Citta (T. sems; C. xin; J. shim; K. sim) is translated as "mind," "thoughts," etc. It is a general term for the mind or mental processes in Buddhism.
According to Buswell: "Citta is contrasted with the physical body or materiality (rupa), and is synonymous in this context with “name” (nāma), as in the term nāmarūpa. In this sense, citta corresponds to the last four of the five aggregates (skandha), excluding only the first aggregate, of materiality (rupa)..."
Hence, according to Buswell, citta corresponds to the four (mental) aggregates of:
- vedana - sensations
- saṃjñā - recognition, labels or ideas
- saṃskāra - volitional formations (desires, wishes and tendencies)
- vijñāna - consciousness
- Citta in this broad sense is synonymous with both mentality (manas) and consciousness (vijñāna): mind is designated as citta because it “builds up” (cinoti) virtuous and nonvirtuous states; as manas, because it calculates and examines; and as vijñāna, because it discriminates among sensory stimuli.
In the Sanskrit Abhidharma tradition, citta is identified as:
- one of the seventy-five dharmas of the Abhidharma-kosha
Citta is varied and it piles up
Steven D. Goodman states:
- “There are many ways we can talk about citta. Here are two senses. The Indian Buddhist scholar Sthiramati says that chitta can be thought of as quite varied (chitra) in terms of its expression and also, like a feedback loop, its moments of expression are retained and pile up (chinoti). It’s not piling up something that is different from its own nature. This defines what it is; it is “a compiler.” All of the integrational functions (13–18) are compilers. They lock everything in.”
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University
- Goodman, Steven D. (2020), The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening: An In-Depth Guide to the Abhidharma (Apple Books ed.), Shambhala Publications