1. First I need to clarify the title. Of course citta (pronounced “chittha”) are thoughts. All kamma start as mano saṅkhāra, i.e., one starts thinking about something and it escalates into speech and bodily action by the “wheeling” or “riya” process; see, “Nibbāna – Stopping of the Saṃsāric Vehicle“.
- The complete cessation of doing saṅkhāra happens only when one becomes an Arahant. But after attaining the Sotāpanna stage, this “wheeling process” stops for certain types of initial thoughts or citta.
2. We have seen that apāya is a common word for the lowest four realms of existence, see, “The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma“. Apäyagämi (“apäya” + “gämi” means directed towards) citta are those that lead to potent kamma responsible for rebirth in the lowest four realms.
3. So, what cittā or thoughts gets one started on the “wheeling process” or a “thought process” that leads to speech or bodily action of very bad consequences, i.e., birth in the apāyā? These are thoughts that arise because one does not have a full understanding of the “nature of this world”, i.e., the Tilakkhana, or anicca, dukkha, anatta.
Out of the 89 possible citta (see, “The 89 Types of Citta“) 12 are immoral citta:
- 8 with the lobha (greed) root; moha root is there too.
- 2 with the dosa (hate, ill will) root; moha root is there too.
- 2 with just the moha (ignorance) root.
ALL TEN immoral acts (dasa akusala; see, “Ten Immoral Actions (Dasa Akusala)“) are done with these 12 types of citta.
4. We generate greedy thoughts because we “want to get possession of things that seem to provide happiness”. When we do not get what we want, we generate hate or ill will towards whoever Is in the way.
- And we do both types of actions because we do not realize that it is not possible to achieve lasting happiness with anything in “this world”. Not only that, we do not realize that by doing those bad actions we accumulate bad kamma (i.e., accumulate kammic energy) that are going to have bad consequences in the future, either in this very life or in future lives.
- Thus ignorance of the true nature of ‘this world” is the cause of all bad actions done with greed and hate; this is why the moha root is in all of them. We also do certain bad actions just based on ignorance too, like comparing how one is “better” than another, etc.
A. The two ignorance-rooted citta are:
- One associated with vicikicca (vichi+ki+ichcha = liking based on distorted view, i.e, diṭṭhi). Commonly vicikicca is described as “doubt”, which could be taken as “doubt about the true world view”. Just like a fish biting on a bait due to not “seeing” the hook, we just grab things without “seeing” the consequences, i.e., possible harm to others and the consequences of such harmful actions for ourselves.
- One associated with uddhacca (restlessness or agitation of the mind). This is opposite of samadhi or ability to concentrate and being able to think through consequences of actions. One could have uddhacca even if one knows the “true nature” of this world; it is sort of a cumulative result of all defilements accumulated through beginning-less saṃsāra. This is completely removed only at the Arahant stage.
All 12 types of citta have ignorance as a root (primary as in the above two types) or as secondary in the other ten citta. These ten citta can be divided into two categories in another way, i.e., based on whether such cittā arise mainly due to vicikicca (i.e., due to not knowing the true nature of this world) or uddhacca (i.e., the agitation of the mind due to all accumulated defilements).
B. Out of the eight greed-rooted citta, four arise with wrong view (diṭṭhi), i.e., due to lack of understanding of the “true nature of this world”, and that “this world” is much more complex than we perceive with our senses, and that our life does not end here, but what we do will have consequences for very long times into the future. The other four are done anyway, even with right view, because of the agitation of the mind due to all “gunk” accumulated over the long sansaric journey. Thus the eight greed-based citta can be divided into two broad categories:
- Four done with wrong views (diṭṭhi) are removed at the Sotāpanna stage.
- Four dissociated from wrong view (i.e., it does not matter whether one has right view if defilements still cloud the mind; for example even one who has attained the Sotāpanna stage may do these four)
C. The two hate-rooted citta are also done regardless of whether one has right view (at the Sotāpanna stage) or not:
- These two hate-rooted citta are dissociated with wrong views, but are due to the agitated mind (uddhacca). Thus they persist after the Sotāpanna stage, up to th Anāgāmi stage.
Now we can see the broad view:
5. Five cittā (vicikicca and the four greed-rooted citta associated with wrong view) arise because one does not know the true nature of the world, Tilakkhana, i.e, anicca, dukkha, anatta. They contribute to one of the four types of asava called the diṭṭhi asava or ditthasava.
These are the same citta that could lead to apāyagāmi kamma. Thus when one attains the Sotāpanna stage, these five citta cease to arise forever, and one WILL NOT BE ABLE to do any such grave kamma. Thus, the Sotāpanna stage is a very important stage of Nibbāna where asavakkhaya happens to a significant level due to the removal of ditthasava:
- A Sotāpanna attains that stage just by getting rid of diṭṭhi or wrong views: sathkaya (or sakkaya) diṭṭhi is the view that lasting happiness can be attained via pursuing things in this world. Vicikicca is leads to tendencies and actions associated with wrong worldviews, and silabbata paramasa is the view that Nibbāna can be attained by following specific precepts/rituals without cleansing the mind.
- The other seven citta are the ones that are harder to remove. They arise due to an agitated mind which is a result of other defilements (āsavā) that we have accumulated over the long saṃsāra; see. “The Way to Nibbāna – Removal of Āsavā“.
- Out of these, the two hate-rotted citta are lessened in strength at the Sakadāgāmi stage and are removed at the Anāgāmi stage.
- The remaining four greed-rooted citta (those dissociated from wrong views) contribute to kāmarāga (greed for things in the kāmaloka). Kamarāga is lessened at the Sakadāgāmi stage and completely removed at the Anāgāmi stage. Thus an Anāgāmi is unable to generate hateful thoughts or lustful thoughts, and is free from rebirth anywhere in the kāmaloka. An Anāgāmi has removed kāmasava, another part of the asava.
- Finally, it is only at the Arahant stage that those remaining four greed-rooted citta (which still contribute to bhavasava) and the uddhacca citta (which still contribute to avijjāsava) are completely removed. This is when all the defilements or āsavā are completely removed from one’s mind.
6. It is clear that all five akusala citta that are removed at the Sotāpanna stage arise due to micchā diṭṭhi, i.e., not comprehending the Three Characteristics of existence: anicca, dukkha, anatta. Also see, “Diṭṭhi (Wrong Views), Sammā Diṭṭhi (Good/Correct Views)”.
7. This realization of correct views CANNOT be attained by following rituals, such as just obeying precepts. It comes naturally when one COMPREHENDS the true nature of this world of 31 realms: anicca, dukkha, anatta; see, “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta“. That it is unfruitful to involve in any kind of activities to gain mundane pleasures by hurting other beings. Such an understanding makes irrevocable changes in one’s manomaya kaya, and thus prevents one from doing such activities even in the future lives.
8. Now it is important to realize that a Sotāpanna can be a parent taking care of a family. He/she will be doing a job, driving kids to school, and doing all other daily tasks. But one does all this with the clear understanding that one should NOT do certain things. One could live a moral life suitable for a Sotāpanna without giving up ANY responsibilities as a regular “householder”. Actually one could even attain the Anāgāmi stage without becoming a bhikkhu. And there were many “householders” that had attained Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi stages at the Buddha’s time; there are some even today.