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Tipitaka >> Abhidhamma Pitaka >> Patthana Dhamma
By Htoo Naing


Chapter 2 - Cetasikas Edit

Or Mental Factors Edit

To understand patthana dhamma, cetasikas need to be understood. In the previous pages, nearly all about citta have been described in some detail. Citta is a nama dhamma and so does cetasika.

Cetasikas are mental factors that co exist with citta or co arise with citta. They are mind conditioners and they influence mind and condition mind to have different names. They pass away at the very same time when citta falls away. They also have to depend on the same vatthu or base and they also have to take the same object that citta takes.

There are 52 cetasikas in total. They are

  1. 7 sabbacittasadharana cetasikas
  2. 6 pakinnaka cetasikas
  3. 14 akusala cetasikas
  4. 25 sobhana cetasikas

7 + 6 + 14 + 25 = 52 cetasikas in total.

7 Sabbacittasadharana cetasikas

Sabba means all, citta means consciousness, sadharana means treating or dealing with. So sabbacittasadharana cetasikas are cetasikas that deal with all cittas.

They are

  1. phassa
  2. vedana
  3. sanna
  4. cetana
  5. ekaggata
  6. jivitindriya
  7. manasikara

Phassa is contact. As a cetasika, it arises together with citta while itself is functioning as an introducer making contact with citta and rupa. As an example let us see cakkhuvinnana citta or eye consciousness or seeing consciousness.

There is vanna or colour as rupa which is called rupayatana (colour sense base). There is cakkhu vatthu or pasada as another rupa which is cakkhayatana or eye sense base. Phassa makes introduction to vanna and cakkhu and cakkhuvinnana altogether. When an iron surface and iron rod are struck together there arise sparks. The surface is like eye. The rod is like colour. The sparks are like cakkhuvinnana citta. At the very spot of touch, there arise sparks and all are in contact. Phassa functions as contact.

Among 52 cetasika dhamma, 7 cetasikas are sabbacittasadharana cetasikas and they always arise with every citta. Phassa, vedana, sanna, cetana, ekaggata, jivitindriya, manasikara are cetasikas that always arise with each citta at each moment. Phassa is contact.

Vedana is feeling. It feels the object. Due to its arising citta has a feeling. There are three kinds of feeling according to anubhavana bheda or class of feeling. They are sukha or pleasant feeling that is agreeable feeling, dukkha or unpleasant feeling or disagreeable feeling, and adukkhamasukha or neither pleasant nor unpleasant feeling. It is known as upekkha vedana. According to indriya bheda or faculty of feeling, there are five feeling. They are physical pleasant feeling or sukha, mental pleasant feeling or somanassa, physical unpleasant feeling or dukkha, mental unpleasant feeling or domanassa and neither pleasant nor unpleasant feeling or upekkha.

Sanna is perception. It perceives marks on object. Due to its presence, citta cognizes object. Sanna arises with each arising citta. It suggests citta to cognize object through markers on the object and it registers things and records what it experiences while it is working together with citta. Sanna is one of four vipaka namakkhandha or resultant nama aggregate.

Cetana is volition. It urges citta and other co arising cetasikas to do their jobs. Cetana is the chief commiter of all actions bodily actions, verbal actions and mental actions. While it arises together with committing citta, it becomes a potential like a seed that would grow to its full resultant effects whenever conditions favour. This potential or kamma always follow along with each arising citta as if our shades follow ourselves all the time and this will be ongoing until cuti citta or arahats.

Ekaggata is one pointedness. It fixes citta to the object when it arises together with a citta. It stabilizes citta and other co arising cetasikas at a specific object that is taken by the citta. It is concentration. Ekaggata always arises with each arising citta and help all to be fixed at a point that is the object that is taken by the citta.

Jivitindriya is a mental life. it supports citta to stay alive and to be able to function well. It also supports other co arising cetasikas and all mental activities are supported by jivitindriya cetasika without which citta and cetasikas will never arise. It maintains mental life and it arises with each arising citta.

Manasikara is attention. It makes citta and other co arising cetasikas to attend at the object concerned. It acts like a steerer and it directs citta and other cetasikas to the right object. Manasikara always arises with each arising citta.

These 7 cetasikas namely phassa or contact, vedana or feeling, sanna or perception, cetana or volition, ekaggata or one pointedness, jivitindriya or mental life, manasikara or attention always arise with each arising citta. They can arise with all kinds of citta, kusala or akusala or abyakata, lokiya or lokuttara, kama or jhana and any citta possible arises along with these 7 cetasikas. So these 7 cetasikas are called sabbacittasadharana cetasikas.

