Ahetuka Cittas (Rootless Cittas)
If we want to know ourselves we should not merely know the moments of akusala cittas or kusala cittas but other moments as well. When we see something ugly, we dislike what we see. At the moment of dislike there is akusala citta rooted in dosa (aversion). Before there is dislike, however, there must be moments of merely seeing visible object. At these moments there are not yet akusala cittas, but cittas which are without “root” (in Pāli: hetu).
There are six cetasikas which are hetu or root. Three of these hetus are akusala; they are: lobha (attachment), dosa (aversion) and moha (ignorance). Three hetus are sobhana (beautiful); they are: alobha (26) (greedlessness or generosity), adosa (non-hate or loving kindness) and amoha (paññā or wisdom). The citta or cetasika which is accompanied by a hetu is sahetuka (“sa” means “with”). For example, dosa-mūla-citta is sahetuka; moha and dosa are the hetus which arise with dosa-mūla-citta.
Cittas without hetu are ahetuka cittas. There are many ahetuka cittas arising in a day. Whenever we see, hear, smell, taste or experience tangible object through the bodysense, there are ahetuka cittas before cittas with akusala hetus or with sobhana hetus arise. We are inclined to pay attention only to the moments of like and dislike, but we should know other moments as well; we should know ahetuka cittas.
There are altogether eighteen types of ahetuka citta. As I will explain, fifteen types of ahetuka cittas are vipākacittas and three types are kiriyacittas (cittas which are “inoperative”, neither cause nor result). Seven of the fifteen ahetuka vipākacittas are akusala vipākacittas (results of unwholesome deeds) and eight of them are kusala vipākacittas (results of wholesome deeds). When a pleasant or an unpleasant object impinges on the eyesense, seeing-consciousness only experiences what appears through the eyes, there is no like or dislike yet of the object. Seeing-consciousness is an ahetuka vipākacitta. Cittas which like or dislike the object arise later on; these are sahetuka cittas (arising with hetus). Seeing is not the same as thinking of what is seen. The citta which pays attention to the shape and form of something and knows what it is, does not experience an object through the eye-door but through the mind-door; it has a different characteristic. When one uses the word “seeing” one usually means: paying attention to the shape and form of something and knowing what it is. However, there must also be a kind of citta which merely sees visible object, and this citta does not know anything else. What we see we can call “visible object” or “colour”; what is meant is: what appears through the eyes. When there is hearing, we can experience that hearing has a characteristic which is different from seeing; the citta which hears experiences sound through the ears. Only in being aware of the different characteristics of realities and investigating them over and over again, will we come to know them as they are. People may think that there is a self who can see and hear at the same time, but through which door can the self be experienced? The belief in a self is wrong view.
Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and the experience of tangible object through the bodysense do not arise without conditions; they are the results of kamma. Eyesense, earsense, smelling-sense, tasting-sense and bodysense are rūpas which are produced by kamma, they are the corporal result of kamma. Only the mental result of kamma is called vipāka, and thus only citta and cetasika (mental factors arising with the citta) can be vipāka. Rūpa is not vipāka.
The Buddha taught that everything which arises must have conditions for its arising. When we see something unpleasant there must be a condition for it: it is the result of akusala kamma. Akusala vipāka cannot be the result of kusala kamma. Seeing something pleasant is kusala vipāka; this can only be the result of kusala kamma. The vipākacitta which experiences an unpleasant or pleasant object through one of the five senses is ahetuka. At that moment there are no akusala hetus (unwholesome roots) or sobhana hetus (beautiful roots) arising with the citta.
Seeing-consciousness, hearing-consciousness and the other sense-cognitions which experience a pleasant object or an unpleasant object through the corresponding sense-doors are ahetuka vipākacittas. There are two kinds of ahetuka vipāka experiencing an object through each of the five sense-doors: one is akusala vipāka and one is kusala vipāka. Thus there are five pairs of ahetuka vipākacittas which arise depending on the five sense-doors. There are also other kinds of ahetuka vipākacitta which will be dealt with later on. The ten ahetuka vipākacittas which are the five pairs are called in Pāli: dvi-pañca-viññāṇa (two times five viññāṇa (27)). Summing them up they are:
  1. 1.
    Seeing-consciousness (cakkhu-viññāṇa, “cakkhu” means eye): akusala
    vipāka, accompanied by indifferent feeling (upekkhā): kusala vipāka,
    accompanied by indifferent feeling.
  2. 2.
    Hearing-consciousness (sota-viññāṇa, “sota” means ear): akusala
    vipāka, accompanied by indifferent feeling: kusala vipāka,
    accompanied by indifferent feeling.
