Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya
(These Abhidhamma-talks were given, based on the description given in Abhidhammattha-Sangaha, Dhamma-Sangani and Vibhangappakarana.)
(Weekly talks given serially at Amaravati Vihara of Great Geddesden in England from the 14th August 1985.)
Two modes of expression
In the conventional mode of speech (or in the current usage) we make statements such as ‘sun rises, sun sets’ and the like. But actually there is no such thing as sun-rise or sun-set.
Suppose a teacher explains these phenomena to his students in the classroom. He would explain to them how the earth rotates on its own axis and how consequently the phenomena such as sunrise and sunset come to pass. But the very same teacher, at other times use such expressions as sunrise and sunset. He makes such statements not to mislead his hearers but just to follow the convention. This makes it clear that there are two modes of speech in the world, namely the usage or expression according to how a thing appears, and that according to what really is. The former is called the conventional truth and the latter the scientific truth.
The fifth Sutta in chapter 3 of the Book of Ones of the Anguttara-Nikaya, refers to two kinds of discourses of the Buddha under the names “Nitattha-Suttanta and Neyyattha-Suttanta”. “Nitattha, means that which is with the primarily inferred sense and ‘neyyattha’ means that which is with the meaning that is to be inferred. The former one was later known as Paramattha-desana, the teaching of the truth in the ultimate sense and the latter as “Sammuti desana”, the teaching of the truth in conventional terms. The truth in conventional terms is the thing accepted by a consensus of opinion. So the Lord Buddha said: “They are expressions, terms of speech, designations in common use in the world.”
Child, man, woman, table, tree, river, mountain and the like are the words used to express a definite idea and they are so used for the sake of convenience and for conventional purposes.
The convention or conception is subject to change. For instance, at one stage of man’s growth we call him an infant, but some years later we all him a youth, when he is about 15 or a little older, and still later “middle aged” and at last “an old man”, following the changes of his body.
Let me make this point still clearer. Let us try to understand what a box is. Some pieces of wood are put together in a particular way to give a certain form or shape. Then it is called a box. Suppose the same box is taken apart and its parts are put together again to give the form of, say, a bench. Then it is no longer a box. People call it a bench. But the materials are the same; the shape changes the name and concept.
If we refer to a bench and call it a box people would then accuse us of lying. If we do not conform to convention it seems the same as telling a lie.
Now let us see how the shape has come about. First, the carpenter thought out the shape. He formed its picture in his mind and drew it on a piece of paper, which we call plan or design, from which or according to which he arranged and fastened the pieces of wood and then called it “box”. The pieces of wood are not the box. The “box” is the name for the shape or form produced by the arrangement of the piece of timber. The shape is what he had imagined. Thus in the ultimate sense the box is the shape or form imagined and it is only a concept. Similarly bench, chair, house, mountain, man, god, angel and such others are concepts. There are no bench and so on in the sense of ultimate truth. Then what are those box and others from the ultimate point of view? First let us examine the so called box and other things and see what they consist of what their constituents are. A Box is made of pieces of wood. But what are those wooden parts, what are their constituents, or what do they contain and what are they formed of? If we examine the analyse those things more and more and deeper and deeper we would come to the conclusion that those are but combinations of molecules and that molecules too are but results of combinations of atoms. From Buddhist point of view, every atom is dynamic, always in a state of constant motion. And what is an atom? It is a thing made up of electricity charged particles. Every such particle may be reduced to still more minute particles and at last we come to nothing but waves or vibrations and find no substance therein. Every unit of those material particles or atoms or their subdivisions possesses four fundamental states, namely hardness or softness, cohesion, energy (or heat or cold) and vibration. These are called ‘dhatu’ (natural states) or (bhuta-rupa primary materiality) in Pali. Thus, after all, from the ultimate point of view, a box is a combination or a mass of atoms in constant motion, a collection of ever changing matter which consists of four elemental states.
Now let us come to ‘man’. What is ‘man’ according to ultimate truth? In the first analysis, he is a compound of body and mind (nama-rupa). When we analyse body and examine it we come to the conclusion that it is an assembly or combination of atoms consisting of elemental states and subject to constant motion, in other words, a mass of changing states, a mass of waves, a volume of vibrations, in which there is no substance, nothing stable, nothing static in its own nature.
Now let us try to understand the other constituent of man, the mind. What we call mind is not any unchanging substance but a process or stream of thought-moments, of which every thought or consciousness rises and vanishes in a succession, and is more rapid than the flow of material states of the body.
Thus there is nothing permanent in this psycho-physical stream called man.
The inanimate things like stones, earth, fire, rays, water and the like are but streams of the volumes of aggregates of fundamental material states.
If one takes any part of constituent of mind or body for something permanent or distorts mind as matter or matter as mind or any one of these constituents as an ego-entity, as self or soul, he is reckoned as one holding an erroneous view.
One who talks changing or distorting the convention or consensus is taken by people for a liar.
The Lord Buddha, when speaking to people, used both these ways of expressions; the way of conventional expression and the way of direct expression of ultimate truths, suiting both the purpose and the temperament of the hearers.
(Talk given on the 16th August, 1985 at Amaravati)
Suppose a river is calmly flowing. Suddenly a twig from a tree falls into it and immediately the water is disturbed; ripples rise up, spread and disappear. After a minute or two the water is again disturbed by something falling into it and ripples rise and vanish as before.
Just as the calm flow of the river in this illustration, from the conception of a being in its mother’s womb the stream of passive consciousness flows day and night very calmly, this we call Bhavanga-sota (passive subliminal stream). But when an object comes into contact with any of the sense-organs and disturbs it, the passivity of thought-process is arrested by the impinging of another object and thus it turns towards the same new object and begins to be active. If the object is a visible form the action of seeing takes place (i.e. eye-consciousness arises) and receiving consciousness, investigating consciousness and determining consciousness arise respectively. If the object is fully apperceived, seven impulsive thoughts of full cognition arise and vanish successively. Then a registering consciousness arises twice or thrice. After this the potency of this active process wanes and the usual passive process of consciousness takes its place and continues till it is arrested by another object as it occurred before. If the object that impinges upon the thought process is not strong enough to continue to give compulsion to the function of cognition, it gives way to the process of usual subliminal passivity.
As mentioned before every active thought-process except the last one of a person’s life contains seven strong thoughts (or the same kind of impulsive consciousness occurring seven times), either good or bad according to the circumstance. Thus I the stream of consciousness which is a part of man’s life (which is also called the mind in conventional speech), there arise three kinds of consciousness, namely good or wholesome ones, morally bad or unwholesome ones and amoral (or neither-good-nor bad ones). Of them, in an active process of thoughts, apart from the seven impulsive thoughts all others such as eye-consciousness etc., are amoral. So much is enough for the time being with reference to the mental state of a man’s life.
As regards the physical side of man’s life, the physical body is a mass or aggregate of matter, which too, just as a river, is an incessant flow of volumes of matter. Its every minutest material particle or minim of dust is a collection consisting of eight inseparable states, namely the four elements as hardness or softness, cohesion, radiation and vibration and the allied qualities of colour, smell, taste and nutrition. Every such minim is rising and vanishing momentarily, giving way too succeeding ones of a similar type which arise in its place. The normal duration of every such material unit is so much as 17 thought-moments, and every such moment consisting of three instants called ‘rising instant’, ‘static instant’ and ‘vanishing instant’.
Thus the physical body of a living being is actually a process, a flow of volumes of material states.
Man, in this way, as well as other animals is a flux. All inanimate things as stones, earth, water, fire, rays and the like too are in a stat e of flux. The whole universe. The whole conditioned existence is a flow. Nibbana, the unconditioned, is the only state in direct opposition to all this conditioned existence.
