An object which impinges on one of the senses can be visible object, sound, smell, taste or an impression through the body-sense. Each one of these objects is rupa. They arise and fall away, but they do not fall away as rapidly as nama. Rupa lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta. When rupa impinges on one of the senses, the panca-dvaravajjana-citta (five-sense-door-adverting-consciousness), does not arise immediately. First there have to be bhavanga-cittas and they are : the atita-bhavanga (past bhavanga), the bhavanga-calana (vibrating bhavanga) and the bhavangupaccheda (arrest-bhavanga or last bhavanga-citta before the stream of bhavanga-cittas is arrested). These bhavanga-cittas do not experience the rupa which has contacted one of the senses. The panca-dvaravajjana-citta, which is a kiriyacitta, adverts to the object which has impinged on one of the senses. It is succeeded by the dvi-panca-vinnana (seeing-consciousness, hearing-consciousness, etc. ) which is vipaka, the result of a good deed or an ill deed. There is, however, not only one moment of vipaka in a process, but several moments. The dvi-panca-vinnana is succeeded by sampaticchana-citta (receiving-consciousness) which is vipaka and this citta is succeeded by santirana-citta (investigating-consciousness) which is also vipaka. The santirana-citta is succeeded by the votthapana-citta (determining-consciousness) which is kiriyacitta. This citta is succeeded by seven javana-cittas which are, in the case of non-arahats, akusala cittas or kusala cittas. All cittas, starting with the panca-dvaravajjana-citta, experience the object which has impinged on one of the senses.
As we have seen, rupa lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta. If the rupa which has impinged on one of the senses arose at the same time as the atita-bhavanga, then that rupa will not have fallen away yet when the seventh javana-citta has fallen away; only fifteen moments of citta have passed since the atita-bhavanga arose. Thus there could be two more cittas in that process which directly experience the object. After the javana-cittas two vipaka-cittas may arise which experience the object and these are the tadarammana-cittas (or tadalambana-cittas) They perform the function of tadalambana or tadarammana, which is sometimes translated as 'registering' or 'retention'. Tadarammana literally means 'that object'; the citta 'hangs on' to that object. When the tadarammana-cittas have fallen away the sense-door process has run its full cruise. If the rupa which impinges on one of the senses has arisen before the atita-bhavanga, the process cannot run its full course, because the rupa falls away before the tadarammana-cittas can arise.
Only in the sense-door process kamma can, after the javana-cittas produce the tadarammana-cittas which 'hang on' to the object. For those who are born in rupa-brahma planes where there are less conditions for sense-impressions, and for those who are born in arupa-brahma planes where there are no sense-impressions, there are no tadarammana-cittas. [Birth in a rupo-brahma plane is the result of rupa vacarakusala citta (rupa-jhanacitta) and birth in an arupa-brahma plane is the result of arupavacara kusala citta (arupa-jhanacitta).]
Summarizing the cittas which succeed one another when rupa impinges on one of the senses and becomes the object of cittas of a sense-door process :
1. Atita-bhavanga (past bhavanga)
2. Bhavanga-calana (vibrating bhavanga)
3. Bhavangupaccheda (arrest-bhavanga)
4. Panca-dvaravajjana-citta (five-sense-door-adverting consciousness)
5. Dvi-panca-vinnana (seeing-consciousness, etc.)
6. Sampaticchana-citta (receiving-consciousness)
7. Santirana-citta (investigating-consciousness)
8. Votthapana-citta (determining-consciousness)
kusala cittas or akusala cittas (in the case of non - arahats), 'running through' the object
16. Tadarammana-citta (registering-consciousness)
17. Tadarammana-citta (registering-consciousness)
The tadarammana-citta experiences an object not only through the five sense-doors, but also through the mind-door. In the sense-door process tadarammana-citta can arise only when the object has not fallen away yet. If tadarammana-cittas arise in the sense-door process they can arise also in the succeeding mind-door process.
The tadarammana-citta is a vipakacitta which can experience an object through six doors. If the object is visible object, which, in the eye-door process, is experienced by citta through the eye-door, then the tadarammana-cittas of that process also experience the object through the eye-door. The tadarammana-cittas of the mind-door process succeeding the eye-door process experience that object through the mind-door. If the object which contacts the sense-door is unpleasant, all vipakacittas of that process and thus also the tadarammana-cittas, if they arise, are akusala vipaka. The tadarammana-cittas of the mind-door process succeeding that sense-door process are also akusala vipaka. If the object which contacts the sense-door is pleasant, all vipakacittas of that process, tadarammana-cittas included, are kusala vipaka. It is the same with the tadarammana cittas of the subsequent mind-door process.
The function of tadarammana can be performed by eleven different kinds of citta : by three ahetuka vipakacittas (unaccompanied by roots or hetus) and by eight sahetuka vipakacittas (accompanied by sobhana hetus).
