Bahiya and the cessation of name-form

Am I wrong or is the seen, heard, felt, and know just name-form and merely the seen, merely the heard, merely the felt, and merely the known just form? A lot falls into place If I am right about this.


Thank you for this sutta citation!

What is the significance you are placing on name and form in this sutta? The seen that is just seen, without naming the seen, seems void of ‘name-form’ and similarly for the heard, the thought etc. I believe the Teacher here is describing bare perception without necessary dichotomies of name and form arising.

On another note, the six sense contacts are intact and yet the Teacher declares, “Just this is the end of suffering.” This is difficult to reconcile for those who believe in the substantial existence of the aggregates as dukkha incarnate and only their total cessation as the end of suffering.

Update: Oh, I now understand I think what you are getting at. Yes, the phrase ‘merely the seen’ is describing bare perception of the seen without the arising of name and form. Still, it isn’t correct to say the ‘seen’ is name and form I don’t think. That implies the very dichomatic thinking/conception that the Teacher here is pointing beyond.


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I think the Buddha saying that the novice only knows namarupa, but the Buddha and Arahants only know the appearances/forms without feelings accompanying them. This seems consistent with the fourth jhana being without feelings but are still not devoid of merely Rupa/appearances without feelings. This being the taste of nibanna.

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Hmm. Not sure why you are inserting the word ‘feelings’ here. My understanding of this sutta is saying that bare perception of the six contacts exists, but it is does not engage dichomatic thinking that labels or gives a name to some ‘thing’ in contrast to everything else aka the ‘other.’

In the absence of such dichomatic thinking it is impossible to find any way to be ‘by that’ or ‘in that’ and no longer possible to construct an ‘I’ who is in this world or the world beyond or between the two. Not being able to construct such an ‘I’, there is no grasping and no craving and the rest of dependent arising cannot continue. It is a profound sutta, very deep and difficult to penetrate for my limited understanding. :pray:

You may be correct. I am not sure, that is why I opened the discussion. I’m really asking the question and looking for a correction or confirmation.

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Felt here is short for the nose, tongue and body contact. All all of them are just 6 sense contacts.

Definition of name: feeling, perception, volition, contact and attention.

The 5 physical senses takes the form as object whereas the known (mind sense) can take mental objects including what is from the physical senses.

What the sutta is telling us is to break down self/I making/my making and just let the 6 sense contacts be as they are.

It’s a very deep teaching.

Here is an analogy I like to use. For a person who dated a partner, and got dumped. He goes to the place where they used to date. Feelings of sadness comes up. But then if he can manage to see what is the seen is merely the seen, he can break off the sadness. Why is there sadness, because what is seen doesn’t just stop there, but goes on to activate memories of past events of dating, and identification of self inside the memory, attaching to feelings of pleasant sensation, craving to want it again, realizing that it cannot happen, thus separation from what one likes.

All these happening so fast. Just see a place as a place. Even if memory comes up, just see is as what is known as what is known. Even if unpleasant feelings comes, just see it as feelings. Not my feelings. Those who has moved on can just see a place as a place, even memories doesn’t produce sadness.

The above is a crude example for serious suffering.


Thanks for the reply. I think found something along the same lines as you said.


I would think that when we are consequent and talk about form/rupa as the body composed of molecules, feeded with porridge, born on a certain moment in time, growing gradually, that is something different from the body we experience which exists as a mental construction, consisting of all kinds of tactile sensations, visuals, sounds and a lot of smells :roll_eyes:

But somehow we must make this difference because we can assume that the body still exist but is not experienced anymore (under narcosis, death, deep sleep).

The physical senses also really only contact EM waves (eye). Soundwaves (ear). Molecules (tactile, smell and taste). It is never that they really contact smells, colour/visuals, sounds.

If we talk about a smell we perceive, or a sound or odour, that certainly is not talking about some external rupa but this is a mental reality. Sound is just the interpretation of certain soundwaves, etc.
It is all mental.

The awareness of a certain sound is the arising of ear vinnana’s. These sounds and these moments of awareness cannot be seperated. One cannot say…here is the sound and there is the awareness of the sound. (MN43)

I believe sound is not really an object of the ear vinnana, only by way of speech, as in…awareness of a certain sound…but they are really the same. There is no ontological difference between the sounds heard and ear-vinnana’s arising (and vice versa), smells smelled and smell vinnana’s arising etc. (MN43)

Some think that vinnana’s cannot be seen arising but i believe this is not true. The arising and ceasing of sense vinnana’s is not different from the arising and ceasing of perceptions (of smells, sounds, visuals) etc. All coming and going we notice is the coming and going of vinnana’s. There is no seperation possible between arising feeling and perceptions and vinnana’s.

Without vinnana’s arising there will be no perception of movement in the mind. This is refered to as mind is empty, stilled.

Isnt it always something mental we see, hear, feel, know?

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I think that everything we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell is in some sense mental. That said, some of it is bare knowledge of the senses (externally generated) or form, and some of it is added by some kind of mental processing (internally generated). feelings, perception, volition (karmic), and consciousness.