ABHIDHAMMA – 3
Four Levels of Mind
(talk given on the 20th August 1985 at Amaravati)
No thought can arise without an object to depend on. Thoughts or types of consciousness, after or in direct reference to the objects they depend on are divided into four grades or levels namely, the thoughts related or belonging to the sensuous realm, the thoughts related or belonging to the subtle corporeal realm, the thoughts related or belonging to the incorporeal realm and the supramundane thoughts.
The sensuous realm (Kama-loka) is the level of existence both of mind and body mostly dominated by sense objects such as visible forms (rupa), sounds (sadda), odours (gandha), tastes (rasa) and tangible objects (photthabba).
Some persons, tired of sensual enjoyments seek peace and serenity of mind, follow a system of the development of mind’s calm and attain to a certain high level of mind at which sensuality, ill will and many other unwholesome states of mind are inhibited. Those persons, after death, will be reborn into a plane or realm known as “the subtle corporeal realm.
Still others who are tired of our disgusted with all materiality seek a way to get rid of that state and develop detachment of mind from material or corporeal existence through the practice of a kind of concentration and attain to a level of mind at which the whole attachment to materiality (or physical body, gross or subtle) is inhibited. Such persons, after death, are reborn into a state in which there is only incorporeal existence or sole mind having no material state whatever. This level of existence is called incorporeal realm.
Those who see the unsatisfactoriness of all the three kinds of afore mentioned ‘levels of existence’, practise Vipassana (investigation both into physical and mental existence), in other words, all conditioned existence, and attain to full realization, gradually passing through eight stages. The thoughts (or types consciousness) that arise at those eight stages fix themselves on nibbana the only supramundane object.
Thus, after the afore-said four levels, the thoughts (or types of consciousness) are divided into four groups as ‘those belonging to the sensuous realm’ and so on.
Thoughts of Sensuous Realm (Kamavacara-cittas)
The thoughts (or types of consciousness) belonging to sensuous sphere are divided into four classes as Akusala (unwholesome), Kusala (wholesome), Vipaka (resultant) and Kriya (functional).
Out of these four classes, first I may deal with Akusala-cittas (or unwholesome thoughts).
A thought (or consciousness) becomes unwholesome because of the unwholesome mental characteristics that arise together with such thoughts.
There are three unwholesome root-conditions, namely, lobha (greed), dosa (aversion), and moha (delusion).
Delusion (moha) is common to all unwholesome thoughts. But greed and aversion never arise together. The nature of lobha (greed or self-interestedness) is selfish attachment to a thing or being, whereas the nature of dosa (aversion or anger) is disliking, disapproval of or being displeased with a being or thing. Thus, lobha being of a liking nature and dosa being of disliking nature, they two can not arise together with the same thought.
Therefore, all unwholesome thoughts are classed under three groups: Those rooted in greed and delusion, those rooted in aversion and delusion, and those rooted in intense delusion.
Here greed and aversion are the main mental characteristics that distinguish the unwholesome thoughts rooted in those two. So they are classed under the names of those distinguished as thoughts rooted in greed and those rooted in aversion and the other kind rooted in intense delusion.
Unwholesome Thoughts Rooted in Greed
1. Suppose a man believes that it is not wrong to steal something from a rich man when there is a necessity. He goes to a rich man’s garden and steals some fruits. As those fruits are sweet and of good smell he is very glad. As there is nobody nearby, promptly does he take them away with no hesitation at all. The thought that arises at this moment is spontaneous accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with erroneous view. This kind of thought is termed in Pali “somanassa-sahagata ditthigata-sampayutta asankharika citta”.
There ‘somanassa’ means ‘pleasant feeling’, ‘Sahagata’ means ‘accompanied by’, ‘ditthigata’ means ‘erroneous view’, ‘Sampayutta’ means ‘united with’ or ‘associated with’. ‘Asankharika’ means ‘automatic, spontaneous’ or ‘promptly arisen without hesitation’.
2. Suppose the same man goes on a second occasion to the same garden to steal fruits. This time, as he sees someone moving about the garden, he is cautious and does not enter the garden at once. He hides himself till the other fellow goes away. After the latter goes away, he enters the garden. He gathers courage after some hesitation, or instigated by another person, does he do it. The thought that arises on such an occasion is called ‘sasankharika-citta’. Here ‘sankhara’ means ‘preparation, or sharpening, or gathering courage after some hesitation’. ‘Sasanakharika’ means ‘that which with ‘Sankhara’ (preparation after hesitation or backwardness)’.
Thus the second thought is termed “somanassa-sahagata ditthigata sampayutta sasankharika citta” (i.e. unspontaneous thought accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with erroneous view).
3. Suppose there is a man who accepts that stealing is a wrong deed, but infatuated by extreme hunger enters another’s garden and steals some fruits. In this case he does it with no hesitation whatever. As the fruits are sweet and well ripe he is very glad. The thought arises on such an occasion is termed ‘Somanassa-sahagata dittihigata-vippayutta asankharika citta’ (spontaneous thought accompanied by pleasant feeling but without erroneous view), ‘Vippayutta’ means ‘void of’.
4. On another day the same person enters the same garden, but with some hesitation. After some minutes, as he sees nobody nearby, or instigated by another person, gathers courage and takes away some fruits. The thought that arises on such an occasion is termed in Pali “Somanassa-sahagata ditthigata vippayutta sasankharika citta” (i.e. unspontaneous thought accompanied by pleasant feeling but without any erroneous view).
N.B. Asankharika-citta (spontaneous thought) is just like a thorn of a thorny plant, sharp in its own nature, and sasankharika citta is like a blunt needle but later sharpened.
5. Suppose a person with wrong view as mentioned before steals some tasteless food that belongs to another man. He does it because he is extremely hungry. As the food is not tasty, the feeling that arises in his thought on that occasion is hedonic indifference (Upekkha), it is the less pleasant feeling. The thought that arises in him on that occasion is termed in Pali:
‘Upekkha-sahagata ditthigata-sampayutta asankharika citta’ (i.e. spontaneous thought accompanied by hedonic indifference and associated with erroneous belief).
6. A person sees a mass of firewood belonging to another man. This firewood does not make him happy in feeling. But because of necessity he steals it. He thinks it is not wrong to steal a rich man’s property. The thought that arises within him on such an occasion is termed in Pali “Upekkha-sahagata ditthigata sampayutta sasankharika citta”. (i.e. the unspontaneous thought or a thought in which the courage is gathered after some backwardness, accompanied by hedonic indifference and associated with erroneous view).
7. Another person does the same kind of stealing promptly but without any erroneous view. The thought that arises in him at that moment is “Upekkha-sahagata ditthigata-vippayutta asankharika citta” (i.e. unspontaneous thought accompanied by indifference and devoid of erroneous view).
8. The same person, on another occasion, steals some firewood that belongs to another person. But he does not think that it is not wrong. Thus the thought that arises within him at the moment is “Upekkha-sahagata ditthigata-vippayutta sasankharika citta” (i.e. thought unspontaneous or risen after some backwardness, accompanied by hedonic indifference but not associated with erroneous view).
(Talk given on 24th August 1985)
Thoughts rooted in eversion
1. Suppose a man sees his enemy and gives him a slap on his face. The thought that arises in him is “Domanassa-sahagata patigha-sampayutta asankharika citta” (i.e. spontaneous thought accompanied by unpleasant feeling and associated with roughness of the mind).
