Common To Others

Common to others 13

  • Universals 7
  • Particulars 6


  • Contact

“Contact means ‘it touches’. It has touching as its salient characteristic, impact as its function, coinciding (of the physical basis, object and consciousness) as its manifestation and the object which has entered the avenue (of awareness) as proximate cause.

Contact is mentioned first because it precedes all other mental states. “Touching by contact, consciousness experiences by feeling, perceives by perception, wills by volition” According to Paticca- Samuppàda, too, Contact conditions Feeling. But strictly speaking, there is no reason for the sequence because all these mental states are coexistent.

Contact is given priority of place, as standing for the inception of the thought, and as the sine qua non of all the allied states, conditioning them much as the roof-tree of a storeyed house supports all the other combinations of material.”

  • Feeling

Feeling is a more appropriate rendering for Vedanà than sensation. Like contact, feeling is an essential property of every consciousness. It may be pleasurable, painful, or neutral. Pain and pleasure pertain to body as well. But physical feeling is not of ethical importance.

According to the commentators feeling is like a master who enjoys a dish prepared by a cook. The latter is compared to the remaining mental states that constitute a thought-complex. Strictly speaking, it is feeling that experiences an object when it comes in contact with the senses. It is this feeling that experiences the desirable or undesirable fruits of an action done in this or in a previous birth. Besides this mental state there is no soul or any other agent to experience the result of the action.

It should be understood here that Nibbànic bliss is not connected with feeling. Nibbànic bliss is certainly the highest happiness (Sukha), but it is the happiness of relief from suffering. It is not the enjoyment of a pleasurable object

  • Perception

“Perception”, according to a modern Dictionary of Philosophy, “ is the apprehension of ordinary sense- objects, such as trees, houses, chairs, etc., on the occasion of sensory stimulation.” Perception is not used here in the sense employed by early modern philosophers such as Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz.

Perception is the understanding and the knowledge one gathers to insert a value for oneself. A man, for instance, discerns its value and its utility, but is not aware of its chemical composition. Perception is comparable to the ordinary man’s knowledge of the things he learns. And it is like the analytical knowledge of a chemist who knows all its chemical properties in every detail.

  • Volition

Also called in pali as Cetana is the mental factor that is concerned with the actualization of a goal, that is, the conative or volitional aspect of cognition. Thus it is rendered volition. The Commentaries explain that cetana organizes its associated mental factors in acting upon the object. Its characteristic is the state of willing, its function is to accumulate (kamma), and its manifestation is coordination. Its proximate cause is the associated states. Just as a chief pupil recites his own lesson and also makes the other pupils recite their own lessons, so when volition starts to work on its object, it sets the associated states to do their tasks as well. Volition is the most significant mental factor in generating kamma, since it is volition that determines the ethical quality of the action.

  • One Pointedness

This concentration, known as one-pointedness of mind, has non-scattering (of itself) or non-distraction (of associated states) as characteristic, the welding together of the coexistent states as function, as water kneads bath-powder into a paste, and peace of mind or knowledge as manifestation. For it has been said: ‘He who is concentrated knows, sees according to the truth.’ It is distinguished by having ease (sukha) (usually) as a proximate cause. Like the steadiness of a lamp in the absence of wind, so should steadfastness of mind be understood

This is the unification of the mind on its object. Although this factor comes to prominence in the jhānas, where it functions as a jhāna factor, the Abhidhamma teaches that the germ of that capacity for mental unification is present in all types of consciousness, even the most rudimentary. It there functions as the factor which fixes the mind on its object. One-pointedness has non-wandering or non-distraction as its characteristic. Its function is to conglomerate or unite the associated states.

Ekaggatā is the mental factor which has as function to focus on that one object. Seeing-consciousness, for example, can only know visible object, it cannot know any other object and ekaggatā focuses on visible object. Hearing-consciousness can only know sound, it cannot know visible object or any other object and ekaggatā focuses on sound

  • Life Faculty

There are two kinds of life faculty, the mental, which vitalizes the associated mental states, and the physical, which vitalizes material phenomena. The mental life faculty alone is intended as a cetasika. It has the characteristic of maintaining the associated mental states, the function of making them occur, manifestation as the establishing of their presence, and its proximate cause is the mental states to be maintained.

  • Attention

The Pali word literally means “making in the mind.” Attention is the mental factor responsible for the mind’s advertence to the object, by virtue of which the object is made present to consciousness. Its characteristic is the conducting (sāraṇa) of the associated mental states towards the object. Its function is to yoke the associated states to the object. It is manifested as confrontation with an object, and its proximate cause is the object. Attention is like the rudder of a ship, which directs it to its destination, or like a charioteer who sends the well-trained horses (i.e. the associated states) towards their destination (the object). Manasikāra should be distinguished from vitakka: while the former turns its concomitants towards the object, the latter applies them onto the object. Manasikāra is an indispensable cognitive factor present in all states of consciousness; vitakka is a specialized factor which is not indispensable to cognition.


  • Deliberation

Deliberation or Vitakka is the application of the mind to the object. Its characteristic is the directing of the mind onto the object. Its function is to strike at and thresh the object. It is manifested as the leading of the mind onto an object. Though no proximate cause is mentioned in the Commen- taries, the object may be understood as its proximate cause.

Ordinary vitakka simply applies the mind to the object. But when vitakka is cultivated through concentration it becomes a factor of jh±na. It is then termed appan±, the absorption of the mind in the object. Vitakka is also called sankappa, intention, and as such is distinguished as micch±- sankappa or wrong intention and samm±sankappa or right intention. The latter is the second factor of the Noble Eightfold Path.

  • Examination

Examination or Vicra, has the characteristic of continued pressure on the object, in the sense of examining it. Its function is sustained application of the associated mental phenomena to the object. It is manifested as the anchoring of those phenomena in the object. The object may be understood to be its proximate cause.

  • Determination 

Decision (adhimokkha): The word adhimokkha means literally the releasing of the mind onto the object. Hence it has been rendered decision or resolution. It has the characteristic of conviction, the func- tion of not groping, and manifestation as decisiveness. Its proximate cause is a thing to be convinced about. It is compared to a stone pillar owing to its unshakable resolve regarding the object.

  • Effort

This mental factor is also known as Energy (viriya): Viriya is the state or action of one who is vigorous. Its characteristic is supporting, exertion, and marshalling. Its function is to support its associated states. Its manifestation is non-collapse. Its proximate cause is a sense of urgency (sa1⁄2vega) or a ground for arousing energy, that is, anything that stirs one to vigorous action. Just as new timbers added to an old house prevent it from collapsing, or just as a strong reinforcement enables the king’s army to defeat the enemy, so energy upholds and supports all the associated states and does not allow them to recede.

  • Joy

Joy is also called as Zest Already introduced among the jhana factors, peeti has the characteristic of endearing (sampiy±yana). Its function is to refresh mind and body, or its function is to pervade (to thrill with rapture). It is manifested as elation. Mind-and-body (n±mar3pa) is its proximate cause.

  • Desire

Desire (chanda): Chanda here means desire to act (kattu-k±mat±), that is, to perform an action or achieve some result. This kind of desire must be distinguished from desire in the reprehensible sense, that is, from lobha, greed, and r±ga, lust.11 Whereas the latter terms are invariably un- wholesome, chanda is an ethically variable factor which, when conjoined



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