Difference between revisions of "Cetanā"

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{{Buddhist term
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'''Cetana''' ([alt.] ''cetanā''; T. sems pa; C. si 思) is translated as "volition", "intention", "directionality", etc. It can be defined as a [[mental factor]] that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal.{{MBP sv|Directionality of mind [sems-pa]}}{{Gateway1 sv|Attraction}} ''Cetanā'' is identified within the following contexts:
| fontsize=100%
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* One of the [[Mental factors#Seven universal mental factors|seven universal mental factors]] in the Pali tradition.
| title=Cetana
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* One of the [[Mental factors#Five universal mental factors|five universal mental factors]] within the ''[[Abhidharma-samuccaya]]'' of the Sanskrit tradition
| pi= चेतना (cetanā)
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* One of the [[Mental_factors#Ten omnipresent mental factors (AK)|ten omnipresent mental factors]] within the ''[[Abhidharma-kosa]]'' of the Sanskrit tradition
| sa= चेतना (cetanā)
 
| zh= 思
 
| en= volition,<br/> intention,<br/>directionality of mind,<br/> attraction,<br/>urge
 
| bo= སེམས་པ།
 
| bo-Latn=[[Wylie transliteration|Wylie]]: sems pa; <br />[[THL Simplified Phonetic Transcription|THL]]: sempa
 
}}
 
'''Cetana''' (Sanskrit, Pali: also, ''cetanā'') is translated as "volition", "intention", "directionality", etc. It can be defined as a mental factor that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal.<ref name="eric1">[[Erik Pema Kunsang]] (translator) (2004). ''Gateway to Knowledge, Vol. 1''. North Atlantic Books. p. 23.</ref><ref name="g1">[[Herbert V. Guenther]] &  Leslie S. Kawamura, ''Mind in Buddhist Psychology: A Translation of Ye-shes rgyal-mtshan's "The Necklace of Clear Understanding"'' Dharma Publishing. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 386-392).</ref> ''Cetanā'' is identified within the following contexts:
 
* One of the [[Mental factors (Buddhism)#Seven universal mental factors|''seven universal mental factors'']] in the Theravada Abhidharma.
 
* One of the [[Mental factors (Buddhism)#Five universal mental factors|''five universal mental factors'']] in the Mahayana Abhidharma
 
 
* The most significant mental factor involved in the creation of [[karma]].
 
* The most significant mental factor involved in the creation of [[karma]].
  
 
==Definitions==
 
==Definitions==
  
===Theravada===
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===Pali tradition===
 
[[Bhikkhu Bodhi]] states:
 
[[Bhikkhu Bodhi]] states:
: 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.<ref name=bodhi1>[https://books.google.com/books?id=ACrogsyJmoAC&q=vitakka#v=onepage&q=volition&f=false Bhikkhu Bodhi (2003), p. 80]</ref>
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: 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.{{Manual of Abhidhamma sv|Volition (cetana)}}
  
The [[Atthasālinī]] (I, Part IV, Chapter I, 111) states that cetanā has the characteristic of coordinating the associated dhammas (citta and the other cetasikas) on the object and that its function is 'willing'. We read:
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The ''[[Atthasālinī]]'' (I, Part IV, Chapter I, 111) states that cetanā has the characteristic of coordinating the associated dhammas (citta and the other cetasikas) on the object and that its function is 'willing'. We read:
  
: ...There is no such thing as volition in the four planes of existence without the characteristic of coordinating; all volition has it. But the function of 'willing' is only in moral (kusala) and immoral (akusala) states...It has directing as manifestation. It arises directing associated states, like the chief disciple, the chief carpenter, etc. who fulfil their own and others' duties.<ref>Gorkom (2010), [http://www.vipassana.info/cetasikas6.html Cetana]</ref>
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: ...There is no such thing as volition in the four planes of existence without the characteristic of coordinating; all volition has it. But the function of 'willing' is only in moral (kusala) and immoral (akusala) states...It has directing as manifestation. It arises directing associated states, like the chief disciple, the chief carpenter, etc. who fulfil their own and others' duties.<ref>{{Cetasikas chapter|http://www.vipassana.info/cetasikas6.html|Cetana}}</ref>
  
===Mahayana===
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===Sanskrit tradition===
 
Geshe Tashi Tsering translates ''cetana'' as "intention" or "volition". He states:
 
Geshe Tashi Tsering translates ''cetana'' as "intention" or "volition". He states:
 
:This is the element that coordinates and directs the activity of each of the other elements within the main mind in respect to the object. Once feeling is present, intention moves our mind in a certain direction.  
 
