The Conditionality of Life in the Buddhist Teachings

An outline of the Twenty four Conditions as taught in the


By Nina van Gorkom


For a pdf version of this book - which has the correct accents for the pali - see www.zolag.co.uk


The Buddha’s teaching on the conditions for the phenomena of our life

has been laid down in the last of the seven books of the Abhidhamma,

the "Patthåna", or "Conditional Relations". The Buddha, in the night he

attained enlightenment, penetrated all the different conditions for the

phenomena which arise and he contemplated the "Dependant

Origination" (Paticca Samuppåda), the conditions for being in the cycle

of birth and death, and the way leading to the elimination of these

causes. We read in the Introduction of the "Atthasåliní" (The Expositor,

the commentary to the Dhammasangaùi, the first book of the

Abhidhamma) that the Buddha, during the fourth week after his

enlightenment, sat in the "Jewel House", in the north west direction,

and contemplated the Abhidhamma. The Abhidhamma was laid down

later on in seven books. We read:

... And while he contemplated the contents of the "Dhammasangani",

his body did not emit rays; and similarly with the contemplation of the

next five books. But when, coming to the "Great Book", he began to

contemplate the twenty-four universal causal relations of condition, of

presentation, and so on, his omniscience certainly found its opportunity

therein. For as the great fish Timirati-piògala finds room only in the

great ocean eighty-four thousand yojanas in depth, so his omniscience

truly finds room only in the Great Book. Rays of six colours- indigo,

golden, red, white, tawny, and dazzling- issued from the Teacher’s

body, as he was contemplating the subtle and abstruse Dhamma by his

omniscience which had found such opportunity....

The teaching of the conditional relations is deep and it is not easy to

read the "Patthåna", but we could at least begin to study different

conditions and verify them in daily life. Before we knew the Buddha’s

teachings we used to think of cause and effect in a speculative way. We

may have reflected on the origin of life, on the origin of the world, we

may have thought about causes and effects with regard to the events of

life, but we did not penetrate the real conditions for the phenomena of.2

life. The Buddha taught the way to develop understanding of what is

true in the absolute or ultimate sense. We cannot understand the

"Patthåna" if we do not know the difference between what is real in

conventional sense and what is real in the ultimate sense. Body and

mind are real in conventional sense, they are not real in the ultimate

sense. What we call body and mind are temporary combinations of

different realities which arise because of conditioning factors and then

fall away immediately. They are succeeded by new realities which fall

away again, and thus the flux of life goes on. Body, mind, person or

being do not exist in the ultimate sense. Mental phenomena, nåma, and

physical phenomena, rúpa, which constitute what we call a "person" are

real in the ultimate sense, but they are merely passing phenomena.

Ultimate truth is not abstract. Ultimate realities, in Påli: paramattha

dhammas, have each their own characteristic which cannot be changed.

We may change the name, but the characteristic remains the same.

Seeing is an ultimate reality, it experiences visible object which appears

through the eyes; it is real for everyone, it has its own unalterable

characteristic. Anger has its own characteristic, it is real for everyone,

no matter how we name it. Ultimate realities can be directly

experienced when they appear through eyes, ears, nose, tongue,

bodysense or mind. They arise because of their appropriate conditions.

There are twentyfour classes of conditions enumerated in the

"Patthåna". In order to understand these it is essential to have a precise

knowledge of the realities which are involved in these conditional

relations. The "Dhammasangaùi", the first book of the Abhidhamma, is

an analytical exposition of all classes of consciousness, cittas, and their

accompanying mental factors, cetasikas, and all physical phenomena,

rúpas. The Dhammasangani explains which cetasikas accompany which

cittas and it deals with conditions which operate in one moment of



. It explains which rúpas arise together in a group and

the factors which produce rúpas, namely, kamma, citta, nutrition and

temperature. However, it does not describe in detail the different types

of conditions. The Patthåna describes in detail all possible relations

between phenomena. Each reality in our life can only occur because of a

concurrence of different conditions which operate in a very intricate

way. Hearing is conditioned by sound which impinges on the earsense.

Both sound and earsense are rúpas which also arise because of their

own conditions and therefore, they have to fall away. Thus, the reality

1 There is only one citta at a time but it is accompanied by several cetasikas which each

perform their own function.

they condition, hearing, cannot last either, it also has to fall away. Each.3

conditioned reality can exist just for an extremely short moment. When

we understand this it will be easier to see that there is no self who can

exert control over realities. How could we control what falls away

immediately? When we move our hands, when we walk, when we laugh

or cry, when we are attached or worried, there are conditions for such

moments. The Paììhåna helps us to understand the deep underlying

motives for our behaviour and the conditions for our defilements. It

explains, for example, that kusala can be the object of akusala citta. For

instance, on account of generosity which is wholesome, attachment,

wrong view or conceit, which are unwholesome realities, can arise. The

Paììhåna also explains that akusala can be the object of kusala, for

example, when akusala is considered with insight. This is an essential

point which is often overlooked. If one thinks that akusala cannot be

object of awareness and right understanding, the right Path cannot be


The enumerations and classifications in the Patthåna may, at first sight,

seem dry and cumbersome, but when they are carefully considered it

can be seen that they deal with realities of daily life. The study of the

Abhidhamma can become very lively and interesting if our knowledge is

applied in our own situation. It can be understood more clearly that

kusala citta and akusala citta arise because of different conditions. One

may doubt whether it is helpful to know details about realities and their

conditions. When we know that there isn’t anything we can control, will

that change our life? It is beneficial to have less ignorance about

ourselves. Defilements cannot be eradicated immediately, there will still

be sadness, worry and frustration. However, when it is more clearly

understood that realities arise because of their own conditions there will

be less inclination to try to do what is impossible: to change what has

arisen because of conditions. When there is more understanding one

will be less obsessed by one’s experiences, there will be more patience.

The Paììhåna clarifies how accumulations of good and bad qualities are

conditions for the arising of kusala and akusala in the future. Thus, the

study of the Patthåna can encourage us to develop understanding

together with all good qualities. Conditions can be accumulated which

lead to direct understanding of realities and eventually to


The reader will find it complicated to study the duration of rúpa which

equals seventeen moments of citta. We could never count such

moments, they pass too quickly. However, the knowledge about the

duration of rúpa helps us to see that rúpa lasts longer than citta. Rúpa is

weak at its arising moment, but after its arising it can condition citta..4

One rúpa can condition several cittas since it lasts longer than citta. For

instance, the rúpa which is sense object (colour, sound, etc.) can

condition a series of cittas arising in a sense-door process by way of

object-condition, that is to say, by being the object they experience. The

rúpas which are the sense-organs (eyesense, earsense, etc.) can

condition citta by being its base, the place of origin. Thus, knowing

about the duration of rúpa and of citta clarifies their relationship.

The Abhidhamma, the Suttanta and the Vinaya all point to the same

goal: the eradication of wrong view and all other defilements. Also

when we study the Patthåna we are reminded of this goal. Some people

doubt whether the Buddha himself taught the twentyfour classes of

conditions. They wonder why these have not been enumerated in the

suttas. The nucleus of the teaching on conditions is to be found also in

other parts of the teachings. In the suttas we read, for example, about

jhåna-factors and Path-factors, and about the factors which are



for the realities they accompany, and these

are among the twentyfour classes of conditions which are described in

the Patthåna. The "Dependant Origination" (Paìiccasamuppåda), the

Buddha’s teaching on the factors which are the conditions for being in

the cycle of birth and death and also those which condition freedom

from the cycle, is found in all parts of the scriptures. The teaching of the

"Dependant Origination" is closely connected with the teaching of the

"Patthåna", and the "Dependant Origination" cannot be understood

without knowledge of the different types of conditions as taught in the

"Patthåna". Doubt will only disappear if we thoroughly consider the

different types of conditions, because then we can see for ourselves

whether the contents of the "Patthåna" conform to the truth or not.

