This talk continues to explore the functioning of the cetasikas, the categories of factors that condition the mind. The focus this week in on the “Universal Cetasikas”, that is, the cetasikas that cooperate in the formation of a self in every moment of consciousness: Contact, Volition, Concentration, Vitality and Attention. The remaining universal cetasikas, Feeling and Perception, were discussed in depth during the last talk, September 14. Peter emphasized that these conditioners align and cooperate with other cetasikas, whether they are wholesome or unwholesome in their function.
The explanations were followed by group discussion to clarify the functions and application of the cetasikas during the process of awakening.
Here are the notes prepared for this week’s talk: universal-conditioning-functions.
Additionally, here is the .doc file listing the 52 cetasikas in total: CETASIKAS POSTER
Next week’s talk will function on the group of cetasikas called “Occasional” or “Particular” cetasikas, which may or may not be included in a moment of self-state organization.
During this talk, Peter described the Abhidhamma, the Buddhist approach to psychology. A distinction was made between the term cetasika, which is a category where memories are “stored” and sankhara, the content of the stored memory. This analysis was followed with a lively discussion period.
The next talk will begin more in-depth exploration of the cetasika categories, leading to ways to understand how Abhidhamma can foster deeper understanding of the awakening process.
Here are the notes for this talk: abhidhamma-cetasikas
HOW MIND CONDITIONERS WORK
THE UNIVERSAL AND OCCASIONAL CETASIKAS
In exploring the section of the Anapanasati Sutta related to training oneself to be “…sensitive to mental fabrication…calming mental fabrication”, there’s benefit in understanding the nature of the factors that fabricate each moment of self-awareness. These fabrications emerge from the categories of conditioning factors called cetasikas. The meaning of the term is “that which is associated with the mind”. This term is a kind of categorical listing of what are called sankharas, a term synonymous with karma. Both are derived from the word karoti, which means “to do”. If you imagine the cetasikas to be just the conditioners, then the “action potential” is karma. For me, the basic value of the cetasika “system” is to “deconstruct” the notion of a separate, enduring self.
This talk continues the exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta. The topic this week is “…sensitive to the mind fabrications…calming the mind fabrications”, regarding the cetasikas, the categorically listed functions of the mind. Specific attention was given to the universal cetasikas, involved in every moment of cognition, and the particular or occasional cetasikas, which may or may not be involved. Peter emphasized that these functions were developed over the centuries after the historical Buddha as part of the Abhidhamma, the “higher teachings” of Buddhist psychology. They can be somewhat dry as a focus of study; their value is in “deconstructing” the belief in a separate, enduring self or soul.
This was followed by general discussion of how training awareness to discern the emerging formations increases the functional competency of the seven awakening factors, particularly “investigation of mental phenomena”.
Next week’s discussion will review the 14 “unwholesome mind conditioners”.