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I am trying to understand the four frames of reference. I could understand the body. I could comprehend the sensations (to be honest not completely). I could not understand the mind (citta).

This has been my observation. I'm sensitive to noises. I feel irritation (sensation) and anger generated towards the person who created it, and the mind stays angry and continues to in that way. Is this what citta is ? That which continues to be in that state even after the sensation that caused it ceased to exist ?

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Citta is mind. In Four Frames of Reference, it means your overall state of mind:

"And how does a monk remain focused on the mind in & of itself? There is the case where a monk, when the mind has passion, discerns that the mind has passion. When the mind is without passion, he discerns that the mind is without passion. When the mind has aversion, he discerns that the mind has aversion. When the mind is without aversion, he discerns that the mind is without aversion. When the mind has delusion, he discerns that the mind has delusion. When the mind is without delusion, he discerns that the mind is without delusion.

If you feel a strong emotion in your body immediately after the noise - that is vedana (what you called "sensation"). The state of anger generated towards the person is a kind of aversion.

But this is not complete awareness of citta yet. In order to see the entire citta you need to expand your awareness further.

In this case, the reason you feel irritated when the noises happen, is because in your mind (in your citta) you have established a certain intent, a certain desire, or a certain expectation, -- an expectation of a quiet environment conducive to concentration. This expectation serves as a background or counterpart to noise, it is what the noise is compared with - and since the noise and this expectation are obviously in conflict - you get irritated and angry, because of the mismatch. Now, this expectation of quiet environment probably comes from an even deeper intent, for example, you may be trying to achieve a certain state that you have read about in a book. Etc.

At every moment of time we have a certain frame of reference inside of which we are operating. This frame of reference is made from some concepts. Most of the time, we are not actively thinking about these concepts but they stay "on the periphery" of our minds. These peripheral framing concepts are maintained or renewed through a mechanism known as "upadana" in Buddhism. The way it works is, every time we hear, see, or think about something connected with these concepts, we "feed" them, so they keep staying on our (background) mind.

Now this is a more complete picture: you have read about some state in a book, now you keep thinking about that state, you wanted to attain a similar state, you think that in order to attain this state you need to concentrate on something, and therefore you see all noises as enemies, getting in the way of you attaining your state. Therefore you get irritated and angry. (Your situation may be different, I'm making this stuff up, but you get the idea. You need to learn to clearly see your "background intent" - in every case, not just in this case.) On top of this, you may have some preconceptions about noisy people, that identify them with being sloppy, uncultured, uncaring etc.

So your complete state of mind at that point includes all of that - from very high-level mental frameworks - to very specific thoughts and sensations.

This entire configuration, when you take all of it at once and look at it "panoramically" has a certain flavor or a certain taste. It can't always be described in words, but it is something you can experience if you look at all of the above all at once.

That panoramic assessment of the all-inclusive quality of your mindstate is what we're after in this meditation. This panoramic awareness of the entirety of one's mind, including its implicit frames-of-reference, is called cittanupassana or simply vipassana.

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OP: What is citta in the four frames of reference?

There 3 references to this. One from the Mahā Satipaṭṭḥāna Sutta and Satipaṭṭḥāna Sutta. Another called the 18 Mental Exploration found in Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta / Titth’ayatana Sutta / etc. And also the 3rd triad in doing Anapanasati found in Anapanasati Sutta / Mahā Rāhul’ovāda Sutta / etc.

And how, bhikshus, does a monk dwell observing the mind in the mind? Here, bhikshus, a monk,

(1) understands a lustful mind as 'Lustful mind', or, he understands a lust-free mind as 'Lust-free mind'.

(2) Or, he understands a hating mind as 'Hating mind', or, he understands a hate-free mind as 'Hate-free mind'.

(3) Or, he understands a deluded mind as 'Deluded mind', or, he understands an undeluded mind as 'Undeluded mind';

(4) Or, he understands a narrowed [constricted] mind as 'Narrowed mind'. or, he understands a distracted mind as 'Distracted mind';

(5) Or, he understands a great [exalted] mind as 'Great mind', or, he understands a small mind [unexalted mind] as 'Small mind [Unexalted mind]'.

(6) Or, he understands a surpassable mind as 'Surpassable mind', or, he understands an unsurpassable mind as 'Unsurpassable mind'.

(7) Or, he understands a concentrated mind as 'Concentrated mind', or, he understands an unconcentrated mind as 'Unconcentrated mind'.