The twenty-four conditions have also been explained by the great

commentator Buddhaghosa in the "Visuddhimagga"(Path of Purification


). Buddhaghosa, who lived in the beginning of the fifth century A.D.

in Sri L¬anka, edited older commentarial work he found there.

I have used Påli terms next to the English translation of these terms for

precision. In different English textbooks one and the same Påli term has

been translated with different English words, and then there may be

confusion as to which reality is represented by such or such English

word. Only part of the "Patthåna" has been translated into English by

Ven. U Narada. This work, consisting of two volumes, is, under the title

2 Later on I shall deal with these kinds of conditions.

3 I have used the translation by Ven. Ñyåùamoli, Colombo, 1964.

4 73 Lime Walk, Headington, Oxford OX 37, 7AD, England.

of "Conditional Relations", available at the Påli Text Society


. The.5

"Guide to Conditional Relations", which the translator also wrote, is a

helpful introduction to the reading of the "Patthåna"


. All the texts

from which I quoted are available at the Påli Text Society. Ms. Sujin

Boriharnwanaket has, in the Bovoranives Temple in Bangkok, given

most inspiring lectures on the conditional relations. She stressed time

and again that conditions pertain to this very moment, in daily life. I

used many of her lively illustrations and her quotations from the

scriptures for this book on conditions.

I have added an appendix where I explain some notions of the

Abhidhamma in order to facilitate the reading of this study on


It has been said in commentaries that Buddhism will decline and that

the Buddhist scriptures will disappear. The Abhidhamma, and in

particular the "Paììhåna", will be the first to be in oblivion. The

"Patthåna" is deep and difficult to understand. I hope I can contribute

with this book to the arousing of interest in the "Patthåna". May the

Abhidhamma survive for an additional length of time. This will also

insure the survival of the other parts of the scriptures, the Vinaya and

the Suttanta. The "Patthåna" helps us to have more understanding of

the truth of non-self. It thereby encourages us to develop the eightfold

Path, to develop direct understanding of all realities which appear

through the five sense-doors and through the mind-door. Theoretical

knowledge of conditions is not the purpose of the "Patthåna". Through

mere intellectual understanding conditions cannot be thoroughly

grasped. When understanding of nåma, mental phenomena, and rúpa,

physical phenomena, has been developed to the degree of the second

stage of insight


, there will be direct understanding of the

conditionality of realities. When conditions are understood more

clearly, there will be less clinging to a self who could control awareness

of nåma and rúpa. Thus, the "Patthåna" can help us to follow the right

practice. It is above all the right practice of the eightfold Path that can

promote the survival of the Buddha’s teachings.

5 See also "Guide to the Abhidhamma Piìaka", Ch VII, by Ven. Nyanatiloka, B.P.S.

Kandy, and "The Buddhist Philosophy of Relations", by Ven. Ledi Sayadaw, Department

of Religious Affairs, Rangoon, Myanmar.

6 Insight, direct understanding of nåma and rúpa, is developed in several stages, until

realities are seen as they are at the attainment of enlightenment. The second stage

cannot be realised before the first stage: knowing the difference between the

characteristic of nåma and of rúpa..6


It is not by mere chance that we are born in planes of existence where

we can experience objects through the senses and that we are equipped

with sense-organs through which we can experience such objects.

During previous lives as well we experienced colours, sounds and other

sense-objects. We were clinging to these objects in the past and we are

clinging to them at present again and again, so that attachment has

become a deeprooted tendency. Attachment does not arise with each

moment of consciousness, citta, but the tendency to attachment is

"carried on" from one moment to the next moment, from life to life.

Each citta which arises falls away completely, but it is succeeded by the

next citta. In the uninterrupted series of cittas which flow on

continuously, inclinations to both good and evil are carried on. When

there are the right conditions wholesome moments of consciousness,

kusala cittas, and unwholesome moments of consciousness, akusala

cittas, arise, and thus there can be new accumulations of wholesome

and unwholesome qualities which will bear again on the future.

We all have accumulated attachment. For instance, as soon as a morsel

of delicious food is on our tongue, attachment to flavour has an

opportunity to arise. In the human plane of existence there are many

opportunities for attachment to sense-objects. There were wise people,

also before the Buddha’s time, who saw the disadvantage of the

experience of sense-objects. They cultivated tranquil meditation to the

stage of absorption, jhåna, in order to temporarily suppress the clinging

to sense-objects. Jhånacittas of the different stages of jhåna can produce

results in the form of rebirth in higher planes of existence where there

are fewer kinds of sense impressions or none at all. In these planes one

does not have to take food in order to stay alive, there are no conditions

for the enjoyment of flavours. Through the cultivation of jhåna,

however, clinging is not eradicated. So long as clinging has not been

eradicated there will be rebirth. When the lifespan in a higher plane is

terminated there may be rebirth in a plane where one will cling again to

sense-objects and accumulate more clinging. Unless one develops the

wisdom which can eradicate clinging.

The fact that we are born in the human plane where we can enjoy

flavours and all the other sense-objects and also the fact that we have

clinging to them is conditioned. When we use the word "condition" we

should realize that there is not just one kind of condition which brings

about one kind of effect. There are many types of conditions for the.7

phenomena which arise and it is important to study these different

types. We may be inclined to put off the study of this subject because

we think it too difficult. However, we should remember that conditions

are real in daily life and that they are not merely textbook terms.

We may have learnt that there are different types of mental phenomena,

nåmas, and different types of physical phenomena, rúpas, and that

these are only conditioned phenomena, not self. By being aware of

nåma and rúpa when they appear they can be gradually known as they



. In spite of our study of nåma and rúpa we may still find that

awareness, sati, arises very seldom. One of the causes of lack of sati may

be the fact that we did not yet sufficiently study in detail nåma and rúpa

and their different conditions. If we study the conditions for nåma and

rúpa we will have more understanding of the meaning of "no self".

Intellectual understanding of the truth is a condition for the arising of

awareness and this is the way to eradicate the wrong view of self.

What we consider as our life is actually conditioned phenomena

(saòkhåra dhammas), that is, citta (consciousness), cetasikas (mental

factors accompanying citta), and rúpa (physical phenomena). What

arises because of conditions does not last, it has to fall away again.

Thus, citta, cetasika and rúpa are impermanent. Nibbåna is the

unconditioned dhamma, it does not arise and it does not fall away.

Citta experiences something, it cognizes an object. The five senses and

the mind are the doorways through which citta can cognize the

different objects which present themselves. Citta does not arise singly, it

is always accompanied by cetasikas. Cetasikas have each their own

function and assist citta in cognizing an object. There are many ways of

classifying cittas and one of these is by way of four "jåtis" or classes (jåti

literally means birth or nature). There are four jåtis by which the

different nature of cittas is shown and they are:

kusala (wholesome)

akusala (unwholesome)

vipåka (result which may be pleasant or unpleasant)

kiriya (neither cause nor result, inoperative)

7 Awareness or mindfulness, sati, is a sobhana cetasika, beautiful mental factor, which

arises with each sobhana citta. Sati is non-forgetful of what is wholesome, and there are

many levels of sati. Sati in the development of insight, vipassanå, is directly aware of the

nåma or rúpa which appears. The study of the teachings and consideration of what one

has learnt are important conditions for the arising of sati.