2. Another man expects to make an assault on his enemy. But seeing his enemy is stronger than himself he is somewhat hesitant. But thinking over and over again of the matter, or being instigated by another man, he gathers his courage and attacks his enemy. The thought that arises in him on that occasion is “Domanassa-sahagata patigaha-sampayutta sasankharika citta” (i.e. unspontaneous or instigated thought accompanied by unpleasant feeling and associated with relentlessness).
N.B. ‘Domanassa’ means unpleasant feeling.
‘patigha’ means roughness or relentlessness’
Thoughts rooted in intense delusion
1. Suppose a man is sceptical in his nature and doubts the law of cause and effect, or is doubtful about the existence of the great teachers like the Buddhas or about the practicability of their teachings or about the moral rectitude of the holy disciples of such great teachers, or about the continuity of the round of rebirth and the like. Sometimes even after he finds sufficient proofs or evidence, still he doubts and he is not able to cure his scepticism. Thus his thoughts on such occasions are accompanied by neutral or indifferent feeling or hedonic indifference. The thought that arises in such moments is termed “Upekkha-sahagata vicikiccha-sampayutta citta” (i.e. the thought or consciousness accompanied by hedonic indifference and associated with scepticism. Scepticism that arises in him is like a pendulum swinging from object to object. The direct opposite characteristic of mind is understanding, insight or wisdom.
2. Another person gets excited or confused because of a fear or some sudden happening. His thoughts fluctuate about an object and are in reeling condition. This kind of confusion is like the shivering of hands of a patient who suffers from shaking palsy.
A quantity of ash hit by a stone is scattered and blown away. Similar is the condition of mind when it is excited or confused. It is not assertive enough to be either pleasant or unpleasant in feeling. Hence, it is accompanied by hedonic indifference (Upekkha). This kind of confused thought is called in Pali “Upekkha-sahagata uddhacca-sampayutta citta” (i.e. the thought accompanied by hedonic indifference and associated with confusedness).
There are eight thoughts rooted in greed
There are two thoughts rooted in aversion
There are two thoughts rooted in intense delusion
As has been stated in the foregoing description there are twelve kinds of unwholesome thoughts, eight rooted both in greed and delusion, two rooted in aversion and delusion and two rooted in intense delusion. Suppose a hen is killed by a man for the purpose of preparing his food. Is his greedy thought not associated with pleasant feeling and roughness? No, never greed and roughness or aversion arise together in the same thought. Then how is it that a man kills an animal for preparing his food?
First, numbers of the processes of thoughts accompanied by greed for the flesh of the animal arise within him and then incited by such thought processes, a number of thought processes of which impulsive thoughts accompanied by relentlessness or cruelty (patigha) arise. It is with such a cruel or unkind thought that he kills the animal. On such occasions thought-processes with greed pass succeeded by thought-processes with relentless… impulsive thoughts. Hundreds of such thoughts rise and pass off within a second so rapidly that an average man takes all of them as one thought accompanied by both greed and cruelty. Such are called processes of thoughts rooted in aversion and incited by the process of thoughts rooted in greed.
Suppose a man steals some money belonging to another man. He does it not because of any greed but because he is angry with the other man. Thus that arises on such an occasion is a thought process rooted in greed and incited by preceding thought-processes rooted in aversion (Dosappaccaya-lobha-mulaka citta).
The Results They Give
There are two kinds of results, namely the result which comes up as rebirth of a strong or compulsive thought (Patisadhi-vipaka) and the kind of result that is given after one’s birth (Pavatti-vipaka).
Out of the twelve unwholesome thoughts, that accompanied by excitement or confusedness is able only to giver after-birth result. Other eleven thoughts are able to cause both kinds of results to appear, (i.e. to cause to be reborn as well as to cause some after-birth results to appear).
Cause of different feelings:
(Talk given on the 27th August 1985 at Amaravati)
The very first consciousness at birth is called Patisandhi-citta or relinking consciousness. When the thought stream does not turn towards any other object (i.e. other than the object of the Patisandhi-citta), naturally, the same relinking consciousness may recur even a thousand times till the thought stream is disturbed by some other object. Such recurring consciousness which belongs to the class of relinking consciousness is termed Bhavanga-citta (the passive subliminary current of being). If the Patisandhi-citta is accompanied by pleasant feeling, the Bhavanga is also accompanied by feeling of the same kind. If the former one is accompanied by indifferent feeling, the bhavanga also may be accompanied by the same kind of feeling. So sometimes, this may affect the compulsive thoughts to make them accompanied by the same feeling as the Bhavanga. This is only one condition that may influence the compulsive thoughts. There are some other causes for such occurences. If the object that impinges on the sense organ is a pleasant one, or if the person is shallow-minded, his compulsive thoughts may be accompanied by pleasant feeling.
The causes of indifferent (i.e. neutral) feeling are three: Patisandhi-citta being accompanied by indifferent feeling, the object being an indifferent one, or the person being a deep thinker (who cannot be easily satisfied).
Two things make a man of erroneous views: not knowing the Dhamma properly or association with persons of erroneous views or reading books or listening to talks leading to wrong views.
There are five causes of spontaneous thought: suitable climate, suitable place, suitable requisites, suitable instruments and the like, and suitable companions. Lack of one or more of these conditions may possibly make one’s thoughts unspontaneous.
Bad deeds caused by unwholesome thoughts: stealing, robbery, adultery, telling lies, backbiting for some gain, idle gossip, taking intoxicating drugs and the like – these wrong deeds are committed with thoughts rooted in greed (lobha).
Hurting, killing, scolding and sometimes telling lies or backbiting – these are committed with thoughts rooted in aversion (dosa-mulaka-citta).
Sometimes one may steal another’s property not because he craves it but, because of anger or jealousy, to make another suffer a heavy loss. At the moment when he takes the things away, there arises in him thoughts rooted in greed (lobha), but they have been conditioned by preceding thoughts rooted in aversion (dosappaccaya-lobha-mulaka-
Suppose a meat eater kills a hen. One may suppose that he does it with a thought rooted in greed (lobha-mulaka-citta), but it is quite otherwise. With a greedy thought one cannot destroy life. At the very moment that he is killing, he has within him a cruel thought (a thought rooted in aversion). Had he greed for the animal’s life, he could not destroy it. He desires not the hen’s life but her flesh. That is why he destroys her life. First he has greed for her flesh, but at the moment of killing his thought is rooted in aversion. So he kills the hen with a thought rooted in aversion which is incited by thoughts rooted in greed. So hundreds of thought processes with greedy thoughts may be followed by hundreds of thought-processes which contain impulsive thoughts rooted in aversion. As they rise and pass away so fast and so rapidly, within a few seconds, they would seem so the average man to be one simple thought, and consequently he would wrongly think that the greed for the flesh (of the hen) and unkindness or aversion might arise at the same time.
Wholesome thoughts (Kusala-citta)
(Talk given on 29th August at Amaravati)
1. Suppose eight men were passing by the headquarters of a movement which does much service for the improvement of social conditions of the people. One of the said eight persons was moved upon seeing the board outside the headquarters, and promptly went in and gave a donation. He was a generous man of much knowledge. He gave his donation very willingly and joyfully. At that moment he had in his mind (in his thought-process) a thought or consciousness which was automatic (or spontaneous) accompanied by pleasant feeling and full of understanding.
2. The second man of the party, urged by the first man who explained to him the value of the above movement’s service, understood the importance of supporting such services and gave a donation very willingly. At this moment he had in his mind an unspontaneous thought (prompted by another) accompanied by pleasant feeling and understanding.
3. The third man of the party was not so wise as the former two, but due to habits formed from the association with his generous parents who did such things very often, he too gave a donation very gladly to the movement. In him at that moment, it is clear, there arose a wholesome thought accompanied by pleasant feeling and also spontaneous, but without sufficient understanding of the value of the movement’s service or of the value of what he does.
