Message Boards Message Boards

Miscellaneous

Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’

Threads [ Previous | Next ]
Toggle
Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 6/5/16 7:27 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Eric B 6/5/16 8:10 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 6/5/16 7:28 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Bhante Rakkhita Samanera 3/20/20 8:20 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/21/20 6:35 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Bhante Rakkhita Samanera 3/21/20 8:07 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/21/20 8:19 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Bhante Rakkhita Samanera 3/21/20 9:22 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/25/20 9:51 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Bhante Rakkhita Samanera 4/4/20 9:55 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 4/5/20 1:51 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Bhante Rakkhita Samanera 4/6/20 9:17 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ agnostic 4/5/20 4:44 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 4/5/20 8:20 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Chris Marti 4/5/20 7:50 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 4/5/20 7:56 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Chris Marti 4/5/20 8:26 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ T 4/5/20 8:49 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Chris Marti 4/5/20 8:58 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 4/5/20 3:24 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Chris Marti 4/5/20 4:47 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ agnostic 4/5/20 8:53 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 4/6/20 1:37 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 4/6/20 2:40 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ T 4/6/20 6:57 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 4/6/20 7:37 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ T 4/6/20 7:42 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ agnostic 4/6/20 9:45 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Bhante Rakkhita Samanera 3/21/20 11:29 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ terry 3/21/20 11:55 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/23/20 4:44 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ terry 3/23/20 2:35 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ curious 3/24/20 12:13 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/24/20 8:36 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ curious 3/25/20 12:53 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Chris Marti 3/25/20 6:55 AM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/25/20 8:24 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/25/20 8:15 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ curious 3/25/20 8:58 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ terry 3/24/20 12:18 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ Nicky 3/24/20 12:36 PM
RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’ terry 3/24/20 2:07 PM
Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
6/5/16 7:27 PM
Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
 
The term ‘nama-rupa’ is a pre-Buddhist Brahmanistic and ‘creationist’  term (from the Chandogya Upanishad of the Samaveda), which refers to the process of evolution of differentiation into names and forms i.e. to the unfolding of the undifferentiated primal state into the manifest world, prior to which there was nothing that existed (Wikipedia: Namarupa-vyakarana). 
 
This Brahmanistic principle is also found in the Biblical Book of Genesis, where in the beginning  the earth was formless and desolate and God subsequently created and differentiated the world by naming, such as “day”, “night”, “sky”, “earth”, “sea”, etc.
 
In his enlightenment, the Buddha discovered this ‘naming’ activity to be irrelevant to the core matter of ending suffering since the Buddha discovered Nibbana is the cessation of craving (rather than the cessation of naming, perception or conceptualising per se). 
 
Therefore, in the Pali suttas, the non-Brahmanistic stock definition of nama-rupa is:
 
Feeling, perception, volition, contact and attention — these are called mentality (nama). The four great elements and the material form derived from the four great elements — these are called materiality (rupa).
  
That said, in the Pali scriptures, there are a number of passages about ‘nama-rupa’ that appear to retain the Brahmanistic or pre-Buddhist context.
 
A salient feature of the Pali scriptures is the Buddha did not teach his Dhamma to all people and, generally, when speaking to Brahmans, the Buddha taught something in accord, albeit an improvement to, their existing religious beliefs.

More obviously, since such Brahmans were not learned in the teachings of the Buddha, when the Buddha used the term ‘nama-rupa’ when speaking to them, obviously, ‘nama-rupa’ meant what was comprehensible to the Brahmans.
 
For example, the Kevatta Sutta and the Brahmanimantanika Sutta both share a similar theme, namely, they are about adventures with Brahma gods and are quite adversarial or humiliating towards Brahmanism (thus it is unlikely they were actually spoken by the Buddha but are likely to be some later-day anti-Brahman propaganda). At the end of each sutta, no listener attains enlightenment thus the teachings found within are not teaching about Buddhist enlightenment.

In both suttas is found the following verse:
 
Consciousness without feature,
without end,
luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire & wind
have no footing.
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
name & form
are all brought to an end.
 
The verse above obviously shows ‘name-form’ retains its Brahmanistic meanings for the following reasons:

1. In the stock suttas, ‘rupa’ is defined as the four great elements of earth, wind, fire & water.

2. In the Kevatta Sutta, it is made explicitly clear the four great elements do not cease without remainder (i.e., vanish). Instead, they can have ‘no footing’ in luminous consciousness.  

3. Yet, the verse above states, in contradiction, that: “name & form are all brought to an end” or ‘stop’, which means earth, wind, fire & water are brought to an end.  

Therefore, it appears the Buddha here was possibly attempting to guide these Brahmans into a state of samadhi where they abandon their creationist fixation with 'nama-rupa'.
 
Similarly, in the Jata Sutta, the brahman Jata Bharadvaja went to the Buddha for advice, from which the Buddha provided the final answer:
 
Where name-&-form...
totally stop without trace:
that's where the tangle
is cut.
 
At the end of the Sutta, Jata Bharadvaja seeks admission as a monk (but does not immediately attain enlightenment) however at a later time attains enlightenment.
 
Again, the above verse is contrary to Buddhist principles, such as the interdependence of consciousness & nama-rupa (SN 12.67) and the interdependence consciousness and wisdom (MN 43). In other words, nama-rupa, in the Buddhist context, cannot cease for enlightenment to occur since enlightenment wisdom is dependent upon consciousness and consciousness is dependent upon nama-rupa.
 
At SN 12.63, it is made explicitly clear when: “mind and body (nama & rupa) are comprehended, there is, no further work left to do for the noble disciple”. In other words, contrary to the Kevatta Sutta, Brahmanimantanika Sutta & Jata Sutta, SN 12.63 does not state when nama-rupa ceases there is no further work to do.
 
Here, it is important to distinguish between the Pali words ‘nirujjahati’ and ‘uparujjhati’ (found in the Brahman suttas above) and the Pali word ‘nirodha’ found in Dependent Origination. ‘Nirujjahati and ‘uparujjhati’ means to ‘vanish’, ‘end’, ‘stop’ or even ‘annihilate’. Where as ‘nirodha’, whilst often translated as ‘cessation’, actually means ‘non-confinement’, having the sense of ‘liberation’. ‘Quench’ has been suggested as a more fitting translation.
 
Thus, as explain in SN 22.53, when ignorance and craving 'nirodha', consciousness, nama-rupa, sense organs, contact and feelings do not cease to be or cease to operate. Instead, they are liberated from ignorance, craving and bondage.
 
It is made explicitly clear in numerous suttas (such as MN 38 or Iti 44) that the arahant remains consciousness, and thus retains nama-rupa, in the state of enlightenment.
 
In conclusion, it appears quite obvious the verses spoken to Brahmans about the ending or stopping of nama-rupa use the term ‘nama-rupa’ in a Brahmanistic context. This accords to the salient teaching and social style of the Buddha of not teaching Buddha-Dhamma to all listeners. Also, the Brahman listeners were not familiar with the Buddhist meaning of nama-rupa and could have only understood it in their own context. Here, the Buddha is obviously encouraging the Brahmanist pre-occupation with ‘creationism’ should come to an end.  


emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
6/5/16 8:10 AM as a reply to Nicky.
A great read.  Thanks!
Eric

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
6/5/16 7:28 PM as a reply to Eric B.
Thanks for the feedback, Eric. 

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/20/20 8:20 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Greetings Nicky,

  Your post was very welcome and addresses an issue I have been having difficulties with. Please allow me to explain. Nāma Rupa, the term has been a key, core part of both my practice and theory for as long as I have practiced. I was raised in Vipassana noting tradition, descended down from Mahasi. The defining of the Five Aggregates as Rupa plus four immaterial factors called, collectively Nāma, has been a stable clear part of all my practice. The awareness of the difference between Nāma and Rupa, the first part of the stages of Insight is therefore based on this. Distinguishing between Mind and Matter.
  Now. Since a few years back, when reading either Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi translated texts, or Access to Insight Ajahn Thannissaro translations the term 'Name and Form' kept appearing. This angered and frustrated me immeditately and seemed to show a lack of comprehension. The simple idea of collectively calling 'Feelings-Perceptions-Mind States- Sense-Awareness' as 'Name' seems absurd. So this stewed away and I didn't really address it, other than some quarrels with a student who refused to change his use of Name and Forn which he had read.
 Lately I have been audio recording suttas and therefore have stumbled up against the issue once again. This time it is with Sutta Central, Ven Sujato Bhikkhu. Now, on his website there are chat discussion forums and the issue of the term Nāma Rupa came up. It is 127 entries long. Ven Sujato goes far and wide in his explanation and justification of using Name and Form. He seems to pull the issue into areas such as the original spirit, aboriginal mind and recommends people to go and read The Golden Bough and understand early use of names in pre-rational society, and the anthrology of magic in order to understand the early Buddhist use of the term.
 As Ven Sujato has a stance of being anti-Mahasi Sayadaw practice, anti-'Abhidhamma' [which he seems to blame for the introduction of the use of Nāma-Rupa as I understand it - collective noun for the immaterial four aggregates ] the issue is muddied. The Thai Forest Tradition has a long history of aggressive antagonism towards Burmese Vipassana. Therefore the problem is enshrouded with a further complication.
  My concern is that the Western translator publishers Bodhi, Thanissaro and Sujato are likely to carry this meaning far into the mainstream Buddhist culture and may cause confusion or even loss of the meaning.
   The application of the translation often doesnt make any sense at all. For example there is a sutta describing birth, where the term nāma entering the womb is used...  so naturally they try to squeeze their own logic in and say 'Name enters the womb', and so on. During the Dependent Origination sequence we get 'Name & Form' in there, a kind of meaningless factor...meaning neither perception/perceiving/interpreting or Identity and form.. 

this problem goes on and on and i don't see much light at the end of the tunnel with it.

Recently I wrote to a friend monk about it .. and just said 'Well its obvious and clear in the Suttas that Nāma means Name - so thats that'

Actually in the Digital Pali Reader nāma has three meanings given:
1 - Name, to name, to be named.   2 - The collective four aggregates.    3 - nammati - to incline towards, to bow towards, to have the tendency towards...  such as a habit to like music, or food, or war. I believe it is the source of the term for homage or bowing towards 'Namo ....Tassa'.

So I have been looking for an independent observer who can shine some light on the issue and your post seems to add some clarity. The idea of that descent from the light of union with Brahma as going into division and naming and divided forms. I wonder if you have comment you could share to address the complications i have described?

