Uncommon Wisdom: Life and Teachings of Ajaan Paññāvaddho
The path of wisdom practice—investigating inward from the coarsest objects to the most refined—is exemplified in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness or the Four Satipaṭṭhāna: body, feeling, citta and dhammā. Here we have a path leading progressively from the external to the internal. The body, being external, is the most obvious. Going inward, feeling is represented by the more subtle feeling-body.
More subtle still is citta or states of mind. Lastly, there is dhammā, which is the content of the mind—the subtlest phenomena of all. Each of these four is a domain of personal experience, and each is a mode of establishing mindfulness...
... Various factors make up the processes of the mind. There are feelings and memories; then the two major factors that make up thought, which are sankhāras and dhammas. By sankhāras, we mean the mental formations that create thoughts and ideas. When sankhāras group together, they form states of mind, which are combinations of many different factors, like anxiety, anger, conceit, compassion, concentration and so on. In the case of establishing mindfulness in the domain of mental states, we see the arising and ceasing of the factors that comprise those states, and the relationship between those states and our experience of body and feeling.
The fourth domain of satipaṭṭhāna, dhammā, refers to the content of the mind. The dhammas are the basic elements that make up mental formations and states of mind, and those elementary factors cannot be reduced any further. They are qualities and faculties that arise in the mind. For instance, pure hatred and pure greed are dhammas. They simply arise on their own, and they cannot be dissected any further....
...When mindfulness is well established in the internal body, the relationship between feelings and the states of mind that define and interpret them becomes apparent. In other words, the way we interpret the feelings that define how we experience the body is determined by our mental state. From that understanding, we realize that the mind is the true basis of feeling. As our contemplation moves deeper into mental states, our attachment to the domain of feeling—an essential aspect of our personal identity—starts to fade into the back-ground. Feelings now appear external, and the primary focus turns inward to our mental states.
With the establishment of mindfulness firmly based in the domain of mental states, the subtle phenomena that make up the content of the mind are more readily perceived. These mental phenomena are far more refined than the states of mind they bring into being, and therefore more “internal” in relation to mental processes. In the final analysis, attachment to these subtle phenomena must be overcome in order to attain the mind’s liberation..."
From my perspective this is a very neat explanation. I include the following as supplementary for those not so familiar with their teachings.
From the tornado of self. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ldqXnI6mRo
“The Citta as referenced in the forest tradition as the structure to which mind finds support. Citta is nibhana in the state of the complete removal of sankhāras. When the citta is ruled by the fundamental ignorance of avijjã and tainted by kilesas, it pushes the khandhas to do unwholesome actions of body, speech and mind. When Dhamma is in control, wholesome actions occur.”
From Uncommon wisdom.
“By the same reasoning, the Noble Eightfold Path is not a path that one travels along as one would a road or a walkway. Rather, the Path is set up as a mode of transcendence. When we have done the work to set the Path up correctly, it acts like a channel for transcendent states of mind to arise—Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmī, Anāgāmī and Arahant. Because of that, all the path factors arise simultaneously. It is a difficult feat to accomplish because we must get all of those factors just right at the same moment. Having done the work, when the right conditions arise, they will all come together and bring forth the path moment.
In order to accomplish this, we must gradually develop all of the conditions which are necessary for that moment to take place. It involves not only formal meditation practice but all of our activities throughout the day. Effort and wisdom must be present at all times in order to turn every situation into Dhamma.”