THE CHARACTERISTIC OF
Cittas are of
different kinds. They can be classified as akusala cittas (unwholesome cittas), kusala
cittas (wholesome cittas), vipakacittas (cittas which are result) and kiriyacittas (cittas
which are neither cause nor result). These kinds of cittas arise in a day, yet we know so
little about them. Most of the time we do not know whether the citta is akusala, kusala,
vipaka or kiriya. If we learn to classify our mind we will have more understanding of
ourselves and of others. We will have more compassion and lovingkindness towards others,
even when they behave in a disagreeable way. We do not like the akusala cittas of others;
we find it unpleasant when they are stingy or speak harsh words. However, do we realize at
which moments we ourselves have akusala cittas? When we dislike other people's harsh
words, we ourselves have akusala cittas with aversion at that moment. Instead of paying
attention to the akusala cittas of others we should be aware of our own akusala cittas. If
one has not studied the Abhidhamma which explains realities in detail, one may not know
what is akusala. People may take what is unwholesome for wholesome and thus accumulate
unwholesomeness without knowing it. If we know more about different types of citta we can
see for ourselves which types arise more often and thus we will know ourselves better.
We should know the difference between kusala and akusala.
The 'Atthasalini' (Book I, Part I, Ch.1, 38) speaks about the meaning of the word 'kusala'.
The word 'kusala' has many meanings; it can mean 'of good health',
'skillful', 'productive of happy results'.
When we perform dana (generosity), sila (morality) and
bhavana (mental development), the citta is kusala. All different kinds of wholesomeness
such as the appreciation of other people';s good deeds, helping others, politeness,
paving respect, observing the precepts, studying and teaching Dhamma, samatha (tranquil
meditation) and vipassana (development of '
insight';), are included in dana, sila
or bhavana. Kusala is '
productive of happy results'; each good deed will bring a
The 'Atthasalini' (Book I, Part I, Ch.I, 39) states about
'Akusala' means 'not kusala'. Just as the opposite to
friendship is enmity, or the opposite to greed, etc,. is disinterestedness, etc., so
'akusala' is opposed to 'kusala'...
Unwholesome deeds will bring unhappy results. Nobody
wishes to experience an unhappy result, but many people are ignorant about the cause which
brings an unhappy result, about akusala. They do not realize when the citta is unwholesome
and they do not always know when they perform unwholesome deeds.
When we study the Abhidhamma we learn that there are three
groups of akusala cittas. They are:
1. Lobha-mula-cittas, or cittas rooted in attachment
2. Dosa-mula-cittas, or cittas rooted in aversion (dosa)
3. Moha-mula-cittas, or cittas rooted in ignorance (moha)
Moha (ignorance) arises with every akusala citta. Akusala
cittas rooted in lobha (attachment) actually have two roots: moha and lobha. They are
named lobha-mula-cittas', since there is not only moha, which arises with every akusala
citta, but lobha as well. Lobha-mula-cittas are thus named after the root which is lobha.
Akusala cittas rooted in dosa (aversion) have two roots as well: moha and dosa. They are
named 'dosa-mula-cittas' after the root which is 'dosa'. There is more than one type of
citta in each of the three classes of akusala cittas because there is such a great variety
As regards lobha-mula-cittas, there are eight different
types. When we know more about the characteristic of lobha and realize when it arises we
may notice that we have different types of lobha-mula-cittas. Lobha is the paramattha
dhamma (absolute reality) which is cetasika (mental factor arising with the citta); it is
a reality and thus it can be experienced.
Lobha is 'clinging' or 'attachment'. The 'Visuddhimagga'
(XIV, 162) states:
....lobha has the characteristic of grasping an object,
like birdlime (lit. 'monkey lime'). Its function is sticking, like meat put in a hot pan.
It is manifested as not giving up, like the dye of lampblack. Its proximate cause is
seeing enjoyment in things that lead to bondage. Swelling with the current of craving, it
should be regarded as taking (beings) with it to states of loss, as a swift-flowing river
does to the great ocean.