(8) Or, he understands a liberated mind as 'Liberated mind', or, he understands an unliberated mind as 'Unliberated mind'.

Mahā Satipaṭṭḥāna Sutta

There are 18 mental examinations:

one explores a form that gives rise to pleasure,
   one explores a form that gives rise to pain [displeasure],
      one explores a form that gives rise to equanimity.```

```(2) On hearing a sound with the ear,
one explores a sound that gives rise to pleasure,
   one explores a sound that gives rise to pain [displeasure],
      one explores a sound that gives rise to equanimity.```

```(3) On smelling a smell with the nose,
one explores a smell that gives rise to pleasure,
   one explores a smell that gives rise to pain [displeasure],
      one explores a smell that gives rise to equanimity.```

```(4) On tasting a taste with the tongue,
one explores a taste that gives rise to pleasure,
   one explores a taste that gives rise to pain [displeasure],
      one explores a taste that gives rise to equanimity.```

```(5) On feeling a touch with the body,
one explores a touch that gives rise to pleasure,
   one explores a touch that gives rise to pain [displeasure],
      one explores a touch that gives rise to equanimity.```

```(6) On cognizing a mind-object with the mind,
one explores a mind-object that gives rise to pleasure,
   one explores a mind-object that gives rise to pain [displeasure],
      one explores a mind-object that gives rise to equanimity.```

Thus there are six mental explorations with regards to pleasure; six mental explorations with regards to pain [displeasure]; six mental explorations with regards to equanimity.
‘The 18 kinds of mental explorations should be understood,’ thus it is said in this connection.

Sathipaṭṭḥāna

Sathipaṭṭḥāna

See: Titth’ayatana Sutta, Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta

Sathipattana

Anapanasati Sutta

OP: This has been my observation. I'm sensitive to noises. I feel irritation (sensation) and anger generated towards the person who created it, and the mind stays angry and continues to in that way. Is this what citta is ? That which continues to be in that state even after the sensation that caused it ceased to exist ?

When you hear the sound you get irritated, i.e., the latent tendency of aversion rising. You keep thinking about the sound and the person who made it keeps you angry. Continued thinking about the incident is mental proliferation.

“Bhikshu, as regards the source from which proliferation of conception and perception assails a person: if one were to find nothing there to delight in, nothing there to welcome, nothing to cling to—this is the end of

  • the latent tendency of lust,
  • the latent tendency of aversion,
  • the latent tendency of views,
  • the latent tendency of doubt,
  • the latent tendency of conceit,
  • the latent tendency of desire for existence, and
  • the latent tendency of ignorance.

This is the ending of the taking up of the rod and the sword, quarrels, disputes, mayhem [strife], slandering and lying —here these evil unwholesome states cease without remainder.”

Avuso, dependent on the [eye | ear | nose | tongue | body | mind] and [form | sound | smell | taste | touch | mind-object], [eye | ear | nose | tongue | body | mind]-consciousness arises.

  • The meeting of the three is contact.

  • With contact as condition, there is feeling.

  • What one feels, one perceives.

  • What one perceives, one thinks about.

  • What one thinks about, one mentally proliferates.

From that as source, proliferation of conception and perception assails a person regarding past, future and present [forms | sounds | smells | tastes | touch | mind-objects] cognizable through the [eye | ear | nose | tongue | body | mind].

Madhu,piṇḍika Sutta

What needs to be done to quickly get rid of the anger is:

  • Know you are angry

(2) Or, he understands a hating mind as 'Hating mind', or, he understands a hate-free mind as 'Hate-free mind'.

Mahā Satipaṭṭḥāna Sutta

  • Know the feeling

i. On seeing a form with the eye,

  • one investigates the form that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the form that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the form that is the basis of equanimity.

ii. On hearing a sound with the ear,

  • one investigates the sound that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the sound that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the sound that the basis of equanimity.

iii. On smelling a smell with the nose,

  • one investigates the smell that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the smell that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the smell that is the basis of equanimity.

iv. On tasting a taste with the tongue,

  • one investigates the taste that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the taste that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the taste that is the basis of equanimity.

v. On feeling a touch with the body,

  • one investigates the touch that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the touch that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the touch that is the basis of equanimity.

vi. On cognizing a mind-object with the mind,

  • one investigates the mind-object that the basis of mental joy,
  • one investigates the mind-object that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the mind-object that is the basis of equanimity.

Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta

  • Know that the feels are impermanent so do not cling onto them

