Abhidhamma in Daily life
THE CHARACTERISTIC OF LOBHACittas
are of different kinds. They can be classified as akusala cittas (unwholesome
cittas), kusala cittas (wholesome cittas), vipakacittas (cittas which are
result) and kiriyacittas (cittas which are neither cause nor result). These
kinds of cittas arise in a day, yet we know so little about them. Most
of the time we do not know whether the citta is akusala, kusala, vipaka
or kiriya. If we learn to classify our mind we will have more understanding
of ourselves and of others. We will have more compassion and lovingkindness
towards others, even when they behave in a disagreeable way. We do not
like the akusala cittas of others; we find it unpleasant when they are
stingy or speak harsh words. However, do we realize at which moments we
ourselves have akusala cittas? When we dislike other people's harsh
words, we ourselves have akusala cittas with aversion at that moment. Instead
of paying attention to the akusala cittas of others we should be aware
of our own akusala cittas. If one has not studied the Abhidhamma which
explains realities in detail, one may not know what is akusala. People
may take what is unwholesome for wholesome and thus accumulate unwholesomeness
without knowing it. If we know more about different types of citta we can
see for ourselves which types arise more often and thus we will know ourselves
We should know the difference between
kusala and akusala. The 'Atthasalini (Book I, Part I, Ch.1, 38) speaks
about the meaning of the word 'kusala'. The word 'kusala' has many meanings;
it can mean 'of good health', 'faultless', 'skillful', 'productive
of happy results'.
When we perform dana (generosity),
sila (morality) and bhavana (mental development), the citta is kusala.
All different kinds of wholesomeness such as the appreciation of other
people’s good deeds, helping others, politeness, paving respect, observing
the precepts, studying and teaching Dhamma, samatha (tranquil meditation)
and vipassana (development of ‘insight’), are included in dana, sila or
bhavana. Kusala is ‘productive of happy results'; each good deed will bring
a pleasant result.
The 'Atthasalini' (Book I, Part I,
Ch.I, 39) states about akusala:
'Akusala' means 'not kusala'.
Just as the opposite
Unwholesome deeds will bring unhappy
results. Nobody wishes to experience an unhappy result, but many people
are ignorant about the cause which brings an unhappy result, about akusala.
They do not realize when the citta is unwholesome and they do not always
know when they perform unwholesome deeds.
to friendship is enmity, or the
opposite to greed, etc,.
is disinterestedness, etc., so 'akusala'
is opposed to
When we study the Abhidhamma we learn
that there are three groups of akusala cittas. They are:
1. Lobha-mula-cittas, or
cittas rooted in attachment (lobha)
Moha (ignorance) arises with every akusala
citta. Akusala cittas rooted in lobha (attachment) actually have two roots:
moha and lobha. They are named lobha-mula-cittas', since there is not only
moha, which arises with every akusala citta, but lobha as well. Lobha-mula-cittas
are thus named after the root which is lobha. Akusala cittas rooted in
dosa (aversion) have two roots as well: moha and dosa. They are named 'dosa-mula-cittas'
after the root which is 'dosa'. There is more than one type of citta in
each of the three classes of akusala cittas because there is such a great
variety of cittas.
2. Dosa-mula-cittas, or cittas rooted
in aversion (dosa)
3. Moha-mula-cittas, or cittas rooted
in ignorance (moha)
As regards lobha-mula-cittas, there
are eight different types. When we know more about the characteristic of
lobha and realize when it arises we may notice that we have different types
of lobha-mula-cittas. Lobha is the paramattha dhamma (absolute reality)
which is cetasika (mental factor arising with the citta); it is a reality
and thus it can be experienced.
Lobha is 'clinging' or 'attachment'.
The 'Visuddhimagga' (XIV, 162) states:
....lobha has the characteristic
of grasping an object,
Lobha is sometimes translated as 'greed'
or 'craving'; it can be translated by different words, since there are
many degrees of lobha. Lobha can be coarse, medium or subtle. Most people
can recognize lobha when it is very obvious, but not when it is of a lesser
degree. For example, we can recognize lobha when we are inclined to eat
too much of a delicious meal, or when we are attached to alcoholic drinks
and cigarettes. We are attached to people and we suffer when we lose those
who are dear to us through death. Then we can see that attachment brings
sorrow. Sometimes attachment is very obvious, but there are many degrees
of lobha and often we may not know that we have lobha. Cittas arise and
fall away very rapidly and we may not realize it when lobha arises on account
of what we experience in daily life through the six doors, especially if
the degree of lobha is not as intense as greed or lust. Every time there
is a pleasant sight, sound, odour, taste or impression through the body-sense,
lobha is likely to arise. It arises countless times a day.
like birdlime (lit. 'monkey lime').
Its function is sticking,
like meat put in a hot pan. It is
manifested as not
giving up, like the dye of lampblack.
Its proximate cause
is seeing enjoyment in things that
lead to bondage.
Swelling with the current of craving,
it should be
regarded as taking (beings) with
it to states of loss,
as a swift-flowing river does to
the great ocean.
Lobha arises when there are conditions
for its arising; It is beyond control. In many suttas the Buddha speaks
about lobha points out the dangers of it and the way to overcome lobha.
The pleasant objects which can be experienced through the five senses are
in several suttas called the 'five strands of sense-pleasures'. We read
in the 'Maha-dukkhakkhandha -sutta’ ('Greater Discourse on the Stems of
Anguish', Middle Length Saying I, No. 13) that the Buddha, when he was
staying near Savatthi, in the Jeta Grove, said to the monks:
And what, monks, is the
satisfaction in pleasures
The satisfaction in sense-pleasures
in not true happiness. Those who do not know the Buddha's teachings may
think that attachment is wholesome, especially when it arises with a pleasant
feeling. They may not know the difference between attachment and lovingkindness
(metta), phenomena which may both arise with a pleasant feeling. However,
a citta accompanied by pleasant feeling is not necessarily kusala citta.
When we learn more about akusala cittas and kusala cittas and when we are
mindful of their characteristics, we will notice that the pleasant feeling
which may arise with lobha-mula-citta (a citta rooted in attachment) is
different from the pleasant feeling which may arise with kusala citta.
Feeling (vedana) is a cetasika which arises with every citta. When the
citta is akusala, the feeling is also akusala, and when the citta is kusala,
the feeling is also kusala. We may be able to know the difference between
the characteristic of the pleasant feeling arising when we are attached
to an agreeable sight or sound, and the characteristic of the pleasant
feeling arising when we are generous.
of these senses? These five, monks,
are the strands of
sense-pleasures. What five? Material
by the eye, agreeable, pleasant,
connected with sensual pleasures,
cognisable by the ear... Smells,
cognisable by the
nose…. Tastes, cognisable by the
cognisable by the body, agreeable,
enticing, connected with sensual
These, monks, are the five strands
of sense pleasures.
Whatever pleasure, whatever happiness
consequence of these five strands
this is the satisfaction in sense-pleasures.
The Buddha pointed out that lobha
brings sorrow. When we have to part from people who are dear to us or when
we lose the things we enjoy, we have sorrow. If we are attached to a comfortable
life we may have aversion when we have to endure hardship or when things
do not turn out the way we want them to be. We read in the 'Greater Discourse
on the Stems of Anguish' which was quoted above, that the Buddha spoke
to the monks about the sorrow due to pleasures of the senses:
And what, monks, is the
peril in sense-pleasures?
In this case, monks, a young man
of family earns his
living by some craft... He is afflicted
by the cold, he
is afflicted by the heat, suffering
from the touch of
gadflies, mosquitos, wind, sun,
creeping things, dying
of hunger and thirst. This, monks,
is a peril in pleasures
of the senses that is present, a
stem of ill....
If, monks, this young man
of family rouses himself,
We then read about many more perils
in pleasures of the senses, and about the bad results they will cause in
the future. The Buddha also explained about the satisfaction and peril
in 'material shapes'. We read:
exerts himself, strives thus, but
if these possessions
do not come to his hand, he
laments, beating his breast
and wailing, he falls into
disillusionment, and thinks: 'Indeed
my exertion is vain,
indeed my striving is fruitless.'
