There are twenty five
sobhana cetasikas in all which arise only with sobhana cittas. Nineteen
among these arise with every sobhana citta, whereas six of them do not
arise with every sobhana citta. Among these six sobhana cetasikas there
are three which are abstinences or virati-cetasikas. They are:
from wrong speech, vaci-duccarita virati
As regards abstinence
from wrong speech, this is abstinence from lying, slandering, harsh speech
and idle, frivolous talk. Abstinence from wrong action comprises abstinence
from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct. Abstinence from wrong livelihood
is abstinence from wrong speech and wrong action committed for the sake
of one's livelihood.
abstinence from wrong
action, kaya-duccarita virati
abstinence from wrong
livelihood, ajiva-duccarita virati
We read in the Atthasalini (I, Book I, Part IV, Chapter I, 131)
about the three kinds of abstinences:
... As regards
characteristic, etc., it has been said that each of these three does not
trespass nor tread on objects of the other two. They have the function
of shrinking from the same; and they have faith (saddha), sense of shame
(hiri), fear of blame (ottappa), contentment and more, as proximate antecedents.
They should be regarded as produced by the averted state of the mind from
(XIV, 155) gives a similar definition.
We read that each of the three does not tread on objects of the other two.
In the case of cittas of the sense-sphere (kamavacara cittas) these three
kinds of abstinence arise one at a time, since there is abstinence from
one kind of evil at a time. when we, for example, abstain from harsh speech,
the cetasika which is abstinence from wrong speech accompanies the maha-kusala
cittas and we do not abstain from wrong action at the same time, since
there is only one citta at a time. When we are harshly spoken to and we
do not answer back there is not always kusala citta with abstinence from
wrong speech. We may keep silent with citta rooted in ignorance or with
citta rooted in aversion and then there is akusala citta. If we abstain
from retorting unpleasant speech with kindness and patience there is kusala
citta accompanied by the cetasika which is abstinence from wrong speech.
As we have seen, confidence in wholesomeness ( saddha), shame (hiri), fear
of blame (ottappa) and contentment are among the proximate causes of the
abstinences. When there is contentment or fewness of wishes there are favourable
conditions for observing morality.
As regards abstinence from wrong livelihood' for laymen, we read in the
Sayings (III, Book of the Fives, Chapter XVII, 7) about five kinds
of trades laymen should abstain from:
five trades ought not to be plied by a lay-disciple. What five?
As to trade in flesh,
the commentary (Manorathapurani) explains: "He breeds and sells
pigs, deer, etc." It is also wrong livelihood to receive bribes for services
which are one's duty to perform, or bribes for something one ought not
Trade in weapons,
trade in human beings, trade in flesh, trade in spirits and trade in poison.
Verily, monks, these five trades ought not to be plied by a lay-disciple.
There is also wrong livelihood for monks. The monk should not try to obtain
the requisites of robes, almsfood, dwelling and medicine with unlawful
means, such as by way of hinting or talking in a clever way. He should
not disparage others in order to obtain gain and honour (1 see Visuddhimagga
1, 60 Vis, and following.). The monk's life should be a life of contentment
with little. If he realizes that the observance of the Vinaya should not
be separated from the development of right understanding he will be able
to lead a life of purity.
When someone lies or uses dishonest means in order to obtain something
for himself he acts in this way because of selfish desire. He hopes to
gain something, but sooner or later he will suffer unpleasant results.
Whenever we give in to wrong speech or wrong action. we are enslaved and
we are blinded, we do not realize the consequences. At that moment there
is no shame which shrinks from evil and no fear of the consequences of
evil. While we abstain from evil there are confidence in wholesomeness,
shame and fear of blame and there is no selfish desire. Understanding,
panna, may or may not accompany the kusala citta which abstains from evil.
As right understanding develops there will be less clinging to the concept
of self and consequently there will be more conditions to abstain from
wrong speech, wrong action and wrong livelihood.
