What is Cetana?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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dhammacoustic
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

tiltbillings wrote:So they do not choose to act?
I thought the actual question was 'do arahants have cetanā like normal human beings/worldlings', that's why I said no.
Bhikkhu Vimalo wrote:In the Anguttara-Nikaya (A I 254) the Buddha describes three kinds of defilements: coarse, medium, and subtle. The coarse ones are: wrong action (kaya-duccarita), wrong speech (vaci-duccarita) and wrong thinking (mano-duccarita); the medium ones are: sensual, hostile, and aggressive thoughts (kama-, byapada-, vihimsa-vitakka); the subtle defilements are: thinking about relatives, country, and not being despised (ñati-, janapada-, anavaññatti-patisamyutta vitakka).

It is not possible to get rid of these unhealthy inclinations without first making their driving forces conscious. Buddha called these driving forces (be they conscious or unconscious) cetana and said, “Intention, O monks, I call kamma” (cetana ’ham, bhikkhave, kammam vadami). (A III 415; S II 40) Cetana may be translated as will, volition, intention, inclination, drive, striving, direction, tendency, or motivation. In the Sutta-pitaka several types of cetana are distinguished, namely, the driving forces of our action (kaya-sañcetana), speech (vaci-sañcetana), and thought (mano-sañcetana); (S II 40; A II 158) rupa-, sadda-, gandha-, rasa-, photthabba-sañcetana, (S III 60) the reaction to sense-objects, or interest in them (Freud’s cathexis, i.e. the investing of an object with libido); and dhamma-sañcetana, (S III 60) the reaction to ideas, memories, imagination and their cathexis. Lastly there is our attitude towards ourselves (atta-sañcetana) and towards others (para-sañcetana). (D III 231; A II 159)
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─ Peter Harvey, Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism
Last edited by dhammacoustic on Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
SarathW
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

I think this is a terminology issue.
Cetana is specially set aside for non-Arahants actions.
This could be dark, bright, neither bright nor dark Kamma.
The term Kiriya Citta is specifically set aside for the actions of Arahants.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Mr Man
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by Mr Man »

From the Udana

A bhikkhu who has left behind all action,
Shaking off the dust of former deeds.
The stable one, unselfish, steady,
Has no need to address people.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In my opinion it is an interesting verse for contemplation.
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acinteyyo
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by acinteyyo »

subaru wrote:How can one walk/talk without Cetana?
This is a very good question in my eyes, because of the way it is framed. It shows a underlying misconception quite well.

Due to the underlying assumption that there is a person in the first place, walking and talking is considered to be action of that person.
Actually it is the other way round. There is walking and talking and from that a person is assumed.
Because of the assumption of a person, who walks/talks there follows the thought that the person can only walk/talk having intention, but actually it is not that way. It is not the person having intention to walk/talk but walking/talking is assumed to be intended by a person.
That an action is supposed or perceived to be done by a person (for some reason) is in itself an action/intention.
It is the person that is intended. The main intention (among others) of every action that is assumed to be done by a person is to maintain the person's own being, or the assumption of the person's own being.

In case of the arahant there is of course still (old) action running out, but there arises no new action because neither the assumption of a self, a person nor of me, mine and I is to be maintained and thus there is no accumulation of new action.

In other words, actions of an arahant (this term is inappropriate, but I see no other way to communicate what I try to say) do not indicate the arahant's being. The arahant cannot be measured by "his" actions and actions don't intend the arahant.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.
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subaru
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by subaru »

acinteyyo wrote:
subaru wrote:How can one walk/talk without Cetana?
This is a very good question in my eyes, because of the way it is framed. It shows a underlying misconception quite well.

Due to the underlying assumption that there is a person in the first place, walking and talking is considered to be action of that person.
Actually it is the other way round. There is walking and talking and from that a person is assumed.
Because of the assumption of a person, who walks/talks there follows the thought that the person can only walk/talk having intention, but actually it is not that way. It is not the person having intention to walk/talk but walking/talking is assumed to be intended by a person.
nope... Cetana arise on it's own with or without MIcca-Ditthi (wrong view of self) . Volition is not self, alot of speakers put the blame on volition because, they think because of wrong view of self then volition arise, this is not true at all. But if you believe otherwise, I won't argue... u win ..
:candle:
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kirk5a
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by kirk5a »

acinteyyo wrote:
subaru wrote:How can one walk/talk without Cetana?
This is a very good question in my eyes, because of the way it is framed. It shows a underlying misconception quite well.

Due to the underlying assumption that there is a person in the first place, walking and talking is considered to be action of that person.
Actually it is the other way round. There is walking and talking and from that a person is assumed.
I think you are reading far too much into the question. The actions of an individual should not be conflated with personality view. Walking and talking is, of course, volitional activity. We're not trying to wipe that kind of volition out.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Dhammanando
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by Dhammanando »

dhammacoustic wrote:
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.
Wanting what someone else has is not issā but abhijjhā ("covetousness"). This is reckoned to be the worst of the various modes of lobha, hence its alternative name, avisamalobha, "lawless greed".