Cetasikas are of the same jåti as the citta they accompany. There are.8

seven cetasikas, the "universals" (sabba-citta-sådhårana) which

accompany every citta


. There are six cetasikas, the "particulars"

(pakinnakå) which arise with cittas of the four jåtis but not with every



. Furthermore, there are akusala cetasikas which arise only with

akusala cittas and there are sobhana (beautiful) cetasikas which arise

only with sobhana cittas. Citta and the accompaying cetasikas have, in

the planes of existence where there are nåma and rúpa, the same

physical base (vatthu)


, they experience the same object and they fall

away together. Citta and cetasikas are of the same plane of



: they can be of the sense-sphere, they can be jhånacitta

which is rúpåvacara or arúpåvacara, or they can be lokuttara

(supramundane), experiencing nibbåna. Citta and cetasikas condition

one another in several ways, as we shall see.

Rúpas, physical phenomena, do not arise singly, but in groups, which

can be produced by kamma, by citta, by heat or by nutrition


. Thus we

see that there is no reality which arises singly. Realities do not arise by

their own power, they are dependant on other phenomena which make

them arise. Moreover, there is not any reality which arises from a single

cause, there is a concurrence of several conditions through which

realities arise. When we, for example, taste delicious cheese, there are

several conditions for tasting-consciousness. Tasting-consciousness is

vipåkacitta, result, produced by kamma. It is also conditioned by the

rúpa which is tastingsense and which is also produced by kamma.

Tastingsense is the physical place of origin or base (vatthu) for tasting-consciousness

as well as the doorway (dvara) through which tasting-consciousness

experiences the flavour. The rúpa which is flavour is a

condition for tasting-consciousness by being its object. Contact, phassa,

which is a cetasika accompanying every citta, "contacts" the flavour so

8 They are contact, feeling, remembrance or perception (saññå), volition, concentration,

life faculty and attention.

9 They are: initial thinking, sustained thinking, decision, effort, rapture and wish-to-do.

10 In the planes of existence where there are nåma and rúpa, cittas do not arise

independently of the body, they have a physical base or place of origin, vatthu, which is

rúpa. For example, the rúpa which is eyesense is the base for seeing-consciousness, and

the other senses are the bases for the relevant sense-cognitions.

11 Plane of existence refers to the place where one is born, such as the human plane, a

hell plane or a heavenly plane. Plane of consciousness refers to the nature of citta,

namely cittas of the sense sphere which experience sense objects, jhånacittas which

experience with absorption meditation subjects or lokuttara cittas which experience

nibbåna, the unconditioned dhamma.

12 Different groups of rúpas of the body are produced by one these four factors, and

rúpas which are not of the body are produced only by temperature.

that tasting-consciousness can experience it. If phassa would not contact.9

the object citta could not experience it.

If we understand that there is a multiplicity of conditions we will be less

inclined to think that pain and pleasure can be controlled by a self. Or

do we still think so? When we have unpleasant experiences, for

example, when someone hits us, we are inclined to think that we can

create pleasant feeling again when we go out in order to eat in a nice

restaurant. It depends on conditions whether we have money to go to a

restaurant and while we are going out there are many moments of

pleasure and pain, each brought about by their own conditions. It may

not be the right time for the experience of pleasant flavours, the food

may be spoilt or the service may be inadequate. The more we learn in

detail about conditions, the more will we understand that whatever we

experience is beyond control.

Nåma conditions rúpa and rúpa conditions nåma. We read in the

"Visuddhimagga" (XVIII, 32) about the interdependence of nåma and


... For just as when two sheaves of reeds are propped up one against the

other, each one gives the other consolidating support, and when one

falls the other falls, so too, in the five-constituent (five khandhas



becoming, mentality-materiality occurs as an interdependent state, each

of its components giving the other consolidating support, and when one

falls owing to death, the other falls too. Hence the Ancients said:

The mental and material

Are twins and each supports the other;

When one breaks up they both break up

Through interconditionality.

And just as when sound occurs having as its support a drum that is

beaten by the stick, then the drum is one and the sound is another, the

drum and the sound are not mixed up together, the drum is void of the

sound and the sound is void of the drum, so too, when mentality occurs

having as its support the materiality called the physical base, the door

and the object, then the materiality is one and the mentality is another,

the mentality and the materiality are not mixed up together, the

mentality is void of the materiality and the materiality is void of the

13 The conditioned phenomena of our life can be classified as five khandhas or

aggregates: rúpa-kkhandha, vedanå-kkhandha (feeling), saññå-kkhandha (perception or

remembrance), saòkhåra-kkhandha (formations, all cetasikas except feeling and

perception), and viññåùa-kkhandha (consciousness).

mentality; yet the mentality occurs due to the materiality as the sound.10

occurs due to the drum....

In being mindful of nåma and rúpa we will learn to distinguish their

different characteristics, thus, we will not confuse nåma and rúpa, and

we will also know them as conditioned realities, not self. The

"Visuddhimagga" (XVII, 68) defines condition, paccaya, as follows:

... When a state is indispensable to another state’s presence or arising,

the former is a condition for the latter. But as to characteristic, a

condition has the characteristic of assisting; for any given state that

assists the presence or arising of a given state is called the latter’s

condition. The words, condition, cause, reason, source, originator,

producer, etc., are one in meaning though different in letter....

Thus, there are conditioning phenomena, paccaya-dhammas, and

conditioned phenomena, paccayupanna-dhammas. In the "Paììhåna"

there is a tripartite division of realities, which can also be found

elsewhere in the Abhidhamma. Realities can be: kusala (here translated

as faultless), akusala (faulty) and avyåkatå (indeterminate). We should

remember that avyåkatå comprises citta and cetasikas which are vipåka,

accompanied or unaccompanied by hetus (roots)


, kiriyacittas,

accompanied or unaccompanied by hetus, rúpa and nibbåna.

The "Paììhåna" deals with twentyfour classes of conditions and it

teaches in detail about the phenomena which condition other

phenomena by way of these different conditions. One may wonder

whether so many details are necessary. We read in "The Guide"


(Netti-Ppakaraùaó, Part III, 16 Modes of Conveying, VII, Knowledge of

the Disposition of Creatures’ Faculties, § 587):

Herein, the Blessed One advises one of keen faculties with advice in

brief; the Blessed One advises one of medium faculties with advice in

brief and detail; the Blessed One advises one of blunt faculties with

14 There are three cetasikas which are unwholesome roots, akusala hetus, and these are:

lobha, attachment, dosa, aversion, and moha, ignorance. They arise only with akusala

cittas. There are three cetasikas which are sobhana, beautiful, hetus, and these are:

alobha, non-attachment, adosa, non-aversion, and amoha, non-delusion or wisdom.

These can arise with kusala cittas as well as with vipåkacittas and kiriyacittas.

15 An ancient guide for commentators, from which also Buddhaghosa quoted. It is

assumed that it came from India to Sri Lanka, between the 3rd century B.C. and the 5th

century A.C.

advice in detail..11

The Buddha taught Dhamma in detail to those who could not grasp the

truth quickly. People today are different from people at the Buddha’s

time who could attain enlightenment quickly, even during a discourse.

The "Paììhåna" does not consist of empty formulas, we have to verify

the truth of conditions in our own life. If we merely learn the theory

about the different conditions we will have the wrong grasp of the

Abhidhamma and this leads to mental derangement, to madness. We

read in the "Expositor"(I, Introductory Discourse, 24):

...The bhikkhu, who is ill trained in the Abhidhamma, makes his mind

run to excess in metaphysical abstractions and thinks of the

unthinkable. Consequently he gets mental distraction...

