Discussions of the Patthana (1): Root Condition

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Discussions of the Patthana (1): Root Condition

Postby Virgo » Fri May 20, 2011 2:52 am

This thread will be for the discussion of first of the 24 paccaya or conditions listed in the Great Book (The Patthana, or Book of Conditional Relations). For reference I will post the chapter on Root Condition from Ajahn Sujin's book The Conditionality of Life here. Any points that any one wishes to raise and discuss about Root Condition can be made here, using either the text provided here or another one related to Root Condition. At another time I will open threads about the other conditions, posting material from this book for the purpose of learning and discussion.


The first condition mentioned in the “Paṭṭhāna” is root-condition, hetu-paccaya. There are three akusala hetus: lobha, attachment, dosa, aversion, and moha, ignorance, and these can have many degrees. Lobha can be a slight attachment or it can be clinging, greed or covetousness. Dosa can be a slight aversion, or it can be as intense as anger or hatred. Moha is ignorance of realities, it is ignorance of what is kusala or akusala, and ignorance of the four noble truths 14. Moha is the root of all that is akusala, it arises with each akusala citta. There are three sobhana (beautiful) hetus: alobha, non-attachment or generosity, adosa, non-aversion or kindness, and amoha, paññā or right understanding. The three sobhana hetus can have many degrees, they can even be lokuttara (supramundane), when they accompany lokuttara citta which experiences nibbāna.

These six roots are actually cetasikas or mental factors which accompany citta. They are called root, since they are the firm foundation of the citta. Just as a tree rests on its roots and receives sap through the roots in order to grow, evenso are the akusala cittas and sobhana cittas dependent on the presence of the roots and they cannot occur in their absence. Thus, the roots are powerful conditions for the cittas which are rooted in them.

When akusala citta arises it is always rooted in moha, and it may have in addition the root of lobha or of dosa. The twelve types of akusala citta are classified according to hetu:

eight types are rooted in moha and lobha, and they are called lobha-mūla-cittas 15,
two types are rooted in moha and dosa, and they are called dosa-mūla-cittas 16,
two types are rooted only in moha, and they are called moha-mūla-cittas 17.

All cittas accompanied by sobhana hetus are called sobhana cittas. Not only kusala citta, but also vipākacitta and kiriyacitta that are accompanied by sobhana hetus are sobhana cittas.

All sobhana cittas have to be rooted in alobha and adosa and they may or may not be rooted in amoha or paññā as well. There are eight types of mahā-kusala cittas (kusala cittas of the sense-sphere 18), eight types of mahā-vipākacittas and eight types of mahā-kiriyacittas (of the arahat 19). Of each of the three sets of eight types, four types are accompanied by paññā and four types are not accompanied by paññā, thus, accompanied by the two sobhana hetus of alobha and adosa 20. The sobhana hetus that accompany these sobhana cittas condition them by way of root-condition, hetu-paccaya.

People who develop samatha, tranquil meditation, may have accumulated skill for the attainment of jhāna, absorption. When there are the right conditions jhānacittas arise. There are jhānacittas of different stages of rūpa-jhāna, material jhāna, and arūpa-jhāna, immaterial jhāna 21. The rūpa-jhānacittas (rūpāvacara cittas) and the arūpa-jhānacittas (arūpāvacara cittas) always have the three hetus of alobha, adosa and paññā, because absorption is not possible without paññā.

Through the development of insight, vipassanā, right understanding of realities gradually grows and when understanding has been developed to the degree that enlightenment can be attained, lokuttara cittas which experience nibbāna arise. Lokuttara cittas always have three hetus, they are accompanied by alobha (non-attachment), adosa (non-aversion) and paññā; these hetus are also lokuttara.

