Ben wrote:Hi FlyingOx
According to the Abhidhamma, there are eight cittas, two each (phala: fruition & magga: path) cittas that arise at each ariyan attainment when the citta takes nibbana as its object. Having experienced nibbana, one 'knows'.
I apologise as I don't have more detailed information to give you at this point, perhaps later I'll be able to transcribe a paragraph or two from Bhikkhu Bodhi's A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma that I hope will go towards answering your excellent question.
Guide to v26-28
Supramundane Consciousness (lokuttaracittani): Supramundane consciousness is consciousness that pertains to the process of transcending (uttara) the world (loka) consisting of the five aggregates of clinging. The type of consciousness leads to liberation from samsara, the cycle of birth and death, and to the attainment of Nibbana, the cessation of suffering. There are eight supramundane cittas. These pertain to the four stages of enlightenment – stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and Arahantship. Each stage involves two types of citta, path consciousness (phalacitta) and (maggacitta). All supramundane cittas take as object the unconditioned reality, Nibbana, but they differ as paths and fruits according to their functions. The path consciousness has the function of eradicating (or permanently attenuating) defilements; the fruition consciousness has the functioning of experiencing the degree of liberation made possible by the corresponding path. The path consciousness is a kusalacitta, a wholesome state; the fruition consciousness is a vipakacitta, a resultant.
Each path consciousness arises only once, and endures for only one mind-moment; it is never repeated in the mental continuum of the person who attains it. The corresponding fruition consciousness initially arises immediately after the path moment, and endures for two or three mind-moments. Subsequently it can be repeated, and with practice can be made to endure for many mind-moments, in the supramundane absorption called fruition attainment (phalasamapatti – see below, IV, v 22; IX, v42.
The paths and fruits are attained by the method of meditation called the development of insight [i](vipassanabhavana). This type of meditation involves the strengthening of the faculty of wisdom (panna). By sustained attention to the changing phenomena of mind and matter, the meditator learns to discern their true characteristics of impermanence, suffering and non-self. When these insights gain full maturity, they issue in the supramundane paths and fruits.
Path consciousness of stream-entry (sotapatti-maggacitta): The entry upon the irreversible path to liberation is called stream-entry, and the citta that experiences this attainment is the path consciousness of stream-entry. The stream (sota) is the Noble Eightfold Path, with its sieght factors of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. As the current of the Ganges flows uninterrupted from the Himalayas to the ocean, so the supramundane Noble Eightfold Path flows uninterrupted from the arising of right view to the attainment of Nibbana.
Though the factors of the eightfold path may arise in the mundane wholesome cittas of virtuous worldlings, these factors are not fixed in their destination, since a worldling may change character and turn away from the Dhamma. But a noble disciple who has reached the experience of stream-entry, the path factors become fixed in destiny, and flow like a stream leading to Nibbana.
The path consciousness of stream-entry has the function of cutting off the first three fetters – ‘personality view’ or wrong views of self, doubt about the Triple Gem, and clinging to rites and ceremonines and the belief that they can lead to liberation. It further cuts off akk greed, hatred and delusion strong enough to lead to a sub-human rebirth. This citta also permanently eliminates five other cittas, namely, the four cittas rooted in greed associated with wrong view, and the citta rooted in delusion associated with doubt. One who has undergone the experience of stream-entry is assured of reaching final deliverance in a maximum of seven lives, and of never being reborn in any of the woeful planes of existence.
Path consciousness of once-returning (sakadagami-maggacitta): This citta is the consciousness associated with the Noble Eightfold Path that gives access to the plane of a once-returner. While it does not eradicate any fetters, this citta attenuates the grosser forms of sensual desire and ill will. The person who has reached this stage will be rebirn in this world at most one more time before attaining liberation.
Path consciousness of non-returning (anagami-maggacitta): One who attains the third path will never again be reborn in the sensuous plane. If such a person does not reach Arahantship in the same lifetime, he will be reborn in the fine-material world and there attain the goal. The path consciousness of a non-returning cuts off the fetters of sensual desire and illwill. It also permanently eliminates the two cittas rooted in hate.
Path consciousness of Arahantship (arahatta-maggacitta): An Arahant is a fully liberated person, one who has destroyed (hata) the enemy (ari) consisting of the defilements. The path consciousness of Arahantship is the citta that issues directly in the full liberation of Arahantship. This citta destroys the five subtle fetters – desire for fine-material and immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness, and ignorance. It also eliminates the remaining types of unwholesome cittas – the four rooted in greed dissociated from views and the one rooted in delusion associated with restlessness.
Fruition consciousness (phalacitta): each path consciousness ossues automatically in its respective fruition in the same cognitive series, in immediate succession to the path. Thereafter the fruition citta can arise many times when the noble disciple enters the meditative attainment of fruition. The fruition consciousness, as mentioned earlier, is classified by way of kind as a resultant (vipaka). It should be noted that there are no supramundane functional (kiriya) cittas. This is because when an Arahant enters fruition attainment, the cittas that occr in that attainment belong to the class of resultants, being fruits of the supramundane path.
-- p 66-69, A Comprensive Manual of the Abhidhamma
flyingOx wrote:How does one know the difference between the peace associated with the subtle, supersensory meditative states above the fourth jhana and the peace associated with Nibbana?
Also, how does one know when the roots of the hindrances are destroyed rather than just silenced for a very long time?
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