• Cetana (Intention) is a universal mental factor which can be seen in every consciousness even in Arahants'.

  • Kamma is the intention in one's consciousness.

I have thought about the below statements based on the above mentioned two factors. But couldn't come to a conclusion. My questions are,

  1. "An Arahant accumulates kamma in his/her life and has kammic fruit for that kamma in the same life." Is this statement true?

  2. "An Arahant accumulates kamma in his/her life but has no kammic fruit for that kamma." Is this statement true?

  3. "Intention (The mental factor, Cetana) is not kamma in Arahants' consciousness" Is this statement true?

2 Answers 2


Cittas are classified in various ways. One such classification is according to their nature. In this classification we have:

  1. Cittas which are resultant states of consciousness, vipaaka, the effects of previous kamma.
  2. Cittas which are causes for action (kamma) through body, speech, or mind. We may call these "causative cittas." A wholesome citta (kusala citta) will issue in wholesome action and an unwholesome one (akusala citta) in unwholesome action.
  3. Cittas which are neither kamma nor its result. These are called kiriya cittas. They are kammically ineffective, being merely functional. Some kiriya cittas perform simple functions in the process of consciousness, others represent the actions and thoughts of arahants, who no longer generate fresh kamma. Read more here


  • Statement 1: False
  • Statement 2: False
  • Statement 3: True, but they are called kiriya cittas. The term is indicative of the functional nature which is different from the intention of a worldly person.
  • Sir, when we talk about cetana, we can say, its characteristic is the state of willing, its function is to accumulate (kamma), and its manifestation is coordination. Its proximate cause is the associated states. (link) Then what is the function of Cetana in a Kriya citta?
    – Damith
    Nov 29, 2018 at 9:06
  • 1
    The function of Kiriya citta is not to accumulate kamma, but to merely carry out a function. Ex: Avajjana citta just performs the function of advertence Nov 29, 2018 at 9:20
  • Sir, when we study mental factors we study their caracteristic (Lakkhana), their function (Rasa), their manifestation (Paccupatthana), and their proximate cause (Padatthana). I'd like to know the function of Cetana mental factor which appears in a Kiriya citta. It should be definitely different from the Cetana which appears in 81 mundane cittas.
    – Damith
    Nov 30, 2018 at 4:16
  • @Damith you are repeating the same question :) Nov 30, 2018 at 5:25
  • 2
    Cetana is part of every Citta. But Cetana becomes Karma only in Javana Cittas of worldlings. When it comes to Arahaths, Cetana in Javanas do not become Karma as they are indeterminate. In other words, neither wholesome nor unwholesome. So you could say the function of Cetana in Kiriya Cittas is to be non-accumulative(karmically ineffective). Nov 30, 2018 at 11:03

The consciousness of an Arahant is ethically indeterminate so he does not accumulate Kamma.

From The Abhidhamma in Practice --

For the Arahant, the liberated one, the cittas that arise in him can no longer be associated with any unwholesome roots. The cittas that the Arahant experiences are neither wholesome nor unwholesome, as he does not generate any further kamma; his cittas are exclusively indeterminate.


The universals and particulars are, in themselves, ethically indeterminate but become wholesome, unwholesome, or neither, depending on the state of consciousness in which they occur.

  • Sir, Then the third statement of my question is correct. This leads me to come to a conclusion that, not all cetana (intension) is kamma but depends on the state of consciousness. Am I correct?
    – Damith
    Nov 29, 2018 at 7:22
  • Agree. I see your point. I do not have a satisfactory answer to your question at his stage. -) Perhaps Budha wanted to describe Kamma, not Cetana. Perhaps all Kamma is Cetana but all Cetana is not Kamma.
    – SarathW
    Nov 29, 2018 at 8:56
  • @Damith Not every kamma bears fruit. Kamma can be so light or ethically neutral that it doesn't lead to anything. Think of putting on your shoes, for instance. It's kamma, but clearly not fruit bearing or ethically relevant.
    – user13579
    Nov 29, 2018 at 9:32
  • @Medhini Millions of consciousness have been originated and dissolved while we are doing a certain thing like putting on our shoes. Do you mean those consciousness altogether is kamma and bears no fruit?
    – Damith
    Nov 30, 2018 at 3:47

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