If the tadarammana-citta is ahetuka, the function of tadarammana is performed by santirana-citta. As we have seen, santirana-citta, which is always ahetuka vipaka, can perform more than one function. Santirana-citta performs the function of santirana (investigating) when it arises in the sense-door process and succeeds sampaticchana-citta. Apart from the function of, santirana, santirana-citta can perform the functions of patisandhi (rebirth), bhavanga, cuti (dying) and, moreover, it can perform the function of tadarammana.
As stated before, there are three kinds of santirana-citta :
- Santirana-citta which is akusala vipaka, accompanied by upekkha (indifferent feeling).
- Santiana-citta which is kusala vipaka, accompanied by upekkha.
- Santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka, accompanied by somanassa (pleasant feeling).
Only the first and the second kind of santirana-citta (santirana-citta which is akusala vipaka, and santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka, accompanied by upekkha) can perform the functions of patisandhi, bhavanga and cuti. The function of santirana (investigating) can be performed by all three kinds of santirana-citta. As we have seen, santirana-citta accompanied by somanassa performs the function of santirana when the object is extraordinarily pleasant.
All the time cittas arise and fall away, performing different functions. The last function of citta in life is the function of cuti (dying). When we say in conventional language that a person has died, the cuti-citta (dying-consciousness), which is the last citta of that life, has fallen away. The cuti-citta is succeeded by the patisandhi-citta (rebirth-consciousness) of the following life.
Death is unavoidable. Everybody, no matter whether he is in one of the hell planes, in the human-being plane or in one of the heavenly planes has to have cuti-citta. We read in the teachings about birth, old age, sickness and death. Old age is mentioned immediately after birth, before sickness is mentioned. The reason is that as soon as we are born, we are already ageing, we are already on our way to death. We read in the 'Khuddaka Nikaya' ('sutta-Nipata', 'Woven Cadences’, Ch.lll, The Great Chapter, par. 8, The Dart, vs. 574-583, I use the translation by E.M. Hare.) :
How insignificant is man's lot here,
How brief, obscure, how troubled, fraught with ill!
there is no means whereby man shall not die:
Death follows on decay : such is life's course.
The early ripening fruit hazards the fall:
Ever death's hazard haunts the lives of men.
Just as the potter's earthen vessel end
In shards, so too man's life. Young and mature,
The fool and sage, come all within the power
Of death : death is for all the common lot;
And of death's victims passing to yond world,
No father saves his son, no kith his kin.
See! while they crowd and gaze and weep, their kin
Are one by one, as ox to slaughter, borne.
Thus smitten is the world by old age and death,
The wise world-plight discern, lamenting not.
Thou knowest not the 'whence' or 'whither' way
And, seeing neither course, grievest in vain!
If one is not wise, one grieves, but for those who cultivate the Eightfold Path, there will be less sorrow. For him who has attained the stage of the arahat, there will be cuti-citta, but it will not be succeeded by patisandhi-citta. Then there is an end to birth, old age, sickness and death.
We read in the 'Gradual Sayings' (Book of the Threes, Ch. VII, par. 62, Terror, V and VI) :
Monks, these three terrors part mother and son.
A mother cannot bear to see her son grow old. She says,
'I am growing old. Let not my son grow old.' The son
likewise cannot bear to see his mother grow old. He says,
'I am growing old. Let not my mother grow old.' And it
is the same with regard to getting sick and dying. These
are the three terrors that part mother and son.
But, monks, there is a way, there is a practice that
leads to the abandoning, to the overpassing of these three
terrors that part mother and son, a way which joins
mother and son. What is that way, what is that practice
which so leads?.
It is just this Eightfold Way, to wit : Right view,.....
right concentration, That is the way, that is the practice…..
If one is not an arahat yet, there will be a patisandhi-citta succeeding the cuti-citta, Before the cuti-citta arises, there are only five javana-citta instead of seven and these are the last javana-cittas of that lifespan. If kusala kamma will produce the patisandhi-citta of the next life these last javana-cittas are kusala cittas and if akusala kamma will produce the patisandhi-citta of the next life they are akusala cittas. These javana-cittas can experience a pleasant or unpleasant object through one of the sense-doors or through the mind-door and this object is conditioned by the kamma which will produce the patisandhi-citta (See ch.10) . One may remember previous kamma, or one may experience a sign or symbol of it, or else one may experience a sign or symbol of the place of one's rebirth. These javana-cittas may or may not be followed by tadarammana-cittas. The cuti-citta has only the function of being the dying-moment of that life. The cuti-citta is vipakacitta produced by the kamma which produced the patisandhi-citta and the bhavanga-cittas of the life which is just ending; it is of the same type as these cittas and it experiences the same object.
