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Abhidhamma in Daily life
 Chapter 4

       THE CHARACTERISTIC OF LOBHA

Cittas 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 better.

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
to friendship is enmity, or the opposite to greed, etc,.
is disinterestedness, etc., so 'akusala' is opposed to
'kusala'...
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.

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)
2. Dosa-mula-cittas, or cittas rooted in aversion (dosa)
3. Moha-mula-cittas, or cittas rooted in ignorance (moha) 
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.

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,
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 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. 

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
of these senses? These five, monks, are the strands of
sense-pleasures. What five? Material shapes cognisable
by the eye, agreeable, pleasant, liked, enticing,
connected with sensual pleasures, alluring. Sounds,
cognisable by the ear... Smells, cognisable by the
nose…. Tastes, cognisable by the tongue… Touches,
cognisable by the body, agreeable, pleasant, liked,
enticing, connected with sensual pleasures, alluring.
These, monks, are the five strands of sense pleasures.
Whatever pleasure, whatever happiness arises in
consequence of these five strands of sense-pleasures,
this is the satisfaction in sense-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.

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,
exerts himself, strives thus, but if these possessions
 do not come to his hand, he grieves, mourns,
 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 are the
cause... kings dispute with kings, nobles dispute with
nobles, brahmans dispute with brahmans, householders
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, contention,
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. . . . 

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:
 
'And what, monks, is the satisfaction in material
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?'

'Yes, Lord.'

'Monks, whatever happiness and pleasure arise
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 discoloured...

....And again, monks, one might see that same
lady, her body thrown aside in a cemetery - dead
for one, two or three days, swollen, discoloured,
decomposing. What would you think, monks? That
that which was former beauty and loveliness has
vanished, a peril has appeared?'

'Yes, Lord.'

'This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes....'

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.

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 from).

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 sasankharika.

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 are: 

1.  Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wrong view,
     unprompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam ditthigata
     -sampayuttam, asankharikam ekam)

2.  Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wrong view,
     prompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam , ditthigata
     -sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)

3.  Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wrong
     view, unprompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam,
     ditthigata-vippayuttam , asankharikam ekam )

4.  Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wrong
     view, prompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam, ditthigata
     -vippayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
 

 5.  Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wrong
      view, unprompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata
     -sampayuttam, asankharikam ekam)

6.  Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wrong
     view, prompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata
     -sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)

7.  Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wrong
     view, unprompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata
     -vippayuttam, asankharikam ekam)

8.  Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wrong
     view, prompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata
     -vippayuttam, sasankhhrikam ekam) 

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.

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.
 
 

  Questions

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?
 
 
 


December 21, 2000