The 89 (121) Types of Citta

Revised: October 29, 2015 and August 31, 2017

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 54 + 15 + 12  + 8 = 89 citta in all.

How 121 Types of Citta are Possible

1. It is possible to further analyze the types of citta by refining the above method by taking into the fact that each magga phala can be reached from the vicinity of each jhanic state; I will discuss in detail in a future post.

  • One can attain Nibbanic states via the vicinity of each of the five rupaloka jhanic states (here we use the Abhidhamma method of 5 jhanas, instead of four mentioned in the suttas, where the first two jhana in Abhidhamma categorization are taken to be one jhana). 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 (= 54 + 15 + 12 +40) instead of 89.

2. It must be noted that the 8 citta counted in the previous method are the same as getting to magga phala via the vicinity of the first jhana.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply