Abhidhamma in Daily life
THE SOBHANA CITTAS IN OUR LIFE
are many different types of citta and they can be classified by way of
kusala cittas (wholesome cittas)
akusala cittas (unwholesome cittas)
vipakacittas (cittas which are result)
kiriyacittas (cittas which are neither cause nor result)
However, they can also be classified
by way of sobhana, asobhana.
sobhana cittas, cittas accompanied by sobhana (beautiful) cetasikas.
asobhana cittas, cittas unaccompanied by sobhana cetasikas.
Both akusala cittas and ahetuka
cittas are asobhana cittas, they are not accompanied by sobhana cetasikas.
As we have seen, there are twelve types of akusala citta. They are:
8 types of lobha-mula-citta (cittas rooted in attachment)
2 types of dosa-mula-citta (cittas rooted in aversion)
2 types of moha-mula-citta (cittas rooted in ignorance)
As regards ahetuka cittas, they are
cittas which are not accompanied by any hetus (roots). When the citta is
ahetuka there are no sobhana cetasikas arising with the citta and thus
ahetuka cittas are asobhana. As we have seen, there are eighteen types
of ahetuka citta. Summarizing them, they are :
10 dvi-panca-vinnanas, which are ahetuka vipakacittas
(the five pairs which are seeing, hearing, etc. )
2 sampaticchana-cittas, which are ahetuka
vipakacittas (one kusala vipaka and one akusala vipaka).
3 santirana-cittas, which are ahetuka vipakacittas
(one akusala vipaka, one kusala vipaka,
accompanied by upekkha, and one kusala vipaka,
accompanied by somanassa).
1 panca-dvaravajjana-citta (five-sense-door-
adverting-consciousness) which is ahetuka kiriyacitta.
1 mano-dvaravajjana-citta (mind-door-adverting-consciousness)
which is ahetuka kiriyacitta.
1 hasituppada-citta, an ahetuka kiriyacitta which can
produce the smile of the arahat.
Thus, there are thirty asobhana cittas
: twelve akusala cittas and eighteen ahetuka cittas.
There are also sobhana cittas arising
in our life, cittas which are accompanied by sobhana cetasikas. Three among
the sobhana cetasikas are hetu, root. They are : alobha, adosa and amoha
or panna. Sobhana cittas are always accompanied by alobha and adosa and
they may or may not be accompanied by panna. Thus, sobhana cittas are sahetuka,
accompanied by hetus. When we perform dana
(generosity), observe sila (morality)
or apply ourselves to bhavana (which comprises samatha, vipassana and the
study or teaching of Dhamma), there are kusala cittas, accompanied by sobhana
cetasikas. Thus kusala cittas are among the sobhana cittas.
The kusala cittas which perform dana,
observe sila or apply themselves to bhavana are cittas belonging to the
lowest plane of consciousness, the sensuous plane ; they are kamavacara
cittas. Kamavacara cittas are the cittas we have in daily life, when, for
example, we are seeing, thinking or wishing for something. Sometimes kamavacara
cittas arise with sobhana hetus (beautiful roots), sometimes with akusala
hetus, and sometimes without any hetus. Dana, sila or bhavana is performed
by kamavacara kusala cittas: these kinds of kusala kamma can be performed
in daily life, where there are impressions through the six doors. Kamavacara
kusala cittas are called 'maha-kusala cittas' ('maha' means 'many' or 'great').
For those who attain jhana (absorption,
developed in samatha or tranquil meditation) there is at that moment no
seeing, hearing or any other sense-impression ; then the citta is not kamavacara
citta, but it is of a higher plane of consciousness. The jhanacittas can
be rupavacara cittas (rupa-jhanacittas) or arupavacara cittas (arupa-jhanacittas).
However, while one is developing samatha the cittas are maha-kusala cittas
before one attains jhana.
When the citta directly experiences
nibbana, the citta is lokuttara bhumi (lokuttara plane of consciousness).
However, lokuttara kusala cittas (magga-cittas) are preceded by maha-kusala
cittas in the process of cittas during which enlightenment is attained.
We would like to have kusala cittas
more often. We may think that the circumstances of our life or other people
prevent us from kusala. However, if we know the conditions for the cultivation
of kusala, there will be more kusala cittas in our life. Through the study
of the Dhamma we will learn how to cultivate kusala. If we have not studied
Dhamma we may think that we are performing kusala, while we have, on the
contrary, akusala cittas. For example, we may think that when giving something
away, there are only kusala cittas. However, lobha-mula-cittas may also
arise. We may give something to friends and expect them to be kind to us
in return. This is not kusala, but lobha. When we study Dhamma we learn
that the pure way of giving is giving without expecting anything in return.
