The 89 (121) Types of Citta

Revised: 10/29/15

Citta for Kamaloka (in the 11 sense realms)- 54 in all

There are three main types of citta here: The differentiation is based on whether they have immoral roots (lobha, dosa, moha), kammically moral roots (alobha, adosa, amoha), or are kammically neutral, i.e., no roots.

  • 12 immoral citta: 8 with lobha roots; 2 with dosa roots; 2 with moha roots. All ten immoral acts (dasa akusala) are done with these 12 types of cittas. Because of these 12 types of immoral cittas, 7 rootless (ahetuka) vipaka cittas can arise in the future. Thus altogether there are 19 cittas in this category.
  • 8 moral cittas: 4 with all three moral roots and 4 with two moral roots (lacking in wisdom). They can give rise to two types of vipaka citta: 8 vipaka cittas with no roots, and 8 vipaka citta with moral roots (4 of them have all three moral roots and other 4 are lacking in wisdom). Thus 24 types of citta are mentioned here, from which 16 have moral roots and 8 are rootless (ahetuka).
  • When these same 8 moral citta arise in Arahants, they are called kriya citta or functional citta. They just have the same moral roots as the 8 moral citta mentioned above, but do not have any kammic potential or kammic consequences.
  • All those citta with moral roots (8 kriya cittas for Arahants and 16 for others) are called sobhana (beautiful) citta.
  • Finally, there are 3 types of citta that are kammically neutral and do not lead to any kamma vipaka. These are the 3 kriya citta without any roots, and thus are rootless (ahetuka) citta. Two of these perform functions of (i) five-sense-door adverting consciousness (pancadvaravajjana citta), and (ii) mind-door-adverting consciousness (manodvaravajjana citta). (iii)The third one arises in only Arahants (when they smile about sense-sphere phenomena).

Those 54 kamaloka citta can be categorized in different ways.

Asobhana (Unbeautiful) Sobhana (Beautiful)
Immoral- 12 Rootless – 18 Moral -24
Lobha (8) Immoral Vipaka (7) Moral (8)
Dosa (2) Moral Vipaka (8) Moral Vipaka (8)
Moha (2) Kriya (3) Kriya (8)

Citta for Rupaloka (in the 16 Rupa realms)- 15 in all

1. There are only 15 citta that are predominantly present in the Rupaloka. Five are jhanic moral citta and five are vipaka cittas due to those.

2. The five jhanic moral citta can be experienced by humans when they develop samadhi and attain these (first through fifth) jhanas. However, they can experience the corresponding five vipaka citta only when they are born in Rupalokas.

3. The five jhanic states are characterized by five jhana factors or mental concomitants: vitakka (initial application), vicara (sustained application), piti (zest), sukha (happiness), and ekaggata (one-pointedness). All five factors are present in the first jhana, and as one moves to higher jhanas, these factors are lost one by one, and in the fifth jhana only ekaggata is left.

Piti (zest) is the happiness in the mind and sukha (happiness) is the tranquility of the body.

4. There are five more jhanic kriya citta experienced by Arahants when they attain these jhanas.

Thus there are 15 citta in all that predominantly belong to the Rupaloka.

Citta for Arupaloka (in the 4 Arupa realms)- 12 in all

1. There are only 12 citta that are predominantly present in the Arupaloka. Four are jhanic moral citta and four are vipaka citta due to those.

2. The four jhanic moral citta can be experienced by humans when they develop samadhi and attain these (fifth through eighth) jhanas. However, they can experience the corresponding four vipaka citta only when they are born in Arupaloka.

3. The first of the four Arupaloka jhanas is the attainment of the base of infinite space (Akasanancayatana). A human needs to master the fourth jhana (Rupaloka) in order to be able to attain this jhana.

The second is the base of infinite consciousness (vinnanacayatana). The third is the base of nothingness (akincannayatana), and the fourth is the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (n’ evasanna n’asannayatana). In this last type of consciousness, the factor of perception (sanna) is so subtle that it can no longer perform the function of perception, i.e., one is unaware of the “world”. Yet perception is not altogether absent. This is another reason why the ancient yogis erroneously assumed this eighth jhana to be Nibbana.

 4. There are four more Arupaloka jhanic kriya citta experienced by Arahants when they attain these jhanas.

Thus there are 12 citta in all that predominantly belong to the Arupaloka.

Lokottara (Supermundane) Citta – 8 in all

1. These pertain to the four stages of Nibbanic attainment: Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, and Arahant.

2. Each stage involves two types of citta: one is path consciousness (magga citta), and the other is fruition consciousness (phala citta).The magga citta has the function of eradicating or permanently attenuating defilements. The phala citta has the function of experiencing the degree of liberation made possible by the magga citta.

3. Each magga citta arises only once, and endures for one thought-moment. It is never repeated. The corresponding phala citta (which corresponds to a vipaka citta, but is not called a vipaka citta) arises immediately after the magga citta. This is in contrast to mundane vipaka cittas where they can occur even many lifetimes after the corresponding kusala or akusala citta.

4. The phala citta can be repeated any time after one attains it. With practice, it can be sustained for long times, up to 7 days for an Arahant.

Thus, there are 89 citta in all.

How 121 Types of Citta are Possible

1. It is possible to attain Nibbanic states via each of the five anariya rupaloka jhanic states. In that case each of the five jhanic states can lead to the four magga cittas and four phala cittas. Thus here there are 40 ways to attain lokottara cittas. Therefore, the total number of citta in this case would be 121 (= 89+40-8) instead of 89.

  • It must be kept in mind that these are anariya jhanas that one goes through to attain magga phala. If someone has Ariya jhanas, they are likely to have attained at least the Sotapanna stage.

2. Let us consider some examples from the Tipitaka.

  • There are many instances of people attaining the Arahant stage without developing any anariya jhanas. For example, a minister of King of Kosala, named Santati was riding an elephant and the Buddha was walking on the road. The Buddha, with his supernormal powers, saw that Santati was capable to attaining the Arahanthood and that he was going to die very soon. The Buddha delivered a discourse right there with Santati still on the back of the elephant, and he attained Arahanthood.
  • On the other extreme we have Upatissa and Kolita (who became the top two disciples of the Buddha, Sariputta and Moggallana), were vedic brahmins who were likely to have attained higher anariya jhanas. They both attained the Sotapanna stage upon hearing the famous gätha: “ye dhamma hetu pabbava, tesan hetun tatagatho aha..“.
  • Like Upatissa and Kolita, many people in the days of the Buddha had developed various stages of anariya jhanas. They were able to attain various stages of Nibbana via those 40 possible combinations.

3. Another possible way how these 40 types of cittas can arise is via the opposite path, i.e., one attains the given stage of magga phala and then develops those jhanic states. For example, one can attain the Sotapanna stage without attaining any (anariyajhana. Then he/she could develop Ariya rupaloka jhanas successively.

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