Cittas and Cetasikas: relational significance

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Cittas and Cetasikas: relational significance

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:23 am

Dear all

I was moved by the writings of Nyaniponika Thera in Abhidhamma Studies when a lightbulb seemed to go off in my head. for that matter it could have been a stroke and I am just as deluded as I was before. I apologise as this post is going to go all over the place...

In his essay 'Time and Consciousness', Venerable begins with a quote from the Atthasalini:
By the time the Sage described the mind
And by the mind described the time
In order to show, by such definition,
The phenomena there arranged in classes


What I want to ask about is Venerable's following remarks:

The state of consciousness classified in the first part of the schematic sentence of the Dhammasangani is, in its existence, limited as well as described by time. The duration of that mind-defining time period is circumscribed by the simultaneity of the mental factors ennumerated in the second part of the sentence ("...at the time there are sense-contact...). In other words, a state of consciousness lasts as long as the combination of its single factors....

...The simultaneity of mental factors referred to above is not a static juxtaposotion of self-contained units as in a mosaic. The simultaneity results rather from different processes of psychic movements meeting temporarily in the constellation of the present moment, partly overlapping each other but without achieving complete congruity, just as in nature there are also no truly congruent triangles.


Elsewhere Venerable suggests the citta is like the intersection of beams of coloured light where the shade of the light at the beams intersection changes with the growth and decay of intensity of the coloured beams and their replacement of other colours.

So my questions are:
- Do the internal relations between cetasikas in the present moment define the nature of the present citta?
- Do the external relations between the past citta define the arising of the subsequent cetasikas in the next moment?
- Is the citta is just the coming together of different cetasikas, if so, then why is it mentioned as a paramattha dhamma?

My understanding at present is that the lifecycle of a cetasika extends beyond the 'mind moment' that is the duration of any one citta. As cetasikas rise, intensify, decay, and pass away, in different combinations, this is what defines the type of citta to rise and fall from one mind-moment to the next.

Thanks for your assistance and patience.
Metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Cittas and Cetasikas: relational significance

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Apr 03, 2009 4:47 am

Greetings Ben,

I may be off the mark but venerable Nyanaponika's comments seem to be warning against turning these useful Abhidhammic concepts into real binary (0 and 1) things which are either "on" or "off", "existing" or "not existing", when in fact they're dependently originating phenomena... for want of a better classification. To me he seems to be suggesting that the relationship is analogue in terms of their rising, inter-relations, and passing away rather than a digital sequence of zeroes and ones.

Somewhere there's an article of Dhamma Theory which I think may be useful - it was either Tilt or venerable Dhammanando who put us onto it originally.

I hope the explanation made some sort of sense. Feel free to disregard if not, or if it was of no use.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Cittas and Cetasikas: relational significance

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:35 am

Hi Ben,

Ben wrote:Is the citta is just the coming together of different cetasikas,


No. In fact it is the cetasikas that are defined as "[dhammas] dependent on the citta" (citta-nissita).

My understanding at present is that the lifecycle of a cetasika extends beyond the 'mind moment' that is the duration of any one citta. As cetasikas rise, intensify, decay, and pass away, in different combinations, this is what defines the type of citta to rise and fall from one mind-moment to the next.


In the Abhidhamma cetasikas are conceived as being just as short-lived as cittas. The opening verse of the Abhidhammatthasangaha's chapter on cetasikas states:

    ekuppādanirodhā ca
    ekālambaṇavatthukā
    cetoyuttā dvipaññāsa
    dhammā cetasikā matā


    Translations:

    “Arising and ceasing together with it, having the same object and base, are fifty-two dhammas associated with mind known as mentalities.”
    (Rupert Gethin, Summary of the Topics of Abhidhamma, p. 54)

    “The fifty-two states associated with consciousness that arise and cease together (with consciousness), that have the same object and base (as consciousness), are known as mental factors.”
    (Bhikkhu Bodhi, A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, p. 76)

So, each cetasika arises simultaneously with the citta that it accompanies, passes away simultaneously with the passing of that citta, takes the same object as that citta, and depends upon the same material base.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
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Re: Cittas and Cetasikas: relational significance

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 03, 2009 5:41 am

Thanks Ajahn, thanks Retro

So little time, so much to learn!

Metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: Cittas and Cetasikas: relational significance

Postby cooran » Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:54 am

Hello Ben,

One thing that helped me understand the relationship between citta and cetasika in the beginning was having the suggestion made that I consider the citta as a glass of water - and the cetasika as the "flavour" of the citta .... in the same way that cordial made with water and orange flavour is different from cordial made from the same water source, but with lemon flavour. So - feeling any emotion is simply the citta plus either a kusala (wholesome) or akusala (unwholesome) cetasika - such as lobha (greed), dosa (anger), mana (conceit), issa (jealousy), alobha (non-attachment), adosa (goodwill).

Hopefully Ajahn will comment if this is off on the wrong track.
'
metta
Chris
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Re: Cittas and Cetasikas: relational significance

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:16 am

Hi Chris,

Chris wrote:Hopefully Ajahn will comment if this is off on the wrong track.


No, it's not on the wrong track. In fact I believe it's one of several classical similes for the citta/cetasika relationship.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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