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This was the response when I asked what was the difference between citta and cetasika:

Citta and Cetasika are both important concepts in Buddhist psychology.

Citta refers to the mind or consciousness. It is derived from the root ‘cit’, which means to think. In the context of Citta, this root assumes the meaning of discernment or vijànana.

On the other hand, Cetasika refers to the mental states that are associated with the mind or consciousness. The term is derived from ‘Ceta’, which means mind, and ‘ika’, which denotes association. Cetasika arises together with consciousness, perishes together with it, has an identical object with it, and has a common basis with it.

In essence, the difference between Citta and Cetasika lies in their functions and characteristics. Citta is the whole consciousness, while Cetasika are the mental states or psychic factors associated with this consciousness.

For instance, Cetanà, a type of Cetasika, is derived from the same root as Citta, but while Citta refers to discernment, Cetanà is used in the sense of co-ordination (abhisandhàna) and accumulation (àyåhana). According to the Atthasàlinã and Vibhàvini Tãkà, Cetanà is that which co-ordinates the mental states associated with itself on the object of consciousness.

In summary, while Citta refers to the overall consciousness or mind, Cetasika refers to the specific mental states or factors associated with this consciousness.

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