We see many different beings in this world, men and animals, all with different appearances and different characters. They must have been different from the first moment of their lives, from the moment of the patisandhi-citta or rebirth-consciousness. One may wonder how many different types of patisandhi-citta there are. On the other hand, beings who are born in this world also have things in common. We share the same world and we receive impressions through the senses, no matter whether we are rich or poor. On account of the objects which we experience through the six doors, kusala cittas and akusala cittas arise. All these cittas, arising in our daily life, are kamavacara cittas or cittas of the 'sense-sphere’.
One could divide human beings as regards their birth into two classes:
- Those who are born with a patisandhi-citta which is ahetuka kusala vipaka (which means that the kusala vipakacitta is not accompanied by beautiful roots: by alobha or generosity, by adosa or kindness, or by panna or wisdom)
- Those who are born with a patisandhi-citta which is sahetuka kusala vipaka (kusala vipaka accompanied by beautiful roots)
When a human being is born with a patisandhi-citta which is ahetuka, his birth is the result of kamavacara kusala kamma, but the degree of the kusala kamma is less than the kusala kamma which produces a sahetuka patisandhi-citta. People who are born with an ahetuka patisandhi-citta are handicapped from the first moment of life. Eye-sense or ear-sense does not develop or they have other defects. However, when we see someone who is handicapped we cannot tell whether there was at the first moment of his life an ahetuka patisandhi-citta or a sahetuka patisandhi-citta. We cannot tell whether someone was handicapped from the first moment of his life or whether he became handicapped later on, even while he was still in his mother's womb and thus we do not know which type of patisandhi-citta he was born with. The fact that a person is handicapped has not happened by chance; it is due to one's kamma.
There is only one type of patisandhi-citta which is ahetuka kusala vipaka, but there are many degrees of this vipaka. The kamma which produces this vipakacitta can cause birth in different kinds of surroundings: in unpleasant surroundings, though not in woeful planes, and in pleasant surroundings. It can even cause birth in the lowest heavenly plane.
There is also an ahetuka patisandhi-citta which is akusala vipaka. This type of citta does not arise in the human plane, but in a woeful plane. Only one type of patisandhi-citta is akusala vipaka, but it is of many degrees. There are many varieties of akusala kamma and thus there must be many varieties of unhappy rebirth. The unhappy rebirth we can see in this world is birth as an animal. There are three more classes of woeful planes, which we cannot see; they are the world of the 'petas' (ghosts), the world of 'asuras' (demons), and the hell planes.
The function of patisandhi can be performed by different types of vipakacittas produced by different kammas. It depends on kamma as to which type of vipakacitta performs the function of patisandhi-citta in the case of such and such a being. Two ahetuka vipakacittas which perform the function of patisandhi are santirana akusala vipakacitta and santirana kusala vipakacitta.
When santirana-citta arises in a process of cittas experiencing an object through one of the five senses, the santirana-citta performs the function of investigating (santirana) the object. As we have seen, santirana-citta is an ahetuka vipakacitta. The same type of citta can perform more than one function, but at different moments. Santirana-citta can also perform the function of patisandhi. When the santirana-citta performs the function of patisandhi it does not arise in a sense-door process and it does not investigate an object.
As we have seen (Ch.9), there are three kinds of santirana-citta:
- Santirana-citta which is akusala vipaka, accompanied by upekkha (indifferent feeling)
- Santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka, accompanied by upekkha
- Santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka, accompanied by somanassa (pleasant feeling)
The santirana-citta which is akusala vipaka, accompanied by upekkha, can perform the function of patisandhi in woeful planes. This means that the type of patisandhi-citta arising in woeful planes is of the same type as the akusala vipakacitta which is santirana-citta performing the function of investigating in a sense-door process of cittas.
The santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka accompanied by upekkha, can, apart from the function of investigating in a sense-door process, also perform the function of patisandhi in human and heavenly planes.
The Santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka accompanied by somanassa does not perform the function of patisandhi.
Akusala kamma and kusala kamma of different beings can produce nineteen different types of patisandhi-citta in all, arising in different planes of existence. One of these types is akusala vipaka and eighteen types are kusala vipaka. Of the types of citta which are kusala vipaka, one type is ahetuka kusala vipaka and seventeen types are sahetuka kusala vipaka (accompanied by beautiful roots). There are many degrees of each of these nineteen types of patisandhi-citta because kamma can be of many degrees. It is due to kamma that people are born ugly or beautiful and that they are born in unpleasant or in pleasant surroundings. The fact that one is born into miserable circumstances does not mean that one's next birth will also be in miserable circumstances. It all depends on the kamma one has accumulated. As regards people who are born into happy circumstances, if akusala kamma produce results, their next birth may be an unhappy one.
We read in the 'Gradual Sayings' (Book of the Fours, Ch. IX, pal. 5, Darkness):
'Monks, these four persons are found existing in the
world. What four?