Not all cittas have hetus, there are also rootless cittas, ahetuka cittas which may be vipākacittas (result) or kiriyacittas (neither cause nor result, inoperative). When visible object impinges on the eyesense, it is experienced by cittas arising in the eye-door process22; it is experienced by seeing which is ahetuka vipākacitta, and by other ahetuka cittas and subsequently by cittas performing the function of javana (impulsion or “running through the object”) arise, and these are (in the case of non-arahats) kusala cittas or akusala cittas and thus, with hetus. After the eye-door process is over, visible object is experienced through the mind-door; there is the mind-door adverting-consciousness which is ahetuka kiriyacitta, to be followed by javana-cittas which are kusala cittas or akusala cittas.

Good deeds or bad deeds are performed during the moments of javana. Then kamma is accumulated which can produce its result later on. One also accumulates good and bad inclinations which condition the arising of kusala citta or akusala citta in the future. When kusala javana-cittas are accompanied by paññā which is right understanding of realities, right understanding is accumulated.

As we have seen in the classification of cittas rooted in sobhana hetus, there are vipākacittas with hetus 23. Kamma produces rebirth-consciousness, paṭisandhi-citta, which is vipākacitta, and this vipākacitta, depending on the type and degree of kamma which produces it, may be: ahetuka, or accompanied by two roots, namely alobha and adosa, or accompanied by three roots, that is to say, by paññā as well. The roots condition the citta and the accompanying cetasikas by way of root-condition. All bhavanga-cittas (life-continuum 24) and the cuti-citta (dying-consciousness) are of the same type of vipākacitta as the paṭisandhi-citta.

It is important to know which type of citta arises at the present moment. Is it with roots or is it rootless? Is it akusala citta or kusala citta? Cittas rooted in lobha are bound to arise time and again, since lobha has been accumulated for aeons. The first javana-cittas of every living being are lobha-mūla-cittas; clinging is deeply rooted. One clings to all kinds of objects which present themselves through the six doors and clinging is extremely hard to eradicate. We read in the “Gradual Sayings” (Book of the Twos, Ch XI, paragraph1):

“Monks, there are these two longings hard to abandon. What two?

The longing for gain and the longing for life. These are the two.”

Time and again we want to gain something for ourselves. When we get up in the morning and we eat breakfast we are clinging to coffee or tea, but we do not notice that there are the hetus of moha and lobha which condition the citta by way of root-condition. We cling to seeing or to visible object, but we do not notice it, we are so used to clinging. We have longing for life, we want to go on living and experiencing sense objects. That is why there are conditions for rebirth again and again. It is impossible for us not to have longing for life, only the arahat has eradicated it.

We would like to have kusala citta more often, but it cannot arise without the hetus which are alobha and adosa. Without these hetus we cannot perform any wholesome deed, we cannot speak with kindness and generosity. When amoha or paññā does not accompany the kusala citta, right understanding of realities cannot be developed. There is no self who can control hetu-paccaya, root-condition; akusala hetus and sobhana hetus are anattā.

The roots, hetus, are the dhammas which condition the citta and cetasikas they accompany and also the rūpa which is produced by the citta at that moment. For instance, lobha-mūla-citta, citta rooted in attachment, has two hetus: lobha, attachment, and moha, ignorance. Lobha and moha condition the citta and its accompanying cetasikas by way of root-condition. Moreover, rūpa produced by lobha-mūla-citta is also conditioned by the roots of lobha and moha. In the case of root-condition, the hetus which are the conditioning factors (the paccayas) and the dhammas they condition (the paccayupanna dhammas) arise simultaneously. The “Paṭṭhāna” (Analytical Exposition, II, 1) gives the following definition of root-condition:

“The roots are related to the states 25 which are associated with roots, and the rūpa produced thereby, by root-condition.”

Citta is one of the four factors which can produce rūpas, the others being kamma, temperature (utu) and nutrition (āhāra). Citta can produce the groups of rūpa consisting of the eight inseparable rūpas which are: solidity, cohesion, temperature, motion, colour, odour, flavour and nutritive essence 26.

Citta produces the two kinds of intimation, namely: bodily intimation (kāya-viññatti), gestures, movements of the body and facial movements by which we express our intentions, and speech intimation (vacī-viññatti). Citta is assisted by the accompanying cetasikas when it produces rūpa.