This too, monks, is a
peril in the pleasures of the senses
that is present....
And again, monks, when sense-pleasures
cause... kings dispute with kings,
nobles dispute with
nobles, brahmans dispute with brahmans,
dispute with householders, a mother
disputes with her
son, a son disputes with his mother,
a father disputes
with his son, a son disputes with
his father, a brother
disputes with a brother, a brother
disputes with a sister,
a sister disputes with a brother,
a friend disputes with
a friend. Those who enter into quarrel,
dispute and attack one another with
their hands and
with stones and with sticks and
with weapons, these
suffer dying then and pain like
unto dying. This too,
monks, is a peril in the pleasures
of the senses that
is present. . . .
'And what, monks, is the
satisfaction in material
What the Buddha told the monks may sound
crude to us, but it is reality. We find it difficult to accept life as
it really is: birth, old age, sickness and death. We cannot bear to think
of our own body or the body of someone who is dear to us as being a corpse.
We accept being born, but we find it difficult to accept the consequences
of birth, which are old age, sickness and death. We wish to ignore the
impermanence of all conditioned things. When we look into the looking-glass
and when we take care of our body we are inclined to take it for something
which stays and which belongs to ourselves. However, the body is only rupa,
elements which fall away as soon as they have arisen. There is no particle
of the body which lasts.
shapes? Monks, it is like a girl
in a noble's family or a
brahman's family or a householder's
family who at the
age of fifteen or sixteen is not
too tall, not too short,
not too thin, not too fat, not too
dark, not too fair - - is
she, monks, at the height of her
beauty and loveliness
at that time?'
'Monks, whatever happiness and pleasure
because of beauty and loveliness,
this is satisfaction
in material shapes.
And what, monks is peril in material
shapes? As to
this, monks, one might see that
same lady after a time,
eighty or ninety or a hundred years
old, aged, crooked
as a rafter, bent, leaning on a
stick, going along palsied,
miserable, youth gone, teeth broken,
hair thinned, skin
wrinkled, stumbling along, the limbs
....And again, monks, one might see
lady, her body thrown aside in a
cemetery - dead
for one, two or three days, swollen,
decomposing. What would you think,
that which was former beauty and
vanished, a peril has appeared?'
'This too, monks, is a peril in material
Taking the body for self is a form
of wrong view, in Pali: ditthi. Ditthi is a cetasika which can arise with
lobha-mula-cittas (cittas rooted in attachment). There are eight types
of lobha-mula-citta and of these types four are accompanied by ditthi.
When lobha-mula-citta with ditthi arises there is wrong view at that moment.
There are different kinds of ditthi.
The belief in a 'self' is one kind of ditthi. When we take mental phenomena
or physical phenomena for 'self' there is ditthi. Some people believe that
there is a self which exists in this life and which will continue to exist
after this lifespan is over. This is the ‘eternity-belief’. Others believe
in a self which, existing only in this life, will be annihilated after
this lifespan is over. This is the 'annihilation- belief'. Another form
of ditthi is the belief that there is no kamma which produces vipaka, that
deeds do not bring their results. There have always been people in different
countries who think that they can be purified of their imperfections merely
by ablution in water or by prayers. It is their belief that the results
of ill deeds they committed can thus be warded off. They do not know that
each deed can bring about its own result. We can only purify ourselves
of imperfections if the wisdom is cultivated. If one thinks that deeds
do not bring about their appropriate results one may easily be inclined
to believe that the cultivation of wholesomeness is useless. This kind
of belief may lead to ill deeds and to the corruption of society.
