Abhidhamma Series, no 6.
Citta and Cetasikas.
Citta does not arise singly, it is always accompanied by cetasikas,
mental factors. Only one citta arises at a time and each citta is
accompanied by several cetasikas. Citta is the leader in cognizing an
object and the accompanying cetasikas have each their own function
while they assist citta in cognizing an object. Citta may be of one
of the four jaatis of kusala, akusala, vipaaka or kiriya. Cetasikas
are of the same jaati as the citta they accompany.
Some cetasikas such as feeling and remembrance or
�perception� (sa���) accompany each citta, others do not. Feeling, in
P�li: vedan�, is a cetasika which arises with every citta. Citta only
knows or experiences its object; it does not feel. Feeling, vedan�,
however, has the function of feeling. Feeling is sometimes pleasant,
sometimes unpleasant. When we do not have a pleasant or an unpleasant
feeling, there is still feeling: at that moment the feeling is
neutral or indifferent.
Perception or remembrance, in P�li: sa���, marks the object so that
it can be recognized later on. Whenever we remember something it is
sa���, not self, which remembers. It is sa��� which, for example,
remembers that this colour is red, that this is a house, or that this
is the sound of a bird.
Contact, in P�li: phassa, is another cetasika which arises with every
citta; it ``contacts'' the object so that citta can experience it.
There are also types of cetasika which do not arise with every citta.
Unwholesome mental factors, akusala cetasikas, accompany only akusala
cittas, whereas sobhana cetasikas, �beautiful� mental factors,
accompany kusala cittas.
Among the cetasikas which can accompany akusala cittas or kusala
cittas, some are roots, hetus. A root or hetu is the foundation of
the akusala citta or kusala citta, just as the roots are the
foundation of a tree. They give a firm support to the citta and
cetasikas they arise together with.
There are three cetasikas which are unwholesome roots, akusala hetus:
lobha (attachment), dosa (aversion) and moha (ignorance).
Akusala cittas may be rooted in moha and lobha, or in moha and dosa,
or they may have moha as their only root. Moha or avijjaa arises with
each akusala citta. Moha is blindness, it does not know the danger of
akusala; it is the root of all evil.
There are three sobhana hetus, beautiful roots: non-attachment,
alobha, non-aversion, adosa, and pa~n~naa. All kusala cittas are
rooted in non-attachment, alobha, and non-aversion, adosa, and they
may of may not be rooted in wisdom, pa~n~naa.
There are many shades and degrees of the akusala hetus and the
Akusala citta is impure and it leads to sorrow. At the moment of
akusala citta there is no confidence in wholesomeness, one does not
see that akusala citta is impure and harmful. We may find it
difficult to see that even when we do not harm or hurt others, the
citta can still be akusala. For example, when we like nature, there
is a degree of attachment and attachment is not kusala, it is
different from unselfishness. We may see the danger of akusala which
is coarse, but it is difficult to see the danger of akusala which is
more subtle. However through the study of the Dhamma we can acquire
more understanding of akusala dhammas and then we may begin to see
the danger of all degrees of akusala.
Whenever the citta is not intent on wholesomeness, we act, speak
or think with akusala citta. We may not have unkind thoughts or
thoughts of coarse desire, but the cittas which think can still be
akusala cittas; they are akusala cittas whenever we do not think
When the citta is kusala, there is confidence in wholesomeness.
Confidence, or faith, saddhaa, is a sobhana cetasika. Each kusala
citta is assisted by many sobhana cetasikas. When we see the value of
kusala, there are conditions for the arising of kusala citta. Kusala
citta is pure and it is capable of producing a pleasant result. When
kindness or compassion arises, there is no person who has these
qualities, there is kusala citta accompanied by sobhana cetasikas.
Nobody can direct the cittas to be kusala cittas, they arise because
of the appropriate conditions.
Defilements and wholesome qualities are cetasikas, they are non-self.
They are not Iisted just to be read and memorized, they are realities
of daily life and they can be known as they are by being mindful of
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