Javana of a Citta – The Root of Mental Power

Revised July 15, 2020

Javana Cittā Are Associated with Abhisaṅkhāra

1. The power of the human mind has been discussed in several posts starting with “Power of the Human Mind – Introduction.” There are different kinds of cittā, and the powerful ones are javana cittā (“javana” means an arrow in flight; it can be highly potent).

  • Such javana cittā are responsible for abhisaṅkhāra, those saṅkhāra that are potent and will lead to (good or bad) consequences. Punnabhisaṅkhāra are the meritorious abhisaṅkhāra that will lead to good results, and apuññābhisaṅkhāra are the immoral abhisaṅkhāra that lead to adverse outcomes.
  • Javana cittā arise in both pancadvara cittā vithi and manodvara cittā vithi when the object is evident and strong; see, “Citta Vithi – Processing of Sense Inputs“.
Vipāka Cittā Do Not Have Javana Power

2. Out of the 54 types of cittā in the kāma loka (the 11 lower realms including the human realm), 29 are javana cittā: 12 akusala cittā, eight mahā kusala cittā, eight mahā kiriya cittā, and the functional smile-producing cittā (the latter nine cittā only for an Arahant).

  • A kusala citta generates power for rebirth in human or above realms, AND also helps with progressing towards Nibbāna or “cooling down”.
  • When one does an akusala cittā, one is generating power to form kammic energy for rebirth in the apāyā (lowest four realms).
  • Thus for average human beings, there are only 20 cittā out of 54 that are javana cittā: 12 for doing evil deeds and 8 for good deeds (here deeds means thought, speech or bodily action).
  • Thus, vipāka cittā do not have javana cittā. Therefore in the detection of any sense input (seeing, hearing, etc.), javana cittā are absent. They are parittārammana (slight) and atiparittārammana (very slight) cittā vithi. However, based on these vipāka citta vithi, we MAY instantly initiate potent atimahantārammana (very high) and mahantārammana (great) cittā vithi that will have javana cittā in them.
  • Thus if we start making plans (buy that picture, re-listen to that song, etc.) based on those visuals, sounds, etc., then subsequent citta vithi will have javana cittā in them, and lead to abhisaṅkhāra (GENERATE kammic power).
Javana Power Depends on the Type of Citta

3. Not all akusala javana cittā have the same power. Also see, “How to Evaluate Weights of Different Kamma” and “12. Key Factors to be Considered when “Meditating” for the Sotāpaññā Stage“.

  • Out of the eight greed-rooted cittā, those four done with pleasure (somanassa-sahagata) are more robust than the done with neutral feeling.
  • Next, those associated with micchā diṭṭhi (or diṭṭhi-sahagata) are more powerful than the four generated without wrong vision (or diṭṭhi-vippayutta).
  • The power of greed-rooted cittā depend on whether they arose spontaneously (sometimes erroneously labeled as asaṅkhārika,) or occurred with the intention of receiving something in return, i.e., sasaṅkhārika.
  • The two hate-rooted akusala cittā always arise with displeasure and are associated with aversion (dislike.) One that is spontaneous (unprompted) is stronger than the prompted.
  • The two ignorance-rooted akusala cittā always arise with neutral feeling. The one based on vicikicca is stronger than that based on uddhacca.
Javana Strength of Akusala Citta

4. The above list gives the order of strength of the akusala cittā, and appear in that order in “Conditions for the Four Stages of Nibbāna.”

  • Thus the first lobha cittā that is “connected with the wrong view, accompanied by pleasure” or in Pāli, “somanassa-sahagata, diṭṭhi-sampayutta cittā” is the strongest akusala javana cittā.
  • The last of the 12 akusala cittā is “one accompanied by equanimity and associated with high-mindedness” or in Pāli, “upekkha-sahagata uddhacca-sampayutta cittā”.
Javana Strength of Kusala Citta

5. The power of the human mind can work both ways, for the good or the bad. Now let us see how the eight mahā kusala (wholesome) cittā rank according to the javana power.

  • Here again, there are four done with joyous heart (somanassa-sahagata) that take precedence over those done with neutral feeling.
  • Next, those done with knowledge are called “ñāṇa-sampayutta” have higher power compared to those done without knowledge (ñāṇa-vippayutta). Here, knowledge could at two levels: understanding how laws of kamma work and an understanding of anicca, dukkha, anatta at a higher level.
  • Finally, they are sorted by whether spontaneous (higher) compared to prompted.

6. Thus the most potent kusala cittā is “one accompanied by joy, associated with knowledge” or in Pāli, “somanassa-sahagata, ñāṇa-sampayutta cittā”.

Here one does a good deed with the full understanding of its benefits, and thus with a joyous heart. The action is spontaneous and joyful BECAUSE one is fully aware of its ethical consequences. Since it is automatic, the knowledge must be there in one’s mind.

