Conditionality in the Abhidhamma and the Casual Relations of Everyday Life
The last book, and the most voluminous, of the Abdhidhamma Pitaka is called Patthāna, or the “Book of Casual Relations”. The title of this chapter is composed of the prefix “pa” which means “various” and “thāna” meaning “relation” or “condition (paccaya)”. It gets this name from the fact that it enumerates and explains the twenty-four modes of casual relations, as well as the triplets (tika) and couplets (duka) already mentioned in the first chapter of the Abdhidhamma entitled Dhammasangani, or the “Classification of Dhammas”.
The universal twenty-four modes of casual relations or conditions (paccaya) explains the many ways in which one conditioned phenomena is perpetuated, and dependent upon, another conditioned phenomena. These twenty-four modes of conditionality are:
1. Root condition: hetu paccaya
This condition is said to resemble the root of a tree. A tree rests upon its root, and it will remain alive so long as its root is not destroyed. In this way, all mental states, whether karmically advantageous and disadvantageous, are entirely dependent upon their respective roots. These include the six roots (mula) of greed (lobha), hate (dosa), confusions (moha), greedlessness (alobha), hatelessness (adosa), and non-confusion (amoha).
2. Object: ārammana
This is something which, as an object, forms the condition for consciousness and mental phenomena. The physical object of sight consisting of color and light-wave is the necessary condition for the arising of visual-consciousness (cakkhu-viññāna); sound waves for ear-consciousness (sotā-viññāna); any object arising in the mind (whether material or mental, past, present or future, real or imaginary, etc) is the condition for mind-consciousness (mano-viññāna); etc.
3. Predominance: adhipati
The predominance condition refers to four things which are predominant dependent upon contemplation and the mental phenomena associated with them, namely: concentrated intention (chanda), energy (viriya), consciousness (citta), and investigation (vīmamsā). In the same state of consciousness, however, only one of these four phenomena can be predominant at a time. Whenever such phenomena as consciousness and mental properties are arising by giving contemplation to one of these four things, then this phenomenon is for the other phenomena a condition by way of predominance.
4. Proximity: anantara
5. Contiguity: samanantara
These two conditions are pretty much almost identical, for they refer to any state of consciousness and mental phenomena associated with them, which are the conditions for the immediately following stage in the process of consciousness. For example, in the visual process, visual-consciousness is immediately followed by a certain mind-element performing the function of receiving the visible object – a condition by way of contiguity; and so is this mind-element for the next following mind-consciousness element, performing the function of investigating the object, etc.
6. Co-nascence: sahajāta
This is the condition by way of simultaneous arising. This is a phenomena for which another forms – a condition in such a way that, simultaneously with its arising, another phenomena must arise. For example, in the same moment one of the four mental groups of feeling, perception, mental constructions and consciousness arises there also arises for the three other groups a condition by way of co-nascence or co-arising; or again each of the four physical elements solid, liquid, heat, motion is such a condition for the other three elements.
7. Mutuality: aññamañña
All the previously mentioned associated and co-nascent mental phenomena (as well as the four physical elements) are, of course, at the same time also conditioned by way of mutuality. This has been likened to sticks propped up upon one another.
8. Support: nissaya
This condition refers either to a pre-nascent or co-nascent phenomenon which is aiding other phenomena in the manner of a foundation or base, just as the trees have the earth as their foundation, or as the oil-painting rests on the canvas. In this way, the five sense-organs and the physical base of the mind are for the corresponding six kinds of consciousness a pre-nascent – that is, previously arisen, condition by way of support.
a.) Anything past, present or future, material or mental, real or imaginary, may, as object of our thinking, become a decisive support, or strong inducement, to moral, immoral or karmically neutral states of mind. Unskillful things, by incorrect thinking, become an inducement for an immoral life; by right thinking, an inducement for a moral life. However, skillful things may be an inducement not only to similarly skillful things, but also to unskillful things, such as self-conceit, vanity, envy, etc.
b.) This is identical with the proximity condition of anantara.
c.) Faith, virtue, etc., produced in one’s own mind, or the influence of climate, food, etc., on one’s body and mind, may act as natural and decisive support-conditions. Faith may be a direct and natural inducement to charity, virtue to mental training, etc.; greed to theft, hate to murder; unsuitable food and climate to ill-health; friends to spiritual progress or deterioration.