We should find out why we are giving. Do we, deep in our hearts, wish for
something in return? Or do we want to have less defilements?
People have different accumulations
and because of these accumulations kusala cittas or akusala cittas arise.
For example, when people visit a temple and see others presenting gifts
to the monks, they may, because of their different accumulations, react
in different ways. Some people may appreciate someone else's good deeds;
others may not be interested at all. If one would only know the value of
kusala and realize that appreciating the good deeds of others is a way
of dana (generosity), one would use more opportunities to cultivate wholesomeness.
If the Buddha had not attained enlightenment
and taught Dhamma we would not have any means of knowing ourselves thoroughly
; we would not have a precise knowledge of our kusala cittas and akusala
cittas and of the conditions through which they arise. The Buddha taught
people how to cultivate wholesomeness and to eradicate defilements and
thus, living according to the precepts and performing other kinds of wholesomeness
is the way to pay respect to him. We read in the 'Maha-Parinibbana-sutta'
(Dialogues of the Buddha II, No. 16, Ch.V, 137, 138) that before the Buddha
passed away, the twin Sala trees, which were full of flowers although it
was not the season, dropped their flowers all over his body, heavenly Mandarava-flowers
and sandalwood-powder descended on his body and heavenly music sounded
out of reverence for him. The Buddha said to Ananda:
'Now it is not thus, Ananda,
that the Tathagata is
We all have in our daily life opportunities
for dana and sila. As regards bhavana, this comprises samatha, vipassana,
studying Dhamma or explaining it to others. Not only the monks, but also
laypeople can study and teach Dhamma. We read in the 'MahaParinibbana-sutta'
(Ch. III, l12, l13) that the Buddha told Ananda that Mara, the Evil One,
had said to the Buddha after his enlightenment that it was now the time
for him to pass away. The Buddha said:
rightly honoured, reverenced, venerated,
or revered. But the monk or the
sister, the devout
man or the devout woman, who continually
the greater and the lesser duties,
who is correct in
life, walking according to the precepts-
- it is he who
rightly honours, reverences, venerates,
and reveres the Tathagata with the
Therefore, Ananda, be constant in
the fulfillment of
the greater and of the lesser duties,
and be correct
in life, walking according to the
precepts ; and thus,
Ananda, should it be taught.'
And when he had thus spoken,
Ananda, I addressed
The fact that we are able to perform
wholesome deeds in our lives is due to conditions, it is not due to a self.
We read in the 'Tenfold Series' (Dialogues of the Buddha III, No. 34, Ch.
IV, 276) about factors which are helpful :
Mara, the Evil One, and said:- -'I
shall not pass away,
O Evil One! until not
only the monks and sisters of
the Order, but also the laydisciples
of either sex shall
have become true hearers, wise and
well trained, ready
and learned, carrying the teachings
in their memory,
masters of the lesser corolaries
that follow from the
larger doctrine, correct in
life, walking according to
the precepts-- until they, having
thus themselves learned
the doctrine, shall be able to tell
others of it, preach
it, make it known, establish it,
open it, minutely explain
it and make it clear-- until they,
when others start vain
doctrine easy to be refuted by the
truth, shall be able
in refuting it to spread the wonderworking
I shall not die until this pure
religion of mine shall
have become successful, prosperous,
popular in all its full extent--
until, in a word, it shall
have been well proclaimed among
Four... that help much:--
four 'wheels', to wit, the
As regards a favourable place of residence,
living in a Buddhist country can be a helpful condition for kusala cittas.
Then one has the opportunity to visit temples and to listen to the preaching
of Dhamma. The Dhamma can change our life and it is the condition for the
performing of wholesome deeds, for dana, sila and bhavana.
orbit of a favourable place of residence,
the orbit of
association with the good, perfect
adjustment of one's
self, the cycle of merit wrought
in the past.
As regards 'association with the
good', this means association with the right friend in Dhamma. If one,
even though living in a Buddhist country, does not meet the right friend
in Dhamma who can help in the search for the truth, one lacks the condition
which is most helpful for the cultivation of wisdom and the eradication
'Perfect adjustment of one's self'
is 'adjusting oneself' with kusala as the goal. There are many degrees
of kusala. If one develops the wisdom of the Eightfold Path by being mindful
of nama and rupa, there will be less clinging to the concept of self. If
there is mindfulness of nama and rupa while performing wholesome deeds,
one will come to realize that no self, no person performs these deeds.
