The citta is the mind’s essential knowing nature, the fundamental quality of knowing that underlies all sentient existence.
When associated with a physical body, it is referred to as “mind” or “heart”. Being corrupted by the defiling influence of fundamental ignorance (avijjã), its currents “flow out” to manifest as:
- Feelings (vedanã),
- Memory (saññã),
- Thoughts (sankhãra), and
- Consciousness (viññãna),
thus embroiling the citta in a web of self-deception. It is deceived about its own true nature.
The true nature of the citta is that it simply “knows”. There is no subject, no object, no duality; it simply knows. The citta does not arise or pass away; it is never born and never dies.
Normally, the “knowing nature” of the citta is timeless, boundless, and radiant, but this true nature is obscured by the defilements (kilesa) within it:
- Through the power of fundamental ignorance, a focal point of the “knower” is created from which that knowing nature views the world outside.
- The establishment of that false center creates a “self” from whose perspective consciousness flows out to perceive the duality of the “knower” and the “known”.
- Thus the citta becomes entangled with things that are born, become ill, grow old, and die, and therefore, deeply involved it in a whole mass of suffering.
p 107 The Path to Arahantship by Ajahn Maha Boowa