We should keep in mind the purpose of the study of the conditions as

taught in the "Paììhåna." Each section illustrates the truth that what we

take for self are only conditioned phenomena. We keep on forgetting

the truth and thus we have to be reminded again and again.

We read in the "Visuddhimagga" (XX, 19) that the five khandhas

(conditioned nåmas and rúpas) are "as a disease, because of having to

be maintained by conditions, and because of being the root of disease".

The khandhas arise because of conditions and what arises because of a

concurrence of conditions is not eternal, it has to fall away. Therefore,

the khandhas cannot be a real refuge, they are dukkha, unsatisfactory.

Further on we read that they are a calamity, an affliction, a plague, no

protection, no shelter, as murderous, because of breaking faith like an

enemy posing as a friend.

We cling to the khandhas, we want their arising again; we wish life to

continue. So long as we have not eradicated defilements there will be

the arising of the khandhas at birth. We perform kamma which

produces rebirth. We still run the risk of an unhappy rebirth produced

by akusala kamma


. Kamma is accumulated and thus it is capable of

producing result later on. Not only kamma, but also defilements are

accumulated. Since there are many more akusala cittas arising than

kusala cittas, we accumulate defilements again and again, and these

cause sorrow. Akusala cittas which arose in the past condition the

arising of akusala cittas later on, at present and in the future. The latent

16 Those who have attained one of the stages of enlightenment, the ariyans, have no

conditions for an unhappy rebirth.

tendencies of akusala are like microbes infesting the body and they can.12

become active at any time when the conditions are favorable. So long as

the khandhas have not been fully understood by insight defilements

have soil to grow in; they are not abandoned and thus the cycle of birth

and death continues. In order eventually fully to understand the

khandhas we should learn what the conditions are for the phenomena

which arise. Therefore, it is beneficial to study the twentyfour

conditions which are treated in the "Paììhåna".


Chapter 1

Root-condition (hetu-paccaya)

The first condition mentioned in the "Paììhåna" is root-condition,

hetu-paccaya. There are three akusala hetus: lobha, attachment, dosa,

aversion, and moha, ignorance, and these can have many degrees.

Lobha can be a slight attachment or it can be clinging, greed or

covetousness. Dosa can be a slight aversion, or it can be as intense as

anger or hatred. Moha is ignorance of realities, it is ignorance of what is

kusala or akusala, and ignorance of the four noble truths


. Moha is

the root of everything which is akusala, it arises with each akusala citta.

There are three sobhana (beautiful) hetus: alobha, non-attachment or

generosity, adosa, non-aversion or kindness, and amoha, paññå or right

understanding. The three sobhana hetus can have many degrees, they

can even be lokuttara (supramundane), when they accompany lokuttara

citta which experiences nibbåna.

These six roots are actually cetasikas or mental factors which

accompany citta. They are called root, since they are the firm

foundation of the citta. Just as a tree rests on its roots and receives sap

through the roots in order to grow, evenso are the akusala cittas and

sobhana cittas dependent on the presence of the roots and they cannot

occur in their absence. Thus, the roots are powerful conditions for the

cittas which are rooted in them.

When akusala citta arises it is always rooted in moha, and it may have

in addition the root of lobha or of dosa. The twelve types of akusala

citta are classified according to hetu:

eight types are rooted in moha and lobha, and they are called




two types are rooted in moha and dosa, and they are called dosa-




17 The truth of dukkha, suffering, of the origin of dukkha, which is clinging, of the

cessation of dukkha, which is nibbåna, and of the Path leading to the cessation of


18 Múla also means root. Four types are accompanied by somanassa, pleasant feeling,

four types by wrong view, four types are asaòkhårika, not-induced or spontaneous, four

types are sasaòkhårika, induced. Altogether there are eight types.

19 One type is not-induced and one type is induced.

two types are rooted only in moha, and they are called moha-.14



All sobhana cittas have to be rooted in alobha and adosa and they may

or may not be rooted in amoha or paññå as well. Of the eight types of

mahå-kusala cittas (kusala cittas of the sense-sphere


), the eight types

of mahå-vipåkacittas and the eight types or mahå-kiriyacittas (of the



), four types out of the eight are accompanied by paññå and

four types are not accompanied by paññå, thus, accompanied by two

sobhana hetus



People who develop samatha, tranquil meditation, may have

accumulated skill for the attainment of jhåna, absorption. When there

are the right conditions jhånacittas arise. There are jhånacittas of

different stages of rúpa-jhåna, material jhåna, and arúpa-jhåna,

immaterial jhåna


. The rúpa-jhånacittas (rúpåvacara cittas) and the

arúpa-jhånacittas (arúpåvacara cittas) always have three hetus, because

there cannot be absorption without paññå.

Through the development of insight, vipassanå, right understanding of

realities gradually grows and when understanding has been developed

to the degree that enlightenment can be attained, lokuttara cittas which

experience nibbåna arise. Lokuttara cittas always have three hetus

because they are accompanied by paññå which is lokuttara.

Not all cittas have hetus, there are also rootless cittas, ahetuka cittas

which may be vipåkacittas (result) or kiriyacittas (neither cause nor

result, inoperative). When visible object impinges on the eyesense, it is

experienced by cittas arising in the eye-door process


; it is experienced

by seeing which is ahetuka vipåkacitta, and by other ahetuka cittas and

then cittas performing the function of javana (impulsion or "running

through the object") arise, and these are (in the case of non-arahats)

20 One is called accompanied by restlessness, uddhacca, and one is accompanied by

doubt, vicikicchå.

21 Mahå means great.

22 The arahat does not have akusala cittas nor kusala cittas, he does not perform kamma

which produces result. When he has sobhana cittas, cittas accompanied by beautiful

qualities, they are inoperative, mahå-kiriyacittas which do not produce result.

23 Four types are accompanied by somanassa, pleasant feeling, four types are

accompanied by upekkhå, indifferent feeling. Four types are asaòkhårika, not induced,

four types are sasaòkhårika, induced.

24 The meditation subjects of rúpa-jhåna are dependant on materiality, whereas those of

arúpa-jhåna do not and thus, arúpa-jhåna is more tranquil, more refined.

25 The objects which impinge on the six doors are experienced by several cittas arising in

a process, which each perform their own function. Some of these cittas are ahetuka

kiriyacitta, some ahetuka vipåkacitta, and some are accompanied by roots, namely the

javana-cittas which are either kusala cittas or akusala cittas. See Appendix 1.

kusala cittas or akusala cittas and thus with hetus. After the eye-door.15

process is over, visible object is experienced through the mind-door;

there is the mind-door adverting-consciousness which is ahetuka and

then there are javana-cittas which are kusala cittas or akusala cittas.

Good deeds or bad deeds are performed during the moments of javana.

Then kamma is accumulated which can produce its result later on. One

also accumulates good and bad tendencies which condition the arising

of kusala citta or akusala citta in the future. When kusala javana-cittas

are accompanied by paññå which is right understanding of realities,

right understanding is accumulated.

As we have seen in the classification of cittas rooted in sobhana hetus,

there are vipåkacittas with hetus


. Kamma produces rebirth-consciousness,

paìisandhi-citta, which is vipåkacitta, and this

vipåkacitta, depending on the type and degree of kamma which

produces it, may be: ahetuka, or accompanied by two roots, namely

alobha and adosa, or accompanied by three roots, and in that case it has

paññå in addition. The roots condition the citta and the accompanying

cetasikas by way of root-condition. All bhavanga-cittas (life-continuum


) and the cuti-citta (dying-consciousness) are of the same type of citta

as the paìisandhi-citta.