4. The fourth man, too, was dull-minded and was not used to thinking of the value of a philanthropic service and was passing by silently. But, urged by the first three, he gave some money and was happy that he had followed his companions. His thought at that moment was not spontaneous, not accompanied by reasoning faculty (knowledge), but full of pleasant feeling.
5. The fifth man was generous and deep thinking and wanted to give some donation to the movement, but he found that he did not have sufficient money with him at that moment. This made him not so happy. However, he gave the movement a very small amount of money from his pocket. His thought at that moment was spontaneous (or automatic) and accompanied by understanding, but indifferent I feeling as he could not give as much as he would have liked to.
6. The sixth man had no habit of supporting such movements. Ignoring what his companions did, he was about to pass the place. But the others urged him to give the movement even a small donation. The latter considered the matter carefully, saw the importance of their service and moved to give a big donation. However, searching in his purse, he found it was nearly empty. He donated the little amount of money he had, willingly. But he was not happy that he could not gratify his desire to give a big donation to his satisfaction. So the thought that arose in him at that moment was one prompted by others (or unspontaneous) and accompanied by indifferent feeling, though associated with understanding.
7. The seventh man promptly offered a small donation as was his habit. But he was not so happy because he could not come in line with the first two persons. So his thought at that moment was spontaneous (or automatic) accompanied by indifferent feeling and with no knowledge of the value of what he did or what the movement was doing.
8. The eighth man, having been urged by others, but with no interest, gave something to the movement. In him at that moment there arose an unspontaneous thought with indifferent feeling and with no understanding whatever.
Now follows the summary of all the eight kinds of wholesome consciousness:
1. Spontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with understanding (knowledge).
(somanassa-sahagata nana-sampayutta asankharika citta)
2. Unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with understanding (knowledge).
(somanassa-sahagata nana vippayutta asankharika-citta)
3. Spontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling but disassociated from understanding (knowledge).
(somanassa-sahagata nan vippayutta asankharika-citta)
4. Unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by plesant feeling but disassociated from understanding (knowledge).
(somanassa-sahagata nana vippayutta asankharika-citta)
5. Spontaneous consciousness accompanied by hedonic indifference and associated with understanding (or knowledge).
(upekkha sahagata nana sampayutta asankahrika citta)
6. Unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by hedonic indifference and associated with understanding (knowledge).
(upekkha-sahagata nana-sampayutta sasankharika citta)
7. Spontaneous consciousness accompanied by hedonic indifference and disassociated from understanding (knowledge).
(upekkha-sahagata nan-vippayutta asankharika citta)
8. Unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by hedonic indifference and disassociated from understanding (knowledge)
(upekkha-sahagata nan-vippayutta sasankharika citta)
Resultant Consciousness (of unwholesome Karmic thoughts)
(Talk given on the 3rd September 1985 at Amaravati)
“Monks, I say that ‘Cetana’ is Karma”. Thus according to the teachings of the Buddha, Karma is ‘Cetana’. It is Cetana that incites, motivates and rouses one to do a deed. Now what is Cetana? The Pali word ‘Cetana’ has been wondered into English by scholars in various ways, as ‘will’ (or volition), as ‘determinate thought’ and so on. But I see such a single word cannot give its full significance. As I understand it, Cetana in this context is the impulsive and forceful volition accompanied by strong motive and intention. Though Cetana is common to all thoughts it is stronger in thoughts in which there are root conditions, either good or bad. Bad or unwholesome root conditions are three: Lobha (greed), Dosa (aversion) and Moha (delusion). Good or wholesome root conditions are Alobha (non-greed), Adosa (non-aversion) and Amoha (non-delusion). A deed is karmically determined as good or bad by good or bad ‘Cetana’ associated with the suitable root condition.
Suppose a rich man aiming at an honour from the government spends a hundred thousand pounds and builds a hospital. But the same person when a poor man comes to him in private asking for some help, refuses to see him and makes his servants drive him out of the gate. People who do not know his motive, may estimate his building of the hospital from surface value and praise him, mistaking him for a very generous man. But if we see his motive we will regard his deed as a kind of bribing done for winning an honour.
Suppose a poor man gives his small share of food to an even poorer man. Though this act has not been published in newspapers with big headings as that richman’s gift, this poor man’s deed is a million times greater than the other’s deed. The poor person gave his food to the other man out of sheer pity and from an unselfish motive.
When a person does a deed good or bad and he does it from a ‘Cetana’, which incites and gives him the impulse to do it. Though thought (consciousness) together with its Cetana vanishes in a moment (according to the inherent nature of thoughts), while vanishing, it deposits its force in the current of the thought-stream, in other words, the impulsive thought transforms itself into energy or force and becomes a part of the current of the thought-stream, and begins to mature. When it becomes mature or ripe enough, it rises up in the form of the resultant thought (vipaka-citta).
The results of a karma (i.e. karmic thought) is twofold; namely the result as a birth in a suitable plane and the result that comes up after birth.
Resultants of unwholesome karmic thoughts
There are 12 types of unwholesome thoughts as explained in lessons 3 and 4. Except the thought accompanied by confusion all the other 11 kinds of thoughts, when they mature enough, are able to give both kinds of results: patisandhi-vipaka and pavatti-vipaka (i.e. to be reborn and to give results after the birth). The appearance of embryo is conditioned and influenced by such a karmic thought that has transformed itself into a forceful energy and has matured at due time. The very same forceful min-energy being so mature rises up together with the embryo simultaneously, which is called patisandhi-citta (conceiving consciousness). This conceiving consciousness is the successive one to the final consciousness of the immediate previous life, of the same thought-stream. The conceiving consciousness arises and vanishes in a moment causing a consciousness of the same type to arise successively. These recurring thought which are of the same type of the conceiving consciousness of the same type to arise successively. These recurring thoughts which are of the same type of the conceiving consciousness are called ‘bhavanga’ (the life continuum). When the thought-stream has not turned towards any outer object, the bhavanga consciousness continues to arise and vanish even a million times. When a man or a beast has a sound (dreamless) sleep, billions of bhavanga-cittas continue to arise and vanish.
The patisandhi-citta is the patisandhi-vipaka, while bhavangas are pavatti-vipakas i.e. after-birth results. The same karmic consciousness or thought when mature (as mentioned in the foregoing description) arises in manifold forms as cakkhu-vinnana (eye consciousness), sota-vinnana (ear consciousness), ghana-vinnana (nose consciousness), jivha-vinnana (tongue consciousness), kaya-vinnana (body consciousness), sampaticchana (recipient consciousness) santirana (investigating consciousness) and tadalambana (registering = making impression in the mind).
When a man does any deed, good or bad, there is within his mind as a dormant tendency the desire for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, receiving and inquiring the objects. Consequently, every good or bad karma (i.e. the force of thought and cetana), when maturing, arises as seeing consciousness and the like, in appropriation to the occasion. The resultant forms of unwholesome thoughts are very weak. Therefore they don’t have within themselves any root condition (hetu). Hence they are called ‘ahetukas’, those that are without any root conditions within themselves.
