The First Citta in Life - What is it actually that is born?

Time and again there are cittas arising which experience different objects through the senses and through the mind-door. There are seeing or hearing, there are cittas with attachment to what is seen or heard. These cittas arise because of different conditions. We may wonder whether they also have different functions. Seeing and the citta with attachment to visible object do not arise at the same time, they are different and they perform different functions. We will understand more about cittas if we know in what order they arise and which function they Perform. Each citta has its own function (in Pāli: kicca). There are fourteen functions of citta in all.


The citta arising at the first moment of life must also have a function. What is

birth, and what is it actually that is born? We speak about the birth of a

child, but in fact, there are only nāma and rūpa which are born. The word

'birth' is a conventional term. We should consider what birth really is. Nāma

and rūpa arise and fall away all the time and thus there is birth and death of

nāma and rūpa all the time. In order to understand what causes birth we

should know what conditions the nāma and rūpa which arise at the first

moment of a new lifespan.


What arises first at the beginning of our life, nāma or rūpa? At any moment

of our life there have to be both nāma and rūpa. In the planes of existence

where there are five khandhas (four nāmakkhandhas and one rūpakkhandha),

nāma cannot arise without rūpa; citta cannot arise without the body. What is

true for any moment of our life is also true for the first moment of our life. At

the first moment of our life nāma and rūpa have to arise at the same time.

The citta which arises at that moment is called the rebirth-consciousness

or patisandhi-citta. Since there isn't any citta which arises without

conditions,  the patisandhi-citta must also have conditions. The patisandhi-

citta is the first citta of a new life and thus its cause can only be in the past.

One may have doubts about past lives, but how can people be so different if

there were not past lives? We can see that people are born with different

accumulations. Can we explain the character of a child by the parents? What

we mean by 'character' is actually nāma. Could parents transfer to another

being nāma which falls away as soon as it has arisen? There must be other

factors which are the condition for a child's character. Cittas which arise and

fall away succeed one another and thus each citta conditions the next one.

The last citta of the previous life (dying-consciousness) was succeeded by the

first citta of this life. That is why tendencies one had in the past can continue

by way of accumulation from one citta to the next one and from past lives to

the present life. Since people accumulated different tendencies in past lives

they are born with different tendencies and inclinations. 

Topic 183