It is important to know which type of citta arises at the present moment.

Is it with roots or is it rootless? Is it akusala citta or kusala citta? Cittas

rooted in lobha are bound to arise time and again, since lobha has been

accumulated for aeons. The first javana-cittas of every living being are

lobha-múla-cittas. There is clinging to all kinds of objects which present

themselves through the six doors and clinging is extremely hard to

eradicate. We read in the "Gradual Sayings" (Book of the Twos, Ch XI,


Monks, there are these two longings hard to abandon. What two?

The longing for gain and the longing for life. These are the two.

Time and again we want to gain something for ourselves. When we get

up in the morning and we eat breakfast we are clinging to coffee or tea,

26 Some vipåkacittas are ahetuka, rootless, such as seeing-consciousness or hearing-consciousness,

and some vipåkacittas are accompanied by roots.

27 Bhavanga-cittas arise in between the processes of cittas, they preserve the continuity in

the life of a being. They do not experience the objects which impinge on the senses and

the mind, they experience their own object, which is the same as the object experienced

by the rebirth-consciousness.

but we do not notice that there are the hetus of moha and lobha which.16

condition the citta by way of root-condition. We cling to seeing or to

visible object, but we do not notice it, we are so used to clinging. We

have longing for life, we want to go on living and experiencing sense

objects. That is why there are conditions for rebirth again and again. It

is impossible for us not to have longing for life, only the arahat has

eradicated it.

We would like to have kusala citta more often, but it cannot arise

without the hetus which are alobha and adosa. Without these hetus we

cannot perform any wholesome deed, we cannot speak with kindness

and generosity. When amoha or paññå does not accompany the kusala

citta right understanding of realities cannot be developed. There is no

self who can control hetu-paccaya, root-condition; akusala hetus and

sobhana hetus are anattå.

With regard to root-condition, the roots, hetus, are the dhammas which

condition the citta and cetasikas they accompany and also the rúpa

which is produced by the citta at that moment. For instance, lobha-múla-

citta, citta rooted in attachment, has two hetus: lobha,

attachment, and moha, ignorance. Lobha and dosa condition the citta

and its accompanying cetasikas by way of root-condition. Moreover,

rúpa produced by lobha-múla-citta is also conditioned by the roots of

lobha and moha. In the case of root-condition, the hetus which are the

conditioning factors (the paccayas) and the dhammas they condition

(the paccayupanna dhammas) arise simultaneously. The "Paììhåna"

(Analytical Exposition, II, 1) gives the following definition of root-condition:

The roots are related to the states


which are associated with roots,

and the rúpa produced thereby, by root-condition.

Citta is one of the four factors which can produce rúpas, the others

being kamma, temperature (utu) and nutrition (åhåra). Citta can

produce the eight inseparable rúpas which are: solidity, cohesion,

temperature, motion, colour, odour, flavour and nutritive essence



28 "States"stands for dhammas, realities; "states which are associated with roots" are the

realities which arise together with the roots, namely, citta and cetasikas.

29 Rúpas arise and fall away in groups or units, and these consist of at least eight rúpas,

which are called the inseparable rúpas. Some groups of rúpas consist of more than eight

rúpas, but the eight inseparables always have to be present.

There is a rúpa which is space, åkåsa, and this rúpa has the function of.17

separating the different groups or units of rúpas produced by each of

the four factors. Åkåsa itself is produced by each of the four factors, and

thus also by citta. Citta can produce sound, and it also produces the

three "mutables" (or changeability of rúpa), vikåra rúpas, which are:

lightness (lahutå), wieldiness (mudutå) and adaptability

(kammaññatå). These three rúpas condition the suppleness of the body

so that it can move. Citta also produces the two kinds of intimation,

namely: bodily intimation (kåya-viññatti), gestures, movements of the

body and facial movements by which we express our intentions, and

speech intimation (vací-viññatti). Citta is assisted by the accompanying

cetasikas when it produces rúpa.

When we are angry and we show this by our facial expression, akusala

citta produces the rúpa which is bodily intimation. Bodily intimation is

then conditioned by the hetus which are moha and dosa by way of

root-condition. We may raise our hand and hit someone else. Then

akusala kamma through the body is being performed and the rúpa

which is bodily intimation is the body-door of this kamma. That rúpa is

conditioned by root-condition. When we flatter someone else in order to

be liked by him we speak with lobha-múla-citta. Then the rúpa which is

speech-intimation is conditioned by moha and lobha by way of root-condition.

Or we may commit akusala kamma through speech, for

example, when we are lying. Lying may be done with lobha-múla-citta

when we want to gain something, or with dosa-múla-citta when we

want to harm someone else. The rúpa which is speech is then

conditioned by the accompanying roots by way of root-condition.

When we clean the house or when we cook, do we realize by which

hetus our bodily movements are conditioned? There can be awareness

at such moments. We may write a letter to someone else with kindness,

mettå, and then the rúpas which arise while we move our hands are

produced by kusala citta. The accompanying sobhana hetus condition

these rúpas by way of root-condition. However, there are likely to be

akusala cittas arising alternately with kusala cittas. There may be right

understanding of nåma and rúpa while we write and then the citta is

accompanied by alobha, adosa and amoha.

As regards root-condition, hetu-paccaya, at the first moment of life, if

the rebirth-consciousness, paìisandhi-citta, is accompanied by roots,

these roots condition the citta and accompanying cetasikas by way of

root-condition. The paìisandhi-citta cannot produce rúpa, but, in the

planes where there are nåma and rúpa, the five khandha planes, the

rúpa arising at the moment of birth is produced by kamma. Thus, both

the paìisandhi-citta and the rúpa which arises at the same moment are.18

result of kamma, a deed previously done. In the case of human beings,

kamma produces at the first moment of life three groups of rúpa, one

group with the heartbase


, one group with sex (male or female) and

one group with bodysense. Since the kamma which produces nåma and

rúpa at the moment of birth is of different degrees, the mental result

and the bodily result are also of different degrees. We can see that

human beings are born with different mental and bodily capacities.

Some people are beautiful, some ugly, some are apt to few illnesses,

some to many illnesses. The paìisandhi-citta may be ahetuka (rootless)

and in that case one is born handicapped


. Or the paìisandhi-citta

may be accompanied by two or three sobhana hetus, depending on the

degree of kusala kamma which produces it. These hetus are of different

degrees. When the paìisandhi-citta is rooted in sobhana hetus, these

hetus condition the citta, the accompanying cetasikas and the rúpas

which are produced by kamma and which arise at the same time as the

paìisandhi-citta. Thus we see that the diversity of the nåma and rúpa of

human beings from the moment of birth is dependent on conditions.

The "Paììhåna" (Faultless Triplet, kusala ttika, Ch VII, Investigation

Chapter, Pañha-våra, I, Conditions Positive, 1, Classification Chapter,

Root 7, 403) states about root-condition at the first moment of life:

At the moment of conception, resultant indeterminate roots (hetus

which are vipåka


) are related to (their) associated aggregates



and kamma-produced matter by root-condition.

Not only cittas of the sense-sphere, kåmåvacara cittas, which are

accompanied by roots, are conditioned by these roots by way of root-30

In the planes of existence where there are nåma and rúpa citta must have a physical

base or place of origin. For seeing, hearing and the other sense-cognitions the

corresponding senses are the physical bases. All the other types of citta also have a

physical base, and this rúpa is called the "heart-base".

31 The kusala kamma which produces a paìisandhi-citta which is kusala vipåka without

roots is weaker than the kusala kamma which produces a paìisandhi-citta with two roots

or three roots. There are many different kammas with different degrees which produce

their results accordingly.