Thus kusala kamma will become purer and eventually defilements will be
The accumulation of kusala in the
past is the fourth factor which is helpful. If we haven't accumulated kusala
in the past how can we do good deeds in the present? The kusala kammas
which were accumulated in the past are the condition for us to go to the
right place and meet the right people. It is kamma which causes one to
be born in a Buddhist Country or to live in a Buddhist country. The kusala
accumulated in the past conditions our study and practice of the Dhamma
at the present time. If we consider the factors in our life which are the
conditions for kusala we will better understand that it is not self which
performs good deeds.
In the Abhidhamma we learn that there
are eight types of maha-kusala cittas, kusala cittas of the sensuous plane
of consciousness. Why isn't there only one type? The reason is that each
type has its own conditions through which it arises.
If we know about these different
types and if we can be aware of them when their characteristics present
themselves, it will help us not to take them for self. Four types of maha-kusala
cittas arise with somanassa (pleasant feeling) and four types arise with
upekkha (indifferent feeling). We would like to have kusala cittas with
somanassa, because we cling to somanassa. However, one cannot force somanassa
to arise. Sometimes we perform dana with somanassa, sometimes with upekkha.
It depends on conditions whether somanassa or whether upekkha arises with
the maha-kusala citta. Four types are accompanied by wisdom : four types
are not accompanied by wisdom. We may, for example, help others without
panna or with panna. When we realize that helping is kusala, or when we
are aware of the nama or rupa appearing at that moment, there is panna
arising with the maha-kusala citta. Four types are asankharika (unprompted,
spontaneous, not induced by someone else or by one's own consideration)
and four types are sasankharika (prompted, by someone else or by self-inducement)
The eight types of maha-kusala cittas are the following: .
1. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wisdom, unprompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-sampayuttum, asankharikam ekam)
2. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wisdom, prompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
3. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wisdom, unprompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-vippayuttam, asankharikam ekam)
4. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wisdom, prompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-vippayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
5. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wisdom, unprompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-sampayuttam, asankharikam ekam)
6. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wisdom, prompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
7. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wisdom, unprompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-vippayuttam, asankharikam ekam)
8. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wisdom, prompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-vippayuttam, sasankhaikam ekam)
Maha-kusala cittas are not the only
kind of kamavacara sobhana cittas (beautiful cittas which are of the sensuous
plane of consciousness). Maha-kusala cittas are cittas which are cause;
they can motivate kusala kamma through body, speech
or mind which is capable of bringing
results. There are also maha-vipakacittas, which are results of kusala
kamma performed with maha-kusala cittas. Maha-vipakacittas are sobhana
(beautiful) cittas as well, arising with sobhana cetasikas. People's deeds
are not the same and thus the results cannot be the same. People are born
with different patisandhi-cittas (rebirth-consciousness). Patisandhi-cittas
are vipakacittas ; they are the result of kamma.
As we have seen before (Ch, 11),
human beings can be born with a patisandhi-citta which is ahetuka kusala
vipaka (and in this case they are handicapped from the first moment of
life), or with a patisandhi-citta which is sahetuka kusala vipaka, accompanied
by sobhana hetus. In the case of human beings, and of beings born in other
sensuous planes of existence, the patisandhi-citta which is sahetuka vipakacitta
is maha-vipakacitta, the result of kamavacara kusala kamma (kamma performed
by kusala cittas of the sensuous plane of consciousness). Apart from maha-vipakacitta
there are other types of sahetuka vipakacitta which are not the result
of kamavacara kusala kamma but of jhanacitta. These types will be dealt
with later on.
As regards maha-vipakacittas, there
are eight types. They can be accompanied by somanassa or by upekkha, they
can be with panna or without panna, they can be asankharika (unprompted)
or sasankharika (prompted). They are classified in the same way as the
eight types of maha-kusala cittas mentioned above.
The bhavanga-citta (life-continuum)
and the cuti-citta (dying-consciousness) are the same type of citta as
the first citta in one's life, the patisandhi-citta. If the patisandhi-citta
is maha-vipakacitta, the bhavanga-citta and the cuti-citta of that life
are the same type of maha-vipakacitta. Thus the functions of patisandhi,
bhavanga and cuti can be performed by maha-vipakacitta. Moreover, the function
of tadarammana (registering) can also be performed by maha-vipakacitta.
When we see a beautiful sight or
experience pleasant objects through the other sense-doors, the citta is
vipakacitta, the result of kusala kamma ; however, that kind of vipakacitta
is ahetuka vipaka (arising without hetu), not maha-vipaka. The functions
of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and receiving impressions through
the body-sense, of sampaticchana and of santirana cannot be performed by
maha-vipakacittas ; these functions are performed by ahetuka vipakacittas.
Tadarammana-citta (registering-consciousness), however, which is a vipakacitta
arising after the javana-cittas, can either be ahetuka vipakacitta or maha-vipakacitta.
