Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries

Moderator: Mahavihara moderator

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16576
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:08 am

Over here http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 336#p27333" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Macavity wrote:
Macavity wrote: This would be possible according to the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, which treats mindfulness as an ethically variable mental factor, but not according to Theravada Abhidhamma (nor in reality) where sati is invariably a beautiful mental factor and hindrances invariably hinder its arising.
Having spent some time with various secondary sources such as Abhidhamma studies By Nyanaponika Thera and A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma By Anuruddha (Ed Bhikkhu Bodhi), I understand this principle that a hindrance and sati can't arise in the same citta. However, according to Abhidhamma, citta rise and fall extremely fast, so couldn't the hindrance and sati be alternating so fast that there is the illusion of them being contemporaneous?

I often wonder how much we can (or need to) consider individual citta in terms of our experience. Clearly one can be happy or sad for a lot longer than the rise and fall of one citta (seconds, hours, days...!). It seems to me that in normal life the Abdhidhamma description is analogous to the quantum theory of light. I'm sitting in a room with fluorescent lighting and I know that what I'm seeing as white is the reflection of individual red, green, and blue photons from the sheets of paper scattered around my office. Continuing the analogy, I know that a red photon and a green photon can not all be detected (at one particular spot on my retina) at the same time. But the flood of photons. But I see white. I can't see that the light is composed of individual photons of different colours without special equipment.

Now, I can see the utility of the Abhidhamma description to understand some aspects of the mind, but I'm worried that sometimes the effect of the "quantum nature" of the citta is exaggerated. For example, we talk about dependent origination: contact, feeling, craving, ... Is the sequence supposed to be subsequent citta, or long sequences of citta?

Metta
Mike

User avatar
Jechbi
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am
Contact:

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by Jechbi » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:45 am

I'm curious about this, too. Mike, can you give an example of a meditation instruction that calls upon the meditator to isolate a single citta and examine it all by itself in its abhidhammic sense? At the risk of departing from abhidhamma forum guidelines, I agree with you that such an instruction would probably be unrealistic and unproductive. But I can't back that up with anything authoritative.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

User avatar
Macavity
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:36 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by Macavity » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:52 am

mikenz66 wrote:Having spent some time with various secondary sources such as Abhidhamma studies By Nyanaponika Thera and A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma By Anuruddha (Ed Bhikkhu Bodhi), I understand this principle that a hindrance and sati can't arise in the same citta. However, according to Abhidhamma, citta rise and fall extremely fast, so couldn't the hindrance and sati be alternating so fast that there is the illusion of them being contemporaneous?
In this scenario, where akusala and kusala mind-door processes oscillate, the illusion you describe could happen (or more accurately, it would happen and must happen) whenever the sati arises with the four types of sense-sphere beautiful consciousness that are dissociated from understanding (ñāṇa-vippayutta kāmāvacara sobhaṇa-citta). In this case the sati would not be the sati of satipaṭṭhāna (which is always accompanied by understanding), but just the ordinary sati that is present with every kusala citta. Note that the speed of arising and passing of cittas does not in itself produce the illusion; rather, it's due to the non-conascence of paññā with sati.

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by Ben » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:57 am

Thank you Macavity!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
Jechbi
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am
Contact:

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by Jechbi » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:28 pm

HI Macavity,
Macavity wrote:In this scenario, where akusala and kusala mind-door processes oscillate, the illusion you describe could happen (or more accurately, it would happen and must happen) whenever the sati arises with the four types of sense-sphere beautiful consciousness that are dissociated from understanding (ñāṇa-vippayutta kāmāvacara sobhaṇa-citta). In this case the sati would not be the sati of satipaṭṭhāna (which is always accompanied by understanding), but just the ordinary sati that is present with every kusala citta. Note that the speed of arising and passing of cittas does not in itself produce the illusion; rather, it's due to the non-conascence of paññā with sati.
That makes sense, but I don't know if it answers the question embodied in this part of the OP:
mikenz66 wrote:I often wonder how much we can (or need to) consider individual citta in terms of our experience.
At what stage amid the sati of satipatthana (if any) would you say one considers or contemplates the concept of an individual citta?
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16576
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:57 am