When we are angry and we show this by our facial expression, akusala citta produces the rūpa which is bodily intimation, conditioned by the hetus which are moha and dosa by way of root-condition. We may raise our hand and hit someone else. Then akusala kamma through the body is being performed and the rūpas are conditioned by root-condition. When we flatter someone else in order to be liked by him we speak with lobha-mūla-citta. Then the rūpa which is speech-intimation is conditioned by moha and lobha by way of root-condition. Or we may commit akusala kamma through speech, for example, when we are lying. Lying may be done with lobha-mūla-citta when we want to gain something, or with dosa-mūla-citta when we want to harm someone else. The rūpa which is speech intimation is then conditioned by the accompanying roots by way of root-condition.

When we clean the house or when we cook, do we realize by which hetus our bodily movements are conditioned? There can be awareness at such moments. We may write a letter to someone else with kindness, mettā, and then the rūpas which arise while we move our hands are produced by kusala citta. The accompanying sobhana hetus condition these rūpas by way of root-condition. However, there are likely to be akusala cittas arising alternately with kusala cittas. There may be right understanding of nāma and rūpa while we write and then the citta is accompanied by alobha, adosa and amoha.

The rebirth-consciousness is vipākacitta, the result of kamma, a deed committed in the past. The rebirth-consciousness may be ahetuka (rootless) and in that case one is born handicapped 27. Or the paṭisandhi-citta may be accompanied by two or three sobhana hetus, depending on the degree of kusala kamma which produces it. These hetus are of different degrees. When the paṭisandhi-citta is rooted in sobhana hetus, these hetus condition the citta, the accompanying cetasikas and the rūpas which are produced by kamma and which arise at the same time as the paṭisandhi-citta.

The paṭisandhi-citta cannot produce rūpa, but, in the planes where there are nāma and rūpa, the five khandha planes, the rūpas arising at the moment of birth are produced by kamma. Thus, both the paṭisandhi-citta and the rūpas which arise at the same moment are result of kamma, a deed previously done. In the case of human beings, kamma produces at the first moment of life three groups of rūpa, one group with the heartbase 28, one group with sex (male or female) and one group with bodysense. Since the kusala kamma which produces nāma and rūpa at the moment of birth can be of different degrees, the mental result and the bodily result it produces can also be of different degrees. We can see that human beings are born with different mental and bodily capacities. Some people are beautiful, some ugly, some are apt to few illnesses, some to many illnesses. When one is born with paññā, there are conditions to develop it during one's life, even to the degree of enlightenment. Thus we see that the diversity of the nāma and rūpa of human beings from the moment of birth is dependent on conditions.

The “Paṭṭhāna” (Faultless Triplet, kusala ttika, Ch VII, Investigation Chapter, Pañha-vāra, I, Conditions Positive, 1, Classification Chapter, Root 7, 403) states about root-condition at the first moment of life:

“At the moment of conception, resultant indeterminate roots (hetus which are vipāka 29) are related to (their) associated aggregates (khandhas) 30 and kamma-produced matter by root-condition.”

Not only cittas of the sense-sphere, kāmāvacara cittas, which are accompanied by roots, are conditioned by these roots by way of root-condition, hetu-paccaya, also cittas of higher planes of consciousness, namely jhāna-cittas and lokuttara cittas, are conditioned by the accompanying roots by way of hetu-paccaya. As to rūpāvacara cittas (rūpa-jhānacittas), rūpāvacara kusala citta, rūpāvacara vipākacitta and rūpāvacara kiriyacitta (of the arahat) produce rūpas of the body. These rūpas are then conditioned by the hetus accompanying the rūpa-jhānacittas by way of hetu-paccaya. As to arūpāvacara cittas (arūpa-jhānacittas), arūpāvacara kusala citta and arūpāvacara kiriyacitta produce rūpas of the body, and these rūpas are then conditioned by the hetus accompanying those cittas by way of hetu-paccaya. Arūpāvacara vipākacittas do not produce any rūpa; these cittas which are the result of arūpa-jhāna, arise in arūpa-brahma planes where there is no rūpa, only nāma 31. Lokuttara cittas produce rūpas of the body 32. The rūpa is then conditioned by hetus which are lokuttara, by way of hetu-paccaya.