  • The weakest kusala cittā is, “one accompanied by the neutral mind, dissociated with knowledge, and for one’s advantage” or in Pāli, “upekkha-sahagata, ñāṇa-vippayutta, sasaṅkhārika cittā”. Here one may do a good deed without knowledge either on the prompting by others or after some deliberation. Such acts will bring benefits, but since they have less javana power, the benefits are less.
Some Examples of “Javana Power”

7. Let us take some examples for clarification.

  • Some people are so deep in the wrong path that they enjoy committing evil deeds. Or, they get into a mindset where such deeds become enjoyable. We have heard of instances of a person killed by multiple stabbings with the body gruesomely mutilated. Such an act is the worst of the worst.
  • It should be easy to imagine why the javana for cittā associated with such “passionate” killings are very intense. The killer is absorbed in that act, and is generating potent mental power to carry out the physical act; by the way, any physical activity has origins in cittā. Thoughts lead to actions. See, “Neuroscience says there is no Free Will? – That is a Misinterpretation“.
  • That is also why a kamma becomes a “kamma patha” or a “strong kamma” for bodily action. One needs a strong javana to carry out that task. If one is aware of the consequences of such acts (i.e., do not have micchā diṭṭhi or wrong vision), then even if one started stabbing, one may likely catch oneself and stop.

8. On the other hand, even the smallest act of kindness can bring many benefits if done with full understanding and a joyous heart. Here the “mental power” or the javana comes through knowledge. We see these kinds of ‘small acts of kindness” all the time, and we can even share in those merits when our hearts become joyful too.

  • For a wealthy person, it is easy to write a check for a lot of money. If it was done just to get publicity, or due to “outside pressure,” it will not bring much benefit. If a poor person shares what he/she can with another in a worse situation with joy, that will bring much more benefit.
Saṃvega – Indication of Jovana Strength

9. High javana power can be expressed by the term “sanvega” (san + vega, where “vega” means fast.) See, “What is “San”? – Meaning of Sansara” for the meaning of “san”). Therefore, “sanvega” (sometimes called “saṃvega”) depicts a potent emotional condition. If it is to the “good” one will be doing puññābhi saṅkhāra (meritorious acts), and a bad act done with “sanvega” will be a potent apuññābhi saṅkhāra (immoral acts).

  • In the literature “sanvega” is commonly written as “saṃvega”; as with many other such words, replacing “san” with “sam” leads to distortion of the meaning of the word. Other such misspelled words are saṃsāra, samvedana, saṃyoga, saṃvara; see, “What is “San”? – Meaning of Sansara“.
  • However, some words like “sammā” (“san” + “mā”) are correct, because that is phonetically correct.
  • In the Sinhala language, “sanvega” is commonly used to describe emotionally intense situations, mostly sad situations. However, we can see that it should apply to all “potent” emotional situations.
Emotions Felt Close to the Heart, Not in the Brain

10. The mind and the heart are in close contact. Even that person who derived pleasure by stabbing someone many times will have a heavy heart until death, no matter how bad a person he/she is. It is in human nature. Of course, when we do a meritorious act too, we feel the joy in our hearts.

Jovana Strength Depends on the Level of Desire (Good or Bad)

11. The javana power makes a big difference in “how much engaged we are” in our thoughts. The potency of a good or an immoral cittā critically depends on the strength of the desire to get it done. Three out of four bases of mental power, chanda, cittā, viriya, originate due to this; see, “The Four Bases of Mental Power (Satara Iddhipada)“.

  • And the fourth factor of vīmaṃsa (reasoning/investigation) is vital because that is how one gains the all-important ñāṇa (wisdom); see #5,#6 above. When one truly comprehends anicca, dukkha, anatta, that leads to the cultivation/growth of the paññā cetasika reducing ignorance (avijjā).
It Is Good to “Re-live” Past Good Experiences

12. Another thing that comes out of this analysis is that it is good to contemplate on the past good deeds and “re-live” that experience to gain citta pasāda or a joyful mind.

  • Similarly, it is NOT good to do that for past evil deeds. It is better to forget them and get a new start. If something like that comes to the mind, focus the mind on a good deed.
  • That is part of “Ānapāna”. We need to keep and cultivate “good things” and “discard” bad things; see, “What is Änapäna?“.
  • Our thoughts are what ultimately matter, and they arise due to our character (gati); the more we do “Ānapāna” correctly, the more our “gati” will change for the better.
  • Finally, These javana cittā have the power to produce suddhāṭṭhaka, the fundamental building blocks of rupa; see, “The Origin of Matter – Suddhashtaka“.

Next, “Cuti-Patisandhi – An Abhidhamma Description“, …………

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