Mental factors

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Mental factors (Skt: caitasika or caitta; P. cetasika; T. sems byung; C. xinsuo; J. shinjo; K. simso 心所), are defined within the Abhidharma as aspects of the mind that apprehend the quality of an object, and that have the ability to color the mind. Within the Abhidharma, the mental factors are categorized as formations (Sanskrit: saṅkhāra) concurrent with mind (Sanskrit: citta).[1][2][3] Alternate translations for mental factors (Sanskrit: caitasika) include "mental states", "mental events", and "concomitants of consciousness".

Introduction

Mental factors are aspects of the mind that apprehend the quality of an object and have the ability to color the mind. Geshe Tashi Tsering explains:

The Tibetan for mental factors, semlay jungwa chö (Skt. chaitasika dharma), means phenomena arising from the mind, suggesting that the mental factors are not primary to the mind but arise within a larger framework. A mental factor, again, is defined as the aspect of the mind that apprehends a particular quality of an object. Because it is characterized by the qualities of activity and non-neutrality, it has the ability to color the mind in dependence on the way it manifests. Hence, a feeling of desire from seeing what is conceived as a beautiful object affects the other mental factors that are present at that time, and this colors the whole mind.[4]

The relationship between the main mind (Sanskrit: citta) and the mental factors can be described by the following metaphors:

  • The main mind is like the screen in a cinema, and the mental factors are like the images projected on the screen. In this analogy, we typically do not notice the screen because we are so caught up on the images.
  • The main mind is like a king who sits passively on a throne, and the mental factors are like the king's busy ministers.[3]

Traleg Rinpoche states that the main distinction between the mind and mental factors is that the mind apprehends an object as a whole, whereas mental factors apprehend an object in its particulars.[5]Template:Refn

Lists of mental factors

Within Buddhism, there are many different systems of abhidharma, and each system contains its own list of the most significant mental factors.Template:RefnTemplate:Refn These lists vary from system to system both in the number of mental factors listed, and in the definitions that are given for each mental factor. These lists are not considered to be exhaustive; rather they present significant categories and mental factors that are useful to study in order to understand how the mind functions.Template:Refn

Each of the following commentaries includes a unique list of the most significant mental factors:[6]

Fifty-two mental factors of the Abhidhammattha-sangaha

Template:Editor note Within the Theravada tradition, the Abhidhammattha-sangaha enumerates the fifty-two mental factors listed below.Template:Refn

Note that this list is not exhaustive; there are other mental factors mentioned in the Theravada teachings. This list identifies fifty-two important factors that help to understand how the mind functions.

Seven universal mental factors

The seven universal mental factors (sabbacittasādhāraṇa cetasikas) are common (sādhāraṇa) to all consciousness (sabbacitta). Bhikkhu Bodhi states: "These factors perform the most rudimentary and essential cognitive functions, without which consciousness of an object would be utterly impossible."Template:Sfn

These seven factors are:

Six occasional mental factors

The six occasional or particular mental factors (pakiṇṇaka cetasikas) are ethically variable mental factors found only in certain consciousnesses.Template:Sfn They are:

Fourteen unwholesome mental factors

The unwholesome mental factors (akusala cetasikas) accompany the unwholesome consciousnesses (akusala citta).

Bhikkhu Bodhi states:Template:Sfn

Unwholesome consciousness (akusalacitta) is consciousness accompanied by one or another of the three unwholesome roots—greed, hatred, and delusion. Such consciousness is called unwholesome because it is mentally unhealthy, morally blameworthy, and productive of painful results.

The fourteen unwholesome mental factors are:

Twenty-five beautiful mental factors

The beautiful mental factors (sobhana cetasikas) accompany the wholesome consciousnesses (kusala citta).

Bhikkhu Bodhi states:Template:Sfn

Wholesome consciousness (kusalacitta) is consciousness accompanied by the wholesome roots—non-greed or generosity, non-hatred or loving-kindness, and non-delusion or wisdom. Such consciousness is mentally healthy, morally blameless, and productive of pleasant results.

The twenty-five beautiful mental factors (sobhana cetasikas) are listed below.