:This is the element that coordinates and directs the activity of each of the other elements within the main mind in respect to the object. Once feeling is present, intention moves our mind in a certain direction.  
 
:Intention is the factor that actualizes what feeling has initiated. If the feeling generated upon contact with an object is attraction, intention moves the mind forward toward the object. For example, I smell a ripe mango in a shop I am passing, and the feeling of attraction arises. Intention is the shift in the mental process toward buying it.{{sfn|Geshe Tashi Tsering|2006|loc=Kindle locations 648-653}}
 
:Intention is the factor that actualizes what feeling has initiated. If the feeling generated upon contact with an object is attraction, intention moves the mind forward toward the object. For example, I smell a ripe mango in a shop I am passing, and the feeling of attraction arises. Intention is the shift in the mental process toward buying it.{{sfn|Geshe Tashi Tsering|2006|loc=Kindle locations 648-653}}
  
The [[Abhidharma-samuccaya]] states:
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The ''[[Abhidharma-samuccaya]]'' states:
  
:What is ''cetanā''? It is a mental activity that propels the mind forward. It has the function of making the mind settle on what is positive, negative, or indeterminate.<ref name="g1"/>
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:What is ''cetanā''? It is a mental activity that propels the mind forward. It has the function of making the mind settle on what is positive, negative, or indeterminate.{{MBP sv|Directionality of mind [sems-pa]}}
  
The [[Necklace of Clear Understanding]] states:
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The ''[[Necklace of Clear Understanding]]'' states:
: It is a mental event that arouses and urges the mind with its corresponding events on towards an object. From among all mental events, it is said to be the most important because the force of this mental event sets the mind and any mental event on to the object. Just as iron cannot but be attracted by a magnet, so also the mind cannot be but set on an object by this mental event.<ref name="g1"/>
+
: It is a mental event that arouses and urges the mind with its corresponding events on towards an object. From among all mental events, it is said to be the most important because the force of this mental event sets the mind and any mental event on to the object. Just as iron cannot but be attracted by a magnet, so also the mind cannot be but set on an object by this mental event.{{MBP sv|Directionality of mind [sems-pa]}}
  
Alexander Berzin states:
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[[StudyBuddhism]] states:
: An urge (sems-pa) causes the mental activity to face an object or to go in its direction. In general, it moves a mental continuum to cognitively take an object. A mental continuum (sems-rgyud, mind-stream) is an individual everlasting sequence of moments of mental activity.<ref name=b1>Berzin (2006)</ref>
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: An urge (sems-pa) causes the mental activity to face an object or to go in its direction. In general, it moves a mental continuum to cognitively take an object. A mental continuum (sems-rgyud, mind-stream) is an individual everlasting sequence of moments of mental activity.{{SB 51 mental factors sv|Urge (sem-pa)}}
  
The [[Khenjuk]] states:
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The ''[[Khenjuk]]'' states:
: Cetana describes the process of mind [attention] moving towards and becoming involved with an object. In terms of support, there are six, such as cetana upon meeting of the eye [i.e. between object, sense faculty and consciousness], and so forth.<ref name="eric1"/>
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: Cetana describes the process of mind [attention] moving towards and becoming involved with an object. In terms of support, there are six, such as cetana upon meeting of the eye [i.e. between object, sense faculty and consciousness], and so forth.{{Gateway1 sv|Attraction}}
  
===Six channels===
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==Six channels==
Cetanā operates with six supports, or along six channels:<ref name="eric1"/><ref name="g1"/>
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Cetanā operates with six supports, or along six channels:{{MBP sv|Directionality of mind [sems-pa]}}{{Gateway1 sv|Attraction}}
 
# Cetanā occurring in visual situations
 
# Cetanā occurring in visual situations
 
# Cetanā occurring in auditory situations
 
# Cetanā occurring in auditory situations
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==Relation to karma==
 
==Relation to karma==
In the Buddhist tradition, cetana is considered the most important mental factor in the generation of [[Karma in Buddhism|karma]].
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In the Buddhist tradition, cetana is considered the most important mental factor in the generation of [[karma]].
  
