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An outline of the 24 Conditions as taught in the Abhidhamma

Chapter 5 - Conascence-condition And Mutuality-condition

Sahajata-paccaya And Annamanna-paccaya

The Pali term sahajata in sahajata-paccaya means: that which has arisen together. In the case of conascence-condition, a conditioning dhamma, paccaya dhamma, on arising, causes the conditioned dhammas, paccayupanna dhammas, to arise simultaneously with it. In the case of proximity-condition and contiguity-condition, the conditioning dhamma arises previously to the conditioned dhamma, but in the case of conascence-condition the conditioning dhamma and the conditioned dhamma arise at the same time. We read in the Visuddhimagga (XVII, 77):

A dhamma which, while arising, assists (another dhamma) by making it arise together with itself is a conascence-condition, as a lamp is for illumination...

For the explanation of conascence-condition the Visuddhimagga uses the simile of an oil lamp: when its flame appears the light, colour and heat are produced simultaneously with it. Light, colour and heat produced by the flame are not present before the flame appears nor after it dies out[1].

We read in the "Patthana" (II, Analytical Exposition, 6, Conascence-condition) about different classes of phenomena, nama and rupa, to which conascence-condition pertains. We read with regard to the first class:

The four immaterial aggregates (namakkhandhas) are mutually related to one another by conascence-condition.

Vinnanakkhandha, citta, cannot arise without the three other namakkhandhas, namely: vedanakkhandha (feeling), sannakkhandha (remembrance or perception) and sankharakkhandha (formations, the other cetasikas). Citta is different from cetasika, it does not feel or remember; citta is the "chief" in cognizing an object but it needs the accompanying cetasikas which share the same object and which each have their own task while they assist the citta. Citta cannot arise without cetasika and cetasika cannot arise without citta, they condition one another by conascence-condition. Citta needs for example the cetasika phassa, contact, which contacts the object so that citta can cognize it. Thus, citta is conditioned by phassa by way of conascence. Phassa is conditioned by citta and the accompanying cetasikas by way of conascence. When phassa accompanies akusala citta it is also akusala and when it accompanies kusala citta it is also kusala.

Each of the four namakkhandhas can be taken in turn as conditioning dhamma or as conditioned dhamma because they are mutually related by way of conascence. The "Patthana" (Faultless Triplet, Ch VII, Investigation Chapter, Conditions: Positive, 1, Classification Chapter, Conascence 9, §419) expresses this as follows:

Faultless state (kusala dhamma) is related to faultless state by conascence-condition.
One faultless khandha is related to three (faultless) khandhas by conascence-condition; three khandhas are related to one khandha by conascence-condition; two khandhas are related to two khandhas by conascence-condition.

This pertains only to the four nama-kkhandhas. The same is said with regard to the four namakkhandhas which are akusala (faulty).

When lobha-mula-citta, citta rooted in attachment, arises, the four namakkhandhas are akusala and they condition one another by way of conascence. Lobha-mula-citta has as roots moha and lobha, and these roots condition the accompanying dhammas by way of conascence-condition and also by way of root-condition. Phenomena can condition other phenomena by way of several relations. Lobha-mula-citta may be accompanied by pleasant feeling. Feeling is conditioned by citta and the accompanying cetasikas, and when it accompanies akusala citta it is also akusala. Pleasant feeling which is akusala has a characteristic which is quite different from pleasant feeling which is kusala.

It is beneficial to learn more about conascence-condition because this condition pertains to our life now. Since citta and cetasikas condition one another mutually while they arise together, there is such a great variety of cittas. When one, for example, develops understanding of nama and rupa, there is kusala citta accompanied by panna and by other sobhana cetasikas. That citta is also accompanied by sati which is mindful of the reality which appears, by "applied thinking", vitakka[3], which "touches" the object so that panna can understand it, by non-attachment, alobha, and by other cetasikas which each perform their own function. They all mutually support one another while they arise together. There are many degrees of panna and as panna grows the accompanying cetasikas develop as well. Alobha, for example, is still weak in the beginning, but as panna develops there will also be more detachment from realities.