If he feels a pleasant feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a painful feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a neutral feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

If he feels a neutral feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta

Observe the mind

(C) The Third Tetrad: Observing the mind

(9) He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe in experiencing the mind.’

He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe out experiencing the mind.’

(10) He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe in gladdening the mind.’

He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe out gladdening the mind.’

(11) He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe in concentrating the mind.’

He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe out concentrating the mind.’

(12) He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe in freeing the mind.’

He trains himself thus: ‘I will breathe out freeing the mind.’

See: Ānâpāna,sati Sutta, Mahā Rāhul’ovāda Sutta

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"Citta" means "mind-heart". If the mind-heart has irritation & anger, this is the citta with the irritation & anger.

In its general sense, citta meditation or cittanupassana is described in the Satipatthana Sutta. In its finer details, cittanupassana is explained in the Anapanasati Sutta.

The Satipatthana Sutta says:

And how does a mendicant meditate observing an aspect of the mind?

It’s when a mendicant knows mind with greed as ‘mind with greed,’ and mind without greed as ‘mind without greed.’ They know mind with hate as ‘mind with hate,’ and mind without hate as ‘mind without hate.’ They know mind with delusion as ‘mind with delusion,’ and mind without delusion as ‘mind without delusion.’ They know constricted mind as ‘constricted mind,’ and scattered mind as ‘scattered mind.’ They know expansive mind as ‘expansive mind,’ and unexpansive mind as ‘unexpansive mind.’ They know mind that is not supreme as ‘mind that is not supreme,’ and mind that is supreme as ‘mind that is supreme.’ They know mind immersed in samādhi as ‘mind immersed in samādhi,’ and mind not immersed in samādhi as ‘mind not immersed in samādhi.’ They know freed mind as ‘freed mind,’ and unfreed mind as ‘unfreed mind.’

And so they meditate observing an aspect of the mind internally, externally, and both internally and externally. They meditate observing the mind as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that the mind exists, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness. They meditate independent, not grasping at anything in the world.

That’s how a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the mind.

The Anapanasati Sutta says:

Bhikkhus, whenever a bhikkhu (9) trains himself: thoroughly experiencing the mind I shall breathe in ... shall breathe out; or, (10) trains himself: gladdening the mind I shall breathe in ... shall breathe out; or, (11) trains himself: concentrating the mind I shall breathe in … shall breathe out; or, (12) trains himself: liberating the mind I shall breathe in ... shall breathe out; then that bhikkhu is considered one who lives constantly contemplating mind in the mind, strives to burn up defilements, comprehends readily and is mindful, in order to abandon all liking and disliking toward the world.

Bhikkhus, I do not say that Anapanasati is possible for a person who has straying mindfulness and lacks ready comprehension. Bhik­khus, for this reason that bhikkhu is considered one who lives con­stantly contemplating mind in the mind, strives to burn up defilements, comprehends readily, and is mindful, in order to abandon all liking and disliking toward the world.

If the mind is angry at a person and the mind acknowledges: "I am angry; the mind is angry; there is anger", the Satipatthana Sutta gives the impression this is citta meditation (cittanupassana).

But the Anapanasati Sutta gives the impression cittanupassana is something much more profound & deep because the Anapanasati Sutta says cittanupassana is performed together with knowing each in-breath & each out-breath; with complete mindfulness & clear-comprehension.

When you/the mind gets angry at another person, this is called a "hindrance" (to meditation). It is a loss of mindfulness & clear comprehension. Therefore, when you try to calm your anger and note you are angry, I personally would say this is not cittanupassana. I have not read the suttas about overcoming distracting thoughts & hindrances, such as MN 19 & MN 20, called "cittanupassana".

Based on the Anapanasati Sutta, it seems cittanupassana is a deep profound knowing and unveiling of the mind (citta) after the breathing & body have been profoundly calmed and after the resultant blissful feelings of rapture & happiness have also been calmed.

I would say for most Buddhists, including Joseph Goldstein, cittanupassana is a mystery; even though teachings by Joseph Goldstein may help people learn to cope with &/or control their mind.

  • Hi Dhammadattu, thank you for taking to explain. I'm interested in these aspects of the mind; what changes my mind from one state to another, is it sensations ? Is it the mind that reacts ? Say the angry mind reacts at a person by shouting. – addy Aug 14 at 3:56
  • Hi Addy. What causes the mind to change is a lack of knowledge. The Buddha said all negative mental states arise from a lack of knowledge or ignorance. – Dhammadhatu Aug 14 at 5:51

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