What is a thought? – How many cittas?

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• #21553
Tobias G
Participant

Please see the post What is a thought?, #5

“…For example when we hear someone say “apple”, even the letter “a” is comprehended by the mind via billions of citta; then “p” is captured, and by that time “a” sound is gone from the ear…”

I understand that the time to bring in a sense input from the ear (same for the rest) is about 10 ms. The mind needs 1 citta vithi (17 cittas) to receive this information and 3 more mano citta vithi (each with 12 cittas) to recognise what is heard. So we have 17+3×12=53 citta for one sense event. That sums up to 100×53=5300 cittas per faculty in a second. If we say all 6 senses do it the same way we get 6×5300=31800 cittas per second. How should we understand that the mind generates billions of citta in a fraction of time? Are the missing “billions” the “thinking and acting about sense events”?

• #21568
Dr. J Chakma
Participant

The missing billions are the Bhabhanga cittas. If you remember the citta vithi process, 1 pancadvara citta vithi is followed by 3 manodvara citta vithis and wne the third manodvara citta vithi ends….Bhavanga citta starts and these billions are Bhabhanga cittas. In fact even in busiest of time when all senses are used, our mind is in bhabhanga most of the time (more than 99% of time). Just deduct 31800 (taken from your calculation) cittas from few billion cittas a second and you get the number of Bhabanga cittas per second, which is much more than 99%.

With Metta

• #21570
Tobias G
Participant

Ok, thank you. When this is the case, then the statement in the post above “…even the letter “a” is comprehended by the mind via billions of citta..” is wrong. The mind just needs a few citta vithi to comprehend the letter “a” in “apple”. It takes only a fraction of a second to hear the “a” and thus only a few pancadvara and manodvara citta vitthi, right?

• #21571
Lal
Keymaster

I need to revise the post, which is an old post. Please give me a day to revise it.

• #21572
Dr. J Chakma
Participant

Yes, mind needs only a few citta vithis to comprehend something, but there are billions of cittas (mostly Bhabhanga cittas) in between these few citta vithis. Mind cannot comprehend anything in single cittas, it always uses citta vithis (pancadvara and/or manodvara).

• #21587
Lal
Keymaster

I just updated that post, “What is a Thought?” .

What Dr.J Chakma said above is correct. I just made it a bit more clear (hopefully!).

Thanks for pointing it out, Tobias. This is a bit complex issue. Please let me know if it can be made more clear.

Also, try to quote the post in question, if possible:
How to Reply to a Forum Question

• #21924
Tobias G
Participant

What cetasika arise with a functional citta (without tanha/upadana), e.g. while doing the dishes? Are in this case ahetuka kiriya citta arising?

• #21925
Dr. J Chakma
Participant

I think by “functional citta”, you wanted to mean neutral citta. In case of neutral citta, i.e. neither kusala nor akusala, such as doing dishes, only 7 universal cetasika arise. No asobhana, no sobhana, or pakinnaka (particulars citta that can be there in kusala or akusala citta/thought) citta arise in neutral thought/citta. A neutral citta do not produce kamma beeja. Whatever rupa that is produced by neutral citta are duds and do not have any energy/potential in them, unlike kamma beeja, that have potential or energy embedded in them, which can change over time.
This is my understanding, if I am wrong, please someone point out the mistakes.
Metta to all

• #21926
Tobias G
Participant

Yes, I mean “neutral citta” with “neutral feeling”. I think you are right. No sobhana or asobhana cetasika arise. And such neutral citta do not have javana.

• #21936
upekkha100
Participant

Hi Dr. J Chakma. You seem to have a deep understanding of Abhidhamma. You explained it in an understandable way as does Lal. Thank you. Please don’t hesitate to post more often if you can. This goes for other members as well. It seems this site has many readers but not much who post on the forum. I think maybe because they feel reluctant to post thinking they might get something wrong(but as Lal said we all make mistakes, we’ll just point them out and try to correct them if we notice any inconsistencies/contradictions), when in reality they could also have a different/unique way of explaining something. You may not know it but your input could very well be beneficial/useful/helpful to others.

• #21946
Dr. J Chakma
Participant

I do have some basic knowledge about abhidhamma. I have been reading puredhamma website (and the pdf ebook) since 2015 and I have already read pdf ebook a few times. Hence, I developed some understanding and knowledge.
I do visit this forum and comment whenever I feel I can add something to a topic. However, I restrain myself sometimes, because I feel there are many topics where participants write about things that I consider of not much value/use in progressing/following the PATH. I will certainly comment on topics that I feel I should add.
In this regard, I would like to point out one thing for Tobias G. In his comment he said: “And such neutral citta do not have javana”
I beg to differ in this point. There can not be any citta vithi without javana citta in it, as a citta vithi always have the 17 cittas in it (or 10-12 in manodvara citta vithi and if it is not a citta vithi it is bhabhanga citta or in case of jhanas, it can be jhana citta). It is in the javana citta (within a citta vithi) that produce rupa, in the case of doing dishes, it is the javana cittas in citta vithi that produce rupa, kaya vinnati rupa in this case that lead to movement of hands for washing dishes (to be precise mind produce kaya vinnati rupa and that instructs brain to move the muscles in hand to do the work, in this case wash dishes). However, washing dishes may not produce any kamma beeja although it produce rupa. Because all rupa produced by javana citta are not kamma beeja.
This is my understanding and hope Lal will clarify if something is wrong.
With METTA to all beings