Lobha is sometimes translated as 'greed' or 'craving'; it
can be translated by different words, since there are many degrees of lobha. Lobha can be
coarse, medium or subtle. Most people can recognize lobha when it is very obvious, but not
when it is of a lesser degree. For example, we can recognize lobha when we are inclined to
eat too much of a delicious meal, or when we are attached to alcoholic drinks and
cigarettes. We are attached to people and we suffer when we lose those who are dear to us
through death. Then we can see that attachment brings sorrow. Sometimes attachment is very
obvious, but there are many degrees of lobha and often we may not know that we have lobha.
Cittas arise and fall away very rapidly and we may not realize it when lobha arises on
account of what we experience in daily life through the six doors, especially if the
degree of lobha is not as intense as greed or lust. Every time there is a pleasant sight,
sound, odour, taste or impression through the body-sense, lobha is likely to arise. It
arises countless times a day.
Lobha arises when there are conditions for its arising; It
is beyond control. In many suttas the Buddha speaks about lobha points out the dangers of
it and the way to overcome lobha. The pleasant objects which can be experienced through
the five senses are in several suttas called the 'five strands of sense-pleasures'. We
read in the 'Maha-dukkhakkhandha -sutta'; ('Greater Discourse on the Stems of
Anguish', Middle Length Saying I, No. 13) that the Buddha, when he was staying near
Savatthi, in the Jeta Grove, said to the monks:
And what, monks, is the satisfaction in pleasures of these
senses? These five, monks, are the strands of sense-pleasures. What five? Material shapes
cognisable by the eye, agreeable, pleasant, liked, enticing, connected with sensual
pleasures, alluring. Sounds, cognisable by the ear... Smells, cognisable by the
nose... . Tastes, cognisable by the tongue... Touches, cognisable by the body,
agreeable, pleasant, liked, enticing, connected with sensual pleasures, alluring. These,
monks, are the five strands of sense pleasures. Whatever pleasure, whatever happiness
arises in consequence of these five strands of sense-pleasures, this is the satisfaction
The satisfaction in sense-pleasures in not true happiness.
Those who do not know the Buddha's teachings may think that attachment is wholesome,
especially when it arises with a pleasant feeling. They may not know the difference
between attachment and lovingkindness (metta), phenomena which may both arise with a
pleasant feeling. However, a citta accompanied by pleasant feeling is not necessarily
kusala citta. When we learn more about akusala cittas and kusala cittas and when we are
mindful of their characteristics, we will notice that the pleasant feeling which may arise
with lobha-mula-citta (a citta rooted in attachment) is different from the pleasant
feeling which may arise with kusala citta. Feeling (vedana) is a cetasika which arises
with every citta. When the citta is akusala, the feeling is also akusala, and when the
citta is kusala, the feeling is also kusala. We may be able to know the difference between
the characteristic of the pleasant feeling arising when we are attached to an agreeable
sight or sound, and the characteristic of the pleasant feeling arising when we are
The Buddha pointed out that lobha brings sorrow. When we
have to part from people who are dear to us or when we lose the things we enjoy, we have
sorrow. If we are attached to a comfortable life we may have aversion when we have to
endure hardship or when things do not turn out the way we want them to be. We read in the
'Greater Discourse on the Stems of Anguish' which was quoted above, that the Buddha spoke
to the monks about the sorrow due to pleasures of the senses:
And what, monks, is the peril in sense-pleasures? In this
case, monks, a young man of family earns his living by some craft... He is afflicted by
the cold, he is afflicted by the heat, suffering from the touch of gadflies, mosquitos,
wind, sun, creeping things, dying of hunger and thirst. This, monks, is a peril in
pleasures of the senses that is present, a stem of ill....
If, monks, this young man of family rouses himself, exerts
himself, strives thus, but if these possessions
do not come to his hand, he grieves,
laments, beating his breast and wailing, he falls into disillusionment, and
thinks: 'Indeed my exertion is vain, indeed my striving is fruitless.' This too, monks, is
a peril in the pleasures of the senses that is present....
