What is Cetana?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
SarathW
Posts: 15556
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

What is Cetana?

I just try to understand the meaning of Cetana.
There are lot of definitions I can find when I google it.
Is Cetana means thought or intention (Sankappa or Kammantha)? If not what is the English word for it?
Is Cetana is another word for Kamma?
Does Arahants have Cetana?
If I see someone opposite sex and have lustful thought, is that Cetana?
If I see someone's property and wish to possess it, is that Cetana?
Is it possible to explain Cetana in terms of 18 thought moments in Abhidhaama?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
dhammacoustic
Posts: 938
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:30 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

What is Cetana?
A good translation for cetanā would be 'will', ie volition, that is generated due to a cognition. Cetanā (ceto in motion) is the main source for generating new kamma. The word is derived from the verbal root 'cit' (which means 'to perceive''). The original meaning is 'of the citta', or 'that which comes from the citta'.
Cetanā means volition or the faculty of determining the activities of the mental concomitants so as to bring them into harmony. In the common speech of the world we are accustomed to say of one who supervises a piece of work that he is the performer or author of the work. We usually say: "Oh, this work was done by so-and-so", or "This is such and such a person’s great work". It is somewhat the same in connection with the ethical aspects of things. The volition (cetana) is called the doer (kamma), as it determines the activities of the mental concomitant, or supervises all the actions of body, of speech, and of mind. As every kind of prosperity in this life is the outcome of the exertions put forth in work performed with body, with speech and with mind, so also the issues of new life or existence are the results of the volition (asynchronous volition is the name given to it in the Patthana, and it is known by the name of Kamma in the actions of body, speech and mind) performed in previous existences. Earth, water, mountains, trees, grass and so forth, are all born of Utu, the element of warmth and they may quite properly be called the children or the issue of the warmth element. So also all living creatures may be called the children or the issue of volition, or what is called kamma-dhatu, as they are all born through Kamma.
http://www.palikanon.com/english/intro- ... dix_ii.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
User avatar
dhammacoustic
Posts: 938
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:30 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

Does Arahants have Cetana?
No.

“akuppā tāsaṃ cetovimutti aggamakkhāyati” ─ MN 43, Mahāvedalla Sutta
If I see someone opposite sex and have lustful thought, is that Cetana?
Staying at Savatthi... [the Blessed One said,] "What one intends, what one arranges, and what one obsesses about:[1] This is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing [or: an establishing] of consciousness. When that consciousness lands and grows, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Such is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

"If one doesn't intend and doesn't arrange, but one still obsesses [about something], this is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing of consciousness. When that consciousness lands and grows, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Such [too] is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress.

"But when one doesn't intend, arrange, or obsess [about anything], there is no support for the stationing of consciousness. There being no support, there is no landing of consciousness. When that consciousness doesn't land & grow, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of suffering & stress."

─ SN 12.38, Cetanā Sutta
If I see someone's property and wish to possess it, is that Cetana?
Issā (envy) is an aversive (dosa), hence an unwholesome activity or state of mind, it is definitely unwholesome mental kamma.
SarathW
Posts: 15556
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

How about craving for food?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
dhammacoustic
Posts: 938
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:30 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

SarathW wrote:How about craving for food?
"'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk, considering it thoughtfully, takes food — not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification — but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, [thinking,] 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' Then he eventually abandons food, having relied on food. 'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

"'This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now.' The thought occurs to him, 'I hope that I, too, will — through the ending of the fermentations — enter & remain in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for myself in the here & now.' Then he eventually abandons craving, having relied on craving. 'This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

─ AN 4.159, Bhikkhuni Sutta
SarathW
Posts: 15556
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

Thanks. :)
So Cetana and Kamma are the same thing?
If different what is the difference?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
dhammacoustic
Posts: 938
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:30 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

SarathW wrote:Thanks. :)
So Cetana and Kamma are the same thing?
If different what is the difference?
Avijjā sets the citta in motion, so it generates cetanā, which is the source of new kamma.

“Bhikkhus, I will teach you new and old kamma, the cessation of kamma, and the way leading to the cessation of kamma. Listen to that and attend closely.

“And what, bhikkhus, is old kamma? The eye is old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt. The ear is old kamma … The mind is old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt. This is called old kamma.

“And what, bhikkhus is new kamma? Whatever action one does now by body, speech, or mind. This is called new kamma.


“And what, bhikkhus, is the cessation of kamma? When one reaches liberation through the cessation of bodily action, verbal action, and mental action, this is called the cessation of kamma.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the way leading to the cessation of kamma? It is this Noble Eightfold Path...

─ SN 35.146, Kamma Sutta

:anjali:
SarathW
Posts: 15556
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

Thanks Cetana is new Kamma!
:idea:

"" Whatever action one does now by body, speech, or mind. This is called new kamma.""

Arahants also do actions by body, speech and mind.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
dhammacoustic
Posts: 938
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:30 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

SarathW wrote:Arahants also do actions by body, speech and mind.
An arahā is one who has destroyed all defilements and attained vijjā, so their actions are empty, still functional, but not volitional.
SarathW
Posts: 15556
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

What about an action of non-arahants. (lay people etc)
Eating, drinking, walking an talking etc?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 18341
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by mikenz66 »

dhammacoustic wrote:
Does Arahants have Cetana?
No.

“akuppā tāsaṃ cetovimutti aggamakkhāyati” ─ MN 43, Mahāvedalla Sutta
I'm confused here, I thought cetovimutti was deliverance of mind, not cessation of intention/will?
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Ceto-vimutti
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... to-vimutti
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Cetana
http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... etan%C4%81

:anjali:
Mike
SarathW
Posts: 15556
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

Thanks mike the following seems interesting.
==========
Cetanā: 'intention', will, is one of the seven mental properties cetasika inseparably bound up with all consciousness, namely sensorial or mental contact phassa feeling vedanā perception saññā intention cetanā, concentration samādhi vitality jīvita directing manasikāra Cf. Tab. II, III.

With regard to kammical intention i.e. advantageous or disadvantageous kamma it is said in A. VI, 13:;intention is action kamma, thus I say, o Bhikkhus; for as soon as intention arises, one does the action, be it by body, speech or mind.; For details, see: paticca-samuppāda 10, kamma.

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Bud ... etan%C4%81" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

==========

I remember some discussions that certain Cetana is not Kamma.
Perhaps this could be the Cetana of Arahants. (Kiriya citta)
The neither black nor white Kamma could be the Cetana of others. (walking, driving a car etc.)

:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
User avatar
dhammacoustic
Posts: 938
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:30 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

mikenz66 wrote:I'm confused here, I thought cetovimutti was deliverance of mind, not cessation of intention/will?
No - in the sense that an arahant is liberated from further becoming, they do not generate new kamma through their volitional activities.

http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/a/avyaakata.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23044
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by tiltbillings »

dhammacoustic wrote:
Does Arahants have Cetana?
No.
So they do not choose to act?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
User avatar
subaru
Posts: 257
Joined: Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:13 am

Re: What is Cetana?

Post by subaru »

tiltbillings wrote:
dhammacoustic wrote:
Does Arahants have Cetana?
No.
So they do not choose to act?
How can one walk/talk without Cetana? One of these days I gotta give it an earnest attempt.. :tongue:

As I understand it, the liberated ones do have the Cittas , Cetasikas even Cetana, Vendana and believe it or not even Sankharas lol... They just don't have those that generate future Kamma-Vipaka , both good and bad.

right?
:candle:
Post Reply