Jechbi wrote: At what stage amid the sati of satipatthana (if any) would you say one considers or contemplates the concept of an individual citta?
Yes, that's what I was trying to ask, but I used too many words... :thinking:

Metta
Mike

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8504
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by cooran » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:03 am

Hello all,

These are questions for the specialist Abhidhamma pracitioner and it would be better to check out what has already been discussed by those very well-versed in the Abhidhamma.
I would really really advise you to go to the Files Section -> Useful Posts, on Dhammastudy group and look at "C" Cittas and then at Process of Cittas "P". The speed of the rising and falling of a citta is almost incomprehensible.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

PeterB
Posts: 3909
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by PeterB » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:32 am

Were the speed of the rising and falling of a citta not so incomprehensively fast the lack of actual continuity in citta would be clear mundanely presumably.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16576
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:53 am

Chris wrote: These are questions for the specialist Abhidhamma pracitioner and it would be better to check out what has already been discussed by those very well-versed in the Abhidhamma.
But Chris, Khun Sujin's followers have an aversion to the word "practice"... :stirthepot:

Metta
Mike

User avatar
cooran
Posts: 8504
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by cooran » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:37 am

Hello Mike,

Abhidhammikas come in all shades and varieties. Every moment of life is fit for practice. Many do formal meditation. Many maintain an awareness of the present moment. Study is seen as important, as is Sila.

The home page of Dhamma Study Group states that it is:
A Theravada Buddhist discussion forum for anyone interested in understanding the Buddha's teachings as found in all three baskets of the Tipitaka, the original record of the Buddha's word in the Theravada tradition, and as further elucidated in the ancient commentaries of that tradition.
The discussions include matters of both theory and practice, with the aim of developing precise understanding of dhammas (the 'realities' of the present moment).


metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

User avatar
Macavity
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:36 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by Macavity » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:08 pm

Jechbi wrote: At what stage amid the sati of satipatthana (if any) would you say one considers or contemplates the concept of an individual citta?
Hi Jechbi,

I think there are actually two questions here:-

First, at which stage of insight development might individual momentary cittas be discerned by the wisdom faculty?

Second, at which stage will they necessarily be discerned.

I'll try to address these questions tomorrow.

Kind regards,
Ciarán

User avatar
Macavity
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:36 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by Macavity » Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:23 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Chris wrote:But Chris, Khun Sujin's followers have an aversion to the word "practice"... :stirthepot:
Hi Mike,

With all due respect, I don't think you have been reading them carefully enough. Khun Sujin, Nina van Gorkom, and company don't have any problem with the word "practice" (paṭipatti). Their problem is with the words "formal meditation", the identification of this with "practice", and the claim that there is such a thing as a "method" by which satipaṭṭhāna and vipassanā can be developed.

Kind regards,
Ciarán

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16576
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:47 pm

Macavity wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
Chris wrote:But Chris, Khun Sujin's followers have an aversion to the word "practice"... :stirthepot:
With all due respect, I don't think you have been reading them carefully enough. Khun Sujin, Nina van Gorkom, and company don't have any problem with the word "practice" (paṭipatti). Their problem is with the words "formal meditation", the identification of this with "practice", and the claim that there is such a thing as a "method" by which satipaṭṭhāna and vipassanā can be developed.
Yes, that's what I meant.

Their position is interesting, and useful to keep in mind and I've learned a lot from such sources. Of course, as they say quite clearly, they disagree with many other Theravada teachers.

Metta
Mike

User avatar
Macavity
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:36 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by Macavity » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:30 pm

Macavity wrote:I think there are actually two questions here:-

First, at which stage of insight development might individual momentary cittas be discerned by the wisdom faculty?
The paññindriya of a samathayānika may discern them at the stage of purification of view (diṭṭhi-visuddhi) when developing insight after emergence from jhāna. But this won't happen at such an early stage in the case of a dry insight worker.
Second, at which stage will they necessarily be discerned.
At the stage of purification by knowledge and vision of the way (paṭipadā-ñāṇadassana-visuddhi). This corresponds to knowledge of rise and fall (udayabbayañāṇa) in the 16-ñāṇa formulation.


Kind regards,
Ciarán

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16576
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Speed of citta and meditation/observation

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:17 pm

Thanks Macavity, that's very helpful to orient some continued study...

Mike

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests