Ekottarikāgama 21.3

The Conditions for Conception

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in Śrāvastī, at Jetṛ’s Grove, in Anāthapiṇḍada’s Park. Then the Exalted One said to the monks:

“There are three conditions for consciousness to enter a womb. Which are the three? Now there are, O monks, (a) the mother wishing to have sexual intercourse, (b) the mother and the father coming together in one place and spending the night together. However, (c) it is not the occasion for consciousness ‘from outside’ to be instrumental in bringing about rebirth, and consequently an embryo cannot develop.

“Moreover, even if there is (a) lust and (b) consciousness from outside presenting itself, and (c) the mother and father come together in one place, an embryo cannot develop if:

  • there is no union of the father and mother,
  • the mother does not wish to have sexual intercourse,
  • the father is keen on having sexual intercourse but the mother is listless,
  • the mother is burning with lust while the father is listless,
  • the father is wanting sexual intercourse but the mother is frigid ,
  • the mother is wanting in sexual desire and the father is icy,
  • the father very much suffers from dropsy while the mother does not,
  • the father is looking forward to having offspring while the mother does not,
  • the mother is looking forward to having offspring while the father does not,
  • neither the mother nor the father is looking to having offspring.

An embryo cannot develop also even if consciousness-spirit is coming into the womb if:

  • the father is not ready to have sex at that time,
  • the mother draws back from having sex at that time,
  • the father meets with a serious accident,
  • the mother meets with a serious accident,
  • both mother and father are taken ill.

If, however, (a) the mother and father have sexual intercourse, (b) both of them are in not afflicted in any of the ways mentioned above and if (c) in the presence of consciousness-genius the parents are looking forward to having a child then an embryo can develop.

“These are the three conditions, monks, for consciousness to enter a womb. On account of that, monks, all those who wish to overcome Saṃsāra ought to search for skill in means to make the three conditions end.”

After listening to the Buddha’s words, the monks were pleased and respectfully applied themselves to practice.