10. Pre-nascene: purejāta
This condition refers to something that has previously arisen, which forms a base for something arising later on. For example, the five physical sense-organs and the physical base of mind, having already arisen at the time of birth, form the condition for the consciousness arising later, and for the mental phenomena associated with it.
11. Post-nascene: pacchājāta
This refers to consciousness and the phenomena associated with it, because they are – just as is the feeling of hunger- a necessary condition for the preservation of this already arisen body.
12. Repetition: āsevana
The condition of repetition refers to the karmic consciousness, in which each time the preceding impulse moments (javana-citta) are for all the succeeding ones a condition by way of repetition and frequency, just as in learning by heart and through constant repetition – the later recitation of which becomes gradually easier and easier.
13. Karma: kamma
The pre-natal karma or karmic intentions (kamma-cetanā) in a previous birth is the generating condition of the five sense-organs, the fivefold sense-consciousness, and the other karma-produced mental and material phenomena in a later birth. Karmic intention is also a condition by way of karma for the co-nascent mental phenomena associated with it, but these phenomena are in no way considered to be karma-results.
14. Karma-result: vipāka
The five kinds of karma-resultant sense-consciousness are a condition by way of karma-result for the co-nascent mental and material phenomena.
15. Nutriment: āhāra
In this sense, this condition is the “foundation” or sustaining condition, relating to the four kinds of nutriment, which are material and mental:
a.) Material food (kabalinkārāhāra)
b.) Sensorial and mental contact (phassa)
c.) Mental intention (mano-sañcetanā)
d.) Consciousness (viññāna)
16. Ability: indriya
This condition applies to twenty abilities (indriya). Of these twenty abilities, the five physical sense-organs – in their capacity as abilities, form a condition only for immaterial phenomena (visual-consciousness etc.), physical vitality and all the remaining abilities, for the co-nascent mental and material phenomena.
17. Absorption: jhāna
This condition is a named for the seven jhāna-factors, as these form a condition to the co-nascent mental and material phenomena. This condition does not only apply to jhāna alone, but also to the general intensifying ‘absorbing’ impact of these seven factors. These factors are:
a.) Thought-conception (vitakka)
b.) Discursive thinking (vicāra)
c.) Interest (pīti)
d.) Rapture and joy (sukha)
e.) Grief, sadness, etc. (domanassa)
f.) Equanimity (upekkhā)
g.) Concentration (samādhi)
18. Path: magga
This condition refers to the twelve path-factors, and the karmically advantageous and disadvantageous mental phenomena associated with them, as a way of escape from this or that mental constitution, namely:
a.) Knowledge (paññā or sammāditthi – right understanding)
b.) Right or wrong thought-conception (vitakka)
c.) Right speech (sammā-vācā)
d.) Right bodily action (sammā-kammanta)
e.) Right livelihood (sammā-ājīva)
f.) Right or wrong energy (viriya)
g.) Right or wrong awareness/mindfulness (sati)
h.) Right or wrong concentration (samādhi)
i.) Wrong views (micchāditthi)
j.) Wrong speech (micchā-vācā)
k.) Wrong bodily action (micchā-kammanta)
l.) Wrong livelihood (micchā-ājīva)
19. Associaton: sampayutta
This refers to the co-nascent and mutually conditioned four mental groups (khandha) as they aid each other by their being associated, by having a common physical base, a common object, and by their arising and disappearing simultaneously.
20. Dissociation: vippayutta
This condition refers to such phenomena as an aid to other phenomena by not having the same physical base and objects. Thus material phenomena are for mental phenomena, and conversely, a condition by way of dissociation, whether co-nascent or not.
21. Presence: atthi
This refers to a phenomenon – being pre-nascent or co-nascent – which through its presence is a condition for other phenomena.
22. Absence: natthi
23. Disappearance: vigata
These two conditions are almost identical. For an example, this can refer to a consciousness which has just passed, thus forming the necessary condition for the immediately following stage of consciousness by giving it an opportunity to arise.
24. Non-disappearance: avigata
This is similar to the atthi condition, in that this refers to a phenomenon which through its non-disappearing is a condition for other phenomena.