Abhidhamma in Daily life
DIFFERENT TYPES OF PATISANDHI-CITTA
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:
1. 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)
2. 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
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:
1. Santirana-citta which is akusala vipaka, accompanied
by upekkha (indifferent feeling)
2. Santirana-citta which is kusala vipaka, accompanied
3. 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
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
1. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wisdom,
unprompted (Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-
sampayuttam, asankharikam ekam)
[Nana is wisdom (panna)]
2. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, with wisdom,
prompted (Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-
sampayuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
3. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wisdom,
payuttam, asankharikam ekam)
4. Accompanied by pleasant feeling, without wisdom,
prompted (Somanassa-sahagatam, nana-vip-
payuttam, sasankharikam ekam)
5. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wisdom,
unprompted (Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-sam-
payuttam, asankharikam ekam)
6. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, with wisdom,
tam, sasankharikam ekam)
7. Accompanied by indifferent feeling, without wisdom,
unprompted (Upekkha-sahagatam, nana-vippayut-
tam, asarikharikam ekam)
8. 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
1 kusala vipaka santirana-citta (ahetuka, result of
kamavacara kusala kamma)
8 maha-vipakacittas (sahetuka, results of kamavacara
5 rupavacara vipakacittas (sahetuka, results of
4 arupavacara vipakacittas (sahetuka, results of
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
'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
'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.'
1. Can the patisandhi-citta
2. How many types of patisandhi-citta
3. How many types of patisandhi-citta
are akusala vipaka?
4. When the patisandhi-citta
is accompanied by wisdom by which factor is this