Phenomena can condition other phenomena by way of conascence (sahajata-paccaya), by way of prenascence (purejata-paccaya) or by way of postnascence (pacchajata-paccaya). In the case of conascence-condition, a conditioning phenomenon (paccaya dhamma) arises together with the phenomenon it conditions (paccayupanna dhamma). In the case of prenascence-condition, a phenomenon has arisen prior to the phenomenon it conditions. In the case of postnascence-condition, a phenomenon conditions another phenomenon which has arisen prior to itself and has not fallen away yet.
As to prenascence-condition, purejata-paccaya, this is twofold: base-prenascence-condition and object-prenascence-condition.
The rupas which are bases (vatthus) condition the cittas which are dependent on them by way of prenascence, purejata-paccaya. As we have seen (in Ch 6), the rupas which are the sense-bases condition the cittas which are dependent on those bases by way of dependence-condition, nissaya-paccaya. These realities, the rupas which are bases and the cittas which are dependent on them, are the same as the realities involved in base-prenascence-dependence-condition. However, they are treated separately under prenascence-condition with the purpose of showing that the conditioning realities have arisen prior to the conditioned realities.
Seeing arises at the eye-base (cakkhu-vatthu). This rupa which is the eyesense (cakkhu pasada-rupa) and which has the capacity to receive visible object, is produced by kamma. Rupa cannot function as base at its arising moment, since it is then too weak. It can only function as base after its arising moment, thus at the time when it is present. It cannot be base either at its dissolution moment. Rupa lasts longer than citta. When we compare its duration with the duration of citta, rupa lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta. Thus, the rupa which can function as eye-base has to arise before seeing-consciousness, and when seeing-consciousness arises it is still present. Kamma keeps on producing this rupa throughout our life, also when there is no seeing. It produces all the rupas which can function as base throughout life, there never is any lack of them.
The eye-base (cakkhu-vatthu) is base only for seeing-consciousness, it is not base for the other cittas arising in the eye-door process; these have the heart-base (hadaya-vatthu) as their base. The ear-base conditions hearing-consciousness after having previously arisen, thus, it conditions it by way of prenascence-condition. The other sense-bases also condition the cittas which are dependent on them after having previously arisen, thus by way of prenascence-condition. We read in the "Patthana" (II, Analytical Exposition of the Conditions, 10, Prenascence-Condition):
Eye-base is related to eye-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
Ear-base is related to ear-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
Nose-base is related to nose-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
Tongue-base is related to tongue-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
Body-base is related to body-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
It seems that seeing, hearing or thinking occur all at the same time, but they arise at different moments, they are dependent on different bases and they experience different objects. When we study the manifold conditions for the realities which arise it will be clearer that there is no self who coordinates all the different experiences. The above quoted text reminds us that seeing, hearing and the other sense-cognitions are only elements, not self. If there can be mindfulness of one reality at a time we will see that visible object, sound and the other sense objects are different from each other. It will be clearer that eyesense is different from earsense and the other senses. As right understanding develops we will be less inclined to confuse the different realities and to take them for a "whole", for a person.
The heart-base is the base for all the cittas other than the five pairs of sense-cognitions (seeing, hearing, etc., which are either kusala vipaka or akusala vipaka), and it conditions them by way of prenascence-condition. It is only at the moment of rebirth that the heart-base conditions the patisandhi-citta by way of conascence-condition, sahajata paccaya. At that moment kamma produces the patisandhi-citta and the heart-base simultaneously. We read in the "Patthana" (same section as the above quoted text, XII) where the heart-base is referred to as "this matter":
Depending on this matter, mind-element and mind-consciousness- element arise; that matter is related to mind-element and its associated states by prenascence-condition; is sometimes related to mind-consciousness-element and its associated states by prenascence-condition, and is sometimes not related by prenascence-condition.
Mind-element, mano-dhatu, includes the pancadvaravajjana-citta, five-door adverting-consciousness, and the two types of sampaticchana-citta, receiving-consciousness, which are kusala vipaka and akusala vipaka. Mind-consciousness-element, mano-vinnana-dhatu, includes the cittas other than the dvi-panca-vinnanas (two pairs of sense-cognitions) and the cittas classified as mind-element. Thus, the mind-consciousness element which is not conditioned by heart-base by way of prenascence, as referred to in the text, is the patisandhi-citta. This citta is conditioned by heart-base by way of conascence.
It is of no use to speculate where the heart-base is, but we should know that cittas do not arise outside the body. In the planes of existence where there are five khandhas, namely nama and rupa, each citta needs a physical base or place of origin, and these are the five sense-bases and the heart-base. This reminds us of the interdependence of nama and rupa from birth to death.