And again, monks, when sense-pleasures are the cause...
kings dispute with kings, nobles dispute with nobles, brahmans dispute with brahmans,
householders dispute with householders, a mother disputes with her son, a son disputes
with his mother, a father disputes with his son, a son disputes with his father, a brother
disputes with a brother, a brother disputes with a sister, a sister disputes with a
brother, a friend disputes with a friend. Those who enter into quarrel, contention,
dispute and attack one another with their hands and with stones and with sticks and with
weapons, these suffer dying then and pain like unto dying. This too, monks, is a peril in
the pleasures of the senses that is present...
We then read about many more perils in pleasures of the
senses, and about the bad results they will cause in the future. The Buddha also explained
about the satisfaction and peril in 'material shapes'. We read:
'And what, monks, is the satisfaction in material shapes?
Monks, it is like a girl in a noble's family or a brahman's family or a householder's
family who at the age of fifteen or sixteen is not too tall, not too short, not too thin,
not too fat, not too dark, not too fair - - is she, monks, at the height of her beauty and
loveliness at that time?'
'Monks, whatever happiness and pleasure arise because of
beauty and loveliness, this is satisfaction in material shapes.
And what, monks is peril in material shapes? As to this,
monks, one might see that same lady after a time, eighty or ninety or a hundred years old,
aged, crooked as a rafter, bent, leaning on a stick, going along palsied, miserable, youth
gone, teeth broken, hair thinned, skin wrinkled, stumbling along, the limbs discoloured...
....And again, monks, one might see that same lady, her
body thrown aside in a cemetery - dead
for one, two or three days, swollen, discoloured, decomposing. What would you think,
monks? That that which was former beauty and loveliness has vanished, a peril has
'This too, monks, is a peril in material shapes....'
What the Buddha told the monks may sound crude to us, but
it is reality. We find it difficult to accept life as it really is: birth, old age,
sickness and death. We cannot bear to think of our own body or the body of someone who is
dear to us as being a corpse. We accept being born, but we find it difficult to accept the
consequences of birth, which are old age, sickness and death. We wish to ignore the
impermanence of all conditioned things. When we look into the looking-glass and when we
take care of our body we are inclined to take it for something which stays and which
belongs to ourselves. However, the body is only rupa, elements which fall away as soon as
they have arisen. There is no particle of the body which lasts.
Taking the body for self is a form of wrong view, in Pali:
ditthi. Ditthi is a cetasika which can arise with lobha-mula-cittas (cittas rooted in
attachment). There are eight types of lobha-mula-citta and of these types four are
accompanied by ditthi. When lobha-mula-citta with ditthi arises there is wrong view at
There are different kinds of ditthi. The belief in a
'self' is one kind of ditthi. When we take mental phenomena or physical phenomena for
'self' there is ditthi. Some people believe that there is a self which exists in this life
and which will continue to exist after this lifespan is over. This is the
eternity-belief';. Others believe in a self which, existing only in this life,
will be annihilated after this lifespan is over. This is the 'annihilation- belief'.
Another form of ditthi is the belief that there is no kamma which produces vipaka, that
deeds do not bring their results. There have always been people in different countries who
think that they can be purified of their imperfections merely by ablution in water or by
prayers. It is their belief that the results of ill deeds they committed can thus be
warded off. They do not know that each deed can bring about its own result. We can only
purify ourselves of imperfections if the wisdom is cultivated. If one thinks that deeds do
not bring about their appropriate results one may easily be inclined to believe that the
cultivation of wholesomeness is useless. This kind of belief may lead to ill deeds and to
the corruption of society.
Of the eight types of lobha-mula-citta four types arise
with wrong view (ditthi); they are called in Pali: ditthigata-sampavutta (sampayutta
means: associated with). Four types of lobha-mula-dtta arise without wrong view; they are
ditthigata-vippayutta (vippayutta means: dissociated from).