6 pakinnaka cetasikas

There are 6 pakinnaka cetasikas or particular cetasikas. They sound like flexible to citta they arise together. When they arise with kusala cittas they behave as if they are kusala cetasikas and when they arise together with akusala cittas they will behave as if they are akusala cetasika. If co arising cittas are abyakata cetrasikas again they will do the job of abyakata.

Abyakata do not have kamma potential or kammic force. Examples of abyakata dhamma are kiriya cittas, vipaka cittas, rupa dhamma and all these do not have kamma effect. Pakinnaka cetasikas agree with the citta they accompanied. There are 6 pakinnaka cetasikas or 6 particular cetasikas. They are:

  1. vitakka
  2. vicara
  3. viriya
  4. piti
  5. chanda
  6. adhimokkha

Vitakka is a mental factor that helps citta to take object. This taking object is initial application. Vittakka applies citta with the object. There are different froms of vitakka like kama vitakka or sensual thought, byapada vitakka aversive thought, jhana vitakka or jhanic factor vitakka, samma sankappa etc etc are all vitakka. Vitakka puts citta on to the object. It applies the citta to the object.

Vicara is also a mental factor. It works together with vitakka most of the time. While vitakka applies to the object, vicara helps citta not to depart from the object so that citta is sustained to be in the object. Vicara reviews the object. Vicara is sustained application.

Viriya is effort. Viriya helps citta not to withdraw from the object and it exert an effort to take the object. In the presence of viriya all other cetasikas and citta work energetically with full effort.

Piti is likeness. It helps citta like the object. Piti also energizes citta. In the presence of piti, citta and accompanying cetasikas become less tired and they become inexhaustible and can work much more effectively than without piti as they are stick to the object as they like it. There are different degrees of piti. Somanassa is associated with piti.

Chanda is wish. It is mere desire. It is a will. When chanda becomes the heading dhamma it becomes adhipati dhamma or leading dhamma. It is also one of 4 iddhipada or foot of success or root of success.

Adhimokkha is a mental factor that help citta decides on the object clearly. In the presence of adhimokkha there cannot be delusion or illusion or suspicion. It is a determination. It is a decision maker.

These 6 cetasikas along with 7 universal cetasikas are collectively called annasamana cetasikas. Anna means dealing with or treating . Samana means agree. So they both class agree with any citta. When they arise with kusala citta they behave as kusala cetasika and when akusala, they become akusala cetasikas.

Exception is that 7 universal cetasikas always arise with each citta whatever kind they are but 6 pakinnaka or particular cetasikas sometimes arise and sometimes do not arise.

14 akusala cetasikas

There are 14 akusala cetasikas.

They are

  1. 4 cetasikas in moha team
  2. 3 cetasikas in lobha team
  3. 4 cetasikas in dosa team
  4. 3 cetasikas in miscellaneous team.

In moha team, there are 1. moha, 2. ahirika, 3. anotappa, and 4. uddhacca.

Moha is ignorance. It is delusion. It covers true nature of dhamma and it veils citta not to see realities and truths. It prevents pannas arising. Moha and panna are mutually exclusive in a citta. When moha arises, panna cannot arise and when panna arises moha has gone away.

Ahirika is a kind of disinhibition. It is shamelessness. It advises citta not to be shameful to do bad things or unwholesome things. When it becomes dominent, it behaves as if it is a chief commender. It can be akusala bala or a leader. It can commit anything wicked.

Anottappa is another kind of disinhibition. It is a close friend of ahirika and they both always work together. Unlike ahirika, the characteristic of anotappa is fearlessness. Disinhibition here is in the form of fearlessness not forseeing possible unwholesome kamma and its resultant effects.

Uddhacca is a close friend to moha and it also works together with ahirika and anotappa. Uddhacca is restlessness. It spreads and disperses and wanders around. It is said to be like throwing of a stone into a heap of ash. In its presence, citta becomes restless and upset. These 4 akusala cetasikas always arise in all akusala citta. So they are called sabbākusalasadharana cetasikas.

In lobha team, there are 3 cetasikas namely 1. lobha, 2. ditthi, and 3. mana. They are called papanca dhamma. Because they expand the samsara.

Lobha is attachment. It is craving. It is greediness. It is clinging. It has many other different names like tanha, raga, samudaya, upadana etc etc. Oceans may even full with water but lobha never full with its desire. Lobha or tanha is one of two roots of wheel of life or paticcasamuppada.

Ditthi is wrong view. It advises citta to see objects differently instead of seeing as realities. As ditthi cannot see realities, it see dhamma as men, woman, animals etc etc. This wrong view leads to more and more lobha and may switch to other akusala cittas.

Mana is conceit. It is an alternative form of ditthi or lobha. Instead of revealing greediness or wrong view it behaves conceitedly. Mana shows up proud. This again is inability to see realities.