Bhikkhu Bodhi states (from the Theravada point of view):
+
Bhikkhu Bodhi states (from the point of view of the Pali tradition):
:Volition is the most significant mental factor in generating kamma, since it is volition that determines the ethical quality of the action.<ref name=bodhi1/>
+
:Volition is the most significant mental factor in generating kamma, since it is volition that determines the ethical quality of the action.{{Manual of Abhidhamma sv|Volition (cetana)}}
  
Alexander Berzin explains (from the Mahayana point of view):
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Alexander Berzin explains (from the point of view of the Sanskrit tradition):
 
: [According to [[Asanga]]'s] view, karma (Tibetan: ''las'') is a mental impulse. It is synonymous with the mental factor of an urge (Tibetan: ''sems-pa''). An urge is a mental factor that accompanies every moment of our experience. It is the mental factor that brings us in the direction of a particular experience, either simply to look at or to listen to something, or, in this case, to do something with or to it, to say it, or to think it. Whether it is physical, verbal, or mental karma, the karmic impulse is the mental factor of an urge to do, say, or think something. It is like the impulse to hit someone, to tell the truth, or to think longing thoughts about a loved one. It is also the mental urge to continue doing, saying, or thinking something, as well as the mental urge to stop engaging in them and to do, say, or think about something else. Usually, we are not at all aware of these mental urges or impulses. In Western terminology, we would say they are usually "unconscious."<ref name=b2>Berzin (2008)</ref>
 
: [According to [[Asanga]]'s] view, karma (Tibetan: ''las'') is a mental impulse. It is synonymous with the mental factor of an urge (Tibetan: ''sems-pa''). An urge is a mental factor that accompanies every moment of our experience. It is the mental factor that brings us in the direction of a particular experience, either simply to look at or to listen to something, or, in this case, to do something with or to it, to say it, or to think it. Whether it is physical, verbal, or mental karma, the karmic impulse is the mental factor of an urge to do, say, or think something. It is like the impulse to hit someone, to tell the truth, or to think longing thoughts about a loved one. It is also the mental urge to continue doing, saying, or thinking something, as well as the mental urge to stop engaging in them and to do, say, or think about something else. Usually, we are not at all aware of these mental urges or impulses. In Western terminology, we would say they are usually "unconscious."<ref name=b2>Berzin (2008)</ref>
  
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* Attraction (Erik Pema Kunsang)
 
* Attraction (Erik Pema Kunsang)
 
* Directionality of mind (Herbert Guenther)
 
* Directionality of mind (Herbert Guenther)
 +
* Intention (Buswell)
 +
* Stimulus (Buswell)
 
* Urge (Alexander Berzin)
 
* Urge (Alexander Berzin)
* Volition (Bikkhu Bodhi)
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* Volition (Bikkhu Bodhi, Buswell)
 
 
==See also==
 
* [[Karma in Buddhism]]
 
* [[Mental factors (Buddhism)]]
 
  
 
==References==
 
==References==
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==Sources==
 
==Sources==
* Berzin, Alexander (2006), {{SB 51 mental factors}}
 
 
* Berzin, Alexander (2008), [http://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/lam-rim/samsara-nirvana/clearing-away-extraneous-conceptions-about-karma Clearing Away Extraneous Conceptions about Karma]
 
* Berzin, Alexander (2008), [http://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/lam-rim/samsara-nirvana/clearing-away-extraneous-conceptions-about-karma Clearing Away Extraneous Conceptions about Karma]
* Bhikkhu Bodhi (2003), ''A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma'', Pariyatti Publishing
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* {{SB 51 mental factors source}}
 +
* {{Manual of Abhidhamma source}}
 
* {{Citation| last =Geshe Tashi Tsering | year =2006 | title =Buddhist Psychology: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume III | publisher =Perseus Books Group, Kindle Edition}}
 
* {{Citation| last =Geshe Tashi Tsering | year =2006 | title =Buddhist Psychology: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume III | publisher =Perseus Books Group, Kindle Edition}}
* [[Herbert V. Guenther|Guenther, Herbert V.]] &  Leslie S. Kawamura (1975), ''Mind in Buddhist Psychology: A Translation of Ye-shes rgyal-mtshan's "The Necklace of Clear Understanding"'' Dharma Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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* {{Gateway1 source}}
* [[Erik Pema Kunsang|Kunsang, Erik Pema]] (translator) (2004). ''Gateway to Knowledge, Vol. 1''. North Atlantic Books.
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* {{Cetasikas source}}
* Nina van Gorkom (2010), {{Cetasikas citation}}
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* {{MBP source}}
  
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
* [http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/sems_pa Ranjung Yeshe wiki entry for ''sems pa'']
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* {{Rangjung citation|sems_pa}}
* [http://www.vipassana.info/cetasikas6.html Cetana, Nina van Gorkom]
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* {{RW citation|Intention}}
  
 
{{DEFAULTSORT:Cetana}}
 
{{DEFAULTSORT:Cetana}}
[[Category:Buddhist terminology]]
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[[Category:Mental factors]]
 
[[Category:Mental factors]]
  