Yours with metta

Bhante Ven Rakkhita Samanera

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/21/20 6:35 AM as a reply to Bhante Rakkhita Samanera.
Bhante Rakkhita Samanera:
 The simple idea of collectively calling 'Feelings-Perceptions-Mind States- Sense-Awareness' as 'Name' seems absurd. So this stewed away and I didn't really address it, other than some quarrels with a student who refused to change his use of Name and Forn which he had read.

 Lately I have been audio recording suttas and therefore have stumbled up against the issue once again. This time it is with Sutta Central, Ven Sujato Bhikkhu. Now, on his website there are chat discussion forums and the issue of the term Nāma Rupa came up. It is 127 entries long. Ven Sujato goes far and wide in his explanation and justification of using Name and Form. He seems to pull the issue into areas such as the original spirit, aboriginal mind and recommends people to go and read The Golden Bough and understand early use of names in pre-rational society, and the anthrology of magic in order to understand the early Buddhist use of the term.

The Thai Forest Tradition has a long history of aggressive antagonism towards Burmese Vipassana. Therefore the problem is enshrouded with a further complication.

  My concern is that the Western translator publishers Bodhi, Thanissaro and Sujato are likely to carry this meaning far into the mainstream Buddhist culture and may cause confusion or even loss of the meaning.
  
The application of the translation often doesnt make any sense at all. For example there is a sutta describing birth, where the term nāma entering the womb is used...  so naturally they try to squeeze their own logic in and say 'Name enters the womb', and so on. During the Dependent Origination sequence we get 'Name & Form' in there, a kind of meaningless factor...meaning neither perception/perceiving/interpreting or Identity and form.. 

Actually in the Digital Pali Reader nāma has three meanings given:
1 - Name, to name, to be named.   2 - The collective four aggregates.    3 - nammati - to incline towards, to bow towards, to have the tendency towards...  such as a habit to like music, or food, or war. I believe it is the source of the term for homage or bowing towards 'Namo ....Tassa'.

So I have been looking for an independent observer who can shine some light on the issue and your post seems to add some clarity. The idea of that descent from the light of union with Brahma as going into division and naming and divided forms. I wonder if you have comment you could share to address the complications i have described?

Yours with metta

Bhante Ven Rakkhita Samanera

Dear Bhante. Hello. 

As I posted, for Brahmins & Hindus, the word 'namarupa' means 'name-form', 'subject-object', 'division and naming and divided forms', etc. But for the Buddha, it meant 'mind-body' or 'mental-physical'. 

Bhikkhu Bodhi originally translated nama-rupa as mentality-materiality in his Majjhima Nikaya but appeared to possibly come under the influence of the Bhikkhu Sujato Group when translating his Samyutta Nikaya and certainly with his Anguttara Nikaya (as shown in the footnotes). In the introduction to his Samyutta Nikaya, on page 47, Bhikkhu Bodhi unconvincingly explains why he changed the translation. While generally refering to nama-rupa as mentality-materiality, in his explanation, Bhikkhu Bodhi appeared to give weight to his misunderstandings of SN 12.19 and DN 15 to decide to translate as name-form. DN 15 is another sutta composed for propagation to Brahmins, where 'namarupa' means 'conceptual designations'. Since the core Dhamma is found in SN 12.2 and since Bhikkhu Bodhi does not understand the Pali (kāyo bahiddhā ca nāmarūpaṃ) in SN 12.19, he appears to have given weight to the spurious DN 15. It is ironic that Bhikkhu Sujato appears to belittle the Digha Nikaya yet also appears to give weight to its teachings of nama-rupa. Sujato said about the Digha Nikaya: 
It is no coincidence that these elaborate texts are often addressed to the brahmins, who were the self-proclaimed spiritual leaders of the time. The brahmins were the custodians of the most sophisticated texts in ancient India up to this time, the Vedic literature. It seems that one aim of the Dīgha was to impress such learned men. These discourses offer a wide range of examples of how the Buddha related to those of other religious paths.

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/the-long-discourses-dhamma-as-literature-and-compilation/11523

As for Bhikkhu Thanissaro, he is highly studied in world philosophy and his often inaccurate translations often have a Zen bent, similar to how poorly sutta learned Thai Western Forest monks such as Ajahn Sumedho & Amaro explain nama-rupa in Brahmanistic-Hindu terms as 'subject-object' etc. However, Thanissaro has recently improved his understanding of nama-rupa, as shown in the examples on pages 3 to 6 of his book called Shape of Suffering. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/shapeofsuffering.pdf

The above said, I doubt this is a issue of the Thai Forest Tradition. I doubt AjahnChah would have used the term 'name-form'. I know Ajahn Buddhadasa never used the term 'name-form' but always used the term 'mind-body'. Yet Buddhadasa's Western translator now often uses the term translation 'name-form'. In short, apart from the Sri Lankan Nanananda, the issue of 'name-form' appears to be largely a Western issue or problem. 

As for Bhikkhu Sujato, generally, its difficult for me to take anything he says on the subject matter of Dependent Origination seriously because he appears to have the sole goal of promoting reincarnation. This said, again, it is ironic he would translate nama-rupa as 'name-form' given, based on Commentary tradition, there would be no 'mind-body' for a 'relinking-consciousness' to take reincarntion in. A 'relinking consciousness' needs a 'mind-body' to descend into. Thus Sujato's colleague Bhikkhu Brahmali adheres to 'mind-body' because Brahmali appears to not want to fall into this contradiction about his cherished 'reincarnation'. 

To end, namarupa for Buddhists means 'mentality-materiality' or 'mind-body'. The word 'namati' you mentioned is actually not related to the word 'nama' because they have different roots (thus Buddhaghosa in his Vissudhimagga appeared gramatically incorrect). However, what is true is 'nama-rupa' in Dependent Origination does actually mean the mind-body 'bending' or 'inclining' under the defiling power of the sankharas, as described in MN 19, below: 
Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination (nati) of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of sensual desire, he has abandoned the thought of renunciation to cultivate the thought of sensual desire, and then his mind inclines (namati) to thoughts of sensual desire. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of ill will…upon thoughts of cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of non-cruelty to cultivate the thought of cruelty, and then his mind inclines (namati) to thoughts of cruelty

https://suttacentral.net/mn19/en/bodhi

Ultimately, in Dependent Origination, nama-rupa means the mind-body becoming aroused & giving inappropriate attention to (that is inclining & bending under the push & pull of) the ignorant sankharas. This reality can clearly be known in meditation; which removes all doubts about the meaning of nama-rupa in Dependent Origination. 

Regards and thank you emoticon

Also, I wrote a guided meditation here, years ago: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5843765#_19_message_5843772

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/21/20 8:07 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Dear Nicky,

  I just wish to express my deep gratitude for your sharing. It will take me some time to absorb and process the insights, information and references you have kindly provided. So while I do that I just wish to express my sincere gratitude for your intelligent and authoritative knowledge. I have been looking for a long time for explanations and now there seems to be help and assistance. So I would wish to resume the exchange and discussion, but first I will need time to gather and rearrange my ideas based on your helpful directions. Primarily I wish you to know that your objectivity , skill in clarifying this complex issue, lack of bias is deeply appreciated and valued. The guidance through this thicket of views currently presented by apparent schisms is rare. Many authority figures may be confusing the field and no one is addressing the issue with clarity.
 So before I collate the new information and start to process and research on it I wish to express graitude and hope your valued knowledge will be available for further feedback and guidance in the near future.
   With gratitude and humble respects

Bhante Ven Rakkhita Samanera

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/21/20 8:19 PM as a reply to Bhante Rakkhita Samanera.
You are most welcome Bhante.

Personally, my only interest is comprehending and respecting what the Buddha taught. I came to my own conclusions meditating upon each of the various individual dhammas & sub-dhammas listed in MN 9 and SN 12.2. 

Since I am an individual practitioner, I am not aligned to any group, sect or agenda.

I note: since Buddhism became a social or cultural religion, it appeared to alter its teachings on Dependent Origination to make the teaching more suitable to promoting morality among laypeople. 

As for "name-form", my impression is this is taught in the West because it sounds more interesting or mystical plus appeals to the popular "non-duality". 

Metta 

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/21/20 9:22 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Thankyou Nicky.

  I would appreciate to be able to run some sub-related questions by you as you seem well disciplined in processing the works we have to understand what the Buddha taught.
  I read Noa Ronkin's excellent 'Early Buddhist Metaphysics', from this I got that the 'Mind-Material' 'Nāma-Rupa' style as a listed categorisation of knowledges started off with Sariputta, in the Sanghiti Sutta, Dasuttara Suutas, that then became added into the Patisambhida Magga. All if which is very old, contemporary to the Buddha and not 12th Century Abhidhamma. Even though it may have appeared so as it was added on to the end of the Abhidhamma as the Seventh Book. This made it appear as the newer one chronologically. Why did Thanissaro leave Sanghiti Sutta, Dasuttara Suutas,  out of Access to Insight?
 These are the kind of works that some of the key people such as Ven Thanissaro and Ven Sujato seem to be throwing out. The reason has always baffled me. It seems a long way back tha the Sixteen Stages of Insight style of approach was rejected, by Ajahn Chah and thus on down the line. I met Ven Sumedho once and he openly mocked 'Vipassaninnies'. Such contempt seems to have been contagious. This may have added to the 'Nama-Rupa' = 'That Burmese Late Abhidhamma Non-authentic Commentary stuff' approach.
  Can you recommend a course of readings to shine light in this issue please? I know you already have done and I am committed to following them all up. I would love to get to the bottom of this and clearly understand the various dynamics and stances with more authority and clarity. I see the two Suttas you have just referred that is a good start, thank you.

   I text to speech listened to a complete thread on Sutta Central under the heading of 'What is Nāma Rupa?' it took three hours to listen through. During it Sujato was chipping in with odd tangents. In order to 'help people understand why the correct meaning and term is Name & Form' he was refering people to The Golden Bough and books on Anthropology of Magic, and the role of names in pre-rational society. Your references to Hindu and Brahminism helped me to understand why he would say so. I hoped to understand at least where his views were coming from, as he himself has now gained substantial credibility and influence - evidently as you say if he is bending Bhikkhu Bodhis ear.

 I continue to navigate this maze and your input is deeply appreciated. The fact that you are an independent, with just the sincere wish to understand the actualities around the authentic Buddha's teachings makes your clear, unbiased insight so rare and useful. I am deeply grateful for it and optimistic I can start to clear up some of the thicket I have found.

 I do wish to do so not for endless intellectualisation and simply wish to clarify matters and help to avoid schism and misinformation and confusion.

