When we perform dana,
observe sila, apply ourselves to the development of calm or the development
of insight there is kusala citta. Kusala citta is accompanied by sobhana
(beautiful) cetasikas and these assist the citta in performing its task.
When there is kusala citta there is no attachment, aversion or ignorance,
one is temporarily free from defilements. However, after the kusala cittas
have fallen away there are bound to be akusala cittas. There are many more
akusala cittas in out life than kusala cittas.
Kusala citta does not often arise since we have accumulated so many defilements.
Each kusala citta is accompanied by non-attachment (alobha), but this quality
seems to be against our nature, we are absorbed in and infatuated with
the objects we experience through the six doors. We want pleasant objects
for ourselves and it is our nature to think of ourselves in the first place.
Akusala is deeply rooted and so long as latent tendencies have not been
eradicated akusala citta is bound to arise time and again. Even if we try
not to be stingy, jealous or- proud, these defilements still arise. There
is no self who has authority over the cittas which arise, cittas are not
self. When we experience a beautiful object attachment tends to arise and
when we experience an unpleasant object aversion tends to arise.
We read in the Gradual Sayings (Book of the Ones, Chapter II, 1-5):
Monks, I know not of any other single thing of such power to cause the
arising of sensual lust, if not already arisen, or, if arisen, to cause
its more-becoming and increase, as the feature of beauty (in things).
It may seem to us that
a desirable object is the fundamental cause of attachment and an unpleasant
object the fundamental cause of aversion (1 Atthasalini I, Part II, Chapter
I, 75.). However, the real cause of akusala is not in the object which
is experienced. Whether akusala citta or kusala citta arises, depends on
one's accumulations. There can be wise attention or unwise attention to
the object, depending on conditions. When there is wise attention to the
object we see the value of kusala and we have confidence in kusala. However,
more often akusala citta arises and then there is unwise attention to the
object. It is possible to change our habits and develop kusala. Gradually
our accumulations can be changed through the study of the Dhamma and the
development of right understanding.
In him who pays not wise attention to the feature of beauty, sensual lust
if not already arisen, arises; or, if already arisen, is liable to more
becoming and increase. '
Monks, I know not of any other single thing of such power to cause the
arising of malevolence, if not already arisen, or, if arisen, to cause
its more-becoming and increase, as the repulsive feature (of things). In
him who pays not wise attention to the repulsive feature, malevolence.
If not already arisen, arises; or. If arisen, it is liable to more-becoming
Through the study of the Dhamma we may begin to realize that conditioned
realities do not last, that they are impermanent. We may remember more
often that it is useless to cling to our possessions since our life is
short and we cannot take our possessions with us when we die. The Buddha
explained that it is difficult to be reborn in the human plane where there
is an opportunity to hear the Dhamma and to develop right understanding
of realities. We should therefore not, like fools, waste our life with
We read in the Kindred Sayings (I, Sagatha-vagga, The Devas, Chapter
IV, 6, Faith) :
... It is
a fool's part heedless to waste his life:-
The person who with courage
and perseverance develops right understanding will win "the bliss supreme",
he will eventually attain arahatship. The Buddha pointed out the dangers
and disadvantages of akusala, its ill effects both in this life and in
the lives to come. It is right understanding which sees the disadvantage
of akusala and the benefit of kusala. We can find out from our own experience
that happiness connected with attachment makes us restless, since attachment
can never be satisfied, and that generosity and consideration for others
can condition peace of mind. We may be inclined to anger, but when we see
the value of kusala we can develop loving kindness. We may be inclined
to stinginess, but when we see the value of generosity there are conditions
for generosity instead of stinginess. The kusala citta which arises falls
away immediately but kusala is accumulated and thus there is a condition
for the arising of kusala citta again later on. Mindfulness of nama and
rupa is difficult so long as sati has not been accumulated. If we see that
right understanding cannot grow without mindfulness of the reality appearing
at the present moment, there ate conditions for the arising of mindfulness
more often. There is no other moment but the present moment in which we
can develop right understanding. The Buddha used the simile of the well-trained
horse, the "thorough-bred", in order to point out that right understanding
should be developed. A horse does not become well-trained in one day, he
has to practise certain things over and over again. In the same way we
should not expect to attain enlightenment without developing right understanding.