When the cuti-citta has fallen away the patisandhi-citta of the following life arises, which citta may be of a different type, depending on the kamma which produces it. This patisandhi-citta experiences the same object as the last javana-cittas arising before the cuti-citta of the previous life. The patisandhi-citta, all bhavanga-cittas and the cuti-citta of the next life experience that object.
The same types of citta which can perform the functions of patisandhi and bhavanga, can perform the function of cuti. Since there are nineteen types of citta which can perform the function of patisandhi (See ch.ll) and the function of bhavanga, there are nineteen types of citta which can perform the function of cuti.
If someone suffers great pains before he dies because of an accident or sickness, the last javana-cittas arising before the cuti-citta will not necessarily be akusala cittas. There may be akusala cittas with aversion when he feels the pain, but the last javana-cittas may be kusala cittas. There may be 'wise attention' (yoniso manasikara) preceding the cuti-citta.
We read in the 'Gradual Sayings' (Book of the Sixes, Ch. VI, par. 2, Phagguna) that the Buddha visited the venerable Phagguna who was very ill. Phagguna had attained the second stage of enlightenment (the stage of the sakadagami ; he was not yet completely freed from the 'five lower fetters’. We read in the sutta that the Buddha said to Phagguna :
'I hope, Phagguna, you're bearing up, keeping
going ; that Your aches and pains grow less, not
more ; that there are signs of their growing less, not
'Lord, I can neither bear up nor keep going ;
my aches and pains grow grievously more, not less ; and
there are signs of their growing more, not less.
Lord, the violent ache that racks my head is just
as though some lusty fellow chopped at it with a
sharp-edged sword ; Lord, I can neither bear up nor keep
going ; my pains grow more, not less....'
So the Exalted one instructed him, roused him,
gladdened him and comforted him with Dhamma-talk,
then rose from his seat and departed.
Now not long after the Exalted One's departure,
the venerable Phagguna died ; and at the time of his
death his faculties were completely purified.
Then went the venerable Ananda to the Exalted One,
saluted him, and sat down at one side. So seated,
he said :
'Lord, not long after the Exalted One left, the venerable
Phagguna died ; and at that time his faculties were
'But why, Ananda, should not the faculties of the
monk Phagguna have been completely purified?
The monk's mind, Ananda, had not been wholly freed
from the five lower fetters : but, when he heard that
Dhamma teaching, his mind was wholly freed.
There are these six advantages, Ananda, in hearing
Dhamma in time, in testing its goodness in time.
Consider, Ananda, the monk whose mind is not
wholly freed from the five lower fetters, but, when dying,
is able to see the Tathagata : the Tathagata teaches him
Dhamma, lovely in the beginning, lovely in the middle,
lovely in the end, its goodness, its significance ; and
makes known the brahman-life(1), wholly fulfilled,
perfectly pure. When he has heard that Dhamma
teaching, his mind is wholly freed from the five lower
fetters(2) . This Ananda, is the first advantage in hearing
Dhamma in time.
(1. In Pali : brahma-cariya : pure or holy life. This term is used for the life of the monks and for the life of laypeople who observe eight precepts. However it is also used with regard to all those who develop the Eightfold Path. The goal of the 'brahma-cariya' is the eradication of all defilements.)
(2. Those who have attained the third stage of enlightenment, the stage of the anagami are completely free from the five 'lower fetters.')
Or… though not just able to see the Tathagata, sees his
disciple, who teaches him Dhamma…and makes known
the brahman-life... Then is his mind wholly freed from
the five lower fetters. This, Ananda, is the second
Or.., though not able to see the Tathagata or
his disciple, continues to reflect in mind on Dhamma, as
heard, as learnt, ponders on it, pores over it. Then is his
mind wholly freed from the five lower fetters. This,
Ananda, is the third advantage in testing its goodness in time... '
The same is said with regard to the monk who has attained the third stage of enlightenment (the stage of the anagami), and who, has the opportunity to hear dhamma and consider dhamma while listening, can attain the stage of the arahat.
Summary of functions (kicca) of citta :
- patisandhi (rebirth)
- bhavanga (life-continuum)
- avajjana (adverting)
- experiencing impressions through the body-sense
- sampaticchana (receiving)
- santirana (investigating)
- votthapana (determining)
- javana (impulsion, or 'running through the object')
- tadarammana (or tadalambana, registering)
- cuti (dying)
- Which functions can be performed by the santirana-citta which is akusala vipaka?
- Which functions can be performed by the santirana-citta which is kusala vipska, accompanied by upekkha (indifferent feeling)?
- Which functions can be performed by santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka, accompanied by somanassa?.
- By how many types of citta can the function of cuti (dying) be performed? Which types?.
- Why can tadarammana-citta not arise in the rupa-brahma planes and in the arupa-brahma planes?
- Can all types of vipakacittas experience an object through the six doors?