32 As I explained in my Introduction, realities, dhammas, can be classified as threefold: as

kusala, as akusala and as indeterminate, avyåkatå. Indeterminate dhammas include

vipåka and kiriya, inoperative. Thus, hetus which are "resultant indeterminate" are hetus

which are vipåka.

33 The associated aggregates are the citta and cetasikas, which arise together with the


condition, hetu-paccaya, also cittas of higher planes of consciousness,.19

namely jhåna-cittas and lokuttara cittas, are conditioned by the

accompanying roots by way of hetu-paccaya. As to rúpåvacara cittas

(rúpa-jhånacittas), rúpåvacara kusala citta, rúpåvacara vipåkacitta and

rúpåvacara kiriyacitta (of the arahat) produce rúpa. That rúpa is then

conditioned by the hetus accompanying the rúpa-jhånacittas by way of

hetu-paccaya. As to arúpåvacara cittas (arúpa-jhånacittas), arúpåvacara

kusala citta and arúpåvacara kiriyacitta produce rúpa, and these rúpas

are then conditioned by the hetus accompanying those cittas by way of

hetu-paccaya. Arúpåvacara vipåkacittas do not produce any rúpa; these

cittas which are the result of arúpa-jhåna, arise in arúpa-brahma planes

where there is no rúpa, only nåma


. Lokuttara cittas produce rúpa



The rúpa is then conditioned by hetus which are lokuttara, by way of


In the "Paììhåna" we read about many aspects of conditional relations

between phenomena and we should consider these in our daily life. The

study of root-condition can remind us to consider whether there is

kusala citta or akusala citta while we act, speak or think.

The roots which arise together condition one another by way of root-condition.

Alobha and adosa always arise together and they may or may

not be accompanied by amoha, paññå. When there is amoha, the two

other roots which accompany the citta, namely alobha and adosa, are

conditioned by amoha. For instance, right understanding may

accompany generosity, alobha. While we give we may realize that

generosity is only a type of nåma, not self, and then the generosity is

purer, it has a higher degree of wholesomeness than generosity which is

not accompanied by right understanding. When someone is born with

mahå-vipåkacitta (vipåkacitta of the sense-sphere accompanied by

sobhana hetus), this citta may be accompanied by paññå or

unaccompanied by paññå. When the paìisandhi-citta is accompanied by

paññå one may, if paññå is developed during that life, attain


Moha and lobha condition one another, and moha and dosa condition

one another. We may find it difficult to know the characteristic of moha

and we tend to forget that when there is lobha there is moha as well, or

when there is dosa there is moha as well. We should remember that

34 The rebirth-consciousness in a higher plane of existence, namely, in a rúpa-brahma

plane or an arúpa-brahma plane, is the result of jhåna.

35 In the planes of existence where there are nåma and rúpa, citta produces rúpas such as

solidity, heat, suppleness, etc. throughout life. The lokuttara citta which experiences

nibbåna also produces rúpas.

whenever akusala citta arises, there is ignorance of realities. When we,.20

for example, cling to a pleasant sound, we are at such a moment

blinded, we do not see the object as it really is, as a conditioned reality

which is impermanent. When we are annoyed, there is dosa as well as

ignorance. We do not like to have dosa because we do not like

unpleasant feeling, but we do not understand the conditions for dosa,

we forget that ignorance conditions it. When there is ignorance we do

not see the danger and disadvantage of akusala. When we develop

mettå dosa can be temporarily subdued, but for the eradication of dosa

the development of right understanding of realities is necessary. Only

the ariyan who has attained the third stage of enlightenment, the

anågåmí (non-returner), has developed paññå to such degree that dosa

has been eradicated. Ignorance leads to all kinds of defilements and

only right understanding of nåma and rúpa can finally eradicate


The akusala hetus, unwholesome roots, are dangerous; they are

accumulated and they cause the arising of akusala cittas again and

again. They prevent us from kusala and cause disturbance of mind. We

read in the "Itivuttaka" (Khuddhaka Nikåya, "As it was said", Book of

the Threes, Ch IV, § 9


) :

There are three inner taints, three inner foes, three inner enemies, three

inner murderers, three inner antagonists. What are these three? Greed

is an inner taint... Hatred is an inner taint... Delusion is an inner taint,

an inner foe, an inner enemy, an inner murderer, an inner antagonist.

Greed is a cause of harm,

Unrest of mind it brings.

This danger that has grown within,

Blind folk are unaware of it.

A greedy person cannot see the facts

Nor can he understand the Dhamma.

When greed has overpowered him,

In complete darkness is he plunged.

But he who can forsake this greed

36 I am using the translation by Ven. Nyanaponika, in "Roots of Good and Evil", Wheel

no. 251/ 253, B.P.S. Kandy.

And what to greed incites, not craves,.21

From him will quickly greed glide off,

As water from the lotus leaf.

The sutta then speaks about the danger and the forsaking of hate and of

delusion. We read about the forsaking of delusion:

But who has shed delusion’s veil,

Is undeluded where confusion reigns,

He scatters all delusion sure,

Just as the sun dispels the night.

Feelings are also conditioned by the accompanying hetus by way of

hetu-paccaya. Pleasant feeling is different depending on whether it

accompanies akusala citta or kusala citta. There is unrest of mind with

the pleasant feeling accompanying clinging and there is calm with the

pleasant feeling accompanying generosity. When there is awareness we

may realize that these two kinds of pleasant feeling are different. It is

useful to read about the different conditions of phenomena, but we

should consider their implications in daily life, so that we can

understand what kind of life we are leading. Is it a life full of lobha,

dosa and moha, or is right understanding being developed?.22

Chapter 2

Object-Condition (Årammaùa-Paccaya)

Each citta which arises experiences an object and the accompanying

cetasikas also experience that object. The object conditions citta and the

accompanying cetasikas because they experience that object. Thus, the

object is in this case the conditioning factor, paccaya dhamma, and the

citta and cetasikas are the conditioned realities, paccayupanna

dhammas. Rúpa is not conditioned by way of object since rúpa does not

experience any object.

We read in the "Paììhåna" (Analytical Exposition of Conditions, 2):

Visible object-base is related to eye-consciousness element and its

associated states by object-condition.

Visible object is also related to the other cittas of the eye-door process

by way of object-condition. It is the same with sound and the other

objects which can be experienced through the sense-doors and through

the mind-door. They are related to the cittas concerned by way of


Everything can be an object of experience. All conditioned nåmas and

rúpas, present, past or future, the unconditioned dhamma which is

nibbåna and also concepts which are not real in the ultimate sense can

be object. Rúpa can be experienced through sense-door and through

mind-door and nåma, nibbåna and concepts can be experienced only

through mind-door. Visible object which is experienced by seeing has to

arise before seeing arises and when seeing experiences it it has not

fallen away yet, since rúpa lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta.

When visible object is experienced through the mind-door it has fallen



. Also seeing can be object. Citta can through the mind-door

experience another citta such as seeing which has just fallen away. It

must have fallen away since only one citta at a time can arise. There

37 A sense-door process of cittas is followed by a mind-door process of cittas which

experience the same sense object as the preceding sense-door process, but, since rúpa

cannot last longer than seventeen moments of citta, that sense object has just fallen away

when it is experienced by the cittas of the mind-door process which follows upon the

sense-door process. Later on other mind-door processes of cittas can arise which

experience concepts. See Appendix 1.

may be, for example, a citta with understanding (paññå) which realizes.23

seeing as a conditioned nåma which is impermanent.

