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Mind & Body - I don't get it

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Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/27/16 3:22 AM
I'm currently reading Mahasi Sayadaw's Satipatthana Vipassana and a question came up that I already had when I read Daniel's book.

Mahasi Sayadaw writes:
What is it then that knows objects now? It is mentality, which comes into being depending on materiality. It is called nama in Pali because it inclines (namati) towards an object. Mentality is also spoken of as thought or consciousness. Mentality arises depending on materiality: depending on the eye, eye-consciousness (seeing) arises; depending on the ear, ear-consciousness (hearing) arises; depending on the nose, nose-consciousness (smelling) arises; depending on the tongue, tongue-consciousness (tasting) arises; depending on the body, body-consciousness (sense of touch) arises.
[...]
[In the case of seeing,] it is now evident that in the body there are only two distinct elements of materiality (eye) and mentality (seeing) at every moment of seeing. In addition, there is also a third element of materiality - the visual object.

Later he states that thes objects, i.e. nama & rupa are "real" and one can distinguish between them in noting practice. And that's what I don't get: Isn't all experience just a form of perception and thereby mentality? How can one experience/perceive materiality (e.g. of the eye or the visual object)? Or is Mahasi Sayadaw talking about an intermediate state where things still look pretty solid and materialistic to the mind?

Thanks for your help.

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/27/16 11:36 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Andreas Thef:

Isn't all experience just a form of perception and thereby mentality? How can one experience/perceive materiality (e.g. of the eye or the visual object)? Or is Mahasi Sayadaw talking about an intermediate state where things still look pretty solid and materialistic to the mind?


Any kind of perception is on the side of nama. What is perceived (eg. eye or visual object) is rupa. So nama and rupa are both there together in experiencing. For example bumping your head you perceive pain, which if investigated includes body-sense door, body-sense object and body-sense consciousness, an unpleasant vedana, a mental formation, each with it's particular consciousness again. Most of them nama, some rupa. Don't think Ven. Mahasi had particularly a materialistic outlook in mind. But the usual confusion of arbitrarily idendifying with random elements within perception, either rupa or nama, or a mixture of each of them. And thereby imagining a duality, which wouldn't hold up to such investigation.

MIND AND BODY
There is this sudden shift, and mental phenomena shift out away
from the illusory sense of “the watcher” and are just out there in the
world with the sensations of the other five sense doors. This is an
important insight, as it shows us clearly and directly that we are not
“our” mind or “our” body. It is also a really nice, clear and unitive
feeling state (it really is still more state-like than stage-like), and people
can try to hold on to it just as with the first jhana and get stuck. Reality
can seem just a bit more brilliant the first time one chances into Mind
and Body. We may feel more alive and connected to the world.

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/27/16 11:34 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
When you walk, there is mental intention to walk. this mental intention is nama.

The one step from lifting heel, raising, moving forward, lowering, touching, and pressing are 5 arising and disappearing sensations that occur automatically without mental thought. The sensations are rupa. Nama is aware of the sensation,

Nama and rupa are distinct and different but condition each other. 

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/27/16 11:59 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Original Pali Buddhism does not state all things are perceptions. Therefore, the question is not relevant to Buddhism & is just a reflection of one's own misunderstandings. 

For example, when the body & mind is hungry for food; it cannot eat 'perceptions' for nourishment. It must eat physical food. Or when a leg is broken, a doctor does not heal a broken leg with "perceptions". Instead, the doctor administers physical remedies. 

Buddhism teaches (MN 152) that an enlightened practitioner can master perception, by perceiving evil as 'good' and good as 'evil' etc. Yet this mastery of perception does not extend to conjuring up physical objects like magician, such as food, money, sexy women, etc. 

if all things were perceptions then all things could be created & destroyed via perception, which is not the case. 


emoticon

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/28/16 2:16 AM as a reply to Simon Liu.
First of all, I would like to say that I'm not just trying to split hairs here. The question has real practical meaning for me as I feel like I could be missing an important point.
So thank you very much for all your answers and your help.