In the group of dosa, there are 4 cetasikas. They are dosa, issa, macchariya and kukkucca.

Dosa has destructive nature. It is very ugly. It hurts anyone anything. Dosa destroys its home and its environment. In the presence of dosa everything wicked and unhumanly things can be committed. Dosa cetasika is the head of all dosa related cetasikas and dosa cittas. When there is issa, there also arises dosa and this is also true in case of macchariya or in case of kukkucca.

Issa is dosa related cetasika. It is jealousy and it does not want the assumed others achievement anything in terms of health or wealth or success or anything.

Another dosa related cetasika is macchariya. It is stinginess. This cetasika makes citta not wanting the assumed ones own properties exposed to the assumed others. Issa can arise in both the poor and the rich and macchariya does the same. Rich and poor may be wealthiness, healthiness, beauty, avasa or home or place, origin or jati, mitta or friends and many other things.

Kukkucca on the other hand is also a dosa related cetasika. This cetasika arises when one becomes noticed that he or she did not do good deeds when there was conditions that favoured the good actions or another way is that he or she becomes noticed that bad things were done and now they are thinking that it would be better if they had not done those bad things. There arises nothing good in thinking so but just dosa and kukkucca which are akusala cetasikas and akusala citta will thus be proliferating as long as they are thinking back in the stated way.

There are 3 miscellaneous cetasikas which are included in akusala cetasikas. They are thina, middha, and vicikiccha.

Thina is sloth. It is laziness of citta or sluggishness of citta or inactiveness of citta or unalertness of citta.

Middha is torpor and it is laziness or sluggishness or unalertness or inactiveness of cetasikas.

These two cetasikas arise together and they work together. They are not sleepiness which is a physical exhaustion. But this exhaustion may well be associated with sloth and torpor or thina and middha. When a sasankharika citta arises, this means that there needs outside stimulation or promptness by others or even by self.

There is another akusala cetasika in these 14 akusala cetasikas. It is vicikiccha cetasika. It is undecisiveness. It is suspicion. It is suspicion on dhamma, sangha, the Buddha, paticcasamuppada or dependent origination and the practice.

25 sobhana cetasikas

There are 25 sobhana cetasikas or beautiful mental factors. Among them 19 cetasikas are universal to all beautiful cittas that is 59 sobhana cittas in 89 cittas or 91 sobhana cittas in 121 cittas. They are called sobhanacittasadharana cetasikas. They are:

  1. saddha
  2. sati
  3. hiri
  4. ottappa
  5. alobha
  6. adosa
  7. tatramajjattata

And, 6 pairs of cetasikas altogether 19 in total. The 6 pairs are

  1. passaddhi, cittapassaddhi and kayapassaddhi
  2. lahuta, cittalahuta and kayalahuta
  3. muduta, cittamuduta and kayamuduta
  4. kammannata, cittakammannata and kaya kammannata
  5. pagunnata, cittapagunnata and kayapagunnata and
  6. jukata, cittujukata and kayujukata.

1. Saddha makes citta believes in the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, Paticcasamuppada and the Noble Eightfold Path and the practice. This belief is not a blind faith but there is a strong reason for this. There is evidence for total belief. It is like conmfidence. When saddha arises citta and all other cetasikas become clean, active, alert and calm.

2. Sati makes citta watches thing actively and makes mindful. So citta remembers to do things in due course. In the presence of sati citta can work according to its will as sati reminds him to remember things to do. It serves as a reminder. Sati also helps other cetasikas to remember to do their jobs.

3. Hiri hinders citta not to do bad things as doing so probably will face with disgraceful situations. In the presence of hiri, as it reminds to consider the consequences of the actions, citta will not do bad things due to this inhibition. It always arises with its friend ottappa cetasika as a companion.

4. Ottappa makes citta unwilling to do bad things as doing o will have negative effect and citta is fearful of that result. This cetasika like hiri looks the possible consequences of actions. And it is frightened by the possible result. So in its presence, citta will not do bad things. This is also kind of inhibition. But characterwise it is more in favour of fear than shame.

Together with hiri, these two cetasikas guard the world in the favourable social conditions. Men and women are attracted to each other and this finally leads to sex. But hiri and ottappa hinder unnecessary events. These two cetasikas are called lokapala dhamma. They work not only in avoiding sex matter in inappropriate relationship but also in avoiding all akusala dhamma.

5. Alobha makes citta willing to offer things to sattas as citta becomes unattached to those things when alobha advises him. Alobha is more than unattachment or detachment. It looks directly at receivers as satta and directs to him. At the same time it has no more likeness to its assumed own properties as his properties. Detach to properties and bend toward to receivers and there is unperceivable flow of energy to the receiver. It works with other 18 cetasikas including saddha especially.