Nineteen universal beautiful mental factors

There are nineteen universal beautiful mental factors (sobhanasādhāraṇa):

The following factors are grouped into six pairs:Template:Refn

Three Abstinences

Three Abstinences (virati):

Two Immeasurables

Two Immeasurables (appamañña):

One Faculty of wisdom

One Faculty of wisdom (paññindriya):

Fifty-one mental factors of the Abhidharma-samuccaya

The Abhidharma-samuccaya identifies fifty-one mental factors (described below).

Five universal mental factors

The five universal mental factors (sarvatraga) are:

  1. Sparśa - contact, contacting awareness, sense impression, touch
  2. Vedanā - feeling, sensation
  3. Saṃjñā - perception
  4. Cetanā - volition, intention
  5. Manaskara - attention

These five mental factors are referred to as universal or omnipresent because they operate in the wake of every mind situation. If any one of these factors is missing, then the experience of the object is incomplete. For example:

  • If there is no sparśa (contact), then there would be no basis for perception.
  • If there is no vedana (feeling, sensation), there is no relishing of the object.
  • If there is no saṃjñā (perception), then the specific characteristic of the object is not perceived.
  • If there is no cetanā (volition), then there is no movement towards and settling on the object.
  • If there is no manasikara (attention), then there is not holding onto the object.[7]

Five object-determining mental factors

The five object-determining mental factors (viṣayaniyata) are:

  1. Chanda - desire (to act), intention, interest
  2. Adhimoksha - decision, interest, firm conviction
  3. Smṛti - mindfulness
  4. Prajñā - wisdom
  5. Samādhi - concentration

These five factors are referred to as object-determining is because these factors each grasp the specification of the object. When they are steady, there is certainty concerning each object.[8]

Eleven virtuous mental factors

The eleven virtuous (kuśala) mental factors are:

  1. Sraddhā - faith
  2. Hrī - self-respect, conscientiousness, sense of shame
  3. Apatrāpya - decorum, regard for consequence
  4. Alobha - non-attachment
  5. Adveṣa - non-aggression, equanimity, lack of hatred
  6. Amoha - non-bewilderment
  7. Vīrya - diligence, effort
  8. Praśrabdhi - pliancy
  9. Apramāda - conscientiousness
  10. Upekṣa - equanimity
  11. Ahiṃsā - nonharmfulness

Six root unwholesome factors

The six root unwholesome factors (mūlakleśa) are:

  1. Raga - attachment
  2. Pratigha - anger
  3. Avidya - ignorance
  4. Māna - pride, conceit
  5. Vicikitsa - doubt
  6. Dristi - wrong view

Twenty secondary unwholesome factors

The twenty secondary unwholesome factors (upakleśa) are:

  1. Krodha - rage, fury
  2. Upanāha - resentment
  3. Mrakśa - concealment, slyness-concealment
  4. Pradāśa - spitefulness
  5. Irshya - envy, jealousy
  6. Mātsarya - stinginess, avarice, miserliness
  7. Māyā - pretense, deceit
  8. Śāṭhya - hypocrisy, dishonesty
  9. Mada - self-infatuation, mental inflation, self-satisfaction
  10. Vihiṃsā - malice, hostility, cruelty, intention to harm
  11. Āhrīkya - lack of shame, lack of conscience, shamelessness
  12. Anapatrāpya - lack of propriety, disregard, shamelessness
  13. Styāna - lethargy, gloominess
  14. Auddhatya - excitement, ebullience
  15. Āśraddhya - lack of faith, lack of trust
  16. Kausīdya - laziness, slothfulness
  17. Pramāda - heedlessness, carelessness, unconcern
  18. Muṣitasmṛtitā - forgetfulness
  19. Asaṃprajanya - non-alertness, inattentiveness
  20. Vikṣepa - distraction, desultoriness

Four changeable mental factors

The four changeable mental factors (aniyata) are:

  1. Kaukṛitya - regret, worry,
  2. Middha - sleep, drowsiness
  3. Vitarka - conception, selectiveness, examination
  4. Vicāra - discernment, discursiveness, analysis

Fourty-six factors of the Abhidharma-kosa

The Abhidharma-kosha (AK) of the Sarvastivada school identifies 46 mental factors:Template:Refn

Ten omnipresent mental factors (AK)

The ten omnipresent mental factors (mahā-bhūmika) are common to all consciousness.