  3. 3.
    Smelling-consciousness (ghāna-viññāṇa, “ghāna” means nose): akusala
    vipāka, accompanied by indifferent feeling: kusala vipāka,
    accompanied by indifferent feeling.
  4. 4.
    Tasting-consciousness (jivhā-viññāṇa, “jivhā” means tongue): akusala
    vipāka, accompanied by indifferent feeling: kusala vipāka,
    accompanied by indifferent feeling.
  5. 5.
    Body-consciousness (kāya-viññāṇa, “kāya” means body): akusala
    vipāka, accompanied by painful bodily feeling (dukkha-vedanā):
    kusala vipāka, accompanied by pleasant bodily feeling
    (sukha-vedanā).
The ahetuka vipākacittas which see, hear, smell and taste are invariably accompanied by indifferent feeling, upekkhā, no matter whether they are akusala vipāka or kusala vipāka. The citta which dislikes the object may arise afterwards. This citta is “sahetuka”, with hetus (roots), and it is accompanied by unpleasant feeling. Or the citta which likes the object may arise; this citta which is also “sahetuka”, with roots, may be accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent feeling. We are inclined to think that the dvi-pañca-viññāṇas, such as seeing or hearing, can occur at the same time as like or dislike of the object, but this is not so. Different cittas arise at different moments and the feelings which accompany the cittas are different too; these realities arise each because of their own conditions and they are non-self.
The feeling arising with body-consciousness which experiences tangible object through the bodysense cannot be indifferent feeling; it arises either with painful bodily feeling or with pleasant bodily feeling. When an unpleasant tangible object is experienced the feeling which accompanies the ahetuka vipākacitta is painful bodily feeling, dukkha-vedanā. When a pleasant tangible object is experienced the feeling which accompanies the ahetuka vipākacitta is pleasant bodily feeling, sukha-vedanā. Painful bodily feeling and pleasant bodily feeling are nāma which can arise only with the vipākacitta which experiences an object through the bodysense. Bodily feeling is conditioned by impact on the bodysense. Both bodily feeling and mental feeling are nāma, but they arise because of different conditions and at different moments. For example, we may have pleasant bodily feeling when we are in comfortable surroundings, but in spite of that, we may still be worried and also have moments of “mental” unpleasant feeling which accompanies dosa-mūla-citta; these feelings arise at different moments and because of different conditions. Pleasant bodily feeling is the result of kusala kamma. The mental unpleasant feeling which arises when we are unhappy is conditioned by our accumulation of dosa (aversion); it is akusala. The whole day there are tangible objects experienced through the bodysense, which is a kind of rūpa. Tangible object can be experienced all over the body, also inside the body, and thus the door of the bodysense can be anywhere in the body. Whenever we touch hard or soft objects, when cold or heat contacts the body, and when we move, bend or stretch, there are unpleasant or pleasant objects experienced through the bodysense. One may wonder whether at each moment there is a bodily impression, pleasant bodily feeling or painful bodily feeling arises. One may notice the coarse bodily feelings, but not the subtle bodily feelings. For example, when something is a little too hard, too cold or too hot, there is painful bodily feeling, dukkha-vedanā, arising with the ahetuka vipākacitta which experiences the object through the bodysense. One may not notice the subtle bodily feelings if one has not learned to be aware of realities.
The arahat, when he experiences an unpleasant object or a pleasant object through the bodysense, has painful bodily feeling or pleasant bodily feeling arising with the ahetuka vipākacitta which is body-consciousness, but he has no akusala cittas or kusala cittas after the vipākacitta; instead he has kiriyacittas (“inoperative cittas” (28)). We read in the Kindred Sayings (IV, Saḷāyatana-vagga, Kindred Sayings about Feeling, Book I, paragraph 6) that the Buddha said to the monks:
“The untaught manyfolk, monks, feels feeling that is pleasant, feeling that is painful and feeling that is neutral. The well-taught ariyan disciple, monks, feels the same three feelings.
Now herein, monks, what is the distinction, what is the specific feature, what is the difference between the well-taught ariyan disciple and the untaught manyfolk?”
“For us, lord, things are rooted in the Exalted One...”
“ The untaught manyfolk, monks, being touched by feeling that is painful, weeps and wails, cries aloud, knocks the breast, falls into utter bewilderment. For he feels a twofold feeling, bodily and mental ...Touched by that painful feeling he feels repugnance for it. Feeling that repugnance for the painful feeling, the lurking tendency to repugnance fastens on him. Touched by the painful feeling, he delights in pleasant feeling. Why so? The untaught manyfolk, monks, knows of no refuge from painful feeling save sensual pleasure. Delighting in that sensual pleasure, the lurking tendency to sensual pleasure fastens on him...”