For the experiencing of an object there must be contact, phassa. Phassa

is a cetasika arising together with each citta and it "contacts" the object

so that citta can cognize it. Contact is nåma, it is different from what we

mean in conventional language by physical contact. There is contact

through the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the bodysense and the

mind. Phassa is an essential condition for citta to experience an object.

The rúpa which is colour can only be object when phassa contacts it. It

is the same with sound and the other objects.

What kind of objects does phassa contact? In order to have more

understanding of the reasons why we have to experience particular

objects we should consider the object-condition and other conditions.

We may be in the company of a good friend in Dhamma so that we can

hear the right Dhamma and are able to develop right understanding. Or

we may be in the company of bad friends who are negligent of what is

wholesome. In these different situations it is phassa which contacts

different objects. We may be inclined to think that we can choose the

objects we experience. Even when it seems that we can choose, the

experience of objects is still conditioned. When the conditions are not

right we cannot experience a particular object we wish to experience.

For example, we may long for the flavour of apple and we start to eat it,

but the inside may be spoilt and instead of a delicious flavour we taste a

bitter flavour. Or we turn on the radio in order to hear music, but then

we cannot hear it because the radio is out of order or the noise outside

is too loud.

Several conditions work together for the experience of a particular

object. For example, when there is hearing-consciousness, it is kamma

which produces the vipåkacitta which is hearing, as well as the earsense

which is the doorway and the physical base of hearing. If kamma had

not produced earsense one could not hear. Sound which impinges on

the earsense is experienced not only by hearing-consciousness but also

by other cittas arising in a process which each have their own function

while they experience sound. In each process of cittas there are javana-cittas

which are, in the case of non-arahats, either kusala cittas or

akusala cittas.

Cittas which experience objects are accompanied by different feelings.

Seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting which are vipåkacittas

experiencing a pleasant or unpleasant object, are always accompanied

by indifferent feeling. Often it is not known whether the object

experienced by these cittas was pleasant or unpleasant, they fall away.24

immediately. When a pleasant or unpleasant tangible object is

experienced through the bodysense, the body-consciousness, which is

vipåkacitta, is not accompanied by indifferent feeling but by pleasant

bodily feeling or by painful bodily feeling. The impact of tangible object

on the bodysense is more intense than the impact of the other sense

objects on the corresponding senses. After the vipåkacittas have fallen

away javana-cittas arise. When these are kusala cittas they are

accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent feeling, and when

these are akusala cittas they are accompanied by pleasant feeling,

unpleasant feeling or indifferent feeling.

When we are not engaged with what is wholesome javana-cittas which

are akusala have the opportunity to arise. Hearing-consciousness may

arise at this moment and we may not notice that clinging arises shortly

afterwards. Clinging is bound to arise time and again. We think of what

was seen, heard or experienced through the other senses most of the

time with akusala cittas. There are many moments of ignorance, when

we do not even realize that we are thinking. However, citta thinks time

and again of one object or other. When one has not studied the

Dhamma one confuses the different doorways and the different objects,

one "joins" them together. One is inclined to believe that there is a self

who experiences a "thing" which lasts.

Only one object can be experienced at a time. We may wonder why we

experience a particular object and why we shift our attention from one

object to another. The "Atthasåliní" (Expositor II, Book II, Part I, Ch III,

333,334) explains that the rúpas which can be experienced through the

senses become objects "by virtue of deliberate inclination" or "by virtue

of intrusion". We should remember that even following our own

inclination is conditioned, that there is no self who can decide about the

experiencing of objects. The "Atthasåliní" gives examples of the

experiencing of an object with "deliberate inclination": when the bowl

(of a monk) is filled with food and brought, one who takes up a lump

and examines whether it is hard or soft, is considering only the element

of solidity, although heat as well as motion are present


. As an

example of the experience of an object "by virtue of intrusion", the

"Atthasåliní" states that he who slips, knocks his head against a tree or

in eating bites on a stone, takes as object only solidity, on account of its

38 The four great Elements of solidity, cohesion, heat and motion always arise together,

but only one rúpa at a time can be experienced. Solidity, heat and motion are tangible

object, but cohesion cannot be experienced through the bodysense, only through the


intrusiveness, although heat and motion are present as well. Further on.25

the "Atthasåliní states:

But how does the mind shift from an object? In one of two ways:- by

one’s wish, or by excess of (a new) object. To expand: - one who goes to

festivities held in honour of monasteries, etc., with the express wish of

paying homage to the various shrines, to bhikkhus, images, and of

seeing the works of carving and painting, and when he has paid his

respects and seen one shrine or image, has a desire to pay homage to,

and see another, and goes off. This is shifting by one’s wish. And one

who stands gazing at a great shrine like a silver mountain peak, when

subsequently a full orchestra begins to play, releases the visible object

and shifts to audible object; when flowers or scents possessing

delightful odour are brought, he releases the audible object and shifts to

the olfactory object. Thus the mind is said to shift owing to excess of (a

new) object.

When we study and consider the Dhamma we may not hear the sound

of traffic, but when the sound is very loud we may hear it. Then that

object is intrusive. It is the same when we suffer from violent pains.

Then there is an object which is intrusive, we cannot think of anything

else but the pain.

Pleasant objects and unpleasant objects are experienced by kusala cittas

and akusala cittas. Kusala citta as well as akusala citta can be object-condition

for kusala citta or for akusala citta.

Kusala citta can be the object of kusala citta. We read in the "Paììhåna"

(Faultless Triplet, Kusala-ttika, VII, Investigation Chapter, pañha-våra,

Object, § 404):

Faultless state (kusala dhamma) is related to faultless state by object-condition.

After having offered the offering, having undertaken the precept, having

fulfilled the duty of observance, (one) reviews it. Having emerged from

jhåna, (one) reviews it. (One) reviews (such acts) formerly well done.

Having emerged from jhåna, (one) reviews the jhåna. Learners


39 The "learner", sekha, is the ariyan who is not arahat.

40 Gotrabhú, the mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå preceding the magga-citta of

the sotåpanna.

41 Vodåna, the mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå preceding the magga-citta of the

three higher stages of enlightenment (Vis. XXII, 23, footnote 7).

review change-of-lineage


. (They) review purification


. Learners,.26

having emerged from the Path, review the Path


. Learners or common

worldlings practise insight into impermanence, suffering and

impersonality of the faultless (state)....

Kusala can also be the object of akusala citta. We read in § 405:

Faultless state (kusala dhamma) is related to faulty state (akusala

dhamma) by object-condition.

After having offered the offering, having undertaken the precept, having

fulfilled the duty of observance, (one) enjoys and delights in it. Taking

it as object, arises lust, arise wrong views, arises doubt, arises

restlessness, arises grief.

Having emerged from jhåna, (one) enjoys and delights in the jhåna.

Taking it (jhåna) as object, arises lust, arise wrong views, arises doubt,

arises restlessness. When jhåna has disappeared, (one) regrets it and

thereby arises grief....

We should consider the object-condition in daily life. Is it not true that

we cling to our kusala, that we have conceit on account of it, that we

find ourselves better than other people? We may take the performing of

kusala for self. Or we may think of it with dosa. We may think of a

generous deed with regret because we find that the gift we bought was

too expensive. We have accumulated akusala and it will always find an

object, even kusala.

We read in the same section of the "Paììhåna" (§ 407) that akusala can

be the object of akusala citta:

Faulty state is related to faulty state by object condition. (One) enjoys

and delights in lust. Taking it as object, arises lust, arise wrong views,

arises doubt, arises restlessness, arises grief....

