Cetana and the Dynamics of Volition in Theravada Buddhism

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Item Code: IHE008
Author: Nalini Devdas
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788120833630
Pages: 540
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0" X 6.0"
Weight 760 gm
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Book Description
From the Jacket

What do the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism have to say about the most basic psychological processes through which alternatives are assessed, purposes are developed, and goal-oriented acts are initiated? How can Theravada make volitional endeavour central to Buddhist practice, while denying the existence of a self who wills? How can the texts emphasize ethical striving, and yet uphold the principle that all physical and mental acts arise through causes and conditions? This book adds another perspective to Theravada scholarship by exploring various subtle Pali terms that seek to display the nuances of human motivation. Cetana is shown to be the purposive impetus that links ethically good and bad attitudes of mind with corresponding acts of body, speech, and mind. The argument is made that Theravada does not posit a controlling will, but seeks to establish the possibility of changing attitudes, purposes, and acts through holistic methods of training. Theravada maintains that changes in attitude are possible because the mind has the capacity to observe its own processes of conditioning, and is able to greatly diversify its responses to its own concepts and to factors in its environment.

Nalini Devdas was born in Bangalore, India. For over two decades she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion of Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Her research continues to be focused on the relationship between psychology and ethics in the Pali texts of Theravada Buddhism.


Acknowledgements vii
A Note on Transliteration xv
Abbreviations xv
Introduction: Cetana in Modern Theravada Scholarship 1
Approaches to the Concept of Volition in Modern Theravada Scholarship 10
Some Modern Interpretations of Cetana 25
Cetana and the "Tthicization" of the Idea of Kamma  
Working Definitions of Key Terms 32
Chapter I: Concept of Volition in the Upanisads 41
The Possibility of Volitional Endeavour in the Realm of Ignorance and Rebirth 43
The Dynamic Unity of the Mind and Its Components 44
Samkalpa (Conceptualization, Intention) 51
"Ethicization" of the Idea of Karma 55
Kama, Samkalpa, and Kratu in the Process of Rebirth 57
Kratu and Sankhara 61
Conclusion 62
Chapter II: Buddhist Debates with Early Jainas 70
Debate on the Efficacy of Ascetic Endeavour in Controlling the Mind 71
Debate on the Moral Significance of Intention and Act 78
Virya and Volition in Jainism 82
Debate on Whether the Processes of Kamma Negate Human Initiative 83
Debates Regarding the Nature and Ultimate Basis of the Capacity to Initiate Action 88
Comprehensive Definition of Action in Early Jainism and in the Suttas 91
Primacy of Intention Upheld in the Vinaya-pitaka and the Kathavatthu 93
Conclusion 96
Chapter III: Conditioned Origination and Cetana 102
Cetana in the Holistic View of Consciousness Represented by Citta 104
Conflict and Control in the Citta 110
The Mind’s Capacity to Know Itself 114
Thought and Volition as Functions of Manas 116
Conditioned Origination and Interpretation of Sankhara 121
Sankharas as Processes of "Combining" and "Constructing" 124
"Subliminal Impression" in the Yoga Tradition and "Mental Formation" in Theravada 128
Sankhara as Intentional Act 133
The Influence of Asavas and Anusayas on the Dynamics of Motivation 137
The Arising of Uncorrupted Mental States 141
Anusayas as Factors of Motivation Within Conditioned Origination 146
The Conditioned Arising of Anusayas 150
Anusaya and Cetana 153
Anusayas and the Question of "Unconscious" Motivation 156
Conclusion 162
Chapter IV: Cetana in the Sutta Literature 177
Cetana as Basic Sentience 179
Cetana as Intention Imbued with Impetus to Act 183
The Formative Role of Sankharas in the Processes of Kamma 192
Cetana Made Concrete in Kamma 197
Cetana Defined as Kamma in the Milindapanha 212
Cetana and the Eightfold Path 216
Conclusion 224
Chapter V: Dynamics of Motivation in the Suttas 236
Motivational Sequences in the Suttas 237
Motivational Processes and the "Inclination of the Mind" 244
Motivation That Goes "Against the Current" 246
"Subduing the Mind by the Mind" 250
Mindfulness and the Transformation of Mind 253
Wisdom and Motivation 256
Conclusion 262
Chapter VI: Cetana and Attitudes of Mind: Abhidhamma Perspectives 267
Holistic Approach to Consciousness in the Abhidhamma 270
Cetana Regarded as Common to All States of Consciousness 274
Definition of "Wholesome" 278
Wholesome and Unwholesome "Roots" 285
The Composition of Wholesome States of Mind 289
Eight Types of Wholesome Cittas and Cetanas 293
The Inner Dynamics of Unwholesome States of Mind 295
Twelve Unwholesome Cittas and Cetanas 300
Relationship Between Feeling (Vedana) and Cetana 302
Planes of Consciousness 306
The Concept of "Ethically Indeterminate" 309
Cetana and the Cognitive Process 313
Fusion of Perception and Purposive Impetus in Cognitive Processes 317
Javana and "Freedom of Will" 32
Conclusion 325
Chapter VII: Cetana and the Mind’s Dynamic Capacities 339
Connotations of Ayuhana in the Definitions of Cetana and Sankhara 343
Cetana in the Classification Sankharas 349
The Identification of Purposive Impulse (Cetana) with Morally Weighted Act (Kamma) 353
Cetana and the Process of Rebirth 357
The Connecting Role of Cetanas 361
Conclusion 363
Chapter VIII: Defining Cetana 369
Definitions of Cetana in Atthasalini and Visuddhimagga 372
Cetana Defined as Motivating Impulse 377
Identifying Cetana with Kamma 380
Cetana at the Beginning, Middle, and End of an Act 385
Moral Responsibility for Mental Mamma 387
The Fallacy of Two Purposive Impulses in a Single Purposive Act 391
Kamma Redefined as Cetana and Associated Mental States 393
Classification of Factors Associated with Cetana in the Nettippakarana 396
Purposive Impulse as the Dynamic Mode of an Attitude of Mind 400
Confluence of Purpose and Conative Impetus in Cetana 403
Cetana and Moral Responsibility for Action 406
Conclusion 409
Chapter IX: Cetana and Other Pali Terms Indicating Motivation 417
Adhimokkha 418
Chanda 420
Sankappa 423
Cetana Compared with ‘Terms That Indicate Capacity to Initiate Goal-Directed Action 426
Viriya 427
Differentiating Craving (Tanha) from Cetana 431
Conclusion 435
Conclusion 420
Charts 467
Glossary 484
Bibliography 492
General Index 514

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