Thankyou for your prompt feedback. I am deeply indebted and grateful

May many beings be freed from avoidable suffering

Metta

Bhante Ven Rakkhita Samanera

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/21/20 11:29 PM as a reply to Nicky.
and a P.S
 I have made careful note of the tips, references provided in your above thread notes.
I am particularly interested in the Guided Meditation
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5843765#_19_message_5843772

I shall be text to speech audio using that later. As it allows me to work with eyes closed and mind in meditation.

I listened to P,3 - 6 of Ven Thanissaro's The Shape of Suffering. Excellent recommendation also. I see the nāma usage becoming much more applicable as you point out. Also the downsides of the circular graphic, sequential representation  of Dependent Origination which has been plaguing me for years is addressed there.

Metta
Bhante Ven Rakkhita Samanera

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/21/20 11:55 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:
You are most welcome Bhante.

Personally, my only interest is comprehending and respecting what the Buddha taught. I came to my own conclusions meditating upon each of the various individual dhammas & sub-dhammas listed in MN 9 and SN 12.2. 

Since I am an individual practitioner, I am not aligned to any group, sect or agenda.

I note: since Buddhism became a social or cultural religion, it appeared to alter its teachings on Dependent Origination to make the teaching more suitable to promoting morality among laypeople. 

As for "name-form", my impression is this is taught in the West because it sounds more interesting or mystical plus appeals to the popular "non-duality". 

Metta 

aloha nicky,

   I have enormous respect for your erudition and judicious sharing of the same.

   But...

   When the difference between "name and form" and "mentality and materiality" is considered great, you may be dealing with paper clips and rubber bands, and risking their monsterish permutations.

   It's not only here. I was thinking of the discussion on another thread of the difference between percepts and concepts, and how thin all those metaphysical constructs actually are when dealing with the One Pearl.

   Can you dig it?

   ("the popular non-duality"? what do you conceive this is? how about unpopular nonduality? is there a nonduality that fits into your conception or realization of the dhamma? please excuse if these questions seem intrusive, I'd like to hear you free form on these topics, with sutta references of course...smile)


terry




from "Green Man, Earth Angel, The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World" by tom cheetham:


Myths, or mythic moves, open spaces. Rational accounts limit them. This is necessary. Both are necessary. But we live after the Enlightenment. We live amidst the wreckage of the split between the Rational and the Irrational. When Reason is your God, the repressed returns, monstrous, titanic. The wreckage of Reason, its burned-out skeleton, is the logical device: rubber bands and paper clips.

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/23/20 4:44 AM as a reply to terry.
terry:

   
Thank you Terry 
 
"Name-form" means "naming-forms", such as naming a certain visual object a "tree" or "cloud". 

"Mentality-materiality" means when the mind & body are aroused by ignorance & primal desires and lose self-control. For example, there is an urge to eat pizza, which the mind struggles to control, even despite doctors orders to refraim from eating pizza & fatty foods. I trust you have been in a situation where your mind-body loses self-control and engages in some external activity via the senses. 

As for "non-duality", in my experience, it is a "bright delusion" or "beguilement of concentration". It is a conditioned state of mind. The Pali suttas do not teach "non-duality" as the goal. 

Kind regards emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/23/20 2:35 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:
terry:

   
Thank you Terry 
 
"Name-form" means "naming-forms", such as naming a certain visual object a "tree" or "cloud". 

"Mentality-materiality" means when the mind & body are aroused by ignorance & primal desires and lose self-control. For example, there is an urge to eat pizza, which the mind struggles to control, even despite doctors orders to refraim from eating pizza & fatty foods. I trust you have been in a situation where your mind-body loses self-control and engages in some external activity via the senses. 

As for "non-duality", in my experience, it is a "bright delusion" or "beguilement of concentration". It is a conditioned state of mind. The Pali suttas do not teach "non-duality" as the goal. 

Kind regards emoticon

   What nama actually means as a root word and what it stands for in philosophy are quite broadly different things. You choose a very narrow perspective. More narrow than your discussion above. The buddha would make allowances, as you have noticed.

   "In your experience" - that is to say, having not experienced nonduality, obviously - you call the ultimate attainment a "beguilement."

   The pali suttas teach no other than nonduality as a goal. I wonder how you would translate "nibbana"?


terry

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/24/20 12:13 PM as a reply to terry.
Nibbana.  terry (or indeed anyone), can I ask something, to help clarify some of these differences?

Do you think the buddha lived in nibbana?  Or did he only experience it sometimes - say during cessation, or during contemplation of the void. And if he only experienced it sometimes, what would you call his normal state of being?  And maybe just to add to that - was Uncle Sid in nibbanna when he was giving Ananda a telling off?

I ask because I think sometimes nibbana is used to mean liberation, and sometimes cessation.  And sometimes non-duality is used to mean absoprtion in the ground, and sometimes to mean cessation, and sometimes to mean non-clinging to concepts and separateness.  I think most of these arguments are therefore really just about definitions, not really about the phenomenal experience of liberation.

Just trying to trim the thicket here.  Want to help?

Malcolm

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/24/20 12:18 PM as a reply to terry.
terry:
Nicky:
terry:

   
Thank you Terry 
 
"Name-form" means "naming-forms", such as naming a certain visual object a "tree" or "cloud". 

"Mentality-materiality" means when the mind & body are aroused by ignorance & primal desires and lose self-control. For example, there is an urge to eat pizza, which the mind struggles to control, even despite doctors orders to refraim from eating pizza & fatty foods. I trust you have been in a situation where your mind-body loses self-control and engages in some external activity via the senses. 

As for "non-duality", in my experience, it is a "bright delusion" or "beguilement of concentration". It is a conditioned state of mind. The Pali suttas do not teach "non-duality" as the goal. 

Kind regards emoticon

   What nama actually means as a root word and what it stands for in philosophy are quite broadly different things. You choose a very narrow perspective. More narrow than your discussion above. The buddha would make allowances, as you have noticed.

   "In your experience" - that is to say, having not experienced nonduality, obviously - you call the ultimate attainment a "beguilement."

   The pali suttas teach no other than nonduality as a goal. I wonder how you would translate "nibbana"?


terry


the law, the path, the truth...
the dharma, the path, nibbana...
the path, the way...



from "the sufi doctrine of rumi," william chittick:

(chittick here is directly quoting rumi ffrom the mathnawi)

...the Religious Law is like a candle showing the way. Unless you gain possession of the candle, there is no wayfaring [i.e., unless you follow the Shari'ah, you cannot enter the Tariqah;] and when you have come on to the way, your wayfaring is the Path; and when you have reached the journey's end, that is the Truth. Hence it has been said, 'If the truths (realities) were manifest, the religious laws would be naught."As (for example), when copper becomes gold or was gold originally, it does not need the alchemy which is the Law, nor need it rub itself upon the philosopher's stone, which (operation) is the Path; (for), as has been said, it is unseemly to demand a guide after arrival at the goal, and blameworthy to discard the guide before arrival at the goal. In short, the Law is like learning the theory of alchemy from a teacher or book, and the Path is (like) making usef chemicals and rubbing the copper upon the philosophers stone, and the Truth is (like) the transmutation of the copper into gold. Those who know alchemy rejoice in their knowledge of it, saying, ''We know the theory of this (science)"; and those who practice it rejoice in their practice of it, saying, "We perform such works"; and those who have experienced the reality rejoice in the reality, saying, "We have become gold and are delivered from the theory and practice of alchemy: we are God's freedmen"....

The law is knowledge, the Path action, the Truth attainment unto God.

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/24/20 12:36 PM as a reply to terry.
terry :



pali suttas teach the abandoning of false speech. best wishes emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/24/20 2:07 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:
terry :



pali suttas teach the abandoning of false speech. best wishes emoticon


(smile)

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/24/20 8:36 PM as a reply to curious.
curious:
Nibbana.  terry (or indeed anyone), can I ask something, to help clarify some of these differences?

Do you think the buddha lived in nibbana?  Or did he only experience it sometimes - say during cessation, or during contemplation of the void. And if he only experienced it sometimes, what would you call his normal state of being?  And maybe just to add to that - was Uncle Sid in nibbanna when he was giving Ananda a telling off?

I ask because I think sometimes nibbana is used to mean liberation, and sometimes cessation.  And sometimes non-duality is used to mean absoprtion in the ground, and sometimes to mean cessation, and sometimes to mean non-clinging to concepts and separateness.  I think most of these arguments are therefore really just about definitions, not really about the phenomenal experience of liberation.

Just trying to trim the thicket here.  Want to help?

Malcolm

The following definitions are from Pali suttas:

* Nibbana is the absence of craving or greed-hatred-delusion. The Buddha lived for 45 years in Nibbana. 

* "Cessation" means the "cessation of suffering" or "the cessation of ignorance". It does not mean the cessation of life. For example, when teachings related to dependent origination refer to "cessation of consciousness" or "cessation of sense contact", this refers to the cessation of ignorance polluting consciousness or sense-contact. It does not mean being "unconscious". 

* "Void" ("sunnata") means "void of self" (SN 35.85). The Buddha was always void for 45 years because his use of any personal pronoun was merely a "convention" (SN 1.25). 

* Yes. Buddha was void or in cessation or in Nibbana when censuring Ananda. 

* Nibbana is both liberation from and cessation of suffering. 

Sutta MN 1 distinguishes between 'ekatta' ('oneness') and 'Nibbana'. Therefore, per MN 1, 'oneness' ('non-duality') is not 'Nibbana'. 

Also: 

Non-duality is the bright delusion there is no internal & no external; that the mind & world or the self & world are the same or "one". "Advaita" means "One God" or "Brahman". Non-duality is a temporary state of mind; where as Nibbana for the Arahant is a permanent experience. 

There is nothing wrong with abiding in a Non-Dual Consciousness. It is beneficial for spiritual experience. However, ultimately, it is merely a subjective state of mind. It occurs due to the subjective suspension of discrimination; which is no different to the subjective activation of discrimination. Ultimately, there is no "Oneness" because all sense experiences (apart from Nibbana) are ultimately impermanent or vanishing. 

The above distinctions relate to experience because non-duality is actually not true. It is merely an illusion or hallucination. Given there is "separation" from every sense experience, non-duality cannot be true. 

The Buddha taught non-craving or non-attachment is how to abide in Nibbana. The Buddha didn't teach about non-duality. 


emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/25/20 12:53 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:
curious:
Nibbana.  terry (or indeed anyone), can I ask something, to help clarify some of these differences?