He who is in darkness and bound for darkness; he who
is in darkness but bound for light; he who is in light but
bound for darkness; he who is in light and bound for light.
And how, monks, is a person in darkness bound
In this case a certain person is born in a low family,
the family of a scavenger or a hunter or a basket-weaver
or wheel-wright or sweeper, or in the family of some
wretched man hard put to it to find a meal or earn a living,
where food and clothes are hard to get. Moreover, he
is ill-favoured, ugly, dwarfish, sickly, purblind, crooked,
lame or paralysed, with never a bite or sup, without
clothes, vehicle, without perfumes or flower-garlands,
bed, dwelling or lights. He lives in the practice of evil with
body, speech and thought; and so doing, when body
breaks up, after death, he is reborn in the waste, the way
of woe, the downfall, in hell. Thus, monks, is the person
who is in darkness and bound for darkness.
And how, monks, is a person in darkness but bound
In this case a certain person is born in a low family...
without bed, dwelling or lights. He lives in the practice
of good with body, speech and thought...and so doing,
when body breaks up, after death he is reborn in the
happy bourn, in the heaven-world.
And how, monks, is a person in light but bound for
In this case a certain person is born in a high family...
And that man is well-built, comely and charming,
possessed of supreme beauty of form. He is one able to
get clothes, vehicle, perfumes and flower-garlands, bed,
dwelling and lights. But he lives in the practice of evil with
body, speech and thought. So doing, when body breaks
up, after death he is reborn in the waste, the way of woe,
the downfall, in hell. Thus, monks, is the person who is
in light but bound for darkness.
And how, monks, is a person who is in light and bound
In this case a person is born in a high family...able to
get clothes...bed, dwelling and lights. He lives in the .
practice of good with body, speech and thought. So
doing, when body breaks up after death, he is reborn in
the happy bourn, in the heaven-world. Thus, monks, is
one who is in light and bound for light.
These, monks, are the four persons found existing in
The patisandhi-citta which is sahetuka vipaka (with beautiful roots) is the result of kusala kamma which is of a higher degree than the kusala kamma producing an ahetuka patisandhi-citta. There are eight different types of sahetuka vipakacittas which can perform the function of patisandhi.
People are born with characters which are different; they are born with different degrees of wisdom or without wisdom. The patisandhi-cittas of people are different. When the patisandhi-citta is sahetuka, it is always accompanied by alobha (non-greed or generosity) and adosa (non-aversion or kindness), but not always by wisdom. It can be accompanied by wisdom or it can be without wisdom, depending on the kamma which produces it.
Apart from the difference in the number of roots (two hetus or three hetus) which accompany the sahetuka patisandhi-citta there are other differences. Kusala kamma which produces the patisandhi-citta can be kamma performed by kusala citta with somanassa or with upekkha, by kusala citta which is asankharika (unprompted) or sasankharika (prompted). Thus we see that several factors determine the degree of kusala kamma which produces its result accordingly.
Thus the sahetuka patisandhi-cittas which are the results of kamavacara kusala kammas (kusala kammas of the 'sense-sphere') can be classified as eight different types in all. Summing them up, they are:
- Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wisdom, unprompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam, nana- sampayuttam, asankharikam ekam) [Nana is wisdom (panna)]
- Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wisdom, prompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam, nana- sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
- Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wisdom, unprompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam-nana-vip- payuttam, asankharikam ekam)
- Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wisdom, prompted
(Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-vip- payuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
- Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wisdom, unprompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-sam- payuttam, asankharikam ekam)
- Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wisdom, prompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam,nana-sampayut- tam, sasankharikam ekam)
- Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wisdom, unprompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-vippayut- tam, asarikharikam ekam)
- Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wisdom, prompted
(Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-vippayut- tam, sasarikharikam ekam)
It is useful to know more details about patisandhi-citta, because it can help us to understand why people are so different.
The eight types of sahetuka patisandhi-citta which are the results of kamavacara kusala kammas do not arise only in the human plane, but they also arise in those heavenly planes of existence which are kama-bhumi or 'sensuous' planes of existence.
There are thirty-one classes of planes of existence in all. Eleven planes are kama-bhumis (or kama-lokas), of which one is the plane of human beings, six are heavenly planes and four are woeful planes. Beings born in one of the kama-bhumis have kamavacara cittas; they receive sense impressions. There are also other heavenly planes which are not kama-bhumi.
If one is born in one of the kama-bhumis and cultivates jhana (absorption) one can, besides kamavacara cittas, also have rupa-jhanacittas and arupa-jhanacittas. (For the difference between rupa-jhana and arupa-jhana see Ch XXII.) If one cultivates the Eightfold Path one can have lokuttara cittas (cittas which directly experience nibbana).