• #21945
Tobias G
Participant

Dr. Chakma,
you said:
“…In case of neutral citta, i.e. neither kusala nor akusala, such as doing dishes, only 7 universal cetasika arise. No asobhana, no sobhana, or pakinnaka (particulars citta that can be there in kusala or akusala citta/thought) citta arise in neutral thought/citta….”

But a citta with only 7 cetasika is a pabhassara citta or pure citta, which only Arahants can generate. At least the upekkha cetasika (sobhana) should arise in a neutral citta. How do you see this point?

• #21947
Dr. J Chakma
Participant

I would like to mention that upekkha is not a cetasika. There are 6 pakinnaka (vitakka, vicara, viriya, piti, chanda and adhimokkha). Out of 25 sobhana cetasika 19 always arise in every kusala citta (hence no question of them arising singly or only some of them). Remaining 6 sobhana cetasika are samma vaca, samma kammanta, samma ajiva, karuna, mudita and panna. There is no upekkha cetasika. Upekkha is actually a state of mind and need to be cultivated and it is not neutral in true sense. I think we can say that when a citta have only 7 universal cetasika with or without one or more of particulars (pakinnaka) can be said to be cultivating upekkha.
Regarding Phabhassara citta of arahants I have to think and look for reference. I think Lal can clarify this point.
With METTA to ALL beings

• #21949
Tobias G
Participant

I mean the tatramajjhattata cetasika (sometimes translated as upekkha).

Also the viriya cetasika should be in such a neutral citta while doing the dishes….?

• #21950
Dr. J Chakma
Participant

Tatramajjhattata is part of 19 sobhana universals, hence it cannot arise singly. It arise always with other 18 sobhana universals in a kusala citta.

• #21951
Tobias G
Participant

Dr. Chakma, your explanation how someone is doing the dishes in terms of Abhidhamma is very helpful. There I see the connection between the mind and e.g. moving the arms (via kaya vinnati). Maybe Lal could prepare a post with such examples of kusala, akusala, neutral activities and corresponding citta vithi.

• #21953
Lal
Keymaster

That is a good discussion. Thank you Dr. Chakma, Tobias, and upekkha100.

We should also be thankful to modern science for making this possible. Four people with very different backgrounds to come together and have a discussion on Buddha Dhamma!
– Thanks also to Seng Kiat for updating and keeping track of the corrections I make to the posts. It is to be noted for those who read the eBook that I revise a couple of old posts on average each week. Please make sure you have the updated version of a given post. Revision dates are there on those posts that have been revised.

Yes. Abhidhamma describes basically all processes. It is amazing how much details one can get. But we need to keep in mind that our main goal is to understand enough Dhamma to overcome suffering.

The following is a viewpoint from another angle.

Those who object to the concept of the mind being at the forefront, object that mind does not generate enough power to do bodily work (kamma).

The mind (power of the javana citta) only gets the process started. Those mind-made decisions are carried out by the brain (which is inert, just like a computer), and the energy for brain function and to move body parts come from the energy generated by the food we eat.

For example, when we wash dishes, those actions are initiated by the mind. The brain (acting like an advanced computer) gets the arms and hands and other body parts to move. It is the same with a laborer who works in a field. After few hours, he would get tried and hungry, and would need more food to continue.

It is amazing to see, how a gandhabba (mental body) that is smaller than a single cell in the body controls everything.

I have discussed this in several posts (not possible to do in a single post), and a couple are below:
Gandhabba (Manomaya Kaya)- Introduction

Citta and Cetasika – How Vinnana (Consciousness) Arises

When we really understand the importance of the mental body (gandhabba) our attachment to the physical body will fade. This physical body lasts only about 100 years, but the human gadnhabba may last thousands of years (of course will keep changing during that time).
– Once the gandhabba comes out, the physical body is pretty much like a log of wood.
– In case of a temporary exit (OBE), that physical body is kept alive by kammic energy, but cannot do any movements (because the brain needs instructions to move body parts).

One final simple example. We can warm hands if we want to by rubbing the two hands together. Where is that heat energy coming from? It is from the food we eat. However, without the mind deciding that the hands needs to warmed, that will not happen.

P.S. All sankhara have consequences (outcomes or vipaka).

Punnabhisankhara lead to good results (sense pleasures) and good births.