Do you think the buddha lived in nibbana?  Or did he only experience it sometimes - say during cessation, or during contemplation of the void. And if he only experienced it sometimes, what would you call his normal state of being?  And maybe just to add to that - was Uncle Sid in nibbanna when he was giving Ananda a telling off?

I ask because I think sometimes nibbana is used to mean liberation, and sometimes cessation.  And sometimes non-duality is used to mean absoprtion in the ground, and sometimes to mean cessation, and sometimes to mean non-clinging to concepts and separateness.  I think most of these arguments are therefore really just about definitions, not really about the phenomenal experience of liberation.

Just trying to trim the thicket here.  Want to help?

Malcolm

The following definitions are from Pali suttas:

* Nibbana is the absence of craving or greed-hatred-delusion. The Buddha lived for 45 years in Nibbana. 

* "Cessation" means the "cessation of suffering" or "the cessation of ignorance". It does not mean the cessation of life. For example, when teachings related to dependent origination refer to "cessation of consciousness" or "cessation of sense contact", this refers to the cessation of ignorance polluting consciousness or sense-contact. It does not mean being "unconscious". 

* "Void" ("sunnata") means "void of self" (SN 35.85). The Buddha was always void for 45 years because his use of any personal pronoun was merely a "convention" (SN 1.25). 

* Yes. Buddha was void or in cessation or in Nibbana when censuring Ananda. 

* Nibbana is both liberation from and cessation of suffering. 

Sutta MN 1 distinguishes between 'ekatta' ('oneness') and 'Nibbana'. Therefore, per MN 1, 'oneness' ('non-duality') is not 'Nibbana'. 

Also: 

Non-duality is the bright delusion there is no internal & no external; that the mind & world or the self & world are the same or "one". "Advaita" means "One God" or "Brahman". Non-duality is a temporary state of mind; where as Nibbana for the Arahant is a permanent experience. 

There is nothing wrong with abiding in a Non-Dual Consciousness. It is beneficial for spiritual experience. However, ultimately, it is merely a subjective state of mind. It occurs due to the subjective suspension of discrimination; which is no different to the subjective activation of discrimination. Ultimately, there is no "Oneness" because all sense experiences (apart from Nibbana) are ultimately impermanent or vanishing. 

The above distinctions relate to experience because non-duality is actually not true. It is merely an illusion or hallucination. Given there is "separation" from every sense experience, non-duality cannot be true. 

The Buddha taught non-craving or non-attachment is how to abide in Nibbana. The Buddha didn't teach about non-duality. 


emoticon

Love it Nicky!  Thanks. I agree with almost all of that, but you have put it far better than I ever could.  You are a commenter of great discernment.  If I had been asked those questions I would have answered in almost same way you did, if I were able to.  I agree that is the meaning of those things, and that is how we should remember them. emoticon  (The only difference is that I would make the point that some aspects of suffering continue to naturally arise from the aggregates, but otherwise don't stick.  Perhaps Uncle Sid went even beyond that, but I suspect not). 

I do think the other version of cessation - seeing the three characteristics and falling into a discontinuity, before the mind reboots and wisdom arises - is part of the Pali canon.  MN 44 describes this as the cessation of perception and feeling, but I think it is clear from the description that it is not '9th Jhana' but rather the cessation described by Daniel in MCTB.  The phenomenology is exaclty the same, particularly around the three doors.  Interestlngly, though, it is just one of many steps in the development of widom.  Anyway, MN 44 is one of my favourites.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and precise answer.

Malcolm

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/25/20 6:55 AM as a reply to curious.
* Nibbana is the absence of craving or greed-hatred-delusion. The Buddha lived for 45 years in Nibbana. 

* "Cessation" means the "cessation of suffering" or "the cessation of ignorance". It does not mean the cessation of life. For example, when teachings related to dependent origination refer to "cessation of consciousness" or "cessation of sense contact", this refers to the cessation of ignorance polluting consciousness or sense-contact. It does not mean being "unconscious". 

NIkki, how would you define the cessation/fruition experience?



RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/25/20 8:15 PM as a reply to curious.
 some aspects of suffering continue to naturally arise from the aggregates

Mmm... the above is a sematics thing. The word "dukkha" in the Pali is used in 3 ways: 

1. "Suffering", per the Noble Truths, meaning the stress or mental torment of attachment, selfishness, self-cherishing & other emotional proliferations

2. "Unsatisfactoriness" or "lacking pleasurability", per the Three Characteristics, meaning the impermanent fluctuating five aggregagates cannot bring lasting true happiness. 

3. "Unpleasant/painful" feelings or "vedana". 

Arahants experience dukkhas #2 and #3 but do not experience dukka #1. The Buddha advises us the only dukkha that can be eradicated is the dukkha #1 of craving, attachment, self-view, sorrow, lamentation, grief, despair, etc. 

Regards 

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/25/20 8:24 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
NIkki, how would you define the cessation/fruition experience?

Peaceful cessation of self-view thus also cessation of associated afflictive self-emotions, such as fear, greed, lust, hate, etc. Orthodox Buddhist definition. 

I had to include the word "peaceful" to distinguish it from the ego-terror of 'Dark Night' (which is a preliminary pre-stream-entry experience).

Regards emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/25/20 8:58 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:
 some aspects of suffering continue to naturally arise from the aggregates

Mmm... the above is a sematics thing. The word "dukkha" in the Pali is used in 3 ways: 

1. "Suffering", per the Noble Truths, meaning the stress or mental torment of attachment, selfishness, self-cherishing & other emotional proliferations

2. "Unsatisfactoriness" or "lacking pleasurability", per the Three Characteristics, meaning the impermanent fluctuating five aggregagates cannot bring lasting true happiness. 

3. "Unpleasant/painful" feelings or "vedana". 

Arahants experience dukkhas #2 and #3 but do not experience dukka #1. The Buddha advises us the only dukkha that can be eradicated is the dukkha #1 of craving, attachment, self-view, sorrow, lamentation, grief, despair, etc. 

Regards 

Again, superb.  Thank you.

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
3/25/20 9:51 PM as a reply to Bhante Rakkhita Samanera.
It seems a long way back tha the Sixteen Stages of Insight style of approach was rejected, by Ajahn Chah and thus on down the line. I met Ven Sumedho once and he openly mocked 'Vipassaninnies'. Such contempt seems to have been contagious.

Thank you Bhante

I was suprised when Ven. Sujato recently posted at SC that Ajahn Buddhadasa was basically the only Thai monk following the suttas in Thailand during that revival era last century. Its rarely stated but Ajahn Buddhadasa was a major influence on Ajahn Chah, which I imagine includes an emphasis upon Anapanasati. Thus, obviously many Thais would probably have deliberately avoided or moved away from the modern Burmese approach. 
 
However, what is interesting is not only did Ajahn Buddhadasa not reject the Burmese approach (here: 
https://www.budsas.org/ebud/budasa-handbook/budasa08.htm ) but his closest colleague or younger brother Ajahn Pannananda (of Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit) actually taught Mahasi meditation all of his teaching career. Ajahn Pannananda was inherently connected to Ajahn Chah and Sumedho's Wat Pah Nanachat (because this Wat Cholapratan was the transit point for Western monks in Bangkok). 

I would avoid viewing the "Thai Forest Tradition" as a lineage or doctrine. The doctrines in the Thai Forest Tradition are very diverse, including within the Ajahn Chah group. The only thing the Thai Forest Tradition holds in common is living in forest monasteries (rather than living in city or village monasteries). 

As for the 'Nama-Rupa' = 'That Burmese Late Abhidhamma Non-authentic Commentary stuff' approach; I never heard of this before, until very recently, when listening to a recent Ven. Sujato video on You Tube. I already pointed out the "name-form" idea is wrong from the perceptive of actual meditation experience. The core suttas literally define nama-rupa as the mental-physical. 

Can you recommend a course of readings to shine light in this issue please?

I am not widely read. I only studied Ajahn Buddhadasa, who said nama-rupa was mind-body. But years later, when reading actual sutta, i asked myself the question why did the Buddha list feeling, perception & thought (citta & vaci sankhara) at the 2nd link and then repeat feeling, perception, intention, contact & attention at the 4th link?

It only took me 10 minutes of meditation to find the answer. The sankhara are wrong past perceptions (memories) & wrong thoughts that arise discusively from ignorance. At nama-rupa there is the opportunity for right perception, right intention & right intention to occur; to view the sankhara as wrong perceptions & wrong thoughts and remove them. As I already mentioned, this is what the Buddha does in MN 19. In MN 19, the Buddha views wrong thoughts with right perception and gives attention to eradicting those wrong thoughts. Thus there are two layers of mind; (i) the sankhara layer of mind (of distracting thoughs) and (ii) the nama-rupa layer of mind (of being able to objectively perceive the sankhara layer). 

The above is what I can offer to your post. I am not widely read. Personally, I only care about myself having the right view and I have the faith the Buddha explained everything we need to know. Also, I am not shy about disagreeing with Bodhi, Thanissaro, Sujato, etc, or any other monk.  

With metta

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/4/20 9:55 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Dear Nicky,
  Greetings and gratitude for your input and reflections.

 Two pathways came up for me to respond. About Ajahn Buddhadassa monastery Suan Mokkh, I did stay there @ 1988. I was privileged to meet both the late Maha thera Ajahn Buddhadassa and also I ate and spoke with Ajahn Pannananda.
 The influences that you speak about are therefore educating and instructional shining light on the way the masters have effected each other.

