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Cetasika

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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cetasika (Pāli; Skt., caitasika). An early Abhidharma term denoting psychological phenomena of various kinds that arise in the mind (citta) as it encounters and processes phenomena. There are 52 according to Theravādin sources. In Buddhist scholastic psychology the theory of cetasikas is the outcome of the attempt to classify and describe in detail the different states of mind and their various functions in the context of a general account of the modal operations of the psyche (citta). The endeavour is an outgrowth of the canonical classification of the human subject into five categories or ‘aggregates’ (skandha) and aims at greater precision in the tabulation of mental elements and faculties in each of the five categories. The different schools tabulate the psychic qualities differently, but all tend to follow a general breakdown into three categories:

(1) general psychological functions, e.g cognition or discrimination (saññā), sensation or feeling (vedanā), volition (cetanā), discursive thought (vicāra), focused concentration (ekaggatā), etc.

(2) Wholesome or virtuous qualities, e.g. goodwill (adosa), non-attachment (alobha), diligence (appamāda), confidence (saddhā), etc.

(3) Unwholesome qualities or vices, e.g. hatred (dosa, Skt. dveṣa), envy (issā), conceit (māna), etc.

In Sanskrit sources the cetasikas are known as caittas, and the classification varies slightly.

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