The conceiving consciousness which is the resultant (or matured form) of any of the afore-said eleven types of unwholesome consciousness is termed as ‘upekkha-sahagata-akusala-
Thus there are 7 kinds of resultants (or resulting consciousness) of the unwholesome (akusala) karmic thoughts. When the force of one of the first eleven unwholesome thoughts becomes mature enough to give rebirth in some unhappy plane the main part of the force of the same karmic thought manifests itself as the conceiving consciousness or birth consciousness and the remaining part of the same karmic force manifests itself as other resultant thoughts as cakkuvinnana etc., which rise either in a happy or unhappy plane where there are sense-organs. The conceiving consciousness that arises in an unhappy plane is called akusala-vipakahetuka mano-vinnana. It is the very same consciousness that arises at the moment of investigating an object. So it is known under the name Santirana-citta (investigating consciousness) also.
Thus there are 7 kinds of akusala-vipaka-cittas (the resultant thoughts of the unwholesome):
Upekkha-sahagata-sota-vinnana (ear consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling)
Upekkha-sahagata-ghana-vinnana (nose consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling)
Upekkha-sahagata-jivha-vinnana (tongue consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling)
Dukkha-sahagata-kaya-vinnana (body consciousness accompanied by uncomfortable feeling)
Except the body consciousness all the six kinds are accompanied by indifferent feeling, because their contact with their objects is not strong and striking. So when a disagreeable object touches the body the feeling that arises in the body consciousness is uncomfortable.
Resultants of the wholesome karmic consciousness
Naturally good or wholesome karmic consciousness is stronger than the unwholesome ones. Unwholesome thoughts in their own nature impair the psycho-physical process. But the wholesome thoughts, quite conversely, refresh both the mental and physical sides of the life. So the good thoughts or wholesome karmic thoughts as they mature, manifest themselves as good resultant thoughts. They are of two kinds, as those together with root conditions (ahetuka) and those without root conditions (ahetuka). They are given below.
Eight resultants accompanied by root conditions:
1. The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with knowledge.
2. The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with knowledge.
3. The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and not associated with knowledge.
4. The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and not associated with knowledge.
5. The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling and associated with knowledge.
6. The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling and associated with knowledge.
7. The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and dissociated from knowledge.
8. The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and dissociated from knowledge.
Eight resultants not accompanied by root conditions:
- Eye consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling
- Ear consciousness accompanied by indifferent feleing
- Nose consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling
- Tongue consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling
- Body consciousness accompanied by comfortable feeling
- Recipient consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling
- Investigating consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling
- Investigating consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling
When the object is extremely beautiful or exquisitely agreeable, the investigating consciousness is accompanied by pleasant feeling. Suppose a man sees a beautiful form. Immediately his thought-process turns towards it, and eye consciousness depending on this object arises. It is the recipient consciousness that arises next. Next to that investigating consciousness arises. In this same way the ear consciousness and the other types of consciousness arise appropriately to the occasion.
Maha-Kriya-cittas (Functional Consciousness)
The Buddhas and Arahants perform good deeds like giving instructions, treating the sick and so on. They do such deeds out of sheer compassion and expect nothing in reward. They do them as their duties and services to the world. On such occasions there arise within them any of the eight types of wholesome consciousness as mentioned in the foregoing lessons. But in their case they are called Kriya-cittas or the Functional Consciousness in Buddhist psychological nomenclature. ‘Kriya’ means mere function. The volition in such consciousness finds no ground to mature in, as the doer has already rooted out the attachment to the world.
Suppose a man cuts a creeper off its root and thus severs its connection to the ground. If the rain falls meanwhile the creeper survives for a short time and produces flowers, too. But such flowers never mature enough to produce fruits as the creeper has been disconnected from its root. Similar is the case with the deeds done by the Buddhas and Arahants. As the attachment to the world has been rooted out, consequently they will not be reborn in the world, and their deeds find no ground to produce their results such as causing rebirth in some plane and giving after-birth results. Their deeds are mere kriyas, mere functions.
The eight Kriya-cittas (the types of Functional Consciousness)
- The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with knowledge.
- The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and associated with knowledge.
- The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and not associated with knowledge.
- The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by pleasant feeling and not associated with knowledge.
- The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling and associated with knowledge.
- The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling and associated with knowledge.
- The spontaneous consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling and not associated with knowledge.
- The unspontaneous consciousness accompanied by indifferent feeling and not associated with knowledge.
Out of these eight types of consciousness only those accompanied with knowledge arise in the thought stream of the Buddhas relevant to the occasion. But as regards Arahants, any one of them might arise in their mind under the circumstance. These are generally called Maha-Kriya-cittas.
The Three Kriya-cittas with no accompanied root-conditions
There are three kinds of Functional Consciousness disconnected from root-conditions. One of the three is the consciousness that arises turning the thought-stream towards a new sense-object.
Suppose a man is engaged in doing some work quietly. Meanwhile, suddenly a person comes to him. He is disturbed by it and immediately his thought-stream turns towards the figure of the visitor. This occurs naturally in every such case. This turning consciousness is not accompanied by any root-condition and hence it is called the Consciousness that turns towards the sense-objects but without any hetu (ahetuka). In Pali terminology it is called panca-dvaravajjana-citta. Panca-dvara means the five sense-gates. Avajjana means turning towards.
There is another similar consciousness that arises when the thought-stream turns towards some idea past, present or future. Suppose a person reads a book and suddenly he remembers something past, present or future. Suppose a person reads a book and suddenly he remembers something past. The consciousness that turns towards such a picture in mind is called Mano-dvaravajjana-citta. Manodvara means mind-door. This consciousness, too, is without any accompanying Hetu (root-condition).
The Buddha when he meets or talks to a person, it is natural, a slight smile appears on his face. Sometimes when he sees something peculiar or important, he makes a slight smile. It too is with a consciousness without any root-condition. It is called Hasituppada-citta (the consciousness which causes a slight smile).
The Buddhas and Arahants never laugh making noise or showing teeth as average persons do. They make only a smile. Out of the eight kriya-cittas with Hetus (or maha-kriya-cittas), four are accompanied by pleasant feeling. According to the circumstance any of them might arise in an Arahant’s mind. But as regards the Buddhas, there might arise only one of the three cittas when they smile, namely, one of the two Maha-kriya-cittas accompanied by knowledge which are with hetus and Hasituppada which is without hetus. Any Arahant may possibly smile with the Hasituppada-consciousness.
As has been said before there are three ahetuka-kriya-citta (types of functional consciousness without root-conditions).
Cittas (thoughts) related to the sensual plane (kamavacara).
Unwholesome thoughts (akusala-cittas) rooted in greed (lobha)
Unwholesome thoughts (akusala-cittas) rooted in aversion (dosa)
Unwholesome thoughts (akusala-cittas) rooted in intense delusion (momuha)
All unwholesome (akusala) thoughts
Resultants of the unwholesome thoughts
Wholesome thoughts (kusala-cittas)
Resultants of wholesome thoughts without roots (ahetuka)
Resultants of wholesome thoughts with roots (sahetuka)
Functional thoughts with root-conditions (sahetuka-kriya)
Functional thoughts without root conditions (ahetuka-kiriya)
All types of consciousness related to sensual plane (kamavachara-cittas)
Thoughts related to subtle material plane
Wholesome karmic thoughts
(Talk given on the 10th September 1985 at Amaravati)
Suppose a person tired of sensual pleasures intends to attain peace of mind, rid of sensuality. He thus turns himself away from sensual objects and tries to fix his mind on an object disconnected from sensual things. He, according to the teachings to the ancient Yogis (and even recommended by the Lord Buddha), chooses an object of concentration according to the given instructions.