Citta and cetasikas can be of four "jatis" (classes), they can be kusala, akusala, vipaka or kiriya. Some cetasikas can accompany cittas of the four jatis, but in each case they are completely different since they are conditioned by the citta and the other cetasikas they accompany. Manasikara, attention, for example, is a cetasika which arises with each citta, but it is quite different when it accompanies lobha-mula-citta which clings to the object which is experienced, or when it accompanies kusala citta which is intent on generosity or on the observance of sila. Viriya, energy or effort, can be energy exerted in an unwholesome way, such as effort to steal, or it can be energy for what is wholesome. Thus, there is a great variety of citta and cetasikas which mutually support one another. When we come to understand more the different conditions for the realities which arise it will help us to see that there is no self who experiences objects, likes or dislikes them, or develops right understanding.

As to the second class of phenomena to which conascence-condition pertains, we read in the "Patthana" (Analytical Exposition, 6):

The four great primaries (Great Elements, maha-bhuta rupas) are mutually related to one another by conascence-condition.

The Elements of Earth (solidity), Water (cohesion), Fire (temperature) and Wind (motion) always arise together and condition another. Rupas of the body and rupas of materiality outside arise and fall away in groups or units, and in each group there have to be the four Great Elements. Solidity is the foundation of the other three elements, temperature maintains the other three elements, cohesion holds them together and the element of motion[5] acts as their distension (Visuddhimagga XI, 109).

The "Patthana" (Faultless Triplet, Investigation Chapter, §419, VII, c) states as to the way the four great Elements condition each other that one "great primary" conditions the other three, three condition one, and two condition two. There is such a great variety of sense objects we experience every day, but they are only different compositions of rupa elements. When we touch a table or a piece of cloth there is only tangible object, appearing as hardness or softness, which is composed of different rupa elements. Hardness, softness, heat, cold, motion or pressure can be experienced by touch[7]. We think that tangible object can last, but it is only rupa which arises and falls away all the time.

As to the third class of phenomena to which conascence-condition pertains, the patisandhi-citta arising in the five-khandha planes (where there are nama and rupa) and the rupa which is the heart-base for the patisandhi-citta condition one another by way of conascence.

In the planes where there are nama and rupa each citta needs a physical base (vatthu) or place of origin. The vatthu for seeing is the eye-base, and each of the sense-cognitions (the five pairs, pancavinnana, of which one is kusala vipakacitta and one akusala vipakacitta) has its corresponding base. The cittas other than the sense-cognitions have the heart-base as their vatthu. During life the rupa which is the vatthu has to arise before the citta which is dependant on it. However, at the moment of rebirth it is different. When the patisandhi-citta arises kamma produces the heart-base at the same time as the patisandhi-citta which is the mental result of kamma, vipakacitta, and this citta arises at the heart-base. In the planes where there are nama and rupa the patisandhi-citta and the heart-base cannot arise without one other. They condition one another by way of conascence.

The heart-base is not the only rupa produced by kamma at the first moment of our life. Kamma produces at that moment three groups of rupa: one group with the heart-base, one group with the bodybase and one group with sex, masculinity or femininity. In each of these groups the eight inseparable rupas[8] and life-faculty (jivitindriya)[9] are included as well, thus there are three groups of ten rupas produced by kamma at the moment of our birth. Without the patisandhi-citta these groups could not arise at the moment of birth. Thus, the patisandhi-citta is conascence-condition for the three groups of rupas produced by kamma at that moment, but only the heart-base among these rupas is in turn conascence-condition for the patisandhi-citta, this citta could not arise without the heart-base.

As to the fourth class of phenomena to which conascence-condition pertains, citta and its accompanying cetasikas condition the rupa produced by them by way of conascence-condition.