Any kind of perception is on the side of nama. What is perceived (eg. eye or visual object) is rupa. So nama and rupa are both there together in experiencing. For example bumping your head you perceive pain, which if investigated includes body-sense door, body-sense object and body-sense consciousness, an unpleasant vedana, a mental formation, each with it's particular consciousness again. Most of them nama, some rupa.

But having a head can only be assumed by thinking about it, by seeing it or by feeling it. And those are all nama, right? I don't understand how one can perceive or know the head as a material thing outside of perception. That would be like asking someone to have an experience outside of experience, which by definition is impossible.

The one step from lifting heel, raising, moving forward, lowering, touching, and pressing are 5 arising and disappearing sensations that occur automatically without mental thought. The sensations are rupa. Nama is aware of the sensation,

Same here. How can I possibly know the sensations (rupa) outside of awareness (nama)?

Don't think Ven. Mahasi had particularly a materialistic outlook in mind. But the usual confusion of arbitrarily idendifying with random elements within perception, either rupa or nama, or a mixture of each of them. And thereby imagining a duality, which wouldn't hold up to such investigation.

Now this would make sense to me.

Original Pali Buddhism does not state all things are perceptions. Therefore, the question is not relevant to Buddhism & is just a reflection of one's own misunderstandings.

Thanks Nicky, I see. I must confess that I watched a lot of advaita videos lately. But their message seems so logical and I would like to understand my possible misunderstanding.

if all things were perceptions then all things could be created & destroyed via perception, which is not the case.

I don't assume that everything is just perception. But I understand that I can only experience and know everything through my perception. So I think my question boils down to: how can I know rupa (materiality) as rupa in nama (my perception)?

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/28/16 5:11 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Experience or knowing certainly can only occur via consciousness & perception. 

'Rupa' refers to: (i) visual sense objects; and (ii) the physical body 

The physical body is 'rupa' because it is tangible, pseudo-permanent & hard in nature. It is perceived as 'solid' & 'hard', such as knocking your knuckles on a table. 

'Rupa' has a certain predictability. For example, the Great Pyramids have stood for 4,000 years. If you travel to Egypt, it is certain the Pyramids will be there. 

You may observe the Pyramids in a photograph and percieve they are 'nice' but when you arrive in Egypt you may perceive they look old & boring. This show the Pyramids are more solid & predictable than your fleeting & fickle perceptions and shows the assumption of an objective external world is probably more valid than the assumption of only a subjetive internal world of perception. 

The fact that 1,000 people may equally be conscious of the Pyramid but also perceive some aspects of the Pyramid differently is an argument for the assumption there is an objective external world. 

Cognitively, sure, rupa is just a perception but it is the specific & unique perception of 'solidity' & 'hardness', which makes it distinctly 'rupa'. 

Some quotes from the Pali suttas: 

It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body (rupa) composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another.


....this body (rupa) composed of the four properties, born of mother & father, fed on rice & porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing & massaging, breaking-up & disintegrating. It has nine openings, nine un-lanced heads. Whatever would ooze out from it would be an uncleanliness oozing out, a stench oozing out, a disgust oozing out. Whatever would be discharged from it would be an uncleanliness discharging, a stench discharging, a disgust discharging. 


And why do you call it 'form' (rupa)? Because it is afflicted/broken (ruppati), thus it is called 'form.' Afflicted with what? With cold & heat & hunger & thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun & reptiles. Because it is afflicted, it is called form.


And what is the earth property? The earth property can be either internal or external. What is the internal earth property?Anything internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid & sustained/conditioned: head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, contents of the stomach, feces, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's hard, solid, and sustained: This is called the internal earth property. Now both the internal earth property & the external earth property are simply earth property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' 

And what is the water property? The water property may be either internal or external. What is the internal water property? Anything internal, belonging to oneself, that's water, watery & conditioned: bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, oil, saliva, mucus, oil-of-the-joints, urine, or anything else internal, within oneself, that's water, watery, & sustained: This is called the internal water property. Now both the internal water property & the external water property are simply water property. And that should be seen as it actually is present with right discernment: 'This is not mine, this is not me, this is not my self.' 