  1. Vedanā - feeling
  2. Samjna - perception
  3. Cetana - volition
  4. Sparsa - contact
  5. Chanda - desire (to act)
  6. Mati - discernment, discriminating intellect
  7. Smṛti - mindfulness
  8. Manaskara - attention
  9. Adhimoksha - decision
  10. Samadhi - mental concentration.

Ten omnipresent wholesome factors (AK)

The ten omnipresent wholesome factors (kuśala-mahā-bhūmikā) accompany the wholesome consciousnesses (kusala citta).

  1. Sraddhā - faith
  2. Vīrya - energy
  3. Upekkha - equanimty
  4. Hiri - shame at doing evil
  5. Apatrāpya - decorum, regard for consequence
  6. Alobha - non-attachment
  7. Advesha - non-aggression
  8. Ahimsa - non-injuriousness
  9. Prasrabhi - calmness
  10. Apramada - conscientiousness

Six omnipresent afflicted factors (AK)

These six general functions of defilement (kleśa-mahā-bhūmika):

  1. Moha - delusion
  2. Pramāda - heedlessness, carelessness, unconcern
  3. Kausīdya - laziness, slothfulness
  4. Āśraddhya - lack of faith, lack of trust
  5. Styāna - lethargy, gloominess
  6. Auddhatya - excitement, ebullience

Two major omnipresent unwholesome factors (AK)

These two general functions of evil (akusala-mahā-bhūmika):

  1. Āhrīkya - lack of shame, lack of conscience, shamelessness
  2. Anapatrāpya - lack of propriety, disregard, shamelessness

Ten minor afflicted factors of wide extent (AK)

Ten minor functions of defilement (upaklesha-bhūmika):

  1. Krodha - rage, fury
  2. Mrakśa - concealment, slyness-concealment
  3. Mātsarya - stinginess, avarice, miserliness
  4. Irshya - envy, jealousy
  5. Pradāśa - spitefulness
  6. Vihiṃsā - malice, hostility, cruelty, intention to harm
  7. Upanāha - resentment
  8. Māyā - pretense, deceit
  9. Śāṭhya - hypocrisy, dishonesty
  10. Mada - self-infatuation, mental inflation, self-satisfaction

Eight indeterminate mental factors (AK)

The indeterminate mental factors (aniyata-bhumika) are:

  1. Kaukṛitya - regret, worry,
  2. Middha - sleep, drowsiness
  3. Vitarka - conception, selectiveness, examination
  4. Vicāra - discernment, discursiveness, analysis
  5. Raga - attachment
  6. Pratigha - anger
  7. Māna - pride, conceit
  8. Vicikitsa - doubt

Alternate translations of caitasika

Alternate translations for the term mental factors (Sanskrit: caitasika; Pali: cetasika) include:

  • Mental factors (Geshe Tashi Tsering, Jeffrey Hopkins, Bhikkhu Bodhi, N.K.G. Mendis)
  • Mental functions (Thubten Gyatso)
  • Mental events (Herbert Guenther)
  • Mental states (Erik Pema Kunzang, Nārada Thera)
  • Concomitants (N.K.G. Mendis)
  • Concomitants of consciousness (Bhikkhu Bodhi)
  • Subsidiary awareness (Alexander Berzin)

See also

Notes

References

  1. Guenther (1975), Kindle Location 321.
  2. Kunsang (2004), p. 23.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Geshe Tashi Tsering (2006), Kindle Location 456.
  4. Geshe Tashi Tsering (2006), Kindle Locations 564-568.
  5. Traleg Rinpoche (1993). p. 59
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named berzin1
  7. Guenther (1975), Kindle Location 409-414.
  8. Guenther (1975), Kindle Location 487-488.

Sources

External links

Sanskrit tradition:

Pali tradition - mental factors:

Pali tradition - Abhidharma:

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