6. Adosa has non destructive effect. It urges citta to have a good mood and kindness. In the presence of adosa others wellbeing is always considered. This comprises physical, mental, emotional, psychological, social and any aspect of others. It character is unhurting in nature. It is true friendship. It is loving kindness.

7. Tattramajjattata is balancer. It is equaliser. It equalises the strength of all accompanying cetasikas and so it advises citta as well to work in a state of equillibrium that means it works without extremeness. This cetasika is like a charioteer. When two horses draw the cart, they have to draw equally in terms of strength. To do so, the charioteer does the job. Without the charioteer the desired direction will never be reached.

There are 6 sets of beautiful mental factors which always arise with beautiful consciousness. They are:

  1. passaddhi,
  2. lahuta,
  3. muduta,
  4. kammannata,
  5. pagunnata, and
  6. ujukata

each for citta and cetasika.

1. The first set is cittapassaddhi and kayapassaddhi cetasikas. Cittapassaddhi is a cetasika which is coolness or calmness or tranquility of citta. It has soothing effect on citta. It calms down mind as well and causes citta free from all worries. When cittapassaddhi arises kayapassaddhi also arises. These two cetasikas always arise together and work together with the same citta.

2. The second set is lahuta. They are cittalahuta and kayalahuta. Cittalahuta is lightness of citta and kayalahuta is lightness of cetasikas. They also arise together and work together with the same citta. This pair of cetasikas helps mind ready to function well. These two cetasikas can be noticed in mind when in the state of good mood like kusala actions.

3. Third set is muduta. They are cittamuduta and kayamuduta. Muduta is pliancy or tenderness. Cittamuduta is tenderness of citta and kayamuduta is pliancy of cetasikas. They arise at the same time with the same citta and they work together.

4. Fourth set is kammannata. They are cittakammannata and kayakammannata. Cittakammannata is adaptability or wieldiness of citta and kayakammannata is for cetasikas. They arise together and work together in the same citta with the same arammana. They help citta and cetasikas to agree with other cetasikas and adapt to all.

5. Fifth set is pagunnata. They are cittapagunnata and kayapagunnata. Cittapagunnata is proficiency of citta and kayapagunnata is proficiency of cetasikas. They also arise together and work together. Cittapagunnata helps citta to function properly and kayapagunnata helps all cetasikas to function appropriately.

6. Sixth set is ujukata. They are cittujukata and kayujukata cetasikas. They arise togethere and they work together in the same citta taking the same arammana. Cittujukata is uprightness of citta or rectitude of citta and kayujukata is for cetasikas. They make citta and cetasikas sincere and all will work straight forward in the presence of these two cetasikas.

There are three virati cetasikas. Virati means avoidance. They are:

  1. samma kammanta,
  2. samma vaca, and
  3. samma ajiva.

1. Samma kammanta is right action. This cetasika helps citta not to do bad things but to do right actions. It avoid doing bad things. It is inhibition. It inhibits doing bad thing by abstinence. It is like hiri and ottappa. But it inhibition is at kaya kamma dvara or bodily actions while hiri and ottappa are considering the possible consenquences. Samma kammanta considers the wickedness, badness of actions at the bodily actions.

2. Samma vaca is right speech.It helps citta not to tell bad speech like telling lies, saying bad words or rough words or rude words, telling non sense tales, telling divisive speech. It is a kind of inhibition. It focuses on verbal actions or speech unlike samma kammanta.

3. Samma ajiva is right livelihood which again is living on livelihood that is the result of samma kammanta or samma vaca or both. It is also a kind of inhibition. Unlike other two virati cetasikas, samma ajiva is related to livelihood. In the setting of livelihoods, it arises and helps citta not to do bad body actions or bad speech in connection with livbelihood.

There are 2 appamanna cetasikas, namely:

  1. Appamann,
  2. Karuna

1. Appamanna is boundless, endless, limitless. It is putting a good will on satta pannatta like sattas, men, woman, deva, devi, brahma etc etc. They are karuna and mudita.

2. Karuna arises when poor sattas are encountered and mudita arises when fulfilled sattas are encountered. Karuna is compassion while mudita is sympathetic joy.

In the 25 sobhana cetasikas or beautiful mental factors, the last to be mentioned but the most important is panna or pannindriya cetasikas. He is the Prime Minister for the king citta. It helps citta to see and to realise things in depth. It has a power of realization. It has a power of analysis and penetration. It has a good insight into the matter in question. If this cetasika is present and functioning well all other accompanying cetasikas work well and all are well organized. This cetasika is like a wise man or a wise minister that present the pros and cons of everything to the king citta.

This cetasika is the chief of all cetasikas in rupa and arupa jhana cittas, magga cittas, and phala cittas. Without this panna cetasika there will not be any of jhana or magga or phala citta.

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