Suppose he has so chosen the light-kasina for his object of concentration. According to the instruction of the expert Yogis the object of concentration he so chooses must be a circle of light fallen on a wall or on some similar thing in a secluded place. The circle of light must be one handspan and four inches in diameter and the meditator should sit down on a comfortable seat two and a half cubits away from the said device of light. Sitting by himself he should practise concentration on ‘the circle of light’. At the start he should open his eyes with an even gaze and look at the device (but must not strain his eyes). He should not open his eyes too widely nor too narrowly. He should try to see mentally the replica of the light-device. While he concentrates he should repeat is name in any language he could understand such as “light, light, light”. As his voice is the nearest sound, it prevents external sounds reaching his ear. It also further helps him turn his mind towards the object of his meditation.
After some practice he will be able to visualize the circle of light. He will see it before his mind’s eye. The more he fixes his mind on the visualized object the further he will be removed from all other things in the world. As his concentration on this object becomes stronger and stronger his mind gets farther and farther away from sensual pleasures and it increasingly ignores the objects of sensuality. Consequently the gross mental blemishes would not find an opportunity to rise up in his mind. The mind becomes purer and purer every moment. The purity of mind begins to be reflected on the mental replica. Then it begins, little by little, to appear brighter and brighter. At last it appears as a circular mass of extremely bright light. This, in Buddhist terminology, is called ‘after image’.
At this stage the concentration rises to the level called ‘access-concentration’.
Now he should try to enlarge and spread this light all over the whole space he could imagine. After some practice of fixing his mind on this after image, his concentration will be strengthened and persistent, being fixed on the object, like a nail firmly stuck in a piece of wood. Now before long his mind rises to a level at which it will be very strongly fixed on the after image and will be accompanied by simultaneously developed five mental factors namely, initial application, sustained application rapture, ease and one-pointedness of mind.
The stage of development of concentration is called First Jhana (the first stage of ecstatic concentration). Out of the five constitutents of this Jhana the initial application inhibits sloth and torpor of mind, sustained application inhibits perplexity, rapture inhibits ill-will, ease inhibits flurry and worry and one-pointedness of mind inhibits sensuality. The person who has attained to this Jhanic state experiences a feeling of ease and happiness, full of ecstasy and rapture never before even dreamt of by him. Frequently he enters this Jhanic state and wakes up from it over and over again. Doing this he will be able to master it. Then he should try to achieve the next higher stage. This second Jhanic consciousness consists of four constituents: sustained application, rapture, ease and one-pointedness of mind. The third Jhana consists of rapture, ease and one-pointedness of mind. The fourth Jhana is accompanied by ease and one-pointedness of mind. The fifth Jhana is accompanied by equanimity and one-pointedness of mind. When practising these and rising higher and higher in Jhanic level, he has to master each Jhana in five ways: mastery in recollecting, mastery in entering, mastery in steadying the duration, mastery in waking up and mastery in reviewing the Jhana. It is said in the Visuddhi-magga: “He becomes aware of the first Jhana where, when and for as long as he wishes, he has no difficulty in becoming aware, thus it is mastery in awareness. He attains the first Jhana, where… he has no difficulty in attaining. He resolves upon the duration of the first Jhana, where… thus it is mastery in resolving upon the duration of the first Jhana, where… he emerges from the first Jhana… he reviews the first Jhana where, when and for as long as he wishes, he has no difficulty in reviewing.” Thus he has to master all the five Jhanas by these five ways of mastery.
The five kinds of Jhanic consciousness which the Yogi attains are the Karmic Wholesome (kusala) mind-units of the level related to Subtle (fine) Material Plane.
They are summarized as follows:
1. The first Jhanic wholesome consciousness accompanied by initial application, sustained application, rapture, ease and one-pointedness.
2. The second Jhainc wholesome consciousness accompanied by sustained application, rapture, ease and one-pointedness of mind.
3. The third Jhanic wholesome consciousness accompanied by rapture, ease and one-pointedness of mind.
4. The fourth Jhanic wholesome consciousness accompanied by ease and one-pointedness of mind.
5. The fifth Jhanic wholesome consciousness accompanied y equanimity and one-pointedness of mind.
These are called the five Jhanic Kusala (wholesome) thoughts related to the subtle material plane.
It seems that a little more description should be given with regard to how a yogi passes from the first Jhana to the fifth one. Suppose he attains to the first Jhana and masters it in the five ways of mastery already mentioned. After perfectly mastering the first Jhana he becomes so familiar to the Jhana-object that whenever he likes to enter the Jhana (in other words, to fix his mind on the Jhanic object), dissociated from the initial application he will easily attain to it.
If the yogi so likes, after the mastery over the fifth Jhana, he would be able to develop psychic powers like clairvoyance, clairaudience, levitation and the like. However, some yogis do not like to make an effort for such powers as they hope to develop themselves still further.
Resultants of the types of Jhanic consciousness related to the subtle material plane
The person who has attained to the afore-mentioned Jhanic states will be reborn into that particular division of the subtle material plane relevant to his attainment. The rebirth-consciousness that arises in his succeeding life (in the subtle material plane) is the resultant consciousness of the particular Jhana he has attained. Thus relevant to the five types of Jhanic wholesome (kusala) consciousness there are five types of resultant consciousness.
Suppose a person has attained to the first Jhana and has not risen further up. After his death he will be reborn into the appropriate division of the subtle material plane. His rebirth consciousness will be the matured form of his Jhanic consciousness he has already attained. It will consist of the five factors that the first Jhanic wholesome (kusala) consciousness has possessed such as initial application (vitakka) etc. But all these factors and the consciousness are in a passive mood. They are not active. This same rebirth-consciousness recurs as the life-continuum (Bhavanga) as long as he lives in the same life. The same will be the final consciousness (Cuti-citta) at his death in the same life. When an external object impinges his life continuum (passive subliminal consciousness or Bhavanga), an active thought process arises as in a similar occasion in the sensuous plane with the exception of thought processes connected with smelling, tasting and physical touching. When a person here practises yoga and attains to the first Jhana, naturally he suppresses the desire for smelling, tasting and bodily touching. Therefore when the same person is reborn into the relevant subtle material plane, his nose, tongue and body are devoid of their sensitive parts. Such a being may see and hear but neither smell nor taste or touch with his body. The beings of this plane and of the non-material do not have in their thought processes the types of consciousness united with aversion and also nay kind of registering consciousness (tadalambana-citta).
Functionals or Ineffectives of the Jhanic consciousness
Suppose a Buddha or an arahant enters upon a Jhanic ecstasy and experiences the peace of mind which is often being done by them as a way of taking rest or giving refreshment to their physical body, on such occasions they have in their thought stream the Jhana-thought corresponding to the wholesome Jhana-thoughts (Jhana-kusala) as given in the foregoing description. As they have already rooted out the attachment to the world their Jhana-consciousness finds not ground to mature as its result. Thus it is only functional.
Thus altogether there are five of them corresponding to the five types of wholesome (kusala) Jhana consciousness.
In this way there are five resultants and five functionals (ineffectiveness) of Jhana-types related to the subtle material plane.
Jhana Kusalas (wholesome karmic) thoughts:
1st Jhana wholesome consciousness accompanied by Initial application, sustained application, rapture, ease and one-pointedness.
2nd Jhana wholesome consciousness accompanied by sustained application, rapture, ease and one-pointedness.
3rd Jhana wholesome consciousness accompanied by rapture, ease and one-pointedness.
4th Jhana wholesome consciousness accompanied by ease and one-pointedness.
5th Jhana wholesome consciousness accompanied by equanimity and one-pointedness.
The Resultants are five corresponding to these wholesome five in their factors.
The Functionals are also similar in accompanying factors.