It is not easy to know when there is kusaIa citta accompanied by one of
the three abstinences. So long as it is not known precisely when there
is kusala citta and when akusala citta, the characteristics of the cetasikas
which are abstention from wrong speech, wrong action and wrong livelihood
cannot be known either. It is of no use to try to focus on these realities
since there are many sobhana cetasikas accompanying the kusala citta while
we abstain from evil and it is difficult to know their different characteristics.
When the characteristic of abstinence appears there can be mindfulness
of it in order to be able to realize that it is not self who abstains.
There are different degrees of abstinence and the Atthasalini (
I, Book I, Part III, Chapter VI, 103, 104) distinguishes between three
kinds: abstaining "in spite of opportunity obtained", abstaining because
of observance (of precepts) and abstaining by way of eradication. As to
the first kind we read:
who have not undertaken to observe any precept, but who reflecting on their
own birth, age, experience, etc. and saying "It is not fit for us to do
such a bad thing" do not transgress an object actually met with, the abstinence
is to be considered as "in spite of opportunity"...
Thus, also those who have
not undertaken the precepts can have shame and fear of blame and abstain
from wrong speech, wrong action and wrong livelihood. Although the opportunity
for wrong speech or wrong action presents itself, they abstain from it
when they take into consideration the family they belong to, the education
they have had and their experience. They do not want to behave like fools
and they fear the consequences of evil conduct.
The second kind of abstention is by way of observance of the precepts.
When someone has undertaken the precepts and he considers it beneficial
to observe them this can be a condition to abstain from wrong conduct.
There are many degrees of observing the precepts. One's morality, sila,
may be limited (Vis. I, 31) Someone may have the intention not to kill
living beings, but when his health or his life is in danger, or his relatives
insist that he should kill, for example, insects, he may not be able to
observe the precept which is abstention from killing. Thus his morality
is limited, it h not enduring. Only through the development of right understanding
can morality become enduring.
The sotapanna has eradicated wrong view and thus, when he observes the
precepts, he does not take the observing for self. He will never transgress
the five precepts, even if his life is in danger, and thus his morality
is of a higher degree than the morality of the non-ariyan. We read about
the third kind of abstinence, abstinence by way of eradication, mentioned
by the Atthasalini, that it should be understood as associated with
the ariyan path :
... When that
Path has once arisen, not even the thought, "we will kill a creature ",
arises in the ariyans.
If right understanding
of realities is not developed all kinds of defilements can arise on account
of the objects which are experienced. When a pleasant object is experienced
through the eyes, we tend to be immediately infatuated with it. We should
realize that what is seen is only visible object, a kind of rupa which
does not last. Visible object can be seen just for a moment, it cannot
be owned. Still, we make ourselves believe that we can own it. We want
to get it for ourselves and because of it we may even commit evil deeds.
In the ultimate sense there are no people or things, only nama and rupa
which arise and then fall away immediately.
When we realize the consequences of evil conduct we will be urged to develop
right understanding which can eradicate defilements. We read in the Gradual
Sayings (III, Book of the Fives, Chapter XXII, 3, Morals) about
disadvantages of evil conduct:
Monks, there are five
disadvantages to one wanting morals, failing in morals. What five?
Consider, monks, the man without morals failing in morals--- he comes to
suffer much loss in wealth through neglect. This, monks, is the first disadvantage
to one wanting morals, failing in morals.
The Visuddhimagga (I, 154) mentions the following dangers of failure
in virtue :
Or, an evil rumour spreads about him. This is the second disadvantage...
Or whatever group he approach, whether nobles or brahmans, householders
or recluses. he does so without confidence and confused. This is the third
Or he dies muddled (in thought). This is the fourth disadvantage,..
Or on the breaking up of the body after death he arises in the wayward
way, the ill way, the abyss, hell. This is the fifth disadvantage,..
Verily, monks, them are the true disadvantages to one wanting morals, failing
(The opposite is said
of one perfect in morals.)
on account of his unvirtuousness an unvirtuous person is displeasing to
deities and human beings, is uninstructable by his fellows in the life
of purity, suffers when unvirtuousness is censured, and is remorseful when
the virtuous are praised...