..........

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/28/16 5:58 AM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
I don't assume that everything is just perception. But I understand that I can only experience and know everything through my perception. So I think my question boils down to: how can I know rupa (materiality) as rupa in nama (my perception)?

For practical porposes of insight meditation I would suggest just note each element as it is outlined in the sutta. And put the thinking about it aside for later after meditation practice. That you become aware of qualities of rupa in codependency of nama (not YOUR, however) isn't the important point to make at the beginning.

Funnily, that question for me never arose in meditation. First simply put my on gross bodily sensations, obviously belonging to materiality like mosquitos, long sittings. The mental aspects became clearer by mindfullness itself.

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/28/16 8:09 AM as a reply to pamojja.
Nicky, your explanation and the sutta quotes make a lot of sense and I will follow all of your advice and rather make it a practical issue and not so much overthink it.

Thank you all for your help.

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/28/16 1:37 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Thank you for your thank you, Andreas. 

It is of crucial importance to discern how the mind & its perceptions, views & opinions create the entire emotional life of a person. 

This is why teachers emphasise perception since our peace of mind entirely depends on our perception & view. 

However, I just made my posts to balance an extreme view; that all is perception. 

For example, there is something in our body we call "the kidneys"; even though we never directly perceive our kidneys. But if we lost our kidneys, we would be very sick or even die. 

We have a body (rupa) that must be looked after. Problems with our body can harm our meditation & mind. 

With metta

RE: Mind & Body - I don't get it
Answer
11/28/16 5:41 PM as a reply to Andreas Thef.
Andreas Thef:
I'm currently reading Mahasi Sayadaw's Satipatthana Vipassana and a question came up that I already had when I read Daniel's book.

Mahasi Sayadaw writes:
What is it then that knows objects now? It is mentality, which comes into being depending on materiality. It is called nama in Pali because it inclines (namati) towards an object. Mentality is also spoken of as thought or consciousness. Mentality arises depending on materiality: depending on the eye, eye-consciousness (seeing) arises; depending on the ear, ear-consciousness (hearing) arises; depending on the nose, nose-consciousness (smelling) arises; depending on the tongue, tongue-consciousness (tasting) arises; depending on the body, body-consciousness (sense of touch) arises.
[...]
[In the case of seeing,] it is now evident that in the body there are only two distinct elements of materiality (eye) and mentality (seeing) at every moment of seeing. In addition, there is also a third element of materiality - the visual object.

Later he states that thes objects, i.e. nama & rupa are "real" and one can distinguish between them in noting practice. And that's what I don't get: Isn't all experience just a form of perception and thereby mentality? How can one experience/perceive materiality (e.g. of the eye or the visual object)? Or is Mahasi Sayadaw talking about an intermediate state where things still look pretty solid and materialistic to the mind?

Thanks for your help.
Here is an experience I had that I felt were all I needed with respect to what is meant by 'mind and body'.

I was sitting, concentration was good, and a small short noise happended nearby.  I was aware of that noise.  Then I was aware of a feeling inside my brain that was recognizably an internal reaction to that outside noise.  Then I was aware of a mental identification: "furnace relay clicking on", then I was aware of a feeling of rush or excitement inside my chest.

I interpret this as experiential conformation that phenomina of my body and my mind are all observable by that magical mysterious thing that observes stuff, puts things together, creates our reality for us.  Having this experience over and over again, developing breadth and depth of this observational ability leads to deeper awareness and progress along the path of awakening.

I know very few Pali words, so if you're into that stuff, of course, take my words with a grain of salt. emoticon

Go for it. emoticon