Consciousness related to the non-material (or pure mental) plane
(Talk given on the 24th September 1985 at Amaravati)
The meditator who has mastered the fifth Jhana related to the subtle material plane, sees in many ways the frailty and disadvantages even of the subtle material existence and intends to get rid of entire materiality and to exist only as pure mind. It is the attachment to the material existence that forces a being to be caged in a material body. So the meditator intends to suppress the desire even for the subtle materiality. He examines and sees the defects even of the ‘after image’, on which he has so long fixed his mind and now tries to keep his mind rid of the same.
First he spreads the after-image (the kasina-light) all over the conceptualized mental space and then wills and determines that the same light should disappear from the conceptualized mental space and sees in its place the infinite empty space. But this is only a concept. Next he turns his attention towards this infinite mental space. He tries to fix his mind and keep it unmoved from the same visualized mental space, while repeating ‘space, space’ or ‘infinite space, infinite space’. After some practice he will be able to keep his mind fixed on the visualized space. The consciousness thus fixed is called “the wholesome (kusala) consciousness fixed on the infinite space”. He develops mastery over this state of concentration in five ways as mentioned before. After some time he will see it not far from the material level and hence even too gross. Then he aspires to rise higher and farther from materiality. Thus he enters the Jhana and thoroughly experiences it and wakes up. Now he turns his attention towards what he has already experienced and remembers the nature of his Jhanic stage he has so attached to. Now he tries to fix his present consciousness on the remembered or conceptualised past consciousness that had fixed on the infinite space and muses ‘this consciousness is infinite’. Although in the beginning it appears somewhat difficult to fix his present mind on the previous Jhanic consciousness, it will be easier after some practice. After some time there arises within him a consciousness thoroughly fixed on the past consciousness that had fixed on infinite space. This is the second wholesome Jhanic consciousness related to the non-material plane.
Now he enters this state of Jhana over and over and enjoys the peace and bliss it brings and develops mastery over it in five ways as before. After some experiences he sees his mind is still somewhat gross. Now he enters the Jhana and thoroughly experiences it wakes up, and turns his attention towards the absence at this moment of the consciousness of the infinite space. He conceptualizes this ‘absence’ as void or nothingness. How he concentrates his mind on this ‘nothingness’.
This is the wholesome consciousness related to the third stage of the non-material plane (akincannayatana-kusala-
He experiences the Jhanic peace of this stage and master it in the afore-mentioned five ways, and then sees it as still somewhat gross and tries to grasp the present Jhanic consciousness thoroughly. He enters the Jhana of nothingness and rises up from it and remembers and tries to fix the present mind on the immediate past Jhanic consciousness. He tries over and over again and at last will be successful in his endeavour. Now he is able to fix thoroughly his mind on the third Jhanic consciousness which had ‘nothingness’ for its object. The result of this procedure is the rise in his thought-stream of a Jhanic consciousness which is so fine and so subtle as to be called ‘neither perceptive nor non-perceptive”. It may also be called the ‘consciousness neither conscious nor unconscious’ or “neither thinking nor not thinking”.
This is the last stage that anybody may be able to develop his mind within the world, in other words the culmination of worldly development (loka-thupika). This is the fourth and final consciousness as well related to the non-material plane.
Resultants of the non-material plane
The resultant thoughts related to the non-material (or mental) plane are the matured forms of the corresponding wholesome (kusala) consciousness related to the same plane, which arises as the relinking consciousness (patisandhi-citta), life continuum (bhavanga) and the dying consciousness in the very same plane (when the yogi is reborn into the same plane. If his mind-stream turns towards some idea or something imagined or remembered, some wholesome or unwholesome mind-units related to the sensuous plane (except those united with aversion) may possibly arise in it.
A person born into this plane is not able to attain to the first holy stage, ‘Stream-entrance’ (sotapatti) as he does not find means to hear the instruction of a teacher, which is most necessary for entering upon the holy path.
But one who has already entered upon the holy path (sotapanna) is able to develop his mind along the remaining six stages and is able even to attain arahantship while being in the non-material plane.
Functional consciousness related to the non-material plane
The Buddha and also arahants sometimes enter upon the Jhanas related to the non-material plane. On such occasions the Jhanic consciousness that arises in them does not mature as its own resultant, because the ground, the attachment to the existence in the non-material plane has already been rooted out. Therefore such Jhanic consciousness of an arahant or of the Buddha belongs neither to the category of wholesome (kusala) nor to that of resultant (vipaka), it is included in the class of functionals (kriya-citta). Thus according to the foregoing description there are four types of wholesome (kusala) consciousness, four types of resultant (vipaka) consciousness and four types of functional (kriya) consciousness that are related to the non-material plane.
Supramundane Consciousness (Lokuttara-citta)
(Talks given on the 27th and 29th September 1985 at Amaravati)
Every successful deed depends upon relevant self-control or discipline. If a student expects to be successful in his studies, he should have relevant bodily and vocal controls as prerequisites. Similarly at the outset of a real religious practice, a devotee should have within him pure character or conduct as the basis or foundation of his practice. This is called ‘sila’ in pali. The Lord Buddha said: “Being established in sila (morality or morally good conduct and behaviour), the ardent seeker, wise and tactful, should develop mind and insight. It is he that will undo this tangle.’
Thus a man who expects to get rid of all misery should follow the path of self-purification which contains of three constituents namely, morality (or good conduct) or sila, control of mind by development of right concentration (Samadhi) and development of insight (panna).
The first factor of this three-factored path is morality or the practice of right conduct. At least a person should keep daily to five precepts and to eight precepts on sabbath days, living a life of harmlessness, honesty, chastity and simplicity. If one expects to practise Jhanas one should necessarily live a celibate life. In this case, if there is no way for him to enter the order of monks, he should observe five precepts with celibacy or eight precepts or 10 precepts. If the meditator is a monk he should live the life of four fold restraint (sila visuddhi). Thus while living a life of good conduct one should develop right concentration. By this means one will be able to inhibit upsurging passions. This is successfully done by attaining to Jhanas (citta visuddhi). After suppressing passions in this way he should try to purify his views (ditthi).
The ordinary man not versed in the Dhamma of the Buddha, may mistake his whole life, or parts of his life, either mental or physical for something substantial consisting of some unchanging entity, for the feeler, the enjoyer or sufferer. A yogi, too, may sometimes be deluded by the jhanic bliss, and may take some jhanic constituent for an ego entity and become attached thereto. Any and every type of attachment drags one down to the world which is a place of worries. So, realization of the exact nature of life in the world is what is required for getting rid of such attachment.
At the outset of this procedure one should analyse one’s mind and body. He should investigate every constituent of body as well as of his mind. Eventually he will find there only a flow of incessantly changing physical states and a continuity of thoughts or mind-units (nama-santati) accompanied by diverse mental coefficients. He may see how all these rise and vanish at every moment and eventually dispel the concept of identity. The attainment to this understanding is called the purification of views (ditthi-visuddhi).
Now he should exaine and seek out the causes of the rise and fall of those mental and physical constituents. After a long and careful search he will find how they rise and fall and also understand that none of them is a part of any sort of permanent entity. Doubts with regard to the law of cause and effect will subside and he (or she) will be joyful and very much refreshed. This stage of development is called the purification of mind by overcoming doubt (kankha-vitarana-visuddhi).