Such are the folk
who will not understand.
He who is wise does
As he were watching
over his chiefest wealth.
Give not yourselves
to wastage in your lives.
Nor be familiar with
delights of sense.
He who does strenuously
His shall it be to
win the bliss supreme.
We read in the Gradual Sayings (Book of the Sixes, Chapter I, 5,
The thorough-bred) :
Monks, a rajah's goodly thorough-bred endowed with six points is fit for
a rajah, is a rajah's asset, is reckoned a rajah's portion. What six? Herein,
monks, the goodly thorough-bred endures forms, sounds, smells, tastes,
touches and has beauty... Even so, monks, a monk with six qualities is
worthy of offerings... the world's peerless field for merit .What six?
One will learn to "endure
" the objects which present themselves through the six doors by the development
of right understanding of realities. At the moment of mindfulness of the
reality which appears panna can investigate it so that it will be seen
as it is : only a nama or a rupa, not self. Eventually one will no longer
be absorbed in and infatuated with the objects which ate experience.
Herein, monks, a monk endures forms, sounds, smells, tastes. touches and
things of the mind.
Verily, monks, a monk with these six qualities is worthy of
In order to be able to apply oneself to the development of kusala and in
particular to the development of right understanding, there have to be
the right conditions for it. The Atthasalini (Part II, chapter 1,
751 mentions these right conditions : residence in a suitable place, dependence
on good associates, hearing the "good Dhamma", merit performed in former
existences. It is helpful to live in a country or place where one can hear
the Dhamma and learn to develop the Path which leads to the eradication
of defilements. In order to learn how to be mindful of nama and rupa one
should associate with the good friend in Dhamma (kalyana-mitta) who can
explain the Dhamma in the right way.
What ate the qualities the good friend in Dhamma should have? We read in
the Middle Length Sayings (III, no. 110, Lesser Discourse at the
time of a Full Moon) that the Buddha, while he was staying near Savatthi,
in the palace of Migara's mother, in the Eastern Monastery, spoke to the
monks about the bad man (asappurisa) and the good man (sappurisa). we read
about the good friends a good man consorts with:
... And how.
monks, does a good man consort with good men? As to this, monks, those
recluses and brahmans who have faith (saddha). shame, fear of blame. who
have heard much, are of stirred up energy, whose mindfulness is aroused,
who have wisdom- these are the friends and companions of that good man.
It is thus. monks, that a good man consorts with good men...
The ariyan is endowed
with the qualities of the good men, mentioned in the sutta. He has an unshakeable
confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, and in wholesomeness.
How can we find out who is an ariyan? So long as we have not attained enlightenment
ourselves we cannot know who is an ariyan. It depends on conditions whether
someone will meet an ariyan or not. However, we can find out whether our
friend in the Dhamma helps us to develop right understanding or not.
The Buddha taught that all realities are anatta, non-self, but it is extremely
hard to become more detached from the self in the situations of daily life.
we think of ourselves most of the time, we want to get pleasant things
for ourselves. When we associate with the good friend in the Dhamma we
can learn to develop right understanding and then there will eventually
be less clinging to the concept of self. The person who has developed right
understanding and encourages others through his example to be less selfish
and more considerate for others is a true friend in the Dhamma. He does
not pay mere lip-service to the Dhamma, but he practises the Dhamma in
his daily life.
"Hearing the good Dhamma" is also a necessary factor for the development
of kusala. We should not listen passively; when we truly listen, we consider
what we hear and apply it; otherwise the listening is not fruitful.
Another factor which conditions the development of kusala is "meritorious
deeds done in the past". If someone has applied himself to dana, sila and
bhavana in the past he has conditions. for confidence in kusala today.