Is this not real life? Touched by painful feeling, we long for pleasant feeling; we believe that it is real happiness. We do not see life as it really is: dukkha. We wish to ignore sickness, old age and death, “lamentation and despair”, and the impermanence of all conditioned realities. We expect happiness in life and when we have to suffer we think that pleasant feeling might cure us of suffering and we cling to it. In the Buddha’s teaching of the “Dependent Origination” (29) it is said that feeling conditions craving. Not only pleasant feeling and indifferent feeling condition craving, but also unpleasant feeling conditions craving, since one wishes to be liberated from unpleasant feeling (Visuddhimagga, XVII, 238). Furthermore, we read in the sutta:
...If he feels feeling that is pleasant, he feels it as one in bondage. If he feels feeling that is painful, he feels it as one in bondage. If he feels feeling that is neutral, he feels it as one in bondage. This untaught manyfolk, monks, is called ‘in bondage to birth, death, sorrow and grief, woe, lamentation and despair. He is in bondage to dukkha’. So I declare.
But, monks, the well-taught ariyan disciple, when touched by painful feeling, weeps not, wails not, cries not aloud, knocks not the breast, falls not into utter bewilderment. He feels but one feeling, the bodily, not the mental ...(30) If he feels a feeling that is pleasant, he feels it as one freed from bondage. If he feels a feeling that is painful, he feels it as one that is freed from bondage. If he feels a neutral feeling, he feels it as one that is freed from bondage. This well-taught ariyan disciple, monks, is called ‘freed from the bondage of birth, old age, from sorrow and grief, from woe, lamentation and despair, freed from the bondage of dukkha.’ So I declare...”
Feelings arise because of conditions and fall away again. They are impermanent and they should not be taken for self. We read in the Kindred Sayings (Saḷāyatana-vagga, Kindred Sayings on Sense, Third Fifty, paragraph 130, Hāliddaka):
Once the venerable Kaccāna the Great was staying among the folk of Avanti, at Osprey’s Haunt, on a sheer mountain crag. Then the housefather Hāliddakāni came to the venerable Kaccāna the Great. Seated at one side he said this:
“ It has been said by the Exalted One, sir, ‘Owing to diversity in elements arises diversity of contact. Owing to diversity of contact arises diversity of feeling.’ Pray, sir, how far is this so?”
“Herein, housefather, after having seen with the eye a pleasant object, a monk comes to know as such (31) eye-consciousness that is a pleasant experience. Owing to contact that is pleasant to experience arises happy feeling.
After having seen with the eye an unpleasant object, a monk comes to know as such eye-consciousness that is an unpleasant experience. Owing to contact that is unpleasant to experience arises unpleasant feeling.
After having seen with the eye an object that is of indifferent effect, a monk comes to know as such eye-consciousness that experiences an object which is of indifferent effect. Owing to contact that is indifferent to experience arises feeling that is indifferent.
So also, housefather, after having heard a sound with the ear, smelt a scent with the nose, tasted a savour with the tongue, experienced tangible object with the body, cognized with the mind a mental object that is pleasant ...Owing to contact that is pleasant to experience arises happy feeling. But after having cognized a mental object which is unpleasant ...owing to contact that is unpleasant to experience arises unhappy feeling. Again, after having cognized with the mind a mental object that is indifferent in effect, he comes to know as such mind-consciousness that experiences an object which is of indifferent effect. Owing to contact that is indifferent arises feeling that is indifferent. Thus, housefather, owing to diversity in elements arises diversity of contact. Owing to diversity of contact arises diversity of feeling.”
If we are mindful of realities which appear through the different doorways we will come to know from direct experience different characteristics of nāmas and rūpas; we will know different types of citta and different kinds of feeling. We will understand that all these realities are only conditioned elements and not self. We will know from direct experience that there are not only cittas accompanied by lobha, dosa and moha, and cittas accompanied by “beautiful” roots, but also cittas which are ahetuka, cittas without roots. One may not find it useful and interesting to know more about seeing, hearing and the other realities appearing through the different doorways. However, in order to see things as they are, it is essential to know that the citta which, for example hears sound, has a characteristic which is different from the citta which likes or dislikes the sound and that these cittas arise because of different conditions. What the Buddha taught can be proved by being mindful of realities.

Questions

  1. 1.
    Which are the six hetus (roots)?
  2. 2.
    When there is seeing it may be kusala vipāka or akusala vipāka. Are
    there hetus accompanying seeing-consciousness?
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