We then read about many
other disadvantages. For example, the unvirtuous are always nervous, like
a man who is everyone's enemy, he is unfit to live with and incapable of
reaching the distinction of attainment. Although he imagines that he is
happy, yet he is not, since he maps suffering.
When we neglect morality we may suffer afterwards from remorse. When we,
for example, give in to slandering we may enjoy it at that moment, but
afterwards remorse may arise and then there is no joy, no peace of mind.
If we abstain from slandering there is no opportunity for remorse. When
we abstain from slandering with kindness and consideration for others the
citta is quite different from the citta which is forgetful of morality
and gives in to slandering. We may be able to learn the different characteristics
of such moments.
When one begins to develop insight one cannot expect to have purity of
morality immediately. We are still full of attachment, aversion and ignorance,
and these unwholesome roots can condition wrong speech, wrong action and
wrong livelihood. Only the sotapanna has no more conditions to commit akusala
kamma which can lead to an unhappy rebirth. We should have determination
to develop right understanding of whatever reality appears. When we become
angry and utter harsh speech there can be moments of awareness of nama
and rupa in between the moments of anger. Also anger should be known as
it is, as only a type of nama which is conditioned, not "my anger", otherwise
it can never be eradicated. We find the unpleasant feeling which accompanies
anger very disagreeable and we may have desire for just calm. Then there
is clinging again. Also the subtle desire for calm should be known as it
is. We should consider what our aim is: only calm, or right understanding
of whatever reality appears. We may think that it is too difficult to develop
understanding of whatever reality appears, we want to delay it when we
are tired, depressed or in an angry mood. However, if there is no beginning
of the development of right understanding, even at those moments we consider
unfavourable, it will always be difficult. If one perseveres in developing
understanding of the present moment, understanding can grow.
One may neglect the precepts because one thinks that they are too difficult
to observe. But if one considers the teachings more often and starts to
develop understanding, there will be more conditions for remembering what
is right and what is wrong in the different situations of one's daily life.
The aim of the development of right understanding is the eradication of
wrong view, ignorance and all the other defilements. We cannot be perfect
immediately, but we may see the danger of neglecting morality and the benefit
of observing it.
We may not kill or steal, but we may be forgetful as far as out speech
is concerned. A word which can harm ourselves and others is uttered before
we realize it. We tend to disparage others because we are attached to talking
and want to keep the conversation going. When we ate slighted by someone
else we are easily inclined to answer back. Our self-esteem may be hurt
and then we want to defend ourselves. Most of the time we think of ourselves;
we want to be honoured and praised. We forget that it is beneficial to
abstain from wrong speech and to speak with kusala citta. How often in
a day do we speak with kusala citta?
The Buddha reminded the monks about right speech. We should remember what
the Buddha said about right speech in the Parable of the saw (Middle Length
sayings I, no. 2 ii :
when speaking to others you might speak at a right time or at a wrong time:
monks, when speaking to others you might speak according to fact or not
according to fact; monks, when speaking to others you might speak gently
or harshly: monks, when speaking to others you might speak about what is
connected with the goal or about what is not connected with the goal; monks,
when speaking to others you might speak with a mind of friendliness or
full of hatred.
When we give in to wrong
speech there is no kindness and consideration for other people's welfare.
When there is loving kindness there is no opportunity for wrong speech.
We can and should develop loving kindness in daily life and we should at
the same time see the value of observing morality, otherwise loving kindness
cannot be sincere. Many wholesome qualities have to be developed together
with right understanding so that eventually defilements can be eradicated.
Herein, monks, you
should train yourselves thus: "Neither will our minds become perverted
nor will we utter on evil speech, but kindly and compassionate will we
dwell. with a mind of friendliness, void of hatred: and we will dwell having
suffused that person with a mind of friendliness; and. beginning with him,
we will dwell having suffused the whole world with a mind of friendliness
that is far-reaching, wide-spread, immeasurable, without enmity, without
malevolence." This is how you must train yourselves, monks.