There are still other kinds of kamavacara
sobhana cittas : the maha-kiriyacittas. The arahat has maha-kiriyacittas
instead of maha-kusala cittas. When we experience a pleasant object lobha
may arise and when we experience an unpleasant object dosa may arise. The
arahat has equanimity towards pleasant objects or unpleasant objects ;
he has no defilements. Since he cannot accumulate any more akusala kamma
or kusala kamma, he has maha-kiriyacittas (inoperative cittas). For the
arahat, there are, instead of maha-kusala cittas, maha-kiriyacittas performing
the function of javana after the votthapana-citta (determining-consciousness)
and the mano-dvaravajjana-citta (mind-door-adverting-consciousness). One
may wonder whether the arahat can have maha-kiriyacittas which are nana-vippayutta
(not accompanied by wisdom). Arahats can have maha-kiriyacittas which are
nana-vippayutta, because panna does not necessarily accompany the
maha-kiriyacittas when they are not preaching or discussing Dhamma.
The arahat has kiriyacittas which
are sobhana cittas and also kiriyacittas which are asobhana cittas. The
panca-dvaravajjana-citta (five-sense-door-adverting-consciousness), the
mano-dvaravajjana-citta and the hasituppada-citta (smile-producing-consciousness
of the arahat) are asobhana kiriyacittas. These types of citta are not
accompanied by sobhana cetasikas, they are ahetuka.
There are eight types of maha-kiriyacittas
in all. They are accompanied by somanassa or by upekkha, they are accompanied
by panna or not accompanied by panna, they are asankharika or sasankharika.
They are classified in the same way as the eight types of maha-kusala cittas.
Altogether there are fifty-four cittas
which are kama-bhumi (Bhumi is plane, in this case, plane of citta, not
plane of existence.), or kamavacara cittas, cittas of the sensuous plane
of consciousness. They are:
12 akusala cittas
18 ahetuka cittas
}30 sobhana cittas
8 maha-kusala cittas
}24 sobhana cittas
There are also sobhana cittas which
are not kama-sobhana cittas, namely :
the sobhana cittas which
Only kamavacara cittas (cittas of the
kama-bhumi or sensuous plane of consciousness) can be asobhana cittas.
Cittas which are rupa-bhumi, arupa-bhumi and lokuttara-bhumi can only be
(rupavacara cittas, for those who
the sobhana cittas which are arupa-bhumi
(arupavacara cittas, for those who
the sobhana cittas which are lokuttara-bhumi,
those who attain enlightenment
Those who do not attain jhana or
attain enlightenment cannot have the cittas of the other bhumis, but they
can verify the truth of the Buddha's teachings as regards the kama-bhumi.
We can find out for ourselves whether it is helpful to perform dana, observe
sila and cultivate bhavana. We can find out whether the cultivation of
these ways of kusala helps us to have less akusala cittas. Sometimes it
is the right moment for dana, sometimes for sila or for bhavana. Vipassana,
however, one can cultivate while performing dana, observing sila, cultivating
samatha, or while one is studying or teaching Dhamma, and also at those
moments when there is no opportunity for dana, sila or the other ways of
kusala. Even if mindfulness of nama and rupa has not yet been accumulated
much, one can find out whether it is a condition for having less akusala
cittas and less attachment to the concept of self. In being mindful we
can verify the truth of the Buddha's teachings.
We read in the 'Gradual Sayings'
(Book of the Sevens, Ch. VIII, par. 9, The message):
'Now the venerable Upali
came to the Exalted One,
saluted and sat down at one side.
So seated, he said:
'Well were it for me, lord, if the
Exalted One were
to expound Dhamma briefly to me,
so that, having
heard it, I might abide resolute,
alone, secluded, earnest
'The doctrines, Upali, of which you
may know; 'These
doctrines lead one not to complete
weariness (of the
world), nor to dispassion, nor to
ending, nor to calm, nor
to knowledge, nor to the awakening,
nor to the cool' --
regard them definitely as not Dhamma,
not the discipline,
not the word of the Teacher. But
the doctrines of which
you may know : 'These doctrines
lead one to complete
weariness, dispassion, ending, calm,
awakening, the cool'-- regard them
Dhamma, the discipline, the word
of the Teacher.'
1. Which cittas are ahetuka
(without hetu)? Are they always asobhana?
2. Do arahats have asobhana
3. Why is the jhanacitta not
4. Are maha-kusala cittas
always accompanied by somanassa (pleasant feeling)?
5. Are all sobhana cittas
6. Can vipakacitta be sobhana
7. Can kiriyacitta be sobhana
8. Why has the arahat maha-kiriyacittas
instead of maha-kusala cittas?
9. How many types of kamavacara
cittas are there?