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Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to? - Dhamma Wheel

Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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retrofuturist
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Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:18 am

Greetings,

Over the last few years, I've come across some vastly different explanations for the term nāmarūpa.

I thought it might be worthwhile discussing what we think the Buddha was referring to when he used the compound term nāmarūpa.

I'm happy for us to explore this term from whatever angle suits you (sutta, abhidhamma, meditation experiences etc.)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby cooran » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:50 am

Hello all,

nāma-rūpa
(lit. 'name and form'): 'mind-and-body', mentality and corporeality. It is the 4th link in the dependent origination (s. paticcasamuppāda 3, 4) where it is conditioned by consciousness, and on its part is the condition of the sixfold sense-base. In two texts (D. 14, 15), which contain variations of the dependent origination, the mutual conditioning of consciousness and mind-and-body is described (see also S. XII, 67), and the latter is said to be a condition of sense-impression (phassa); so also in Sn. 872.
The third of the seven purifications (s. visuddhi), the purification of views, is defined in Vis.M. XVIII as the "correct seeing of mind-and-body," and various methods for the discernment of mind-and-body by way of insight-meditation (vipassanā, q.v.) are given there. In this context, 'mind' (nāma) comprises all four mental groups, including consciousness. - See nāma.
In five-group-existence (pañca-vokāra-bhava, q.v.), mind-and body are inseparable and interdependent; and this has been illustrated by comparing them with two sheaves of reeds propped against each other: when one falls the other will fall, too; and with a blind man with stout legs, carrying on his shoulders a lame cripple with keen eye-sight: only by mutual assistance can they move about efficiently (s. Vis.M. XVIII, 32ff). On their mutual dependence, see also paticca-samuppāda (3).
With regard to the impersonality and dependent nature of mind and corporeality it is said:
"Sound is not a thing that dwells inside the conch-shell and comes out from time to time, but due to both, the conch-shell and the man that blows it, sound comes to arise: Just so, due to the presence of vitality, heat and consciousness, this body may execute the acts of going, standing, sitting and lying down, and the 5 sense-organs and the mind may perform their various functions" (D. 23).
"Just as a wooden puppet though unsubstantial, lifeless and inactive may by means of pulling strings be made to move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity; just so are mind and body, as such, something empty, lifeless and inactive; but by means of their mutual working together, this mental and bodily combination may move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity."
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/n_ ... _ruupa.htm

and

Various uses of the term nāma-rūpa highlighted in red
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... splay=utf8

metta
Chris
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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:59 am

Greetings Chris,

Thank you for the definition - I like it. I feel it captures a lot of the subtleties that are missed when it is grossly (though not incorrectly) used as a proxy for a person, "mind" and "body", or the five aggregates.

There's a couple of sutta references I want to include if I have time over the next day or two.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby cooran » Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:27 am

Here's a likely one:

SN 5.9 Sela Sutta: Sela
translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Setting at Savatthi. Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Sela dressed... she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day's abiding.
Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Sela, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:
By whom has this puppet been created? Where is the maker of the puppet? Where has the puppet arisen? Where does the puppet cease?
Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Sela: "Now who is this...? This is Mara the Evil One... desiring to make me fall away from concentration."
Then the bhikkhuni Sela, having understood, "This is Mara the Evil One," replied to him in verses:
This puppet is not made by itself, Nor is this misery made by another. It has come to be dependent on a cause, When the cause dissolves then it will cease. As when a seed is sown in a field It grows depending on a pair of factors: It requires both the soil's nutrients And a steady supply of moisture. Just so the aggregates and elements, And these six bases of sensory contact, Have come to be dependent on a cause; When the cause dissolves they will cease.
Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, "The bhikkhuni Sela knows me," sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby Pannapetar » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:28 am

The shortest most accurate translation for nāmarūpa is probably "psychophysical".

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:45 am

My teacher, Madawela Punnaji prefers to translate and call it as "image" and "label." I think this is due to the importance of anatta so that people don't confuse the "form" with a self or even an "impermanent self."
Image




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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby kannada » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:53 am

Nama(h)/Rupa

Superimposition of Name on Form

Ironically 'rupa' is also nama(h)

k
Just a view - nothing more...

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby Rhino » Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:06 pm

With best wishes

Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching.

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby gavesako » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:11 pm

The main problem arises because the commentaries confuse things by including consciousness under nama, thus resorting to a kind of mind-body dualism, whereas the Buddha's philosophy was much more sophisticated than that.

I made some video clips about this subject:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yiem_H4tpgM
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby clw_uk » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:40 pm

Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:06 pm

Hello all,

I understand the term to refer to subject and object. Reality is in a state of constant change so that an object clarified into a category other than the direct flow of change implies a subject which isn't really there. It also implies an object which is existent in some form of sustained way which is also not the case.

Far out!


Gabe
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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby Macavity » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:33 pm


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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby Rhino » Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:42 pm

With best wishes

Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha's Teaching.

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby adosa » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:21 am

..
Last edited by adosa on Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby appicchato » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:48 am

Check out Bhikkhu Nanananda's Sermon #1 (Page 3) at:

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... rmon_8.htm

Thank you Tilt...

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby piotr » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:19 am

Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby adosa » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:47 am

"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby piotr » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:53 am

Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby cooran » Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:33 pm

---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Nāmarūpa - what exactly was the Buddha referring to?

Postby gavesako » Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:59 pm

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
- Translations and history of Pali texts
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