Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality?

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Sati1
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Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality?

Postby Sati1 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:05 pm

Hello,

A few months ago during a lecture on Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, the teacher mentioned that reality as a whole is created by our minds, and that there is no true outside reality at all, not even stars and planets. I found that idea a bit strange and didn't really encounter it as such in the Pali Canon until I came across the ideas of kammic cittas and resultant cittas in the Abhidhammata Sangaha. Am I correct in understanding that a wholesome action today (eg donate money to a monastery) can cause a pleasant feeling in the distant future (eg a job promotion at work in five years or the pleasant flavour of ice cream in the next life)? If that is how cause and effect work according to Buddhism, then wouldn't it be the wisest course of action to place one's effort entirely on pursuit of the path and on cultivation of the mind, given that our mind is the primary force that shapes our condition and our happiness? It would also mean that the physical forces that we think cause events in the world (F = ma) are secondary to kammic forces emanating from the mind. Is this correct view?

Thank you,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby Virgo » Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:43 pm

What that teacher is talking about is chittamatra - a sect of Indian philosophy that developed when there was a major trend of Mahayana Buddhists developing new doctrines (It is also somewhat of a misinterpretation of chittamatra imo). It postdates the Buddha by about 800 years.

Kevin

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby culaavuso » Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:32 pm

Sati1 wrote:... then wouldn't it be the wisest course of action to place one's effort entirely on pursuit of the path and on cultivation of the mind ...


This is said to be true for many reasons given elsewhere in the suttas.

SN 56.48
SN 56.48: Chiggala Sutta wrote:It's likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.

Therefore your duty is the contemplation, 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress.' Your duty is the contemplation, 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.'"


AN 6.19
AN 6.19: Maranassati Sutta wrote:If, on reflecting, he realizes that there are evil, unskillful mental qualities unabandoned by him that would be an obstruction for him were he to die during the day, then he should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities. Just as when a person whose turban or head was on fire would put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness to put out the fire on his turban or head, in the same way the monk should put forth extra desire, effort, diligence, endeavor, undivided mindfulness, & alertness for the abandoning of those very same evil, unskillful qualities.


AN 2.5
AN 2.5: Appativana Sutta wrote:Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will relentlessly exert ourselves, [thinking,] "Gladly would we let the flesh & blood in our bodies dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if we have not attained what can be reached through human firmness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing our persistence."' That's how you should train yourselves.


Sati1 wrote:Is this correct view?


This question can be answered by asking whether such knowledge is related to the four noble truths, or comparing it to the definitions of "right view" given in the discourses.

MN 63
MN 63: Cūḷamālunkya Sutta wrote:And what have I declared? ‘This is suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the origin of suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the cessation of suffering’—I have declared. ‘This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering’—I have declared.

Why have I declared that? Because it is beneficial, it belongs to the fundamentals of the holy life, it leads to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbāna. That is why I have declared it.


MN 117
MN 117: Maha-cattarisaka Sutta wrote:And what is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are contemplatives & brahmans who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view[1] in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.

Note 1.
These various factors are all equivalent to knowledge in terms of the four noble truths. The relationship between these four truths and the issue of skillful and unskillful action is shown in SN 46.51, which notes that analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening is fed by paying appropriate attention to qualities as to whether they are skillful or unskillful.

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby Virgo » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:41 pm

In the Abhidhamma cittas both create kamma (the cittas that create kamma are either of the kusala (wholesome) or akusala (unwholesome) jatis - two of the four jatis or categories of cittas) and experience it's result (all cittas that experience result in Abhidhamma are just vipaaka cittas - one of the four classes or jatis of citta), but kamma and vipaaka are conditions that do not emanate from the mind itself - they simply function in reality just as the other 22 conditions do (and condition each other, and work with the help of other conditions), so this differs greatly from teachers presentation of things.


Kevin
Last edited by Virgo on Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby Sati1 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:10 am

Dear Kevin and culaavuso,

Thank you very much for the very helpful citations. Understanding the powerful causative effect of kamma provides a strong desire for incessantly practicing the Path, even if it means at times sacrificing wordly pleasures for the practice of wholesome deeds.

Virgo wrote:kamma and vipaaka are conditions that do not emanate from the mind itself - they simply function in reality just as the other 22 conditions do (and condition each other, and work with the help of other conditions)


I thought that wholesome and unwholesome kammas arise with volition from the mind (via ignorance -> mental formation -> consciousness). If they don't arise in the mind, where do they originate? Also, would you mind clarifying what 22 conditions you are refering to?