 
{{WP content}}
 
{{WP content}}

Revision as of 00:23, 28 June 2020

Cetana ([alt.] cetanā; T. sems pa; C. si 思) is translated as "volition", "intention", "directionality", etc. It can be defined as a mental factor that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal.[1][2] Cetanā is identified within the following contexts:

Definitions

Pali tradition

Bhikkhu Bodhi states:

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.[3]

The Atthasālinī (I, Part IV, Chapter I, 111) states that cetanā has the characteristic of coordinating the associated dhammas (citta and the other cetasikas) on the object and that its function is 'willing'. We read:

...There is no such thing as volition in the four planes of existence without the characteristic of coordinating; all volition has it. But the function of 'willing' is only in moral (kusala) and immoral (akusala) states...It has directing as manifestation. It arises directing associated states, like the chief disciple, the chief carpenter, etc. who fulfil their own and others' duties.[4]

Sanskrit tradition

Geshe Tashi Tsering translates cetana as "intention" or "volition". He states:

This is the element that coordinates and directs the activity of each of the other elements within the main mind in respect to the object. Once feeling is present, intention moves our mind in a certain direction.
Intention is the factor that actualizes what feeling has initiated. If the feeling generated upon contact with an object is attraction, intention moves the mind forward toward the object. For example, I smell a ripe mango in a shop I am passing, and the feeling of attraction arises. Intention is the shift in the mental process toward buying it.[5]

The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is cetanā? It is a mental activity that propels the mind forward. It has the function of making the mind settle on what is positive, negative, or indeterminate.[1]

The Necklace of Clear Understanding states:

It is a mental event that arouses and urges the mind with its corresponding events on towards an object. From among all mental events, it is said to be the most important because the force of this mental event sets the mind and any mental event on to the object. Just as iron cannot but be attracted by a magnet, so also the mind cannot be but set on an object by this mental event.[1]

StudyBuddhism states:

An urge (sems-pa) causes the mental activity to face an object or to go in its direction. In general, it moves a mental continuum to cognitively take an object. A mental continuum (sems-rgyud, mind-stream) is an individual everlasting sequence of moments of mental activity.[6]

The Khenjuk states:

Cetana describes the process of mind [attention] moving towards and becoming involved with an object. In terms of support, there are six, such as cetana upon meeting of the eye [i.e. between object, sense faculty and consciousness], and so forth.[2]

Six channels

Cetanā operates with six supports, or along six channels:[1][2]

  1. Cetanā occurring in visual situations
  2. Cetanā occurring in auditory situations
  3. Cetanā occurring in olfactory situations
  4. Cetanā occurring in gustatory situations
  5. Cetanā occurring in tactile situations
  6. Cetanā occurring in thought situations

Relation to karma

In the Buddhist tradition, cetana is considered the most important mental factor in the generation of karma.

Bhikkhu Bodhi states (from the point of view of the Pali tradition):

Volition is the most significant mental factor in generating kamma, since it is volition that determines the ethical quality of the action.[3]

Alexander Berzin explains (from the point of view of the Sanskrit tradition):

[According to Asanga's] view, karma (Tibetan: las) is a mental impulse. It is synonymous with the mental factor of an urge (Tibetan: sems-pa). An urge is a mental factor that accompanies every moment of our experience. It is the mental factor that brings us in the direction of a particular experience, either simply to look at or to listen to something, or, in this case, to do something with or to it, to say it, or to think it. Whether it is physical, verbal, or mental karma, the karmic impulse is the mental factor of an urge to do, say, or think something. It is like the impulse to hit someone, to tell the truth, or to think longing thoughts about a loved one. It is also the mental urge to continue doing, saying, or thinking something, as well as the mental urge to stop engaging in them and to do, say, or think about something else. Usually, we are not at all aware of these mental urges or impulses. In Western terminology, we would say they are usually "unconscious."[7]

Alternate translations

  • Attraction (Erik Pema Kunsang)
  • Directionality of mind (Herbert Guenther)
  • Intention (Buswell)
  • Stimulus (Buswell)
  • Urge (Alexander Berzin)
  • Volition (Bikkhu Bodhi, Buswell)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Yeshe Gyeltsen 1975, s.v. Directionality of mind [sems-pa].
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Mipham Rinpoche 2004, s.v. Attraction.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000, s.v. Volition (cetana).
  4. van Gorkom 1999, Cetasikas, Cetana
  5. Geshe Tashi Tsering 2006, Kindle locations 648-653.
  6. Berzin, s.v. Urge (sem-pa).
  7. Berzin (2008)


Sources

External links

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