As for issā, this is not wanting what someone else has, but rather resentment at the fact that they've got it and you haven't. In practice abhijjhā will often generate issā, and vice versa, but not always so. For example, when a pickpocket steals someone's wallet he certainly covets it but it's doubtful that he resents his victim's possession of it. In fact it's more likely that he'll be pleased at his possession of it, for otherwise it wouldn't be available for the pickpocket to steal.
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
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samseva
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by samseva »

subaru wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Does Arahants have Cetana?
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?
This may clarify things a bit:
kiriya (or kriya)-citta: ‘functional consciousness’ or ‘karmically inoperative consciousness’, is a name for such states of consciousness as are neither karmically wholesome (kusala), nor unwholesome (akusala), nor karma-results (vipāka); that is, they function independently of karma. Thus are also called all those worldly mental states in the Arahat which are accompanied by 2 or 3 noble roots (greedlessness, hatelessness, undeludedness), being in the Arahat karmically neutral and corresponding to the karmically wholesome states of a non-Arahat (s. Tab. 1-8 and 73-89), as well as the rootless mirth-producing (hasituppāda) mind-consciousness-element of the Arahat (Tab. 72); further, that mind-element (mano-dhātu) which performs the function of advertence (āvajjana) to the sense object (Tab. 70), and that mind-consciousness-element (manoviññāṇa-dhātu) which performs the functions of deciding (votthapana) and advertence to the mental object (Tab. 71). The last-named 2 elements, of course, occur in all beings.
Together with karma-resultant consciousness (vipāka) it belongs to the group of ‘karmically neutral consciousness’ (avyākata). See Tab. I (last column). – (App.).
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acinteyyo
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by acinteyyo »

subaru wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
subaru wrote:How can one walk/talk without Cetana?
This is a very good question in my eyes, because of the way it is framed. It shows a underlying misconception quite well.

Due to the underlying assumption that there is a person in the first place, walking and talking is considered to be action of that person.
Actually it is the other way round. There is walking and talking and from that a person is assumed.
Because of the assumption of a person, who walks/talks there follows the thought that the person can only walk/talk having intention, but actually it is not that way. It is not the person having intention to walk/talk but walking/talking is assumed to be intended by a person.
nope... Cetana arise on it's own with or without MIcca-Ditthi (wrong view of self) . Volition is not self, alot of speakers put the blame on volition because, they think because of wrong view of self then volition arise, this is not true at all. But if you believe otherwise, I won't argue... u win ..
Hi subaru,
the point I was trying to make was that volitional action makes the person.
Your question seems to assume that in order for an action to arise there must be someone with volition but such an assumption puts the cart before the horse.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.
SarathW
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by SarathW »

Acinteyo
I agree with you in principal.
Here we are talking in conventional sense not in ultimate sense.
If you argue that way we can apply the same thing to the actions of non-arahants as well.
However your point is valuable.
May be we are asking the wrong questions due to our ignorance.
:anjali:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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dhammacoustic
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by dhammacoustic »

Dhammanando wrote:
dhammacoustic wrote:
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.
Wanting what someone else has is not issā but abhijjhā ("covetousness"). This is reckoned to be the worst of the various modes of lobha, hence its alternative name, avisamalobha, "lawless greed".

As for issā, this is not wanting what someone else has, but rather resentment at the fact that they've got it and you haven't. In practice abhijjhā will often generate issā, and vice versa, but not always so. For example, when a pickpocket steals someone's wallet he certainly covets it but it's doubtful that he resents his victim's possession of it. In fact it's more likely that he'll be pleased at his possession of it, for otherwise it wouldn't be available for the pickpocket to steal.
That is helpful Bhante, thank you.
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subaru
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by subaru »

acinteyyo wrote: Hi subaru,
the point I was trying to make was that volitional action makes the person.
Your question seems to assume that in order for an action to arise there must be someone with volition but such an assumption puts the cart before the horse.
best wishes, acinteyyo
I won't argue because I am not sure anymore
Your point vs my point aside, It is conceivable (and I am speculating) that the definition of volition in the Sutta is not the same as in Abhidhamma . Because I am quiet sure that Cetana (as Cetasika) is independent of self view, but on the other hand there are verses in the Sutta that mention Volitional activities is Kamma !! so now, I am really confused..

acinteyyo, thanks for pointing it out though..
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acinteyyo
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by acinteyyo »

SarathW wrote: If you argue that way we can apply the same thing to the actions of non-arahants as well.
No, we cannot. An arahant cannot be measured by volitional action. It means, the actions "done by the arahant" do not constitute " being".

I think I've made my point. I don't want to draw the topic further away from cetana.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Last edited by acinteyyo on Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by ubeysekaramapa »

Sarath W wrote:
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:


Cetana (C) is INTENTION. It's very difficult to find the English equivalent. C - sometimes used as Kamma, thought,imagining, thinking anything relating to thinking.
Arahats too have C, but not arising from LUST or GREED - ANGER or HATRED - IGNORANCE OF REALITY-avijja. Hence the difference from a putujjana and an Arahant.
An arahant is always mindful of impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukka) and NOT SELF (anatta). Metta (loving kindness) is always in his mind. To entertain those features an arahant must have C.
Answering the questions: If a thought generates a ‘self’ , it is Kamma based on lust or dishonesty – taking a property not given to you.
Again if it is accepted with greed, it creates akusala kamma.
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mikenz66
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Re: What is Cetana?

Post by mikenz66 »

My impression from the suttas, vinaya, and other sources, is that the "intention" that is implied by cetana is the very basic "knowing what one is doing". Sometimes it seems to be mixed up with "motivation". As I understand it, if one knows what one is doing it is "cetana". Whether one had a "good motive" for the action doesn't affect whether it was "intentional".

So accidentally killing a bug by stepping on it is not "intentional". If one knows one is going to kill the bug it is "intentional", no matter the motivation for the killing.

:anjali:
Mike
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