Citta produces rupa at its arising moment. Each moment of citta can be divided into three extremely short periods (Visuddhimagga XX, 26): the moment of its arising (uppada khana), the moment of presence (titthi khana) and the moment of dissolution (bhanga khana). Citta can only produce rupa at its arising moment; at the moment of its presence and of its dissolution it is too weak to do so. Sixteen types of citta do not produce rupa. They are: the patisandhi-citta, the sense-cognitions (the five pairs of seeing, hearing, etc.), the four arupavacara vipakacittas (of immaterial jhana, arising in the arupa-brahma-planes where there is no rupa) and the dying-consciousness, cuti-citta, of the arahat. Apart from these cittas, all the other cittas produce rupa[10]. Akusala cittas and kusala cittas can, for example, produce bodily intimation (gestures by which we express our intentions) and speech intimation. Akusala cittas and kusala cittas can produce bodily features by which our moods are expressed, such as regret, anger or enjoyment. Dosa can produce frowns and lobha can produce laughter. When we decorate our house, when we dress ourselves or when we use cosmetics, do we realize which types of citta produce rupas while we move our hands? We may not even realize that lobha-mula-cittas produce rupas at such moments. We cannot force ourselves to lead the life of a monk, a life without sense-pleasures, but it is beneficial to know the different types of citta which arise. Therefore, it is instructive also for laypeople to read the "Vinaya". The "Vinaya" is a faithful mirror and a constant reminder of our defilements. We read in the "Vinaya" that it is forbidden to monks to decorate dwellings and objects they use, or to beautify themselves, since that is indulgement in sense-pleasures. The text of the "Vinaya" (Book of Discipline V, Culla-vagga, Ch V, 106) states:

Now at that time the group of six monks anointed their faces, they rubbed (paste) into their faces, they powdered their faces with chunam, they smeared their faces with red arsenic, they painted their limbs, they painted their faces, they painted their limbs and faces. People spread it about, saying, "Like householders who enjoy pleasures of the senses"....

We then read that the Buddha did not allow it and said that it would be an offence of wrong-doing if monks would do any of those things.

The "Book of Analysis"(Vibhanga, Second Book of the Abhidhamma, Ch 17, Analysis of Small Items, §854) reminds us that it is vanity to decorate objects or one's body:

Therein, what is "personal vanity"? Decoration of the robes, decoration of the alms-bowl, decoration of the abode; the decoration, beautifying, taking pride in, adorning, cupidity, state of cupidity, act of personal vanity, personal vanity for this putrid body and for the external requisites. This is called personal vanity.

Laypeople still have conditions for a life with sense-pleasures, but right understanding of the realities which arise can be developed. Also while one adorns oneself there are nama and rupa and there can be awareness of them. If we know that there is, in such cases, rupa conditioned by citta by way of conascence, it can help us to understand nama and rupa as conditioned elements.

Citta and cetasikas which produce rupa at their arising moment condition rupa by way of conascence, but mind-produced rupa does not reciprocally condition citta by way of conascence. The arising of citta does not depend on mind-produced rupa.

As to the fifth group to which conascence-condition pertains, the four Great Elements condition the derived rupas (upadaya rupas) by way of conascence, but the derived rupas do not reciprocally condition the four Great Elements by way of conascence. There are twenty-eight kinds of rupa in all, and the "derived rupas" are the twenty-four kinds of rupa other than the four Great Elements of solidity, cohesion, temperature and motion. The derived rupas are dependant on the four Great Elements, they cannot arise without them. When sound, for instance, arises, it needs solidity, cohesion, temperature and motion. We are attached to the body and to our possessions, but these are only rupas, the four Great Elements and derived rupas in different compositions, arising because of conditions.