The abstinences which accompany cittas of the sense-sphere, kamavacara
cittas, arise only one at a time, but when lokuttara cittas arise, all
three abstinences accompany the lokuttara cittas and then nibbana is the
object. Thus, the object of the abstinences which are lokuttara is different
from the object of the abstinences which are of the sense-sphere. The abstinences
which are lokuttara are the right speech, right action and right livelihood
of the supramundane eightfold Path.
We read in the Atthasalini (II, Part VIII, Chapter 1, 219, 220)
about the right speech which is Iokuttara, that is does not allow the commission
of wrong speech, that it cuts off the base of misconduct and fulfils the-path-factor.
The same is said about right action which cuts off the base of bodily misconduct
and fulfils the path-factor, and about right livelihood which cuts off
the base of wrong livelihood and fulfils the path-factor (1 see Dhammasangani,
Part I. Chapter V. 299-301.) Thus, in cutting off the conditions for wrong
conduct the three abstinences which are lokuttara fulfil their functions
Defilements are eradicated subsequently at the different stages of enIightenment.
When the path-consciousness, the magga-cittas, of the sotapanna arises,
the bases of the three kinds of wrong action which are killing, stealing
and sexual misconduct, and of the kind of wrong speech which is lying and
also the base of wrong livelihood are cut off. The kinds of wrong speech
which art slandering, harsh speech and idle talk have not been eradicated,
but they cannot have the intensity anymore of akusala kamma patha (unwholesome
course of action) which can produce an unhappy rebirth. The sakadagami,
the person who has attained the second stage of enlightenment, has not
eradicated these kinds of speech, but at this stage the tendencies to such
speech have decreased. The anagami, the person who hag attained the third
stage of enlightenment, has eradicated the tendency to slandering and harsh
speech but not yet the tendency to idle talk The tendency to idle talk
has only been eradicated by the arahat. We may not lie, slander or utter
harsh speech, but still our speech may not be motivated by kusala citta
which is generous and intent on helping others or on explaining the Dhamma
to others. Instead we may indulge in idle, useless talk. we may, for example,
chat with akusala citta about accidents or other events which happen during
the day. However, we can also talk with kusala citta about events such
as accidents; for example, we may talk about an accident in order to remind
ourselves and others of the shortness of life. Idle talk is done with akusala
citta. The monk should train himself to speak only about subjects which
lead to the goal, such as fewness of wishes and mental development, and
he should not indulge in idle talk. A layman does not lead the monk's life,
but even while one talks about useless things with akusala citta there
can, in between, be moments of awareness of nama and rupa. The arahat has
no more conditions for the laylife and no more tendencies to idle, useless
Summarizing the cittas which can be accompanied by the abstinences, they
cittas which are of the sense-sphere (kamavacara kusala cittas)
In the case of tile maha-kusala
cittas, only one kind of abstinence arises at a time, as the occasion presents
itself; not each maha-kusala citta is accompanied by one of the abstinences.
The abstinences are not among the nineteen sobhana cetasikas which accompany
each sobhana citta; they do not accompany vipaka-cittas since they ire
the actual abstinence from wrong conduct. Neither do the three abstinences
accompany the maha-kiriyacittas of the arahat since there are for those
who have eradicated all defilements no more opportunities for abstention.
eight (or forty) lokuttara
cittas which are accompanied by all three abstinences
The three abstinences
do not accompany rupavacara cittas (fine-material jhanacittas) and arupavacara
cittas ( immaterial jhana-cittas) since there is no opportunity for abstention
when the citta is jhanacitta, the citta which does not experience sense-impressions.
The three abstinences which together accompany the lokuttara cittas are
the three factors which are the right speech, right action and right livelihood
of the eightfold Path. They accompany the magga-cittas and they also accompany
the phala-cittas (fruition- consciousness). The phala-cittas are the results
of the magga-cittas, but they are different from other types of vipakacittas.
The phala-cittas are lokuttara vipakacittas experiencing nibbana, and they
immediately succeed the magga-citta which produces them, in the same process.
Thus we see that there are many kinds and degrees of the three abstinences.
There is abstinence without right understanding and with right understanding.
when lokuttara citta arises all three abstinences accompany the lokuttara
citta and they are also lokuttara.