Different Aspects of Citta - Citta can achieve many different effects

The Buddha explained that citta (consciousness) is a reality. We may doubt whether cittas are real. How can we prove that there are cittas? Could it be that there are only physical phenomena and not mental phenomena? There are many things in our life we take for granted such as our homes, meals. clothes, or the tools we use every day. These things do not appear by themselves. They are brought about by a thinking mind, by citta. Citta is a mental phenomenon; it knows or experiences something. Citta is not like a physical phenomenon which does not experience anything. We listen to music which was written by a composer. It was citta which had the idea for the music; it was citta which made the composer's hand move in order to write down the notes. His hand could not have moved without citta.

Citta can achieve many different effects. We read in the 'Atthasālinī’ (a commentary to the Dhammasanganī, which is the first book of the  Abhidhamma) Book I, Part II, Analysis of Terms, 64:


How is consciousness (i.e.mind ) capable of producing 

a variety or diversity of effects in action?

There is no art in the world more variegated than the art of painting.

In painting, the painter's masterpiece

is more artistic than the rest of his pictures.

An artistic design occurs to the painters of masterpieces

that such and such pictures should be drawn in such and such a way.

Through this artistic design there arise operations of the mind

(or artistic operations) accomplishing such things as sketching the outline, 

putting on the paint, touching up, and embellishing... 

Thus all classes of arts in the world, specific or generic,

are achieved by the mind.  

And owing to its capacity thus to produce a variety

or diversity of effects in action,

the mind, which achieves all these arts,

is itself artistic like the arts  themselves.

Nay, it is even more artistic than the art itself,

because the latter cannot execute every design perfectly. 

For that reason the Blessed One has said,

'Monks, have you seen a masterpiece of painting?'

'Yes, Lord.' 

Monks, that masterpiece of art is designed by the mind.

Indeed, monks, the mind is even more artistic than that masterpiece.'   

(Kindred Sayings, III, 151)

  We then read about the many different things which are accomplished by citta: good deeds, such as deeds of generosity, and bad deeds such as deeds of cruelty and deceit, are accomplished by citta and these deeds produce different results. There is not just one type of citta, but many different types of cittas.

Topic 176