The First Citta in Life - Neither absolute identity nor absolute otherness
The patisandhi-citta performs the function of rebirth or relinking. It ''links'' the past to the present. Since only the first citta of a lifespan performs the function of rebirth there is only one patisandhi-citta in a life. There is no self who transmigrates from one life to the next life; there are only nāma and rūpa arising and falling away. The present life is different from the past life but there is continuity in so far as the present life is conditioned by the past. Since the patisandhi-citta succeeds the cuti-citta of the previous life, the accumulated tendencies of past lives go on to the patisandhi-citta. Thus, inclinations one has in the present life are conditioned by the past.

 

The patisandhi-citta is the result of a previous good deed or bad deed

committed in the past. The object the patisandhi-citta experiences is, as we

have seen, the same as the object experienced by the last akusala cittas or

kusala cittas which arose before the cuti-citta of the previous life.

 

The Visuddhimagga (XVII, 164-168) explains by way of similes that although

the present is different from the past there is continuity. The being who is

born is not the same as the being of the past life, but it is conditioned by the

past. There is ''neither absolute identity nor absolute otherness'', as the

Visuddhimagga explains. We read with regard to the patisandhi-citta:

 

An echo, or its like, supplies

The figures here; connectedness

By continuity denies

Identity and otherness.

 

And here let the illustration of this consciousness be such things as an echo,

a light, a seal impression, a looking glass image,

for the fact of its not coming here from the previous becoming

and for the fact that it arises owing to causes

that are included in past becomings.

For just as an echo, a light, a seal impression, and a shadow,

have respectively sound, etc.,

as their cause and come into being without going elsewhere,

so also this consciousness.

 

And with the stream of continuity there is neither identity nor otherness.

For if there were absolute identity in a stream of continuity,

there would be no forming of curd from milk.

And yet if there were absolute otherness,

the curd would not be derived from milk.

And so too with all causally arisen things...

So neither absolute identity nor absolute otherness should be assumed here.

Topic ID  183
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