As regards object-prenascence-condition, arammana-purejata-paccaya, this refers to rupa which can be object of citta. Since rupa is weak at its arising moment, it can only be experienced by citta during the moments of its presence. Thus, rupa which is object of citta has arisen previously to that citta; it conditions that citta by way of prenascence. Visible object which impinges on the eyesense is not experienced immediately; there are first bhavanga-cittas, and then the eye-door adverting-consciousness arises which is the first citta of the eye-door process which experiences visible object. This citta arises at the heart-base which has previously arisen and which conditions the citta by way of base-prenascence-condition. It is succeeded by seeing-consciousness which arises at the eye-base and then by other cittas of the eye-door process which arise at the heart-base. Both base and sense object condition the cittas by way of prenascence. It is the same for the cittas which experience sense objects through the other sense-doors]. We read in the "Patthana" (Analytical Exposition, same section as quoted above) about the object-prenascence-condition. Visible object is here referred to as "visible object-base", and the same for the other sense objects. The text states:
Visible object-base is related to eye-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
Sound-base is related to ear-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condiiton.
Odour-base is related to nose-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
Taste-base is related to tongue-consciousness element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
Tangible object-base is related to body-consciousness element and its associaed states by prenascence-condition.
Visible object-base, sound-base, odour-base, taste-base, tangible object-base is related to mind-element and its associated states by prenascence-condition.
By the development of satipatthana we can prove that our life consists of nama and rupa arising because of conditions. nama experiences an object and rupa does not know anything. When seeing appears there can be awareness of its characteristic so that it can be understood as a reality, an element which experiences visible object through the eye-door. When there is awareness of the reality which appears through the eye-door, it can be understood as an element which does not know anything, which does not see, feel or remember. There are realities appearing through the six doors time and again and when right understanding develops nama can be known as nama and rupa as rupa, and in this way their different characteristics will be distinguished. When we are eating there is flavour and tasting, when we touch something there is tangible object and body-consciousness. When these realities appear and there is awareness of them there is no need to think of sense-bases, sense objects or any other terms we have learnt from the texts. When there is awareness of the characteristic of one reality at a time we will be able to verify the truth that all phenomena which appear are dhammas devoid of self.
We read in the "Kindred Sayings" (IV, Salayatana-vagga, part I, First Fifty, §1):
Thus have I heard: - The Exalted One was once staying near Savatthi, at Jeta Grove, in Anathapindika's park. Then the Exalted One addressed the monks, saying: - "Monks."
"Lord," responded those monks to the Exalted One.
The Exalted One spoke thus: - "The eye, monks, is impermanent. What is impermanent, that is dukkha. What is dukkha, that is void of the self. What is void of the self, that is not mine; I am not it; it is not my self. That is how it is to be regarded with perfect insight of what it really is.
The ear... the nose... the tongue... the body... the mind is impermanent. What is impermanent, that is dukkha. What is dukkha, that is void of the self. What is void of the self, that is not mine; I am not it; it is not my self. That is how it is to be regarded with perfect insight of what it really is. So seeing, monks, the well-taught ariyan disciple is repelled by eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Being repelled by them, he lusts not for them. Not lusting, he is set free. In this freedom comes insight of being free. Thus he realizes: - "Rebirth is destroyed, lived is the righteous life, done is the task, for life in these conditions there is no hereafter."
We read in the same section (§4):
Visible objects, sounds, scents, savours, things tangible... mind-states (dhammas) are impermanent... what is impermanent, that is dukkha. What is dukkha, that is void of the self. What is void of the self, that is not mine; I am not it; it is not my self. That is how it is to be regarded with perfect insight of what it really is.
So seeing, monks, the well-taught ariyan disciple is repelled by visible objects, by sounds, scents, savours, things tangible. He is repelled by mind-states. Being repelled by them, he lusts not for them. Not lusting, he is set free. In this freedom comes insight of being free. Thus he realizes: "Rebirth is destroyed. Lived is the righteous life, done is the task, for life in these conditions there is no hereafter."
Clinging to the belief that persons and things exist and that we can own them causes a great deal of suffering. The "worldly conditions" of gain and loss, honour and dishonour, praise and blame, well-being and misery change all the time. Loss, sickness and death can occur quite suddenly; they are beyond control, but we tend to forget the truth. We cannot expect immediately to have less clinging to people and things. Even the sotapanna, the person who has attained the first stage of enlightenment and who has no more wrong view of self, still has attachment and sadness. Only the arahat has eradicated all kinds of clinging. However, when we read the Tipitaka we can appreciate the numerous reminders of the fact that there is no person, only different elements which are devoid of self. These texts remind us of the truth and they can give us confidence to begin to develop the path in order to see the realities of our life as elements which arise because of their appropriate conditions and are beyond control.
