Cittavīthi, 'mental process, cognitive series'. Visuddhimagga, Ch. XIV etc. It is, perhaps, not superfluous to remark that this doctrine, of which so much use is made in the Visuddhimagga (and see also the Abhidhammatthasangaha), is a pure scholastic invention and has nothing at all to do with the Buddha's Teaching (or, indeed, with anything else). It is, moreover, a vicious doctrine, totally at variance with paticcasamuppāda, setting forth the arising of experience as a succession of items each coming to an end before the next appears (imassa nirodhā idam uppajjati—cf. A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §7). The decay first seems to set in with the Vibhanga and Patthāna of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. (See SAÑÑĀ, and refer to The Path of Purification [Visuddhimagga translation by the Ven. Ñānamoli Bhikkhu], Semage, Colombo 1956, Ch. IV, note 13.)

  Connected with this doctrine is the erroneous notion of anuloma-gotrabhu-magga-phala, supposed to be the successive moments in the attainment of sotāpatti. It is sometimes thought that the word akālika as applied to the Dhamma means that attainment of magga is followed 'without interval of time' by attainment of phala; but this is quite mistaken.[a] Akālika dhamma has an entirely different meaning (for which see PATICCASAMUPPĀDA). Then, in the Okkantika Samyutta <S.iii, 225> it is stated only that the dhammānusārī and the saddhānusārī (who have reached the magga leading to sotāpatti) are bound to attain sotāpattiphala before their death; and other Suttas—e.g. Majjhima vii,5&10 <M.i,439&479>—show clearly that one is dhammānusārī or saddhanusārī for more than 'one moment'. For gotrabhu see Majjhima xiv,12 <M.iii,256>, where it says that he may be dussīla pāpadhamma. In Sutta usage it probably means no more than 'a member of the bhikkhusangha'. For anuloma see SAKKĀYA [b].

  See NĀMA [c] and the Glossary for meanings of citta. For cittasankhāra as opposed to manosankhāra see A NOTE ON PATICCASAMUPPĀDA §§5 & 16.


[a] The notion of two successive 'moments', A and B, as akālika or non-temporal is a confusion. Either A and B are simultaneous (as e.g. viññāna and nāmarūpa), in which case they are indeed akālika; or B follows A and they are successive (as e.g. the in-&-out-breaths), in which case they are kālika. Even if there is no interval of time between the ending of A and the beginning of B, it remains true that B comes after A, and time is still involved. The source of the confusion is in the contradictory idea of a moment as the smallest possible interval of time—i.e. as absolute shortness of time—, and therefore as no time. Two successive moments are, thus, also no time: 0 + 0 = 0. This is nothing but a mystification: it is like the notion of 'absolute smallness of size' in quantum theory (Dirac, op. cit., pp. 3-4), introduced to compensate for other philosophically unjustifiable assumptions made elsewhere. (Quantum theory, of course, being an elaborate and ingenious rule of thumb, does not require philosophical justification; but ipso facto it provides no foundation for philosophy.) To the idea of a 'moment' as the shortest empirically observable interval of time there is no objection; but this merely marks the threshold below which changes are too small and rapid to be clearly apprehended as discontinuous and are grasped irrationally and ambiguously as a flux. What it does not mark is the boundary between kālika and akālika. See PATICCASAMUPPĀDA [c]. A different approach to this whole question is outlined in FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE. [Back to text]