The Concept of “Citta” in the Abidhamma, Part 1: Its fourfold nature (c)

We have seen that it is possible to classify consciousness or mind (citta), through the fourfold framework typical of the Abidhamma, in terms of the ontological plane with which it is correlated. However, it is also possible to classify citta in a fourfold manner in terms of it nature (jati). These four classes are: wholesome, unwholesome, resultant and functional.

  1. Unwholesome consciousness (akusalacitta) — consciousness characterized by attachment, aversion or delusion, so-called because it is conducive to suffering.
  2. Wholesome consciousness (kusalacitta) — consciousness accompanied by wholesome roots that are antithetical to attachment, aversion or delusion, such as non-greed, generosity, non-hatred, lovingkindness and non-delusion or wisdom. This is regarded as wholesome, healthy and morally blameless because it results in peace and joy rather than suffering.

These states of mind are characterized by kamma, or volition, which, in this context, is almost synonymous with sankhara. The cittas or states of consciousness arising from the ripening of kamma are called resultants or “vipaka.” This third class of citta is distinct from the others and includes results of wholesome and unwholesome kamma. We typically think in the West of kamma (“karma”) as the consequences of our actions, but in the Pali Canon, kamma refers to both the volition and the consequence. The final class of consciousness is called “kiriya,” or “functional,” and refers to activity rather than kamma or its consequences.

Wholesome and unwholesome consciousnesses cannot coexist simultaneously. A citta is either one or the other.

Experienced psychology writer and practitioner of psi abilities. Looking forward to contributing to a worldwide awakening to the reality of psi phenomena.