As he is influenced by joy and refreshment of mind and body when he attains to this stage, his blood becomes clear and cleansed and it results in a kind of aura which the body begins to emit. He, on this occasion, feels joyful or full of zest. He feels very happy, serene, energetic, even-minded, very pious, mindful and keenly intelligent. But at the same time he may feel attached to these attainments. Some meditators mistake this stage of development for arahantship and claim to have attained the same and would stop further practice. At this juncture the meditator must be very careful, more attentive and exhaustively inquisitive of all aspects of the afore-said attainments. When he examines and analyses them he would understand their illusive nature. Consequently he releases his hold on them and begins to scrutinize all his experiences. This knowledge of discrimination between the right way and the wrong way is called ‘the purification of the knowledge of right and wrong ways’ (maggamagga-nana-dassana-
Now the meditator examines the rise and fall of all the constituents of his psycho-physical life. The more he examines, the clearer he sees the falling away or breaking down of all the mental and material (physical) states of his life (Udaya-vyaya-nana).
This experience makes him clearly see the continual change and dying nature of what he has so far considered to be ‘himself’ (bhanga-nana).
When he clearly sees that at every moment all parts or constituents of his body and mind are breaking down and dying he would feel himself helpless. He becomes full of fear (bhaya-nana). He sees no hope or refuge, no safeguard for himself within his mind-body-continuity. By this he feels thoroughly tired and exhausted (adinava-nana). Still further examining this nature he feels disgusted with his psycho-physical process (nibbida-nana). Now he feels anxious of getting rid of this troublesome burden of mind-body-existence. So he begins to examine his mind and body deeper and deeper and realizes hat there is no “I” to get troubled with, that there is nothing to be taken as ‘mine’, that there are only mental and material states continually rising and vanishing and that they thus rise and vanish in their inherent and unavoidable nature.
When the meditator realizes that everything that rises is subject to fall away and that it is inherent in every conditioned thing, he will not be worried but be indifferent and equanimous (sankharupekkha-nana).
Now he has realized that all conditioned things, whether internal or external are subject to the nature of rising and vanishing momentarily and consequently feels thoroughly detached from all those things. Instantly three signata (ie. impermanence, unsatisfactoriness or restlessness and non-ego-entity) become clearer and clearer and more and more evident (patipadanana-visuddhi). His introspection rises to its maturity. On this occasion two or three thoughts (mind units) fixed on one of the three signata rise and pass away followed by a consciousness (or mind-unit), which arises letting go of the conditioned things that his thought stream has been holding on to for so long. This consciousness (or mind-unit) catches hold of anew object, that is the unconditioned element (asankhata-dhatu or Nirvana), which appears before his mind’s eye hazily. Immediately next to it the fully matured mind-unit arises seeing and focusing itself on Nirvana. This is the first path-consciousness (pathama-magga-citta). The meditator now has entered the path to Nirvana definitely and will never turn back. A boat that has got on to a rapid stream bound to sea will never turn upstream. Similar is the condition of the meditator who has reached this stage. So the path he has to tread from this moment is called sota (rapid stream) and the setting upon this path is called apatti (setting upon or entering), and hence this stage is called sotaptti (stream-entering). The consciousness or mind-unit that arises at this instant is called also ‘sotapatti-magga-citta’. This mind-unit, while arising, roots out the belief in the existence of an ego-entity, doubt, regard for rites and ceremonies. It is followed by tow or three mind-units fixing themselves on Nibbana and removing thereby the fatigue that had been caused by those rooted out passions. Of these mind-units the first one (magga-citta) is the kusala (or wholesome active) consciousness of the supramundane class (lokuttara) of mind-units, and the succeeding two or three mind-units are its resultants (lokuttara0phala-cittas). Then the thought stream subsides into subliminal passive state (bhavanga). Then after some moments, bhavanga is arrested and mind – door – consciousness arises turning towards the immediate past experience and there arise mind-units reflecting the path consciousness, its function (or resultant consciousness) and Nibbana, and by this he sees also what defilements of mind he has destroyed and what are yet to be rooted out. The person that has attained to this state is called sotapanna (one who has entered the holy stream i.e. noble (holy) eight-factored path).
If he does not attain to any higher stage of the path in the same life he will take seven rebirths before he attains to arahantship. But if he tries sufficiently he may be able to attain to arahantship even before that time. If he develops Vipassana even during the present life-time he may attain other stages of the path.
When he develops Vipassana he may attain to once-returner’s stage. When his vipassana matures enough, a consciousness arises catching hold of nibbana, and next to it arises a consciousness (mind-unit) fixing itself on Nibbana and attenuating all remaining mental defilements, which is followed by two or three mind-units removing the fatigue (of those defilements that had been attenuated). Then the thought process subsides into passive subliminal conscious state (bhavanga) and in a very short time bhavanga is arrested and mind-door consciousness arises turning towards the immediate past experience and mind-units arise reflecting the once returner’s path consciousness, its fruition (phala-cittas) and nibbana. By these he sees what defilements of mind he has attenuated and what he has still to destroy. The consciousness or mind unit that arises at the moment of attaining to once-returner’s stage is called dutiya-magga-citta (second path-consciousness) or Sakadagami-magga-citta (once returner’s path-consciousness) and two or three mind-units that follow it are called the fruitions or resultants of the same (sakadagami-pahala-cittas).
If he is not able to achieve any higher state of self-development, only one time he may be reborn here (in the sensual plane).
Suppose he tries and develops his vipassana insight sufficiently, then at the due moment a consciousness would arise catching hold of nibbana for its object. This is followed by a mind unit which fixed itself on Nibbana and roots out desire for sensual pleasures and ill-will. This mind-unit is called angami-magga-citta (non-returner’s path consciousness). A person who has attained to this state will never be reborn into the sensual realm or any lower heaven. This path-consciousness, too, is followed by two or three resultants (or fruition-mind-units) or anagami phala-cittas fixing themselves on nibbana and quenching the fatigue created by the passions that have already been rooted out. Then the thought stream subsides into passive subliminal state (bhavanga). In a very short time it is arrested and mind-door-turning consciousness arises which is followed mind-units which look back and see the nature of the non-returner’s path consciousness and nibbana and also perceiving that there are still some defilements to be rooted out. So he should practise vipassana. If he could not complete the practice sufficiently to develop his insight, he would be reborn into a Brahma-plane called suddhavasa the abode of the holy ones and would attain to arahantship thereat. But if he develops vipassana here sufficiently, at the moment when his practice rises to its culmination, there arises a thought process, as before on such occasions, at which there arises vodana-citta fixing itself on nibbana, which is followed by the fourth path-consciousness or the consciousness of the arahant path (arahatta-magga-citta) which roots out all remaining mental defilements together with their dormant tendencies (anusaya), at the same time fixing itself on nibbana. This is followed by two or three of its fruitions (arahatta-phala-cittas) and the thought-process subsides into passive subliminal state. The arahatta-phala-cittas remove all the fatigue created by those past passions. The passive subliminal state, in a very short time, is arrested and mind-door-consciousness will arise, which is followed by some kamavacara-kriya cittas which reflect the arahant path-consciousness, the passions destroyed by it, its succeeding fruition-consciousness and nibbana. It sees there are no more passions to be destroyed and that there is nothing more to be done or to be practised.
Thus there are eight types of supramundane (lokuttara) consciousness:
Stream-winner’s path consciousness (sotapatti-magga-citta)
Stream-winner’s resultant consciousness (sotapatti-phala-citta)
Once-returner’s path consciousness (sakadagami-magga-citta)
Once-returner’s resultant consciousness (sakadagami-phala-citta)
Non-returner’s path consciousness (anagami-magga-citta)
Non-returner’s resultant consciousness (anagami-phala-citta)
Arahant’s path consciousness (arahatta-magga-citta)
Arahant’s resultant consciousness (arahatta-phala-citta)
Note: At the moment of attainment to stream winner’s state, the stream-winner’s path consciousness arises naturally, together with the five factors of first jhana. If they do not want to develop any other jhanas, all the remaining supramundane thoughts are accompanied by the very same first jhanic nature.