The second aspect seems to be to do with meditation experiences that diverge between Samatha and Vipasssana that may explain why the Nama-Rupa term is being used in two different ways. It is a possible explanation I am positing, and perhaps you could comment on it.
 In jhana anapanasati, such as Ven Thanissaro, Ven Sujato and others seem to specialise and emphasise the mind and body seem to 'fuse', when the thinking suspends and the vittaka turns to viccara, the bliss starts to arise and happiness and the stillness of equanimity arises. This pleasant situation eventually starts to decline as the meditation starts to come towards ending. Then something happens that relates to the discussion. From unity , a state of unity and central focus and stillness and happiness starts to arise thoughts, items and objects into awareness. Either mentally seen or talking thoughts. Either way the unity starts to wane and discursive thinking, vitakka, starts up again. In a way that may be being referred to as 'duality', 'from unity to duality',ie from a still one point into subject and object [ as you refered to previously about the Amaravati seniors tend towards ]. It doesn't surprise me if a person who practices in this way would be comfortable saying that this sequence of experiences ie, unity, to thought-objects arising and disturbing , to names for the objects, perceptions and descriptions, and then interpretations and the whole messy proliferating story making gets set off..... has Name and Form fitted in there. As forms enter, breaking up the bliss and the naming aspect of mind starts up chattering and labelling and discriminating about the forms.
So that is a entering into Unity and then Falling back out of Unity experience.
  Comparing that jhanic path with the Vipassana 16 stages. The sixteen stages start with seeing Mind and Matter as distinct and never stops this duality from the beginning to the end. Any 'fusing' of body and mind, bliss etc are Upakilesa defilemnt obstacles. I noticed Ven Sujato using a slightly 'demeaning' tone about 'noting', the 'noting aspect of the mind' in his thread on Nāma Rupa' meaning. It seems he is into a unified bliss that is primordial and 'aboriginal' perhaps, even magical and pre-think. He seems to exude a kind of contempt for the cognitive, dualising mind that is transcended by jhana. So the idea of a path where duality is maintained all the way through, from his standpoint is outrageously contradicting and defeats the idea of this return to primordial state. He refers frequently to the need to learn about primitive societies and magic to understand what the Buddha and his conteporaries meant by 'the naming of things'.

 Your original citations and readings of Upanishad and the namarupa helped to explain somewhat what this reaction might be linked to. Some traction on the discussion was therefore gained. The way you saw how the Creationist views of the Deistic Brahmins own language was being harnessed to explain Buddha's actually atheistic/non-deistic psychological causal links.
 What troubles me is the influential power of the well established group of like-minded monks here. Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Sujato, Ajahn Geoff Thanissaro. All are very influential both in the Western World of Buddhism but therefore in Asia too. I have found it hard to find people even vaguely bothered about this issue that could do great damage to the Dhamma as far as i can see. Clarifying the issue has taken time even to this extent and our dialogue is the most objective analysis of it i have experienced.
  I was very intrigued that you had already flagged up the Name-Form reference directly to Ven Sujato from a Youtube talk. Personally I don't even feel close to being ready to do that as I am clearing the path amid a thicket and a tangle still. I do hope to gain a clear and detached comprehension eventually. This thread had been of great value  so far. It is not for fear or intimidation just lack of a structured analysis of the factors.
 You mention, quite fairly that you are primarily interested only in your own practice and that it takes only a ten minute sit to check out the truth of the matter. I wish it were that simple from the perspective of the maintaining the teachings without distortion.
   'Westerners' owe a great debt to Asia for maintaining the Dhamma.
You mention Ajahn Pannananda teaching the method of Mahasi Sayadaw also. It is not widely acknowledged that Mahasi taught the 41 methods of practice including all the Samathas, including anapanasati. Yet I have met several jhana practicioners who are openly horrified, confused and dismissive of a form of concentratin that has multiple objects - as it is incompatible with the single object basis of all their achievement to date. They simply can't equate the idea. I was at a pubic talk where a person asked the esteemed and likeable Ajahn Brahm what is the meaning of 'khannikha samadhi', momentary concentration...  he replied that 'it doesn't mean anything. It is a moments concentration'... 'which isn't concentration'..  Revealing that jhana based meditators simply see it as 'wandering mind' and just aiming the mind all over the place, ie the six sense doors, and that they haven't successfully managed to apply it yet.

   My idea here was to bring the focus back to your original post at the top about namarupa in Upanishads...  as i hoped it was going to bring a key to this tangle.

 I had better leave it at that for now and look forward to your valued response. Incidentally, you say you are not widely read. I have met many people who are widely read and yet they seem unable to grasp this thorny nettle in a useful way, but you seem to have gotten this gist well.

Who can untangle this tangle

Metta
r
  

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 1:51 AM as a reply to Bhante Rakkhita Samanera.
Suan Mokkh, I did stay there @ 1988

Greetings Bhante

Suan Mokkh 1988 was my first experience of Buddhism. I did the retreats there Oct to Dec 1988 plus January 1989. I listened to Ajahn Buddhadasa's talks during those retreats. My recollection is: 

* In Oct, Ajahn Buddhadasa described how three types of feelings give rise to three types of craving/defilement, which form the 'self-view' 

* In Nov, Ajahn Buddhadasa discussed how everything is merely elements (dhatu) and discussed how the fruit of Buddhism is to have a mind free from 'positiveness & negativeness'. 

* In Dec, Ajahn Buddhadasa was unwell and stuggled to give some talks on dependent origination (which I do not recall. I was probably too busy meditating). 

* In Jan, Ajahn Buddhadasa gave excellent talks on the four noble truths, which are here: 
https://www.liberationpark.org/audio/tanaj01.htm

As forms enter, breaking up the bliss and the naming aspect of mind starts up chattering and labelling and discriminating about the forms.

The above is valid, as an experience, however, in my view, it is unrelated to dependent origination. Since the above discriminating about forms must occur after sense contact, for me, it cannot be at nama-rupa. 

Dependent origination is far too detailed & subtle to have subject-object arising at one link. Ultimately, the idea of subject or self starts arising at attachment (upadana) and matures at jati (birth). 

What troubles me is the influential power of the well established group of like-minded monks here. Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Sujato, Ajahn Geoff Thanissaro. All are very influential both in the Western World of Buddhism but therefore in Asia too. I have found it hard to find people even vaguely bothered about this issue that could do great damage to the Dhamma as far as i can see.

My impression is they have influence in the scholarly intellectual world and also in the world of Western laypeople but unlikely in the monastic world. Personally, I have never taken everything they say seriously. To me, they are charactertistic of Theravada monasaticism, namely, individual monks creating their own individual teachings to attract their own individual audiences. I speculate it is the practise of "livelihood" taken to an extreme. 

Mahasi taught the 41 methods of practice including all the Samathas, including anapanasati.

Jhana is part of the path. The suttas appear to describe the Buddha developing jhana then emerging but directing the reminant purity, stillness and clarity to objects of vipassana. 

I was at a pubic talk where a person asked the esteemed and likeable Ajahn Brahm what is the meaning of 'khannikha samadhi', momentary concentration...  he replied that 'it doesn't mean anything.

Ajahn Buddhadasa also dismissed momentary concentration, saying the only valid concentrations are neigbbourhood concentration and attainment concentration. Refer to page 216, here: http://dhammatalks.net/Books3/Buddhadasa_Bhikkhu-Anapanasati.pdf

you are not widely read.

I have never been an avid reader in my life but have always tended to read what i regard as necessary. I also have a very good memory therefore tend to remember what i regard as necessary from my browsing style of reading. 

You mention, quite fairly that you are primarily interested only in your own practice and that it takes only a ten minute sit to check out the truth of the matter. 

Above, I was referring to nama-rupa in dependent origination. 

I take the suttas very literally. In the suttas:

* Sankhara (2nd link) is defined as kaya sankharo (breathing), vaci sankharo (thought) & citta sankhara (perception & feeling). 

* Namarupa (4th link) is defined as feeling, perception, intention, contact, attention and the body composed of the four elements. 

* Phassa (6th link) is contact.

* Vedana (7th link) is feeling and always includes perception. 

* Tanha (8th link) is craving and includes intention. 

* Upadana (9th link) is attachment and includes views or prolonged thoughts. 

I have meditated upon most of Dependent Origination since mid-1989. 

Therefore, after reading sutta, when I asked myself the question in around 2009 why did the Buddha repeat perception, feeling & contact at nama-rupa (4th link) when he already included perception & feeling at 2nd & 7th link and contact at 6th link, it took me 10 minutes of meditation to discern the answer to my question. 

There are layers of perception & feeling. There is:

* Perception & feeling arising at 2nd link which arise together with distracting thoughts. 

* Perception & feeling by nama (at 4th link) of those 2nd link perception & feelings

* Perception & feeling (7th link) arising after external contact.

* Internal contact by nama of 2nd link sankharas. 

* External contacts at 6th link when nama-rupa engages in an external search for sense gratification. 

In short, the mind can feel & perceive its own perceptions & feelings. That is why perception & feeling are repeated at the 2nd, 4th & 7th links. 


Regards  emoticon


RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 4:44 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Nicky:

Personally, I only care about myself having the right view and I have the faith the Buddha explained everything we need to know.

Hi Nicky,

I’m very impressed by your independent scholarship (although I don’t have any expertise to be a credible judge).

I found your discussion of the dynamics between the various monks to be fascinating (although it conforms to my belief that all human interactions mask an underlying power struggle).

One question I would love to ask you since you are so knowledgeable and reasonable: on what basis do you place your faith in what the Buddha actually taught? (Maybe this is a contradictory question! I understand that faith is a personal matter, so please feel free to ignore my question if it is impertinent.)

My crude understanding is that the Suttas weren’t written down until 450 years after the Buddha died, and that a lot of water passed under the bridge during that time in terms of sectarian dyanamics (for reference I’m using such unscholarly articles such as this).

An analogy springs to mind. Imagine that none of Shakespeare’s plays had been written down and they were just preserved orally by competing troupes who over time adjusted them according to differing audience demand. How much confidence would we have today in our ability to reconstruct “what Shakespeare actually said”?

In more modern religious traditions where the original text has always publicly available, there always seems to be a tendency towards schisms and modifications of the root text according to the exigencies of transmission and needs of the market (sometimes over time periods as short as decades). In cases where there was no publicly available root text, I would imagine the schismatic tendency to be even stronger given the lack of textual glue.

Was early Buddhism somehow exceptional in this regard? Or is there some mistake in my thinking?

Apologies again for my impertinence but this question has been bothering me for some time and I can’t think of a better person to ask.

Thank you!

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 8:20 AM as a reply to agnostic.
on what basis do you place your faith in what the Buddha actually taught? 

Hello there.

Buddhism is very basic. Newbies should learn the basics. Buddhism has three refuges. The 2nd refuge is refuge in the Dhamma, as follows:

svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhi

This Dhamma refuge is very brief and says the Dhamma is perfectly spoken & is visible in the here & now, to be verified by an individual's own insight. If an individual does not understand and accept the meaning of the above Pali words, imo, it is pointless attempting to practise Buddhism or to be a Buddhist. 

It follows, among the thousands of suttas, there is a large genre of suttas that fit the above criteria, which include the core suttas on dependent origination. 

When the mind knows via meditative experience the description of 11 links of dependent origination are true, then the mind has faith the description of the namarupa link will also be true. 

Therefore, when one reads the definition of namarupa, one should have faith the description is both accurate & fit for serving as an object of realisation & verification. 