The consideration of the conditions for kusala can remind us of the fact
that nothing arises without the appropriate conditions. Kusala citta does
not belong to a self; there is no self who can direct the arising of kusala
(I, Part II, Chapter 1, 62) states about kusala:
By kusala is meant (moral) "good " in the sense of destroying or disturbing
contemptible states; or in the sense of wholesomeness, faultlessness, and
accomplishment by skill...
explains that the word 'kusala" can be used in the sense of healthy, not
being sick in body. When the word kusala is used for mental phenomena,
"it should be understood in the sense of 'health', I.e., absence of sickness,
illness or disease through the 'corruptions'. Moreover, from the absence
of the faultiness, hate, and torments of the 'corruptions', kusala has
the sense of faultlessness."
The Atthasalini, in the same section (63), defines kusala as follows
its characteristic is that it has faultless. happy results,
gives a second method of defining kusala:
its function is the
destruction of immoralities,
its proximate cause
is wise attention
its characteristic is faultlessness by being opposed to fault,
The characteristic of
kusala, according to the first definition, is that it has pleasant results,
whereas, according to the second definition, pleasant results are the manifestation
of kusala. Classification are not rigid and by means of different
methods of classification different aspects are shown. Pleasant results
can be experienced in daily life, they are a manifestation of the fact
that good deeds have been performed. Whenever we see, hear, smell, taste
or touch a pleasant object there is kusala vipakacitta, the result of a
good deed. The moments of vipakacitta fall away immediately, they are only
conditioned elements is bound to be clinging to pleasant objects and sadness
when these objects are gone.
its function is purity.
is desirable results,
its proximate cause
is wise attention.
The characteristic of kusala, according to the second definition, Is faultlessness
by being opposed to fault. At the moment of kusala citta there is no opportunity
for akusala citta. When there is an opportunity for kusala it should not
be neglected. There are opportunities for kusala right at hand, such as
a kind word, a thought of appreciation of other people's good qualities,
or a Moment of mindfulness of realities such as hardness, softness, sound
We should find out whether there is at this moment, on account of what
is seen, kusala citta or akusala citta. We are usually absorbed in the
details of the things around us, but sometime there can be confidence in
the value of awareness of the reality which appears now. Even if we are
only beginners and there is not yet clear understanding of name and rupa,
there can be confidence in awareness of the present reality and then there
are kusala. The function of kusala, according to the first definition,
is the destruction of akusala. Akusala cannot be eradicated unless right
understanding of realities has been developed, but this does not mean that
dana or sila should be neglected, but this does not understanding the wrong
view of self can be eliminated, but if there is no development of generosity
and we keep on clinging to our possessions, how could there ever be detachment
from the self? It is beneficial to develop all kinds of kusala for which
we have accumulations, but when it is developed together with right understanding
of realities akusala can eventually be eradicated.
Purity is the manifestation of akusala, according to the first definition,
whereas in the second definition it the function of kusala. When the citta
is akusala, it is impure, unclean. When we are attached to an object we
experience, we are enslaved and at such a moment the citta is not pure.
Whereas there is kusala citta there is no enslavement, no selfishness;
the citta is pure, free from defilements. If we know the difference between
akusala citta and kusala citta we can understand the purity is a quality
of kusala citta.
According to both definitions, the proximate cause of kusala is wise attention.
When there is akusala citta there is unwise attention to the object and
when there is kusala citta there is wise attention to the object. There
is wise attention, there is no infatuation with the object, there is no
aversion, no ignorance. Seeing realities as they are conditions wise attention.
The arahat has the highest degree of wise attention: for him defilements
do not arise on account of any object he experiences, no matter it is pleasant
Kusala citta does not arise alone, it is accompanied by cetasikas: by the
universals (sabbacitta sadharana), the cetasikas which accompany
each citta, by particulars (pakinnaka), cetasikas which accompany cittas
of the four classes (jatis) of kusala, akusala, vipaka and kiriya (1 see
Introduction.), but which do not accompany each citta, and by sobhana cetasikas,
beautiful cetasikas, Kusala citta cannot be accompanied by akusala
cetasikas. One may wonder why the which accompany kusala citta. The reason
is that sobhana cetasikas do not only accompany kusala cittas, but also
cittas of the jatis which are vipaka and kiriya (2 There are also vipaka-cittas
and kiriyacittas which are not sobhana cittas, namely ahetuka (rootless)
vipakacittas and ahetuka kiriyacittas, see Abhidhamma in Daily Life,
Chapter 19). All the cittas which are accompanied by sobhana cetasikas
are called sobhana cittas.