When one attains jhana, the kusala kamma one performs at that moment is not kamavacara kusala kamma; at the moment of jhana there are no sense-impressions. The kusala kamma which is jhana does not produce result in the same lifespan one attains it, but it can produce result in the form of the patisandhi-citta of the next life. In that case there are jhanacittas arising shortly before death and the patisandhi-citta of the next life experiences the same object as those jhanacittas.
The result of a rupavacara kusala citta (kusala citta which Is rupa-jhanacitta) is birth in a heavenly plane which is not kamabhumi but a rupa-brahma-plane (fine-material world). The result of an arupavacara kusala citta (kusala citta which is arupa-jhanacitta) is birth in a heavenly plane which is an arupa-brahma plane (immaterial world). There are different rupa-brahma planes and arupa-brahma planes.
There are five stages of rupa-jhana and thus there are five types of rupavacara kusala citta which can produce five types of rupavacara vipakacitta. There are four stages of arupa-jhana and thus there are four types of arupavacara kusala citta which can produce four types cf arupavacara vipakacitta. Altogether there are nine types of patisandhi-citta which are the results of the different types of jhanacittas. They are sahetuka vipakacittas (accompanied by beautiful roots) and they are always accompanied by panna.
Summarizing the nineteen types of patisandhi-citta, they are :
- 1 akusala vipaka santirana-citta (ahetuka, result of akusala kamma)
- 1 kusala vipaka santirana-citta (ahetuka, result of kamavacara kusala kamma)
- 8 maha-vipakacittas (sahetuka, results of kamavacara kusala kamma)
- 5 rupavacara vipakacittas (sahetuka, results of rupa-jhanacittas)
- 4 arupavacara vipakacittas (sahetuka, results of arupa-jhanacittas)
We do not know which of our deeds will produce the patisandhi-citta of our next life. We do both good deeds and bad deeds; any one of these deeds or even a deed performed in a former life can produce the patisandhi-citta of the next life. The Buddha encouraged people to perform many kinds of kusala kamma. Each good deed is very valuable; it is certain to bear its fruit sooner or later.
We read in the 'Itivuttaka' ('As it was said', the Ones, Ch. III, par. 6, 'Khuddaka Nikaya') that the Buddha said to the monks:
'Monks, if beings knew, as I know, the ripening of
sharing gifts they would not enjoy their use without
sharing them, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the
heart and stay there. Even if it were their last bit, their
last morsel of food, they would not enjoy its use without
sharing it, if there were anyone to receive it....'
Kusala kamma can cause a happy rebirth, but the end of birth is to be preferred to any kind of rebirth. If one cultivates the Eightfold Path and attains arahatship there will be no more rebirth. The dying-consciousness (cuti-citta) of the arahat is not succeeded by a patisandhi-citta. The Buddha often reminded people of the dangers of birth and encouraged them to be mindful, in order to attain the 'deathless' which is nibbana. We read in the 'Gradual Savings' (Book of the Eights, Ch -VIII, par. 4) that the Buddha, when he was staying at Nadika, in the Brick Hall, said to the monks:
'Mindfulness of death, monks, when made become,
when developed is very fruitful, of great advantage,
merging and ending in the deathless.
And how, monks, is it so....
Take the case of a monk who, when the day declines
and night sets in, reflects thus: 'Many indeed are the
chances of death for me. A snake or scorpion or a
centipede might bite me and might cause my death; that
would be a hindrance to me. I might stumble and fall;
the food I have eaten might make me ill; bile might
convulse me; phlegm choke me; winds (within me) with
their scissorlike cuts give me ache; or men or non-humans
might attack me and might cause my death. That would
be a hindrance to me.’
Monks, that monk must reflect thus: 'Are there any evil
and wrong states within me that have not been put away
and that would be a hindrance to me were I to die
tonight? If, monks, on consideration he realize that there
are such states... then to put away just those evil and
wrong states, an intense resolution, effort, endeavour,
exertion, struggle, mindfulness and self-possession must
be made by that monk. Monks, just as a man whose
turban is on fire, or whose hair is burning would make
an intense resolution, effort, endeavour, exertion,
struggle, mindfulness and self-possession to put out his
(burning) turban or hair; even so, monks, an intense
resolution, effort, endeavour, exertion, struggle,
mindfulness and self-possession must be made by that
monk to put away just those evil and wrong states.
But if that monk, on review, realize that there are no
such states within him that have not been put away
which would be a hindrance to him, were he to die that
night--then let that monk live verily in joy and gladness,
training himself day and night in the ways of
Take the case, monks, of a monk who reflects
likewise… when the night is spent and day breaks. He
must reflect in the same way...
Monks, mindfulness of death when so made become
so developed is very fruitful, of great advantage, merging
and ending in the deathless.'
- Can the patisandhi-citta be ahetuka?
- How many types of patisandhi-citta are there?
- How many types of patisandhi-citta are akusala vipaka?
- When the patisandhi-citta is accompanied by wisdom by which factor is this conditioned?