Cittassa

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Why cittassa and not just citta?
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The particular case of Assa:

Citte cittānupassino viharatha ātāpino sampajānā ekodibhūtā vippasannacittā samāhitā ekaggacittā, cittassa yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇāya.

Contemplate the noticeable citta (viz. existential), in the (immaterial) citta; ardent, with discrimination, having become transcended to one, with a serenely distinctive citta, (with a citta) established, who is (in) one - according to how (the optative) cittassa has become insight (~insightful).

SN 47.4

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Assa = opt. of atthi [Sk. syāt >> {opt. ac. sg.} √ अस् as]
√ अस् as
- to become (BṛĀrUp.)

Citta+assa >> the particular use of a noun compounded with a verb.
Usually this is done with verbs like kar (kṛ,) bhū, as, and the sort (with a general meaning of becoming).
In our case a conditional (optative) assa (or (the Pali) siyā) would be added to citta.

Cittassa (citta-assa,) is the existential form of the Citta.

We know that, in paṭiccasamuppāda, the first occurence of citta, is due to the origination of ignorance (vijjā); and that it happens in the Saṅkhāra nidanā - see here

If you read the sketch properly, you will notice that the descent of nāmarūpa in saḷāyatana "creates" a new "khandha" called cetanā, (a new existential saṅkhāra). And this is the existential part of citta (the cittassa - the "becoming" citta). The part that is proper to satta.
It is important to notice that in the Agama (SA 298,) the khandhas in the nāmarūpa nidanā are different than the khandhas given in the Nikaya (SN 12.2). It is not a discrepancy between the two schools. They both see the khandhas in relation to their position in paṭiccasamuppāda. The Khandhas of the Nikaya are the khandhas that have "become" in satta. They are the existential khandhas of the sphere of senses (saḷāyatana).
To understand the descent of nāmarūpa in saḷāyatana, see here (establishing of consciousness).

Cittassa is the "Being" phase, of the "Cosmic" (immaterial) Citta.
When one's Citta gets liberated, it is from the bound of this existential cittassa.

 

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Some will argue that cittassa is a common dative of purpose of citta, and not the optative existential "citta + assa"; because of the three other occurences of those datives in that sutta. 

...kāyassa yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇāya
...vedanānaṃ yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇāya
...cittassa yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇāya
...dhammānaṃ yathābhūtaṃ ñāṇāya

To that, the following must be pointed out:

Wonderful is Sanskrit/Pali's lexicography & grammar, that convey different meanings & categories, so subtly complemental and full-blown.

Know how the immaterial saṅkhāras have come to be - (as in becoming existential in the sensory world) - seems to be the basic rule.

To know how these saṅkhāras (kāyasaṅkhāro, vacīsaṅkhāro, cittasaṅkhāro) that passes through the Nāmarūpa nidāna, and have descended into satta (according to what have come to be - yathābhūta), is what is required in the first place.
How these saṅkhāras have become physical body with breath; different thoughts and speeches (words); feelings and perceptions (and also intentions [will], as per SA definition).
And how their coaction (saṅkhāra/sam-kṝ), have in turn, produced dhammas.
And how all this is not "ours", is what one should first understand.

But on a higher level, I suppose that it is up to us to understand whose existential part (√ अस् as) is wishful (optative/assa) - [wishfull not willfull] - in their existentiality. I suppose that it is up to us to understand what are their exact functions and purposes of these saṅkhāras, their constituents and ensuing dhammas. I suppose that it is up to us to understand which one still acts on it's own (wishfulness), and which ones are just there to be brought to existence and/or experienced; and willfully prolonged.
I suppose that it is up to us to understand that we are contemplating citta in citta … for the knowledge of this (polluted/upakkiliṭṭha) citta, as it has come to be, BUT (also) how (the optative "sensory") cittassa has become insight (~insightful).

As stated in the SA 621 parallel:
寂靜於心;受、心、法法觀念住,乃至於法得遠離。
Quieted in citta; [b] with feelings, and citta[/b] ; abide contemplating dharmas in dharmas (or citta in citta), even fully detached from dharmas.”


Note:
Lexicographically, we have seen the double meaning of the word "sati". Mindfulness as accute awareness; but also as "obtention".
There is always in sati, the obtention of something, underlying this "mindfulness".
There is in Sanskrit (and Pali) lexicography, more than it seems, and that seems to apply to grammar as well.
And of the two or more meanings or categories, the question remains: "which one comes to prevail at the end"?

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This particular case of Assa occurs also in SN 12.34:

The knowledge that ignorance is a condition for co-actions (viz. of the khandhas), and the knowledge that when ignorance doesn’t exist, there are no coactions.
avijjāpaccayā saṅkhārāti ñāṇaṃ, asati avijjāya natthi saṅkhārāti ñāṇaṃ
......
Also, the knowledge of this whatever becoming thing, and of that unmoving of phenomena, is liable to end, vanish, fade away, and cease.
yampissa* taṃ dhammaṭṭhitiñāṇaṃ tampi khayadhammaṃ vayadhammaṃ virāgadhammaṃ nirodhadhammanti ñāṇaṃ.

*Literally:
Also (pi) whatever thing (yaṃ) "becoming" (assa).

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Note:

Dhammaṭṭhitiñāṇaṃ = "unmoving" of phenomena.

See Upaniṣads for a meaning of ṭṭhiti (sthita):
dve vāva brahmaṇo rūpe
mūrtaṃ caivāmūrtaṃ ca
martyaṃ cāmṛtaṃ ca
sthitaṃ ca yac ca
sac ca tyaṃ ca
Verily, there are two forms of Brahman,
the formed and the formless,
the mortal and the immortal,
the unmoving and the moving,
the actual (existent) and the true (being).
BṛĀrUp. 2.3.1

"Unmoving", implies that we are still in the world of forms. In the actual (existent - viz. yathābhūta = according to what have become).

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Also, check this: Mano & Citta

And this: Mano

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