“Ananda! What is meant by ‘Upon the condition of vijñāna (consciousness), name and form (nāmarūpa) become’? If the vijnana does not enter the mother’s womb, would there be name and form?”
Ananda replied, “No.”
“If the vijñāna enters the womb without being born, would there be name and form?”
Ananda answered, “No!”
“If the vijñāna leaves the womb and the fetus decays, would name and form grow?”
Ananda answered, “No!”
“Ananda! Would there be name and form without vijñāna?”
Ananda replied, “No!”
“Ananda! On the basis of these conditions, I know that name and form originate from vijñāna, that vijñāna conditions name and form. This is the principle of what I say.”
Excerpts From Nirvana, Vol. 1
Venerable Xiao Pingshi
From the sutra teachings, we can conclude that other than the seven vijñāna (consciousnesses) in the name, there is also another vijñāna , which the World-Honored One called “that vijñāna” in the Agama Sutra to differentiate it from the seven vijñāna-self of sentient beings. He also distinctly pointed out that name and form cannot be born without “that vijñāna” entering and dwelling in the mother’s womb, and it must dwell in the womb for a full term to enable the name and form to fully mature and then be born.
By the same token, for the observation and contemplation of the Ten Links of Dependent Arising, Buddhist practitioners require prior elimination of their ignorance (avidyā), their lack of awareness that name and form must have “that vijñāna” as the (root) cause and must then rely on the parents as conditions to be born. If a practitioner does not eliminate this ignorance (avidyā) and does not believe that there indeed exists an eighth vijñāna that can give rise to name and form, even if he has fully contemplated that the five aggregates and eighteen elements are impermanent, empty, selfless, and cause suffering, or even if he has achieved the access concentration (C: Wèi dào de dìng; 未到地定), it is still impossible for him to eliminate self-view (C:Wǒ jiàn; 我見) or the three fetters (C: Sān fù jié;三縛結). The practitioner then cannot possibly attain the First Fruition, let alone the solitary-realizer Fruition. Then the notion of realizing nirvana would be merely wishful thinking.
Nirvana, Vol.1, p.355