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Mind - citta, mano or viññāṇa

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The mind (citta, mano or viññāṇa) is that part of an individual that allows one to be conscious, to feel emotions, to think and to reason. What God is to some religions, the mind is to Buddhism in two ways. (1) While the theist turns all his or her attention to God, the main focus of the Buddhist’s attention is the mind. (2) All the powers, abilities and apparently miraculous occurrences which the theist attributes to God, the Buddhist knows are actually due to the power of the mind.

A large percentage of the Buddha’s teaching as recorded in the Tipiṭaka is devoted to describing the nature of the mind, examining its various characteristics and abilities and detailing how it can be modified and freed. The mind is one of the four constituents that together make up the individual, the others being physical form (rūpa), feelings (vedanā), perception (saññā) and mental constructs (saṅkhāra). The Buddha says that ‘the mind and body are dependent on each other the way two sheaves stand up by leaning against each other’ (S.II,114). ‘All things are preceded by mind, have mind as their leader, are made of mind.’ (Dhp.1). ‘Beings are defiled by having a defiled mind and they are purified by purifying their minds.’ (S.III,151). ‘I know of no single thing as conducive to great benefit as a developed mind. Truly, a developed mind is conducive to great benefit.’ (A.I,8).’The spiritual life is not lived for the benefits that come from gains, honours or fame, the benefits that come from morality, from meditation or from knowing and seeing. But complete freedom of mind, that is the aim, the goal and the culmination of the spiritual life.’ (M.I,197). See Monkey Mind, Tummo Yoga and Pseudocyesis.

Citta, Mano and Viññana’, Rune Johnsson, University of Ceylon Review, Vol.23, 1965.

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