There are twenty four sobhana cittas of the sense-sphere, kama-sobhana
cittas, They are:
cittas (3 Maha means great. Here the term is used in the case o f sobhana
cittas of the sense-sphere.)
Cittas of the sense-sphere
can be sobhana cittas, cittas accompanied by sobhana cetasikas, or asobhana
cittas, cittas which are not accompanied by sobhana cetasikas, cittas of
the planes of consciousness other than the sensuous plane are always sobhana
cittas. Those who have developed calm to the stage of absorption, jhana,
have jhana-cittas and these are sobhana cittas. There are rupa-jhanacittas
or rupavacara cittas and arupa-jhanacittas or arupavacara cittas. Rupa-jhana
can be translated as "fine-material" jhana and arupa-jhana can be translated
as "immaterial" jhana. Arupa-jhana is more refined than rupa-jhana since
the meditation subjects of arupa-jhana are not dependant on materiality.
(4 The arahat has, instead of maha-kusala cittas, maha-kiriyacittas.).
The sobhana cittas which are rupavacara cittas, pertaining to five stages
of rupa-jhana, are the following:
kusala cittas .
The sobhana cittas which
are arupavacara cittas, pertaining to four stages of arupa jhana, are the
5 rupavacara vipakacittas
5 rupavacara kiriyacittas
(of the arahat)
Apart from the sobhana
cittas which are jhanacittas, there are sobhana cittas which are lokuttara
cittas, supramundane cittas experiencing nibbana. There are eight lokuttara
cittas, but when one takes into account the lokuttara cittas which are
accompanied by jhana-factors of the different stages of jhana, there are
forty lokuttara cittas (1 See Abhidhamma in Daily Life, Chapter
4 arupavacara vipakacittas
4 arupavacara kiriyacittas
When cittas are counted as eighty nine (not including lokuttara cittas
accompanied by jhana-factors of the different stages of jhana), there are
fifty nine sobhana cittas, and when cittas are counted as hundred-and-twenty-one
(including forty lokuttara cittas accompanied by jhana-factors), there
are ninety-one sobhana cittas.
Sobhana cittas are accompanied by the universals, by particulars and by
sobhana cetasikas. There are twenty five sobhana cetasikas in all which
can accompany sobhana cittas. Not all twenty five sobhana cetasikas accompany
each sobhana cittas, but at least nineteen sobhana cetasikas have to accompany
each sobhana citta.
Among the twenty five sobhana cetasikas three are sobhana hetus (roots)
. These are:
Non-attachment and non-aversion
have to accompany each sobhana citta, and wisdom or understanding may or
may not accompany sobhana citta.
wisdom, amoha or panna
Each sobhana cetasika has its own specific characteristic, function, manifestation
and proximate cause (immediate occasion). When we perform dana, observe
sila, apply ourselves to the development of calm, samatha, or insight,
vipassana, sobhana cetasikas assist the kusala citta in carrying out its
task of wholesomeness.
The sobhana vipakacittas are also accompanied by at least nineteen sobhana
cetasikas. Vipakacittas do not perform deeds, they are results. sobhana
vipakacittas are results of deeds which are performed by kusala cittas
accompanied by sobhana cetasikas. The rebirth-consciousness, for example,
can be the result of a deed performed by kusala citta accompanied by sobhana
hetus and other sobhana cetasikas. In that case it is sahetuka vipakacitta
The arahat does not perform kusala kamma, he is free from the cycle of
birth and death. Thus, instead of kusala cittas he has kiriyacittas which
are accompanied by sobhana hetus and other sobhana cetasikas. Sobhana kiriyacittas
are accompanied by at least nineteen sobhana cetasikas.
We have accumulated all kinds of akusala, from life to life. Why then are
there only seven akusala dhammas which are classified as latent tendencies?
Who has eradicated the five lower fetters?
Who has eradicated the five higher fetters?