa brahma-planes.
9 The magga-citta does not lead to rebirth; it eradicates defilements, the conditions for rebirth.
10 Sahagata means accompanied.
11 Feeling can also be classified as threefold: pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling and indifferent feeling. It can be classified by way of contact through the six doorways, and by other ways.
12 One type is not induced and one type is induced. This will be explained later on.