Of the eight types of lobha-mula-citta
four types arise with wrong view (ditthi); they are called in Pali: ditthigata-sampavutta
(sampayutta means: associated with). Four types of lobha-mula-dtta arise
without wrong view; they are ditthigata-vippayutta (vippayutta means: dissociated
As regards the feeling which accompanies
the lobha mula-citta, lobha-mula-cittas can arise either with pleasant
feeling or with indifferent feeling, never with unpleasant feeling. The
lobha is more intense when it arises with pleasant feeling. Of the four
types of lobha-mula-citta which are accompanied by ditthi, two types arise
with pleasant feeling(somanassa), they are somanassa-sahagata (accompanied
by pleasant feeling) ; two types arise with indifferent feeling (upekkha,
they are upekkha-sahagata. For example, when one clings to the view that
there is a self which will continue to exist, the citta can be accompanied
by pleasant feeling or by indifferent feeling. Of the four lobha-mula-cittas
arising without ditthi, two types are accompanied by pleasant feeling (somanassa-sahagata)
and two types are accompanied by indifferent feeling (upekkha-sahagata).
Thus, of the eight types of lobha-mula-citta, four types arise with pleasant
feeling and four types arise with indifferent feeling.
In classifying lobha-mula-cittas
there is yet another distinction to be made. Lobha-mula-cittas can be 'asankharika'
(unprompted) or 'sasankharika' (prompted). Asankharika is sometimes translated
as 'not induced', 'unprompted' or 'spontaneous'; sasankharika is translated
as 'induced' or 'prompted'. The 'visuddhimagga' states about lobha-mula-citta
that it is sasankharika 'when it is with consciousness which is sluggish
and urged on'. The lobha-mula-cittas which are sasankharika can be prompted
by the advice or request of someone else, or they arise induced by one's
own previous consideration. Even when they are 'prompted' by one's own
consideration, they are sasankharika; the cittas are 'sluggish and urged
on'. Thus, when lobha is asankharika it is more intense than when it is
Of the four lobha-mula-cittas arising
with ditthi, two types are asankharika and two types are sasankharika.
As regards the lobha-mula-cittas arising without ditthi, two types are
asankharika and two types are sasankharika. Thus, of the eight lobha-mula-cittas,
four types are asankharika and four types are sasankharika.
It is useful to learn the Pali terms
and their meaning, because the English translation does not render the
meaning of realities very clearly.
The eight types of lobha-mula-citta
1. Accompanied by
pleasant feeling, with wrong view,
As we have seen, lobha-mula-cittas can
be asankharika (unprompted) or sasankharika (prompted). The 'Atthasalini'
225 gives an example of lobha-mula-cittas, accompanied by ditthi, which
are sasarikharika (prompted). A son of a noble family marries a woman who
has wrong views and thus he associates with people who have wrong views.
Gradually he accepts those wrong views and then they are pleasing to him.
2. Accompanied by pleasant
feeling, with wrong view,
(Somanassa-sahagatam , ditthigata
3. Accompanied by pleasant
feeling, without wrong
, asankharikam ekam )
4. Accompanied by pleasant
feeling, without wrong
5. Accompanied by indifferent
feeling, with wrong
unprompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata
6. Accompanied by indifferent
feeling, with wrong
7. Accompanied by indifferent
feeling, without wrong
8. Accompanied by indifferent
feeling, without wrong
Lobha-mula-cittas without ditthi
which are sasankharika arise, for example, when one, though at first not
attached to alcoholic drink, takes pleasure in it after someone else persuades
one to drink.
As we have seen, lobha-mula-cittas
can be accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent feeling. Lobha-mula-cittas
without ditthi, accompanied by pleasant feeling, can arise for example,
when we enjoy ourselves when seeing a beautiful colour or hearing an agreeable
sound. At such moments we can be attached without taking what we see or
hear for 'self'. When we enjoy beautiful clothes, go to the cinema, or
laugh and talk with others about pleasurable things there can be many moments
of enjoyment without the idea (of self) but there can also be moments with
ditthi, moments of clinging to a ‘self'.
Lobha-mula-cittas without ditthi,
accompanied by indifferent feeling may arise, for example, when we like
to stand up, or like to take hold of different objects. Since we generally
do not have happy feeling with these actions, there may be lobha with indifferent
feeling at such moments. Thus we see that lobha often motivates the most
common actions of our daily life.
1. When there
is lobha (attachment) is there always somanassa (pleasant feeling) as well?
2. Does ditthi (wrong view)
arise only with lobha-mula-citta?
3. How many types of lobha-mula-citta
are there? Why is it useful to know this?