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The Abhidhamma in Practice - The Cetasikas Part 3

{written by : Esoteric Library Research Team}

Article word count : 682 -- Article Id : 2486
Article active date : 2009-09-08 -- Article views : 9648

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The second reality or paramattha dhamma is the cetasikas. The cetasikas are the mental factors or concomitants that arise and perish together with consciousness (citta), sharing its object and basis. The Abhidhamma lists 52 kinds of cetasikas. One is feeling (vedanaa), another is perception (saññaa). The remaining 50 are grouped together

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The beautiful mental factors. There are twenty-five beautiful factors. Nineteen are common to all beautiful thoughts, six are variable. The latter are the three "abstinence factors," two "illimitables," and the wisdom factor.

The common beautiful factors (sobhanaa saadhaaranaa) are as follows:

1. Confidence (saddhaa), also called faith, which for a Buddhist means trust in the Three Jewels — the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, and in the principles of the Buddha"s teachings.
2. Mindfulness (sati): this is alertness, which makes us aware of what is happening to us, from moment to moment, through the five physical senses and the mind. Mindfulness is essential to insight meditation, when it must be conjoined with a clear comprehension of the suitability, purpose, and conformity with reality of any action. Then it is called right mindfulness (sammaa sati). Usually the average person acts without any form of mindfulness; his acts are prompted by force of habit. Right mindfulness has two functions: one is to increase the power of recollection and the other is to evaluate what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. Right mindfulness is a spiritual faculty that maintains a proper balance of the other faculties — faith, energy, concentration and wisdom.
3.& 4. Shame of evil (hiri) and fear of evil (ottappa) are the opposites of the second and third unwholesome mental factors, already discussed.
5. Non-attachment (alobha) restrains attachment and fosters generosity.
6. Good-will (adosa) is synonymous with loving kindness (mettaa). It keeps a person free from resentment and anger.
7. Equanimity (tatramajjhattaa, upekkhaa) is balance of mind, a quality of neutrality free from attachment and repulsion.
8.-19. The other twelve common beautiful factors fall into six pairs, one member affecting the "body" of mental factors (kaaya), the other affecting consciousness as a whole (citta). The six are as follows, the terms themselves indicating their nature:

A. composure (passaddhi) of the mental factors and consciousness
B. buoyancy (lakhutaa) of the mental factors and consciousness
C. pliancy (mudutaa) of the mental factors and consciousness
D. efficiency (kammaññataa) of the mental factors and consciousness
E. proficiency (paguññataa) of the mental factors and consciousness
F. rectitude (ujukataa) of the mental factors and consciousness

The abstinence factors (virati) restrain a person from committing evil acts. These are three in number:

20. Right speech (sammaa vacaa) is abstinence from lying, slandering, abusive language, and idle talk.
21. Right action (sammaa kammantaa) is abstinence from killing, taking what is not given, and wrong conduct with regard to sense pleasures.
22. Right livelihood (sammaa aajiiva) is abstinence from any livelihood that brings harm to other living beings.

The illimitable factors (appamaññaa) are compassion and sympathetic joy; they are called illimitable because they are boundless and extend to all living beings.

23. Compassion (karu.naa) has the nature of being moved by the suffering of others. The sadness we might experience over the suffering or loss of a loved one is not true compassion. Such sadness is sentimental, a manifestation of grief. Real compassion arises when the mind, detached from self-referential concerns, is stirred by the suffering of others, feeling the suffering as its own.
24. Sympathetic joy (muditaa) has the nature of rejoicing in other"s happiness. Usually people rejoice at the success of someone who is near and dear to them, but it is rare for them to rejoice when success and prosperity are enjoyed by someone unknown, not to speak of an adversary. Muditaa embraces all beings and cannot coexist with the unwholesome mental factor of jealousy.
Compassion and sympathetic joy, together with goodwill and equanimity, form the Four Sublime Abodes (brahma vihaara). Goodwill and equanimity were mentioned under the common beautiful factors.

25. The wisdom factor (paññaa) enables one to see things as they truly are, that is, in the light of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness.
It is important to know the unwholesome and wholesome mental factors that operate in our minds. If we do not know them for what they are we will not be able to recognize them when they arise. But when our insight develops, we can understand that it is not a "self" that commits unwholesome and wholesome acts but just these mental factors.

Author Bio :
Provided Courtesy : Access to Insight Readings in Theravada Buddhism

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