My crude understanding is that the Suttas weren’t written down until 450 years after the Buddha died, and that a lot of water passed under the bridge during that time in terms of sectarian dyanamics (for reference I’m using such unscholarly articles such as this).

Yes, there are probably many suttas added to the teachings after the Buddha passed away, which were not the original words of the Buddha. If these suttas don't fit the above criteria, they will fall outside of the definition of the Dhamma. If a sutta teaching cannot be verified via meditative insight, it is not Buddha-Dhamma, per the refuge definition. 

An analogy springs to mind. 

The core teachings in the suttas are easily verifiable. Anyone that has not verified them is classed as one without any insight. For example, dependent origination explains sorrow & grief occur because of craving & attachment towards "beings" who have "aged" &/or "died". This is not rocket science. It is more simple than Shakespeare. Grief occurs due to death of a being. Death of a being occurs due to producing or "birthing" a view of a "being". A view of a "being" occurs due to attachment, craving, feeling, ignorance, etc.

Obviously, comprehending the reality of the four noble truths, dependent origination or the three characteristics is very simple thus cannot be subject to doubt and lack of faith. Are you claiming suffering is not caused by craving & attachment? emoticon Are you claiming conditioned things are permanent, can bring lasting happiness & are a self? emoticon Are you claiming killing, stealing, sexual exploitation, lying, drugs & alcohol, gambling, prostitution, etc, will lead to internal well-being? emoticon Why would these matters be subject to doubt & lack of faith? emoticon Why would one think a Buddha (fully enlightened mind with perfect peace) would not teach these things? emoticon

Apologies again for my impertinence but this question has been bothering me for some time and I can’t think of a better person to ask.

Thank you for your faith emoticon in me. I answered your questions. 

Kind regards emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 7:50 AM as a reply to Nicky.
While nearing the end of Nikki's last comment, it occurred to me that it's a rather long-ish way to say, "Practice, and see for yourself."

emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 7:56 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
While nearing the end of Nikki's last comment, it occurred to me that it's a rather long-ish way to say, "Practice, and see for yourself."

Practise what? Will blind practise result in seeing rightly? emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 8:26 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Oh, I think you know  emoticon

EDIT: BTW, Nikki, you seem to have misspelled "practice."

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 8:49 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
...and you, Chris, Nicky... emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 8:58 AM as a reply to T.
Oh, the irony!

Nice one, T!

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 8:53 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Dear Nicky,

Thank you for your prompt and detailed answers to my questions! It takes me longer than I would like to reply because of various personal factors. This is a long post but I believe it's necessary to adequately address the further questions which arise from your answers. I'm sorry to muddy your Nama-rupa thread with my personal saga, but I think it may be relevant to other practitioners. If it's not, I can delete it or we could move the discussion to another location if you have the inclination or interest.

First of all, I re-read my initial post and yeah it comes across a bit snarky. I’m sorry about that. I do have a genuine interest in these matters, and faith in your ability to help me understand better. emoticon 

If an individual does not understand and accept the meaning of the above Pali words, imo, it is pointless attempting to practise Buddhism or to be a Buddhist.

I came at Buddhism from a “pragmatic” perspective, like a lot of people on DhO I guess, looking to find an effective way to reduce the suffering I observed in both myself and others. At the level you are talking about here, the only way for me to truly understand these words is to become a Pali scholar. But it seems from the preceding discussion (which is what really got me interested) that even the top Pali scholars have serious disagreements and these are not just matters of textual scholarship but also various more worldly dynamics within the Sangha. So even if I became a monk-scholar, how could I be sure that my conditioning was not giving me a distorted understanding?

I'm somewhat familiar with the theory of the core suttas, but it seems there are plenty of disagreements about this as well. How can I be sure that that the core suttas point back to the Buddha's time and not say 50 or 100 years after his death to the first councils? Experience suggests that a lot can change in such a short time.

Realistically speaking, only a handful of people on the planet are going to be top Pali scholar-practitioners and experts on the dynamics of the Sangha. Is this why there are so few Arahants today? According to the (core?) suttas, in the Bhuddha's lifetime there were lots of Arahants, presumably because there was no need to be an expert in a dead language. Or was it because of the Buddha's magnetic personal presence? I'm not trying to be controversial, I think these are important questions for any serious practitioner (ones I asked myself, which landed me where I am today).

Buddha-Dhamma-Sangha is a beautiful formula, but when I try to understand it things start to get messy. There seems to be lots of issues around the relationship between the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. The Dhamma seems to be somewhat verifiable through meditation, but the historical Buddha and the Sangha? Or is it a matter of faith to accept that they are one and the same? 

If being a Pali scholar is essential to practicing Buddhism then what's the endgame here? Over time the translations/interpretations will get more diverse and diluted, until one day there are no more Arahants and humanity has to wait for the coming of the next Buddha? It is sad to see the premium on Pali scholarship being eroded with time (one more aspect of dukkha I suppose).

Ok, so practically speaking, 99.999% of practitioners will uses the most credibly authoritative translations they can find (subject to revision as they learn more) and try to verify them by their own insight, as you recommend.

When the mind knows via meditative experience the description of 11 links of dependent origination are true, then the mind has faith the description of the namarupa link will also be true.
...
The core teachings in the suttas are easily verifiable. Anyone that has not verified them is classed as one without any insight. For example, dependent origination explains sorrow & grief occur because of craving & attachment towards "beings" who have "aged" &/or "died". This is not rocket science. It is more simple than Shakespeare. Grief occurs due to death of a being. Death of a being occurs due to producing or "birthing" a view of a "being". A view of a "being" occurs due to attachment, craving, feeling, ignorance, etc.


Personally I found the teachings on dependent origination to be the most rocket-science part of the Dhamma (and it contains much of the other teachings, since the first link is the Four Noble Truths which itself contains the Noble Eightfold Path). I was using Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation, so I'm glad to know that he has improved his understanding of nama-rupa. The version I was using even has a diagram of how to build a rocket on p12!

Here is what I found when I tried to verify dependent origination using the manual. It will probably sound laughably naive, but you do say the core teachings in the suttas are easily verifiable (although I certainly found it much harder and life altering than studying Shakespeare). It's a bit of a gory mess, but I thought it might help other people to know what I tried, if you can point out where I went wrong.

1) Ignorance of the Four Noble Truths: I studied the 4NTs and resolved to put them to the test of experience. I'm putting the Path first because that's where the most action was, at least in the beginning.

1.4) The Noble Eightfold Path (truth of the way leading to the end of suffering). I reordered my life to the best of my abilities given my householder responsibilities:

1.4.1) I subscribed to right view.
1.4.2) I set my intention/resolve.
1.4.3) I worked on improving my speech (from an admittedly low bar).
1.4.4) I improved my conduct: gave up meat, sex/masturbation/porn, alcohol, antidepressants (wasn't using any other intoxicants), sensual pleasures (no cologne, no TV, no music, unnecessary socializing etc.)
1.4.5) I took up right livelihood: gave up my business and started taking care of my kids (I was fortunate my wife works).
1.4.6) I periodically redoubled my efforts when I saw that the path was starting to work.
1.4.7) I took up mindfulness meditation both on and off the cushion.
1.4.8) I started practicing jhana.

For meditation I had 6 hours a day free when the kids were in school, 5 days a week, and I often meditated hours at night/early morning all 7 days as well. I followed this path for about 12 months. Probably not nearly long enough to get me very far you might say, but I gave it my all and was impressed with the reduced levels of suffering (for both myself and others) and direct insights into the veracity of the Buddha's teachings.

1.1) Truth of suffering. Although cleaning up my act had reduced suffering significantly for myself and others, it was clear that there was still a lot of suffering. Some of my suffering was conditioned body/mind responses from my previous misfortunes (10%) and misbehaviors (90%), but although that part was painful it wasn't really suffering so much because I knew I had 90% caused it to myself, so it was there for a reason and was seen to be reducing over time due to better behavior and mindfulness (less resistance to it). But beyond that, there was still all that basic suffering which the Buddha identified and happens to most people however good or lucky they have been: sickness, aging, death and birth (which causes the first three) as well as the general all-pervasive suffering in everyday experience caused by clinging.

1.2) Truth of the origin of suffering. I could see that "objects" (people, events, behavior, circumstances, pleasures, pains, senses, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, processes of becoming and non-becoming) did not cause suffering in and of themselves, rather the suffering arose from how the subject relates to the object (clinging/craving, i.e. pulling the pleasurable and pushing the painful).

1.3) Truth of the cessation of suffering. Looks like a no-brainer, if you know that clinging causes suffering then drop clinging. Through meditation I was able to have limited success with this, passing through momentary cessations/fruitions/path moments where conditioned reality dropped away and then reappeared, revealing an unconditioned reality free of suffering (nibbana). But I wasn't able to verify lasting abiding in nibbana.

I don't think this was because I wasn't willing to drop things I liked or accept things I didn't like, but because it seemed that on some irreducible level the subject's existence is based solely on pushing/pulling objects. There seemed to be no way that the subject could ever "drop itself" permanently, because survival was its first instinct and it was never going intentionally to do anything which threatened that. From a progressive path viewpoint, I guess the theory is that you just keep following the path and eventually the subject will shrivel and vanish.

But a troubling inconsistency started to arise: the more I experienced and considered it, following the path seemed to involve clinging to the path. I started to hear siren voices saying things like "first you let go, then you let go of letting go". But that's clearly contrary to progressive path Buddhism. So I started reading what the monks had to say and listening to their talks, and I was surprised to see that even some highly esteemed ones would say things quietly to the effect that you follow the path until you're ready to drop the path.

I started to develop heretical thoughts that since the self/subject/person doesn't really exist (it's just made up of minute fabrications, as described below), there's no free will and choice either to follow or not follow the path. Taking this possibility seriously resulted in more sustained "no-self" fruitions (hours) and then in the last few days a major flip from which the self has yet to reappear in any recognizable way from before. Life seems to be happening fine without the former self and whilst there is residual anxiety about absence of self, this anxiety is not felt as suffering because it is easily seen that there is no one there to suffer. Possibly self will reappear, but having had sustained insight into no-self it seems hard to imagine that self will go back to being as it was before.

Paradoxically, dropping the path hasn't meant that I've stopped following the path! I mean that a lot of the external metrics have improved because there's no clinging to following the path. I'm a better husband/father, I haven't reverted to my bad old ways, I'm more active in my community, jhana is developing better ... and suffering is gone (on this end at least), because it's seen that there is no one to suffer (and for those around me, suffering is reduced because my behavior is better). Speech on DhO looks worse, but that seems to be a function of new engagement, trying to communicate hard-won unorthodox/unpopular insights, which are either deluded (in which case I should be shot down quickly and no one will be misled) or else they might have something to them.

Basically it comes down to this. The path is part 1.4 of dependent origination which according to you should be easy to verify based on the individual's own insight from following the path, trying to understand it and meditating on it. Now I surely didn't follow the path as well or as long as many, but my experience might be representative of a cohort on here and help people who have their doubts. If one is not able to verify the path through one's own reason and insight then on has only two choices: drop the path or continue following the path through faith until such time as it proves itself (if indeed that ever happens). If the path becomes a matter of faith then it starts to look like just another lifestyle choice (albeit an extreme, noble, venerated one). Have you been able to verify that the path leads to (provisionally) permanent end of suffering?

2) Fabrication: I could see in meditation how the body, thoughts and feelings were being intentionally created based on prior conditions and intentions. At first this was on a gross level (body part, thought chain, gross feeling) but as my practice deepened these gross fabrications started dissolving into smaller parts until eventually there were just little "blips" (particles of experience). It became clear to me that when you really look into it there is no such thing as a person or free will, just little blips causing other little blips in a kind of phenomenological Brownian motion, subject on a grosser level to some kind of intentional causation (which itself was just blips).

3) Consciousness: I was trying to be as precise as possible about distinguishing and dissecting sights, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily sensations and thoughts, but ultimately in meditation it was all resolving into the unified blip field.

4) Name-and-form: This is just my personal experiential insight based on meditation and reasoning, not based on scholarly study, so my usage of terms is probably atrocious. I was trying my hardest to get insight into what is the world really made of, both inside the body (6 senses, internal objects/forms) and the world outside (external objects/forms). Obviously we can't ever experience the external world without using our senses, so it seemed fruitless to try to speculate on the relation between inside and outside and I just took it as an experiential axiom that all we can access is a single unified phenomenological field which people variously call mind, consciousness, matter, energy or simply just stuff (my favorite because it has the least connotations).

What I could see was that this stuff field has no intrinsic objects/forms, it's just a bunch of blips at the bottom. Therefore I could see that forms/objects are a layer of meaning/organization placed on top of stuff by the subject/mind/observer purely so it can interact and stand in relation to the internal and external world via clinging (pulling pleasant objects to the subject and pushing unpleasant objects away). This process of organizing/giving meaning to the world is what I understood to be naming. (E.g. That stuff there, it's not just stuff, it's an object, I want to pick it up and eat it, it needs a name, let's call it an apple.) So basically my insight was that name-and-form was a synonym for the creation of objects out of stuff, which is the sole function of the subject. Hence if name-and-form was somehow dropped then objects would vanish and so would the subject because there's nothing to cling to and that would be liberation (nibbana). Make sense or pile of puke?

5-12) I'm going to meld these links because this post is already way too long and due to my mixed-up terminology and hasty organization I've already covered some of it in previous links (actually from a theoretical standpoint as well some of the links seem to be a little repetitious). The crux of my insight was that craving and name-and-form objectification by the subject is continually appearing to create "beings" which are born, age, suffer and die, which is suffering because they are impermanent and can't be held onto if they are pleasant or prevented if unpleasant. These beings range from the finest fabrications (blips) up to the grossest fabrications (people, nations, mountains, stars) and they are all always dying and being reborn. I could see that the smallest fabrications are in a process of momentary birth-death-rebirth, as are the people and the biggest fabrications (civilizations die and are reborn, mountains erode and are created, stars condense and explode).

When it comes to the beings called people, there's an extra wrinkle with reincarnation. I could see rebirth happening in the sense of physical (scientifically observable) inheritance of conditioned human fabrications such as genes, behaviors, neuroses etc. But I was unable to verify non-physically transmitted reincarnation of people. I had a few random "past life" type experiences in meditation, suddenly finding myself manifesting as different people or beings, but it was not particularly consistent or reproducible and honestly I thought this could just be hallucinations driven by a desire to see what the suttas describe. It seems unlikely we can verify reincarnation through non-mediation experience, although there are some interesting studies on kids apparently remembering past lives and on the other end there's the whole topic of NDEs. Have you had any insights into reincarnation?

Am I correct to surmise from your comment on Bhikkhu Sujato re. promoting reincarnation that this is not something considered to be core sutta? I was under the impression that since it was central to the account of the Buddha's enlightenment it must be core.

Finally to address your last questions.

Obviously, comprehending the reality of the four noble truths, dependent origination or the three characteristics is very simple thus cannot be subject to doubt and lack of faith.

As I try to show above, I gave it my best shot and didn't find it simple at all! Hence I am left with doubts and lack of faith. What was I doing wrong?

 Are you claiming suffering is not caused by craving & attachment? emoticon

No, Buddha's teaching is 100% verified on this in my experience.

Are you claiming conditioned things are permanent, can bring lasting happiness & are a self? emoticon

No, Buddha 100% verified.

 Are you claiming killing, stealing, sexual exploitation, lying, drugs & alcohol, gambling, prostitution, etc, will lead to internal well-being? emoticon

Certainly not, Buddha 200% verified. As you know, I am guilty of all of the above (apart from killing any humans directly). In my experience, all of them lead to incalculable amounts of suffering for oneself and others, both in these lifetimes and possibly on subsequent generations via physical mechanisms of inheritance. I can't verify the effect of karma over multiple non-physically connected lifetimes because I am finding it hard to verify reincarnation.

I am remorseful about my past misdeeds and intend never to do such things again. I have implemented various atonement measures (service, charitable donations). I did find that excessive remorse created new suffering (both for myself and others) so at a certain point I forgave myself, which helped further with reducing suffering and paying atonement.

Why would these matters be subject to doubt & lack of faith? emoticon

The matters which I is was able to verify through study, reasoning, meditation and insight are not for me subject to any doubt or lack of faith. I was unable to verify reincarnation or that following the path leads to a permanent end of suffering. However by reasoning and meditating hard enough on non-existence of self, self vanished and it was verified that suffering ended for an extended duration which has not closed yet. Therefore I have doubts and lack of faith over the ability of the path to end suffering permanently.

Thank you again for your generous engagement with my Dhamma practice!

Regards
agnostic

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 3:24 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:

EDIT: BTW, Nikki, you seem to have misspelled "practice."

Practise (verb): https://www.lexico.com/definition/practise

Practice (noun): https://www.lexico.com/definition/practice

For example: "Practise what? Will a blind form of practice result in seeing rightly?

Or: Practise what? Will blind practise result in seeing rightly?

But not for non-English speaking Americans. emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/5/20 4:47 PM as a reply to Nicky.
Hey, I resemble that remark!

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/6/20 1:37 AM as a reply to agnostic.
the only way for me to truly understand these words is to become a Pali scholar.

The following is the 2nd of three refuges. Its the most basic starting point. 

Svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko 
paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhīti.

The teaching is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves.

 emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/6/20 2:40 AM as a reply to agnostic.
Have you been able to verify that the path leads to (provisionally) permanent end of suffering?

For a non-arahant, the above is obviously a logical assumption or inference, based on the verified experience suffering can be ended. Since it can be verified suffering can be ended for 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days, it can be confidently inferred an Arahant has ended suffering permanently. 

Fabrication: I could see in meditation how the body, thoughts and feelings were being intentionally created based on prior conditions and intentions. 

The suttas do not say there is volition at the 2nd link. Only the scholars say this. 

Since distracting non-controlled thoughts generally arise non-volitionally, it seems there is no volition operating at the 2nd link. 

 just little blips causing other little blips in a kind of phenomenological Brownian motion, subject on a grosser level to some kind of intentional causation (which itself was just blips).

Yes.... the "little blips" are 2nd link sankhara. But they are not intentional. The intention towards the little blips occurs at nama-rupa. 

3) Consciousness: I was trying to be as precise as possible about distinguishing and dissecting sights, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily sensations and thoughts, but ultimately in meditation it was all resolving into the unified blip field.

Just because the suttas list the 6 consciousness at the 3rd link does not mean all 6 consciousness arise at the 3rd link. In reality, only consciousness of the breathing and consciousness of the internal mental "blip field" arise at the 3rd link. The blips are sankhara (2nd link). The blips result in consciousness of the blips (3rd link). Then if nama is possessed by ignorance, nama makes unwholesome intentions towards the blips (4th link). Also, the blips cause the rupa to became agitated & restless (4th link). 

What I could see was that this stuff field has no intrinsic objects/forms,

The above is not about dependent origination. When insight (vipassana) occurs, this is not dependent origination. Dependent origination is the origination of the various multiple causes & conditions that produce suffering. SN 12.3 calls dependent origination "the wrong path". 

This process of organizing/giving meaning to the world is what I understood to be naming. (E.g. That stuff there, it's not just stuff, it's an object, I want to pick it up and eat it, it needs a name, let's call it an apple.)

"Naming" is an aspect of mind. But naming is not occuring at nama-rupa. Its too early. Contact must occur before naming can occur. 

So basically my insight was that name-and-form was a synonym for the creation of objects out of stuff, which is the sole function of the subject.

The creation or production (abhinibbatti) of categorises of objects (sattanikāye) out of stuff (khandhānaṃ pātubhāvo) is finalized at "jati" (11th link). Its unrelated to nama-rupa. 

When it comes to the beings called people....

"Beings" ("satta") are merely a "view" (rather than an organism) according to the suttas, per SN 23.2 (avoid Sujato's false translation of "sentinent beings") and SN 5.10. 

there's an extra wrinkle with reincarnation.

Dependent origination is not about reincarnation. Again, this is another idea of the scholars & priests. 

I could see rebirth happening in the sense of physical (scientifically observable) inheritance of conditioned human fabrications such as genes, behaviors, neuroses etc. But I was unable to verify non-physically transmitted reincarnation of people.

The word "jati" means a "class', "order" or "category of beings" (sattanikāye) produced from how aggregates are used or manifest and from what sense objects those manifesting aggregates pursue (refer to MN 98). Similar to SN 23.2 & SN 5.10, MN 98 says such categories of beings are merely "verbal designations"

 I had a few random "past life" type experiences in meditation, suddenly finding myself manifesting as different people or beings, but it was not particularly consistent or reproducible and honestly I thought this could just be hallucinations driven by a desire to see what the suttas describe. 

It seems the Buddha never recollected any "past lives". The Pali "pubbe nivasa" does not mean "past lives". Refer to the only sutta that explains recollecting past nivasa, here (proper translation): https://suttacentral.net/sn22.79/en/bodhi

The mind can only experience sankhara (mental formations/images). It cannot experience any past lives. 