As to postnascence-condition, pacchajata-paccaya, citta and its accompanying cetasikas support the rupas of the body which have arisen previously and have not fallen away yet. Thus, in this way citta conditions these rupas by way of postnascence-condition. Citta does not cause the arising of the rupas it conditions by way of postnascence, these rupas have arisen already prior to the citta; it supports and consolidates these rupas which are still present, since rupa lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta.
Citta is postnascence-condition for the previously arisen rupas of the body which have been produced by the four factors of kamma, citta, temperature and nutrition and which have not fallen away yet. Citta supports and consolidates these rupas. The patisandhi-citta cannot be postnascence-condition, since there is no previously arisen rupa at the first moment of life. At the first moment of life kamma produces rupas simultaneously with the patisandhi-citta, but after that, throughout our life, citta is postnascence-condition for the previously arisen rupas of the body. The five pairs of sense-cognitions do not produce rupa, but they condition the previously arisen rupas of the body by way of postnascence, they consolidate these. The arupavara vipakacittas which arise in the arupa-brahma planes cannot be postnascence-condition, since there is no rupa in those planes.
In the case of base and object which are prenascence-condition, rupa conditions nama, whereas in the case of postnascence-condition nama conditions rupa. The teaching of prenascence-condition, purejata-paccaya, conascence-condition, sahajata-paccaya, and postnascence-condition, pacchajata-paccaya, reminds us of the intricacy of the relationship between different phenomena. Seeing, for example, is the result of kamma and it is dependent on the previously arisen eye-base which is also produced by kamma. Seeing experiences visible object which has previously arisen but which does not last longer than seventeen moments of citta. There is no self who could arrange for seeing to find its proper base; the eye-base has previously arisen and is already there when seeing arises. There is no self who could fetch visible object at the right moment so that seeing can see it and the other cittas of the eye-door process can also experience it, before it falls away. Visible object arises together in a group of rupas including the four Great Elements and these condition it by way of dependence-condition, nissaya-paccaya, and by conascence-condition, sahajata-paccaya, but seeing does not experience the other rupas which arise together with visible object; it only sees visible object, that is, what appears through eyesense. Several conditions coincide and this makes it possible for seeing to arise at the eye-base and to see visible object. We take the experiences which occur time and again in our daily life for granted, but they all are dependent on several conditions, they are interrelated in different ways. Cittas and the rupas of the body are interrelated, they need one another. Seeing and the other cittas support and consolidate the rupas of the body which have already arisen, they condition them by way of postnascence. The different conditions for the phenomena of our life are operating right at this moment.
Shortly before death kamma does not produce the heart-base anymore. The cittas arising shortly before death are depending on one last heart-base and this ceases with the ceasing of the dying-consciousness. When there is the simultaneous arising of the heart-base and citta there is birth and when there is the simultaneous ceasing of the heart-base and citta there is death. The dying-consciousness produces rupa (except in the case of the arahat) and this lasts only seventeen moments of citta. At death, also nutrition ceases to produce rupa and only temperature, which produces rupas both in the body and in dead matter, keeps on producing rupas of the corpse that is left. All this reminds us of the frailty of life which consists of only nama and rupa depending on conditions.
Footnotes and references:
See Appendix 1 where it is explained that a sense object which is rupa and which is experienced by several cittas arising in a sense-door process lasts as long as seventeen moments of citta. When we are more precise, we can divide one moment of citta into three extremely short periods: its arising moment (uppada khana), the moment of its presence (titthi khana) and its dissolution moment (bhanga khana). When we take these three periods of citta into consideration, the duration of rupa is, compared to the duration of citta, three times seventeen, thus, fifty-one moments. Rupa has after its arising moment forty-nine moments of presence and then there is its dissolution moment.
The associated dhammas are the accompanying cetasikas.
See Ch 5.
Life-continuum. The bhavanga-cittas experience the same object as the patisandhi-citta. They do not experience the objects which impinge time and again on the six doors.
Rupa does not condition nama by way of prenascence-condition in the four arupa-brahma planes since there is no rupa in those planes. Birth in the arupa-brahma planes is the result of arupa-jhana. Those who see the disadvantage of rupa cultivate arupa-jhana. Neither does prenascence-condition occur in the asanna-satta plane, the plane of non-percipient beings, where there is no nama. Birth in that plane is the result of rupa-jhana.
The cittas which produce rupa condition their arising by way of conascence-condition and dependence-condition, see Ch 5 and 6. As explained, the five sense-cognitions of seeing, hearing, etc., do not produce rupas, but they consolidate the rupas which have been produced before by one of the four factors.
These cittas are the results of arupa-jhana and they perform the function of rebirth and of bhavanga.