Reply To: Citta question


The following are some basics. Hopefully, it will help you get started in answering your questions. 

1. The mind is in a “neutral state” (bhavanga) when not active, for example, while you sleep or doze off after a heavy meal. It comes to an “active state” when triggered by a sensory input (arammana.) 

  • That can be compared to a car in idle mode (neutral) and start moving when the gear is engaged. 

2. When an arammana comes through one of the five physical senses, a series of cittas (citta vithi) with 17 cittas runs through the mind. If the mind “gets attached” to that sensory input, thousands of such citta vithi flow through the mind within a few minutes. 

  • The Buddha summarized what is “experienced.” into five main categories: rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana. Here “rupa” could be one of the five types (sights, sounds, smell, taste, touch). Vedana could be sukha, dukkha, or neutral. Sanna means the recognition of sensory input. Vinnana is the overall sensory experience (and any expectation arising from that experience.) 
  • We only feel the “collective effect” of many such citta vithi. That is why they are rupakkhandha, vedanakkhandha, sannakkhandha, sankharakkhandha, and vinnanakkhandha. Here “khandha” means a “pile” or an aggregate because it is based on thousands/millions of citta vithis.

3. The type of vedana depends on the arammana and the person (asava,anusaya, gati). See “The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Āsavas)” and “Habits, Goals, and Character (Gati)

  • Then each person will act accordingly, generating different types of sankhara. That is “kamma formation.”

4. If the arammana (sensory input) is strong, the mind may stay in that “mindset” for a while, not going back to the “natural bhavanga” until that event wears off. For example, upon hearing about the death of a close relative, the mind may stay in a temporary “sad bhavanga state” for even a few days.

That is a very brief summary.

The following section could also be helpful: “Essential Abhidhamma – The Basics.”

  • In the beginning, try to get the main ideas. Once getting started, it will become easier.