In the “Paṭṭhāna” we read about many aspects of conditional relations between phenomena and we should consider these in our daily life. The study of root-condition can remind us to consider whether kusala citta or akusala citta arises while we act, speak or think.

The roots which arise together condition one another by way of root-condition. Alobha and adosa always arise together and they may or may not be accompanied by amoha, paññā. When there is amoha, the two other roots which accompany the citta, namely alobha and adosa, are conditioned by amoha. For instance, right understanding may accompany generosity, alobha. While we give we may realize that generosity is only a type of nāma, not self, and then the generosity is purer, it has a higher degree of wholesomeness than generosity which is not accompanied by right understanding. When someone is born with mahā-vipākacitta (vipākacitta of the sense-sphere accompanied by sobhana hetus), this citta may be accompanied by paññā or unaccompanied by paññā. When the paṭisandhi-citta is accompanied by paññā one may, if paññā is developed during that life, attain enlightenment.

Moha and lobha condition one another, and moha and dosa condition one another. We may find it difficult to know the characteristic of moha and we tend to forget that when there is lobha there is moha as well, or when there is dosa there is moha as well. We should remember that whenever akusala citta arises, there is ignorance of realities. When we, for example, cling to a pleasant sound, we are at such a moment blinded, we do not see the object as it really is, as a conditioned reality which is impermanent. When we are annoyed, there is dosa as well as ignorance. We do not like to have dosa because we do not like unpleasant feeling, but we do not understand the conditions for dosa, we forget that ignorance conditions it. When ignorance arises, we do not see the danger and disadvantage of akusala. When we develop mettā, dosa can be temporarily subdued, but for the eradication of dosa the development of right understanding of realities is necessary. Only the ariyan who has attained the third stage of enlightenment, the anāgāmī (non-returner), has developed paññā to such degree that dosa has been eradicated. Ignorance leads to all kinds of defilements and only right understanding of nāma and rūpa can finally eradicate ignorance.

The akusala hetus, unwholesome roots, are dangerous; they are accumulated and they cause the arising of akusala cittas again and again. They prevent us from kusala and cause disturbance of mind. We read in the “Itivuttaka” (Khuddhaka Nikāya, ”As it was said”, Book of the Threes, Ch IV, paragraph 9 33) :

“There are three inner taints, three inner foes, three inner enemies, three inner murderers, three inner antagonists. What are these three? Greed is an inner taint... Hatred is an inner taint... Delusion is an inner taint, an inner foe, an inner enemy, an inner murderer, an inner antagonist.

Greed is a cause of harm,
Unrest of mind it brings.
This danger that has grown within,
Blind folk are unaware of it.

A greedy person cannot see the facts
Nor can he understand the Dhamma.
When greed has overpowered him,
In complete darkness is he plunged.

But he who can forsake this greed
And what to greed incites, not craves,
From him will quickly greed glide off,
As water from the lotus leaf.

The sutta then speaks about the danger and the forsaking of hate and of delusion. We read about the forsaking of delusion:

But who has shed delusion's veil,
Is undeluded where confusion reigns,
He scatters all delusion sure,
Just as the sun dispels the night.”

Feelings are also conditioned by the accompanying hetus by way of hetu-paccaya. Pleasant feeling is different depending on whether it accompanies akusala citta or kusala citta. There is unrest of mind with the pleasant feeling accompanying clinging and there is calm with the pleasant feeling accompanying generosity. When there is awareness, we may realize that these two kinds of pleasant feeling are different. It is useful to read about the different conditions for phenomena to arise; we should consider their implications in daily life, so that we can understand what kind of life we are leading. Is it a life full of lobha, dosa and moha, or is right understanding being developed?

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