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Subject Code: BUPH 21012

Title: Buddhist analysis of mind


Date: 27th June 2006, Thursday

Mano, Citta, Vibbana


The Buddha spent a lot of time during his ministry exploring how the mind
works. When we think we draw on our experience; and that means that the mind has to
have its memory readily available to draw on. But in general, thinking involves ideas,
plans, and possibilities not memory alone. One of the things which make human beings
very special is that we can imagine things which have not happened yet. Taking this
complexity or variety of objects of mind the Buddha uses a technical term to connote
those objects, i.e. dhamma. The object of mind is dhamma. Mind contains all these
information mentioned above. However, it needs to contain them in a way that allows us
to use them all and to draw on it when we need it. In order to do that mind has to organize
all the materials in a way that makes sense. Firstly, there should be a faculty. In the early
Buddhist psychology we find basically three words to connote mind: yaj ca kho
bhikkhave kittaj itipi, mano itipi, vibbanaj itipi (SN, Vol. II, 94). Here the term like
citta, mano, and vibbana have been used synonymously. These three terms are often
used interchangeably in pali text to discuss the nature of the mind. It does not mean that
these three words are predicated of same thing. Because dhammasavgani, the first book
of abhidhammapitaka, gives a list of synonymous terms to mind. They are citta, mano,
manasa,
hadaya,
pandara,
manAyatana,
vibbana,
vibbanakkhandha,
tajjamanovibbanadhatu etc. Even the commentator formed exegetical differences on
them and gave specific meaning to each of them. This implies that there is a semantic
difference which points to different dimension of the mind. Each word gives the same
validity. But it signifies different dimension of the mind. In this sense they are not
identical. Some scholars say these three words represent the various facet of the mind. It
seems that these three words or these three functional sides of the mind are needful to
create an intellectual state in the mind. The first word we find in this context is mano.
mano is minding, thinking. It denotes the noetic awakening of the subliminal
consciousness (bhavangacitta). It is a well known factor that normally subliminal
consciousness is disturbed by a stimulus (arambana) that can be an external or internal
one. When the subliminal consciousness is disturbed mind is ready to receive any object,
which will make, thereafter, a thought process. This noetic opening, the thought process,
is the function of the mano. It makes the intellectual functioning of the mind. It stands as
an actual noetic centre. This is the first state of intellectual functioning. Without mano
there is no such intellectual function in the mind; because mano is the receiver. The word
mano is never used to predicate the state of subliminal consciousness as of citta or
vibbana. In abhidhammapitaka the words citta, and vibbana sometimes are used to

refer the ontic (ontic means sleeping, not functioning, acinta) consciousness (i.e.
subliminal consciousness, bhavavga). It always stands with the word bhavavga (i.e.
bhavavga-citta, bhavga-vibbana). The noetic stage of the mind sometimes has been
mentioned the functional citta. In this state, at this stage, mano, citta, vibbana all these
three functionals are working. We find the word manojava in the vimanavatthuatthakatha where the word is used to predicate the same function of the mind. It is the
functional sense: manabca paticca dhamme ca uppajjati manovibbana (In dependence
on mana and dhamma arises manovibbana.), (MN, Vol. II, 17). Here the word mano
stands as a sense or faculty or a sphere of perception.
According to Buddhism ayatanas are divided into two groups: inner objects
(ajjhattikaj) and outer objects (bahiraj). Here mano has to be recognized as inner object
or organ (ajjhattika-mano). Normally, the mind is functioned due to the vitality and the
receiving abilities of the six senses. If there is no vitality of the senses there never occurs
a thought process. All these six senses are inner senses. They are eye, ear, nose, tongue,
body, and mind. The mano refers here as a sense organ: ajjhattikaj ca avuso mano
aparibhinno hoti bahira ca dhamma na apataj Agacchanti no ca tajjo samannaharo hoti
neva tava tajjassa vibbanabhagassa patubhavo hoti (If, you reverence!, the mind that
is internal is intact and external mental object come within its range but there is no
appropriate intact then there is no an appearance of the appropriate section of
consciousness), (MN, Vol. I, 119).