As regards the feeling which accompanies the lobha
mula-citta, lobha-mula-cittas can arise either with pleasant feeling or with indifferent
feeling, never with unpleasant feeling. The lobha is more intense when it arises with
pleasant feeling. Of the four types of lobha-mula-citta which are accompanied by ditthi,
two types arise with pleasant feeling(somanassa), they are somanassa-sahagata (accompanied
by pleasant feeling) ; two types arise with indifferent feeling (upekkha, they are
upekkha-sahagata. For example, when one clings to the view that there is a self which will
continue to exist, the citta can be accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent
feeling. Of the four lobha-mula-cittas arising without ditthi, two types are accompanied
by pleasant feeling (somanassa-sahagata) and two types are accompanied by indifferent
feeling (upekkha-sahagata). Thus, of the eight types of lobha-mula-citta, four types arise
with pleasant feeling and four types arise with indifferent feeling.
In classifying lobha-mula-cittas there is yet another
distinction to be made. Lobha-mula-cittas can be 'asankharika' (unprompted) or
'sasankharika' (prompted). Asankharika is sometimes translated as 'not induced',
'unprompted' or 'spontaneous'; sasankharika is translated as 'induced' or 'prompted'. The
'visuddhimagga' states about lobha-mula-citta that it is sasankharika 'when it is with
consciousness which is sluggish and urged on'. The lobha-mula-cittas which are
sasankharika can be prompted by the advice or request of someone else, or they arise
induced by one's own previous consideration. Even when they are 'prompted' by one's own
consideration, they are sasankharika; the cittas are 'sluggish and urged on'. Thus, when
lobha is asankharika it is more intense than when it is sasankharika.
Of the four lobha-mula-cittas arising with ditthi, two
types are asankharika and two types are sasankharika. As regards the lobha-mula-cittas
arising without ditthi, two types are asankharika and two types are sasankharika. Thus, of
the eight lobha-mula-cittas, four types are asankharika and four types are sasankharika.
It is useful to learn the Pali terms and their meaning,
because the English translation does not render the meaning of realities very clearly.
The eight types of lobha-mula-citta are:
1. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wrong view,
unprompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam ditthigata -sampayuttam, asankharikam ekam)
2. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wrong view,
prompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam, ditthigata -sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
3. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wrong view,
unprompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam, ditthigata-vippayuttam , asankharikam ekam )
4. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wrong view,
prompted. (Somanassa-sahagatam, ditthigata -vippayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
5. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wrong view,
unprompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata -sampayuttam, asankharikam ekam)
6. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wrong view,
prompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata -sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
7. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wrong view,
unprompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata -vippayuttam, asankharikam ekam)
8. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wrong view,
prompted. (Upekkha-sahagatam, ditthigata -vippayuttam, sasankhhrikam ekam)
As we have seen, lobha-mula-cittas can be asankharika
(unprompted) or sasankharika (prompted). The 'Atthasalini' 225 gives an example of
lobha-mula-cittas, accompanied by ditthi, which are sasarikharika (prompted). A son of a
noble family marries a woman who has wrong views and thus he associates with people who
have wrong views. Gradually he accepts those wrong views and then they are pleasing to
Lobha-mula-cittas without ditthi which are sasankharika
arise, for example, when one, though at first not attached to alcoholic drink, takes
pleasure in it after someone else persuades one to drink.
As we have seen, lobha-mula-cittas can be accompanied by
pleasant feeling or by indifferent feeling. Lobha-mula-cittas without ditthi, accompanied
by pleasant feeling, can arise for example, when we enjoy ourselves when seeing a
beautiful colour or hearing an agreeable sound. At such moments we can be attached without
taking what we see or hear for 'self'. When we enjoy beautiful clothes, go to the cinema,
or laugh and talk with others about pleasurable things there can be many moments of
enjoyment without the idea (of self) but there can also be moments with ditthi, moments of
clinging to a '
Lobha-mula-cittas without ditthi, accompanied by
indifferent feeling may arise, for example, when we like to stand up, or like to take hold
of different objects. Since we generally do not have happy feeling with these actions,
there may be lobha with indifferent feeling at such moments. Thus we see that lobha often
motivates the most common actions of our daily life.
When there is lobha (attachment) is there always
somanassa (pleasant feeling) as well?
2. Does ditthi (wrong view) arise only with lobha-mula-citta?
3. How many types of lobha-mula-citta are there? Why is it useful to know this?
Top of Page | Previous Page | Contents | Next Page