Thus it has been heard by me. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Sāvatthi in the Jeta Forest in the private park owned by Anāthapiṇḍika. There the Blessed one addressed the monks thus: ‘Monks!’ Those monks responded thus: ‘Blessed One!’ The Blessed One said this:
“Monks, the ordinary person,  unlearned in spiritual knowledge,  might grow weary of, might become detached from, might become released from this physical body made up of the four great elements. What is the reason for this? Because, monks, apparent are the increase and the decrease, the taking up and the putting down,  of this physical body made up of the four great elements. For that reason, the ordinary person, in every way unlearned in spiritual knowledge, might grow weary, might become detached, might become released.
“But, indeed, that which, monks, is called ‘mind’, or ‘thought’, or ‘consciousness’,  the ordinary person, in every way unlearned in spiritual knowledge, not enough to turn away, not enough to become detached, not enough to be released. What is the reason for this? Because for a long time, monks, that ‘mind’, or ‘thought’, or ‘consciousness’ of the ordinary person, in every way unlearned in spiritual knowledge, has been clung to, has been cherished, has been fondled: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’. Because of that, the ordinary person, in every way unlearned in spiritual knowledge, not enough to turn away, not enough to become detached, not enough to be released.
“Better, monks, to let the ordinary person, in all ways unlearned in spiritual knowledge, proceed from the assumption that the self is this physical body made up of the four great elements, rather than mind.  What is the reason for this? This physical body, Monks, comprising the four great elements, is seen standing for one rainy season, standing for two rainy seasons,... for three... four... five... ten... twenty... thirty... forty... fifty... standing for a hundred or more rainy seasons.
“But, indeed, that which, monks, is called ‘mind’, or ‘thought’, or ‘consciousness’, that, by night and by day, as other, indeed, arises, as other ceases.  Just as, monks, a monkey in the mountain-side forests, moving itself,  grasps a branch, then releasing that, grasps another, then releasing that, grasps another; even so, indeed, monks, that which is called ‘mind’, or ‘thought’, or ‘consciousness’: that, by night and by day, as other, indeed, arises, as other ceases.
“Therein, monks, the noble disciple, learned in spiritual knowledge, properly and legitimately cognizes  just dependent co-arising, thus: ‘In the event of the being of this, there is (also) this; from the arising of this, this (also) arises. In the event of the non-being of this, there is (also) not this. From the cessation of this, this (also) ceases.’
“Which is this: ‘From ignorance as condition, the formative mental functions;  from the formative mental functions as condition, sensory consciousness; from sensory consciousness as condition, name-and-form; from name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases; from the six sense bases as condition, contact; from contact as condition, sensation; from sensation as condition, craving; from craving as condition, clinging; from clinging as condition, being; from being as condition, birth; from birth as condition, old age and death, grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation all together come to be. Thus there is the rise of this whole complex of suffering.
“‘But from the fading away and cessation, without any trace remaining, of ignorance, there is the cessation of the formative mental functions; from the cessation of the formative mental functions, the cessation of sensory consciousness; from the cessation of sensory consciousness, the cessation of name-and-form; from the cessation of name-and-form, the cessation of the six sense bases; from the cessation of the six sense bases, the cessation of contact; from the cessation of contact, the cessation of sensation; from the cessation of sensation, the cessation of craving; from the cessation of craving, the cessation of clinging; from the cessation of clinging, the cessation of being; from the cessation of being, the cessation of birth; from the cessation of birth, old age and death, grief, lamentation, suffering, distress and tribulation cease. Thus there is the cessation of this whole complex of suffering.’
“Seeing thus, monks, a noble disciple, learned in spiritual knowledge, grows weary and turns away  from material form; grows weary and turns away from feelings; grows weary and turns away from perceptions; grows weary and turns away from formative functions; grows weary and turns away from sensory consciousness. Having grown weary and having turned away, he detaches; from detachment, he is released; from being released, there is the knowledge: ‘Released.’ He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth; the holy life has been fulfilled; what had to be done has been done; no coming back again to being-here ’.”
“Yañca kho etaṃ, bhikkhave, vuccati cittaṃ itipi, mano itipi, viññāṇaṃ itipi...” The quotation marks placed around each term in the translation are justified by the fact that the Pali has “vuccati cittaṃ iti pi, mano iti pi, viññāṇaṃ iti pi”, “It is called “citta” or “mano” or “viññāṇa””: the particle iti after each term functions as a “quotation marker”, corresponding to the verb vuccati, “it is called...”. These three terms demand a very detailed, comprehensive and lengthy analysis; which, of course, cannot possibly be provided in a footnote. If this sutta were presenting a more detailed technical and theoretical discussion, such as we do indeed find in many other suttas, then it would be more appropriate to translate these terms more precisely: for example, citta as “subjective mind”, mano as “cognitive faculty”, and viññāṇa as “sensory consciousness” (that is, consciousness when functioning in the mode of the six sense bases (saḍāyatana), although viññāṇa also has two further special technical senses and uses in the suttas). But the present sutta is very clearly not intended to be technically and theoretically precise about this particular subject. In fact, one of the points that the sutta seems to suggest is that for the ordinary, unlearned person these three terms are quite interchangeable: “six of one and half a dozen of the other”, as the English idiom goes. For this reason, it is much more appropriate to translate these three terms more loosely and ambiguously; but this is somewhat difficult to do in English because, unlike Sanskrit and Pali, English does not have a very extensive vocabulary with which to indicate the subtleties of “consciousness” or “mind”. We can see from the context in which these three terms are actually used in this sutta that what is in question here is the way in which the unlearned or uninformed person thinks of these terms: how he or she conflates them due to lack of analytical understanding, and how he or she relates to what he or she thinks of as his or her “own mind”: namely, identifying it and cherishing as the private, personal “self” (attā).
This partial statement, “cittaṃ itipi, mano itipi, viññāṇaṃ itipi”, is very frequently quoted — in isolation, out of context — by proponents and commentators of the Abhidhamma and of Abhidhamma-influenced schools, in support of the stereotypical Abhidhamma view that the terms citta, mano, and viññāṇa are somehow “synonymous”. Only one other similar passage can be found in the Suttanta Piṭaka, in DN 1 (Brahmajāla Sutta; PTS DN i.1), at DN i.21, but this passage is rarely cited, for an obvious reason: “Yaṃ ca kho idaṃ vuccati cittanti vā mano'ti vā viññāṇanti vā...” “That which is called ‘citta’ or ‘mano’ or ‘viññāṇa’...” There, in DN 1, it is put into the mouth of the kind of “reasoner” (takkī) who wrongly argues that “mind” is a permanent, eternal, unchanging “self” (attā). It is therefore very interesting and very important to note that here, too, in SN 12.61, this same formula occurs in the context of a description of the way of thinking of the “tatrāssutavā puthujjano”, the “in every way spiritually-unlearned ordinary person”. This crucial matter is too detailed and complex to discuss here in a brief footnote, but it can hopefully be addressed in detail and in depth on a different occasion. Suffice it to say that I am not asserting that citta, mano, and viññāṇa are distinct and separate “things”, but that they refer to quite distinct and non-inter-reducible functions and properties of “mind” as such. To claim that they are “mere synonyms” is, very crudely speaking, rather like claiming that the words “steam”, “liquid”, and “ice” are all “mere synonyms”. To be sure, they may all refer to forms of “water”; but it would be plainly and simply wrong to claim that they are therefore merely “synonymous”.