Am I correct to surmise from your comment on Bhikkhu Sujato re. promoting reincarnation that this is not something considered to be core sutta? I was under the impression that since it was central to the account of the Buddha's enlightenment it must be core

The Pali word "nivasa" does not mean "lives". The Pali word "jatiya" does not mean "physical births". There appears nothing in the 1st Knowledge desribed in the Pali suttas that refers to "past lives". During the 1st watch of the night, the Buddha recollected the thousands/millions of times in this past his mind ignorantly regarded one or more aggregates as "self" or as having "identity". These are the "nivasa" ("abodes/adherences") and "jatiya" ("social/self identities") the Buddha recollected during the 1st watch of the night. 

Its only the scholars that translate "pubbe nivasa" as "past lives" but at least occassionally they translate accurately (such as Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of SN 22.79, already posted). 

I can't verify the effect of karma over multiple non-physically connected lifetimes because I am finding it hard to verify reincarnation.

This is why I originally posted the following is the most important Dhamma Refuge. Everyday, both morning & night, in every Theravavda monastery and many devout Buddhist homes, the following is chanted. Yet you have not taken refuge in it. 

Svākkhāto bhagavatā dhammo sandiṭṭhiko akāliko ehipassiko opaneyyiko paccattaṃ veditabbo viññūhīti.

The teaching is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves.

See video: https://youtu.be/K8uxJ5WO-Us


With metta emoticon

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/6/20 6:57 AM as a reply to Nicky.
...and yet, still very confusing on many levels to the ordinary mind (mine). 

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/6/20 7:37 AM as a reply to T.
We are discussing the topic of Dependent Origination, a Buddhist doctrine. To repeat this gist of this topic: 

1. Non-deliberate distracting thoughts arise to disturb & push & pull the mind. These non-violitional distracting thoughts in Dependent Origination are called 'sankhara' (2nd link). These distracting thoughts originate from ignorance (1st link). 

2. These distracting thoughts cause the body to become aroused & restless. This body is called "rupa" in Dependent Origination (4th link). 

3. "Nama" ("mind") is also part of the 4th link in Dependent Origination. 

4. When "nama" is controlled/polluted by ignorance, it feels, perceives, has contact with and makes inappropriate intentions and gives inappropriate attention towards these distracting thoughts. This is the 4th link of Dependent Origination leading to suffering. 

5. For example, the thought may spontaneously arise in your mind to smoke a cigarette. This spontaneous thought is sankhara (2nd link). 

5a. Being conscious of this thought of smoking a cigarette is the 3rd link called "consciousness". 

6. Then at 4th link, your "nama" ("mind") has two options: (i) to reject that thought about smoking or (ii) to pursue the thought of smoking. 

7. If the nama-rupa decides to pursue the thought of smoking, then the six sense bases begin to search for a cigarette to smoke, which is the 5th link of Dependent Origination. 

8. Sense contact (6th link) with the cigarette gives rise to feeling (7th link), craving (8th link) and attachment (9th link) towards the cigarette. 

We are discussing how the mind operates when it creates kamma & suffering. 

Surely you can understand this. Surely your mind generate desires towards things and you have some awareness of this process. 

Surely there are times thoughts arise in your mind (such as the thought to poison your neighbour's dog) and you make the decision to reject those thoughts. 

Those thoughts are called "sankhara" (2nd link). The mind that knows those thoughts & decides to reject, or otherwise, pursue those thoughts is called "nama" (4th link). 

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/6/20 7:42 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Thank you, Nicky!

This really basic pointing with examples was much more clear to me, yes, and will be helpful to follow when I sit.

I get lost in the technical translation descriptions and the really dense material - especially when the finer points of what else nama-rupa can mean depending on context or who translated it, etc.

Thank you for making it very accessible here and thank you for your very deep knowledge and scholarship to share with us. 

Do I understand this correctly:
- Deep insights through paying attention and meditating will reveal this chain as it arises in life.
- Seeing it as it is, will allow clarity into interrupting the chain at certain points, the better we become at paying attention and the deeper the insight. 
- Doing these things will make it obvious that there is no self available to be controlling any of this.
- Seeing this clearly, will negate the entire premise of a self, which will allow more freedom/natrual tendency to interrupt the chain earlier and earlier.

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/6/20 9:17 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Hi Nicky.
  Well I got to redrawing out the circle of the Dependent Origination four times, to bring my visual mind and study memory back up to speed. It's been a while. My ordination teacher the Late MahaThera Bhante Punnaji had lots of pretty radical revisions of it all , so after a while I put it on the shelf. Just only lately the Name & Form issue seemed even more in need of a complete make-over.
  I thought I'd go into the Suttas more this time. Access to Insight gives 11 references. DN 15, then the rest in the Nidana Saṃyutta.
The exercise tended to, as often is the case with me, raise more new questions. So without any main strategy or question here perhaps I could run some of the observations out for airing. Perhaps the Name & Form one can start coming into focus along the way.
I noticed that, if we are calling the four mental factors of the Five Aggregates 'Nāma'...  well almost all the link fctors are 'a kind of Nāma'. Only three and half are Rupa [ the Kaya part of nāma-rupa, the Salayatana sense organs, the body part of Vedana, and presumably jati, marana etc.  Everything else is a kind of nāma [ I mean - 1) Avijja is mental, 2) Sankhara are mental cetasikas, 3) the six viññānas are mental, 4) of the nāma-rupa, as the five aggregates the four are mental, 6) phassa as contact .... that could actually be described as a mind-matter percussion, a striking between matter objects and the  sense organs giving a mental resonance... so it actually could be more nama-rupa in that sense, 7) vedana, half of them are mental , the mind mood and the other half physical pleasant and unpleasant, 8) craving is mental, for the most part. Attachment pefrhaps is another nama-rupa as it involves an inner mental/emotional obsession and an outer material object mostly, bhavo is a mental condition... if its all still churning at death then 11) jati [material plus accompanying mind ] is assured, and if that happens then marana aging, illness , separation [physical rupa ] is also assured.
 I attended to what you said about three repeitions of perception. I also noticed some repeats. I asked the Venerable Sayadaw Sunanda where was perception on the cycle, and he offered the opinion that perception appeared at No.1, as 'misperception' avijja', [ atta ditthi, sukkha, nicca , sort of thing not Right view , Anatta, Dukkha, Annicca ]. Then I noticed it appreared that you were including Sañña in 2) Sankhara, if I recall right. I have noticed that in some analysis of Sankhara it is included as a cetasika but not always. The way I had understood Viññana to work was that there are six optional viññanas, eye-viññana, ear-viññana, touch-viññana, thought-viññana etc corresponding to the physical sense organ at 5) salayatana. If 4) is nāma-rupa as the five aggregates, then Sankhara is also squeezed in again. This is ok if its meant like that. I take it that 1) Aviija preconditions the Sankhara to be one the unwholesome states, and that unwholesome state will begoverning the Attention, Intention, Focus, and maybe some other factors, like Sustained attention, Interest, Decision, Effort... this unwholesome mind state is in need of an object and thus one of the sense door/organ of the six to use, activating the viññana, the Four Aggregates arise suitably conditioned and contact arises coupled with the external objects... causing 7) Vedana to respond and reaction on the mental and physical level. That is the accompanying condition for 8) one of the three primary cravings ( Sensations [kāma], bhava, vibhava], thus simulataneously the strong attachment is there. As [kāma], bhava, vibhava], correspond with desire/greed, ego and hate in their tendency, the precondition is set up for the primary poisons of Lobha, Moha, Dhosa. With the Samsara Vata cycle active with 1, 8 and 9 co-arising, then the condition of Bhavo is automatically generated, the vacuum of an unfulfilled wish, the need to remove something or someone, or to become something... bhava/bhavo generates the1)  unwholesome Sankharas wth 1) Avijja coupled.

 This seems to me to check out. If Mahasi is used, then instead of 'starting with ' I am seeing, My ... Mine... ( avijja) the experience is noted impersonally. 'Awareness of seeing;, 'awareness of temperature' etc that is the 'noting of the six sense doors', with a primary object. Then the samsara cycle is cut off, as it is not being fed by personalised experiences with I am, I was, I will be etc.
At one point I checked with Sayadaw Sunanda that the Dependent Origination, seeming a bit bleak was not so much a description of 'how experiences happen' so much as a 'worst case scenario', in that it assumes avijja, thus pain and misery is what we are looking at. A positive version of it is possible then, starting with 1) Vijja 2) Wholesome Sankharas 3) Vinnana 4) a pleasant nama-rupa and only round to vedana,.. no tanha, no uppadana, no bhavo....  to which he agreed. I still don't quite understand why we are always presented with the worst case model the whole time, but should have both. What it looks like when ignorance is governing and what we are striving for.

 Incidentally I noticed that in the DN 15, Maha-Nidana Sutta, SC 72 'craving for sights - was derived from 'rūpa tanhā'. In a list of six sense stimuli. It is interesting there that rūpa was being used limited to colour and seen objects, not the other physical aspects. Bhante Punnaji would make much of the way in Sri Lanka 'rupa' means a picture. In the same sutta there are also two terms used 'rūpakāyassa and nāmakāye. Sujato gives just physical phenomena and mental phenomena.

So name and form still seems anomalous.
Thankyou for prompting me to dust down my Dep Orig. I hope sometime to get together some clear graphics of the Dep Orig.... at one time i was keen to do something with computer animation on it.. but it kind of did its own marana-soka-parideva of a sort. I'll see.

I'm sure you;ll jump in and slash this all to pieces, haha.

Interesting we were both in Wat Suan Mokh at the same time. I recall seeing Ajahn Buddhadassa laid out in the floor with some tubes. I did do i think both the retreats you referred to, definitely one of them. Might have seen you there. I was one of the few Bhikkhus. A Brit or Brit/Oz monk i think led it. There was a tall German monk who did Thai Chi, and a couple of others. Anyway lot of water under the bridge. Many cycles of samsara ago.

metta

r

RE: Nama-rupa: ‘Context and Reality’
Answer
4/6/20 9:45 AM as a reply to Nicky.
Thank you Nicky for your fantastic response, which was more than I could have expected or deserved in terms of cool-headed scholarship and insight. I have a few more questions and comments arising in response which I would like to post, however for the time being I need to conserve my energy to allow recovery from the Coronavirus. Not fishing for sympathy, just don't want you to think that I ignored or was unappreciative of your efforts in responding so thoroughly!

Until later,
agnostic