There is a sixth group of phenomena mentioned in the same section of the "Analytical Exposition" of the "Patthana" concerning conascence-condition, but this is actually a further explanation of the relation of the heart-base to the citta which arises at the heart-base. Throughout life the heart-base has to arise before the citta which is dependant on it. Also the sense-bases which are the physical bases for the sense-cognitions such as seeing or hearing, which arise throughout life, have to arise previously to the cittas which are dependant on them. Rupa, at its arising moment is too weak to be base, and therefore it can only after it has arisen perform the function of base. The moment of rebirth is the first moment of life and therefore the situation is different; kamma produces the heart-base and the patisandhi-citta which is dependant on it simultaneously. At that moment the patisandhi-citta and the heart-base condition one another by way of conascence. The "Patthana" (II, Analytical Exposition, 6, VI) states about the relation between heart-base and the citta which is dependant on it as follows:

The material states (rupa-dhammas) are sometimes related to the immaterial states (nama-dhammas) by conascence-condition and are sometimes not related by conascence-condition.

Some of the phenomena which are related by conascence-condition are also related by mutuality-condition (annamanna-paccaya). They condition one another reciprocally while they arise simultaneously. Since the realities involved condition one another mutually, each of them can be in turn conditioning dhamma (paccaya) and conditioned dhamma (paccayupanna dhamma). We read in the Visuddhimagga (XVII, 78):

A state that assists by means of mutual arousing and consolidating is a mutuality-condition, as three sticks of a tripod give each other consolidating support.

Three sticks which are leaning against each other at the upper ends mutually support one another. Evenso the realities involved in mutuality-condition condition one another reciprocally. There are three classes of phenomena to which this condition pertains.

As to the first class, the four namakkhandhas which condition one another by way of conascence, also condition one another by way of mutuality. They support and consolidate one another.

As to the second class, the four Great Elements which are related to one another by conascence-condition are also related to one another by way of mutuality-condition. Solidity, cohesion, temperature and motion which arise together condition one another reciprocally and give each other mutual support.

As to the third class, the patisandhi-citta with the accompanying cetasikas and the heart-base arising simultaneously condition one another by way of mutuality. As we have seen, at the moment of rebirth kamma conditions, apart from the group of rupas with the heart-base, two other groups, namely the group with the body-base and the group with sex. There is no relation of mutuality between the latter two groups and the patisandhi-citta.

The other classes of phenomena which are related by conascence are not related by mutuality. The rupa produced by citta is conditioned by that citta by way of conascence, but, as we have seen, there is no relation of mutuality. That rupa does not, in its turn, condition citta, it does not consolidate citta by way of mutuality-condition. The four Great Elements are conascent-condition for the derived rupas, but there is no relation of mutuality; the derived rupas do not consolidate the four Great Elements by way of mutuality-condition. Visible object or sound, which are derived rupas, cannot arise without the four Great Elements, but the four Great Elements are not dependant on these rupas. Thus we see that phenomena which are related by mutuality also are related by conascence, but that not all phenomena which are related by conascence are also related by mutuality.

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Footnotes and references:


See "Guide to Conditional Relations" Part I, p. 23, by U Narada.


There are twenty-eight types of rupa in all. Apart from the four great Elements there are twenty-four rupas which are the derived rupas. Among them are, for example, colour, odour, flavour, nutritive essence, the eye-base, the other sense-bases and the heart-base.


Vitakka cetasika arises with many cittas, but not with every citta. When it accompanies akusala citta it is wrong thinking and when it accompanies kusala citta it is right thinking. As a factor of the eightfold Path it is called "right thinking".


Rupa lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta. After its arising moment it lasts sixteen more moments, fifteen moments of its presence and then there is its dissolving moment.


Motion is not movement in the conventional sense; this rupa has the characteristic of motion or pressure. It is sometimes translated as oscillation or vibration. It causes distension, and this can be noticed, for example, when there is pressure of air in the stomach or abdomen.


The vatthus are during life for the cittas they condition a base-prenascence-dependence-condition, vatthu-purejata-nissaya-paccaya.


The element of cohesion cannot be experienced by touch.


The four Great Elements and in addition: colour, odour, flavour and nutritive essense. These eight are present in each group of rupas.


This rupa is present in all groups produced by kamma, not in groups produced by citta, temperature or nutrition. It only arises with rupas of the body, not with external materiality.


Rupas of the body are produced by four factors: by kamma, citta, nutrition and temperature.

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