Thank you,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby boris » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:02 pm

If by reality we mean matter, it does not depend on our minds. However, it also does not exist without consciousness, in the sense, that without consciousness there is no experience.

Descartes, it seems, with his 'representative ideas', is the modern philosopher primarily responsible for the present tangle—see Heidegger, op. cit., p. 200 et seq. (Heidegger quotes Kant as saying that it is 'a scandal of philosophy and of human reason in general' that there is still no cogent proof for the 'being-there of things outside us' that will do away with all scepticism. Then he remarks 'The "scandal of philosophy" is not that this proof is yet to be given, but that such proofs are expected and attempted again and again'.) Removal of the pseudo-problem of the 'external' world removes materialism, but does not remove matter
http://nanavira.org/index.php/notes-on- ... tes/phassa

The same can be stated in terms of observation:

The assertion is made here that the event of observing at its simplest must of necessity be complex. Without comparison (confrontation) no observation could be said to have been made at all. For (a) without simultaneous (as it were 'spatial') confrontation of difference in the observed ("This - not that") no observation could be said to happen at all since there would be no way of distinguishing the alleged observation from non-observation; and (b) without difference between the observed and the observer (observable by, successive as it were, 'temporal' comparison as "difference in the new observed") no observation could be happening either, since the alleged observer could not be distinguished from the observed. An "observed that is indistinguishable from the non-observed" will be regarded as unconstitutable as likewise an "observer with no observed" an "observed with no observers" and an "observer and observed indistinguishable inter se".
http://nyanamoli.blogspot.com/2009/12/e ... rving.html

Observed field and observer come together, but it does not mean that observer created observed field.

Sati1 wrote: (via ignorance -> mental formation -> consciousness).


Since it is Abhidhamma topic, I do not want to enter into discussion here, but if you refer to paticcasamuppada, the problem is much more deep then only intentions, and for example let it be translation sankharas as formations, but addition of word "mental" is rather without justification in Pali and base on "creativity of translators". But as I said this tread is not good place to discuss this problem.
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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:13 pm

Non-Abhidhamma discussion moved here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=20123&p=281956#p281956

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby Sati1 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 2:20 pm

Dear Boris and Lyndon,

Very interesting indeed. I guess the very question of "outside reality being created by the mind" implies a dualistic distinction between mind and world that might not even quite exist, as confirmed by the findings of quantum mechanics.

Thank you also for clarifying the meaning of sankharas.

Best,

:anjali:
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby ponderingon » Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:19 am

I am trying to understand what is reality and what is not reality according to the Abhidhamma:

Once I was having lunch with "Khun Sujin," my good friend in the Dhamma, in a Chinese restaurant in Bangkok. I was served a duck's foot and when I looked at it I had aversion. Khun Sujin said, "Just taste it, try it, without paying attention to the shape and form." I tasted it without paying attention to the shape and form. The taste was good. At that time I did not understand yet the full meaning of Khun Sujin's lesson, but she wanted to show me that the experience through the eyes is one thing, ant eh experience through the tongue the eyes is one thing, and the experience through the tongue quite another thing and thus another reality. We join all the different experiences together into a "whole" and we think" "I am eating a duck's foot."
Duck's foot is not a reality.
What are the realities?
There is the experience of visible object,
there is visible object,
there is attention to shape and form, and this is different from seeing,
there is aversion,
there is tasting, the experience of flavour,
there is flavour,
there is thinking of the flavour.
Thus we see that there are different mental phenomena, namas, and physical phenomena, rupas, and these can be known one at a time. We can begin to develop right understanding of the realities of our life.

If we do not come to know namas and rupas which appear one at a time, we believe that a duck's foot, a person, a house or a car realities which exist. However, these things are ideas, not ultimate realities (paramattha dhammas). Namas and rupas which can be experienced one at a time are realities.

http://www.dhammastudy.com/Introduction.html"

Duck's foot is not a reality.

So duck’s foot is not reality?

What are the realities?
There is the experience of visible object,
there is visible object,
there is attention to shape and form, and this is different from seeing,
there is aversion,
there is tasting, the experience of flavour,
there is flavour,
there is thinking of the flavor

but these things are all reality because they are experience moment by moment?

Can I get some clarification about this?

I don’t understand if this idea of realties function apart from mind creation therefore they are real?

And not reality are all mind creations therefore they are not real?

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Re: Kammic and resultant cittas: do our minds create reality

Postby robertk » Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:50 am

Great quotes about realities and concepts ( eg ducks foot).
Have ypu read the book Realities and Concepts by Sujin Boriharnwanaket?


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