Don’t we like lobha and enjoy having it? We want to have as many

moments of enjoyment as possible. Then more lobha arises. If we do not

realize lobha as a conditioned reality we take it for "my lobha". Lobha

can also be object of dosa. We may feel guilty about lobha, we may

have aversion towards it and we may regret it. Any kind of defilement

42 After the lokuttara cittas which arose at the attainment of enlightenment have fallen

away, they review these cittas.

can be object of akusala citta..27

Akusala can also be object of kusala citta, for example, when we

consider defilements with right understanding and realize them as

conditioned realities which are not self. We read in the same section of

the "Paììhåna" (§ 408):

Faulty state is related to faultless state by object condition.

Learners review the eradicated defilements. They review the

uneradicated defilements. They know the defilements addicted to


Learners or common worldlings practise insight into the impermanence,

suffering and impersonality of the faulty (state)....

The arahat can with kiriyacitta, which is indeterminate (avyåkata)

dhamma, review kusala citta and akusala citta which formerly arose.

Then kusala dhamma and akusala dhamma condition indeterminate

dhamma by way of object. Kusala dhamma, akusala dhamma and

indeterminate dhamma can be object condition for different types of


Nibbåna and the eight lokuttara cittas which experience Nibbåna cannot

be objects of clinging. The magga-cittas (lokuttara kusala cittas) of the

different stages of enlightenment eradicate defilements and finally, at

the stage of arahatship, they eradicate all kinds of clinging. We read in

the "Paììhåna" (Faultless Triplet, Investigation Chapter, Object, § 410):

Learners review (lower) Fruition. (They) review Nibbåna. Nibbåna is

related to change-of-lineage, purification, Path by object-condition.

Nibbåna is object-condition for the eight lokuttara cittas which

experience it, namely, the four magga-cittas (path-consciousness,

lokuttara kusala citta) and the four phala-cittas ("fruition", lokuttara

vipåkacitta) arising at the four stages of enlightenment. Nibbåna is also

object-condition for the "change-of lineage", gotrabhú, mahå-kusala

citta accompanied by paññå, arising in the process during which

enlightenment is attained, which precedes the magga-citta of the

sotåpanna and which is the first citta experiencing nibbåna.

"Purification" is the mahå-kusala citta accompanied by paññå preceding

the magga-cittas of the three higher stages of enlightenment. Nibbåna is

also object-condition for the mahå-kiriyacittas accompanied by paññå of

the arahat..28

Concepts are objects of kusala citta, akusala citta or kiriyacitta. We cling

time and again to possessions, we want to have things such as money,

cloths or cars. Concepts can condition akusala citta by way of object-condition.

Clinging cannot be eradicated immediately, but we can

develop understanding in order to see things as they really are.

Concepts such as a person or a car are real in conventional sense, they

are not real in the ultimate sense. If we only pay attention to concepts

we tend to cling more and more to them. We may consider them the

goal of our life. Time and again we are absorbed in our thoughts about

people and things we perceive and we do not pay attention to the cittas

which think at such moments, thus, we are ignorant about what is really

going on. We may not realize that there is seeing-consciousness which

experiences only what appears through the eyesense, visible object, and

that there are other types of cittas which pay attention to shape and

form and cling to concepts, ideas of persons and things which seem to

last. We should not try to avoid thinking of concepts, they belong to

daily life. We could not perform our tasks without thinking of concepts.

However, when right understanding is being developed one comes to

know that there is not a "self" who sees, recognizes, likes or dislikes.

These are different moments of cittas which change all the time. One

will come to know when visible object is the object of citta and when a

concept. A concept does not have a characteristic which can be directly

experienced. When we think of a person, we think of a "whole" which

seems to last, but what we take for a person consists of many different

elements which arise and fall away. Hardness may appear when we

touch what we call a person. Hardness is an ultimate reality with its

own unchangeable characteristic. Hardness is always hardness, it can be

directly experienced. We can denote it with different names, but its

characteristic remains the same. We cannot avoid thinking of "people",

that would be unnatural, but we should know that at some moments an

ultimate reality such as hardness is experienced, and at other moments

there is thinking of a concept. The thinking itself is an ultimate reality

with its own characteristic, and it can be known as it is: a conditioned

reality which is not self. The arahat thinks about concepts but he does

not cling, he thinks with kiriyacitta.

When we experience a pleasant object, attachment tends to arise, and

when we experience an unpleasant object, aversion tends to arise.

These objects condition akusala cittas by way of object-condition. We

may believe that a particular object is necessarily a condition for

akusala citta, but we may forget that there are other conditions as well

which play their part. When an object presents itself there can be wise.29

attention or unwise attention to it; there is wise attention to the object

if kusala javana-cittas arise, and there is unwise attention if akusala

javana-cittas arise. We read in the "Discourse on all the Cankers"

(Middle Length Sayings I, no. 2


) that the Buddha, while he was

staying near Såvatthí, in the Jeta Grove, spoke to the monks about the

controlling of all the cankers. We read:

The uninstructed common man... does not know the things worthy of

attention (manasikaraníye dhamme) nor those not worthy of attention


We read that he therefore fails to give attention to what is worthy of it

and directs his attention to what is unworthy. The well-instructed

disciple knows what is worthy of attention and what is not, and he acts

accordingly. We read in the commentary to this sutta (Papañcasúdaní) :

...There is nothing definite in the nature of the things (or objects)

themselves that makes them worthy or unworthy of attention; but there

is such definiteness in the manner (åkåra) of attention. A manner of

attention that provides a basis for the arising of what is unwholesome

or evil (akusala), that kind of attention should not be given (to the

respective object); but the kind of attention that is the basis for the

arising of the good and wholesome (kusala), that manner of attention

should be given.

When someone gives us a delicious sweet, it seems that we cannot help

liking it as soon as we taste it, and that attachment is bound to arise.

Then there is unwise attention to the object. But there can be wise

attention shortly afterwards, for example, when we truly appreciate the

kindness of the giver. Or we may consider that flavour and the

enjoyment of it do not last, that all realities are impermanent. When

someone speaks harsh words to us the sound is an unpleasant object

and we may have aversion towards it. Then there is unwise attention.

There can be wise attention if we, instead of having aversion, see the

benefit of having compassion with the person who spoke harsh words.

When we are in great pain we may at first have aversion and then there

is unwise attention. But there can be wise attention when we

43 I am using the translation by Ven. Nyanaponika, "The Roots of Good and Evil" I, 6.

Wheel 251/ 253, B.P.S. Kandy.

understand that pain is vipåka, produced by kamma, that it is.30

unavoidable. We may consider the impermanence and frailty of the

body. It is very beneficial if there can be mindfulness of whatever reality

appears. Our body is constituted by different rúpa-elements, and when

there is pain the characteristics of hardness or heat may appear. These

can be very painful, but instead of thinking of "our pain" there can be

mindfulness of realities. Then we can see that hardness or heat are

rúpas which arise because of their own conditions and that there is no

self who has power over them. Painful feeling is nåma which arises

because of its own conditions, it is beyond control. When there is

aversion towards pain, aversion can be the object of mindfulness so that

it can be seen as only a conditioned nåma. Only by right understanding

of realities can there be less clinging to "my body" or "my mind". When

there is right understanding there is truly wise attention.

We should not only consider object-condition but also the other kinds of

conditions which have been classified in the "Paììhåna", so that we will

understand the meaning of anattå, non-self. When we consider object-condition

we can be reminded to be aware of whatever reality presents

itself, no matter whether it is a pleasant object or an unpleasant object,

no matter whether it is kusala dhamma or akusala dhamma. We attach

great importance to the kind of object we experience, but all our

experiences are conditioned, beyond control.