I believe that vinnana is the experience of loka (the world) as form, feelings, and perception, and volition/intentions as self. In the Bahiya sutta (Ud 1.10) the seen, heard, felt (sensed),and known are rupa + feelings + perception + volition. There is suffering in this.

I believe that panna is the experience of form, feelings, and perception without volition. There is no world or self in this. In the Bahiya sutta (Ud 1.10) merely the seen, merely the heard, merely the merely the felt (sensed),and merely the known are rupa + feelings + perception without volition/intentions. There is no suffering in this.

With regard to namarupa, I equate namarupa with vinnana. Where there is namarupa, there is consciousness. Where there is consciousness, there is namarupa. They are logically equivalent.

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But suppose you hear a sound, in what way is this not a totally mental moment?
I try to understand what you are sharing

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I think we need to make a distinction between different usages of the word “mental”. The sound of the rustling of leaves is mental in the sense that it is part of the experience. In the case of vinnana, it is perceived to be external to the organism. In the event that the sound is someone saying “hello” it is also perceived as being external, but it has a meaning that is understood and can lead to a response “Hello” back with a discursive thought of “Well, I guess he’s not angry at me anymore” accompanied by a feeling of relief. This thought and feeling would be perceived as internal. To say something is internal is to say it is mental in another sense. It is not loka, it is from you.

In the case of Panna, there is no sign marking something as internal and external. There is no loka or you in it. The rustling of leaves is simply known without accompanying discursive thoughts. or non verbal thought. You not visualizing the colored leaves of Autumn and having happy memories of being back in college. If you did, they would be perceived as internal and the sounds as external.

If someone says “hello”, and there is a spontaneous utterance of “hello, I am happy to see you” back without deliberation/intent, but accompanied by the feeling of your lips and tongue moving would be not signal internal or external. Discursive thought that are not addressed to an imagined self also does not signal internal or external. Sometimes when you are absorbed in work, you can lose “yourself”. Actions without deliberation or intent are neither internal or external. Of course, there is an experience of something the whole time that in one sense is mental and in one sense not.

In one of my logic classes in college, our text book had a quote saying something like, “When faced with a paradox you must draw a distinction.” After forty three years, I can honestly say this is excellent advice.

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Thank you, your examples are helpful. Yes, that distinction is interesting. It cannot be real. Look at our childhood. We all must learn that certain sounds represent letters. Then certain combinations of sounds are learned as combination of letters, words. And then combination of words and silence form sentences. But we must all learn this. Sounds an sich have no meaning (except as in body language). That we see again when we meet with a foreigner.

But it is quit interesting, i feel, that after some time in our personal history we are not even able anymore the hear mere sounds coming from someones mouth. We immediately hear words. The mind/brain is trained years and years to immeditately interpretate sounds as words and combination of words as sentences. But i must be interpretation.

My view on this is that this is all a complete mental reality and not really externally but it is only perceived as external. You can also see this with colour. It cannot be real that the colour red is really on the object. But somehow the mind/brain projects it upon it. Animals with different make-up see another colour on the object. It must be some illusion that the colour is some fixed quality of the object.

I take some time to think about what you say about panna and no sign marking of internal and external.

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Well, i do not come much further i notice. But i have some feeling for this:

When i read the sutta i understood it like this: an sich the seen, heard, thought, known are just what they are. It are the minds accumulated tendencies that attributes meaning like ugly, beautiful, attractive, unattractive, me, mine, my self, not me, not mine, not my self to what is seen, thought, heard, felt, known. At first glimp i saw the message that this is how we should train.

Anyway, i think we all experience how capricious this sign making is. It is very clear to me it comes from my own mind. I certaintly try to train this way. But, ofcourse, woman are an sich beautiful :innocent:

I also believe that EBT teach that minds nature is signless. Signs arise as adventitious stuff.

What I understand is - when the outside six senses doors images, sound , taste, etc) contact with the inside six senses doors (eyes, ears, nose etc) there is sensation (vedana) . If we react these sensations by like it or don’t like it we develop more attachment… leading to new cycle again and again. If we do not react we do not develop attachment - see as see not reacting with like it don’t like it [ just merely see without reacting] - leading to cessation…

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Hi, I think you are, for the most part, right. Both the Uṇṇābhabrāhmaṇasutta (SN 48.42) and the Mahāvedallasutta, (MN 43) contain information suggesting that you are.

I wonder that like, dislike, and indifferent aren’t the first signs of consciousness - again to return to my growing sense that Buddha understood consciousness to be affective.

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All the four parts of Nama - vinnana, sanna, vedana, sankhara are involved. As you mentioned - The first part of the mind vinnana - consciousness is pure itself but because of our conditional habit mind sanna takes part → perception/recognition / colouring good or bad , vedana - sensation/feeling arises , then sankhara - reaction/volitional activity. This chain of conditioned arising should be stopped for libration. By learning to observe vedana objectively (i.e see merely see, hear merely hear, etc ) one can avoid any new reactions… leading to liberation of the mind. The different ways of explanation of paticca-samuppada to Bahiya by the Buddha.

Part of what you are saying is found in the Paṭhamadvayasutta (SN 35.92) in which Buddha introduces a duality. In the next sutta Dutiyadvayasutta (SN 35.93) he indicates that consciousness is dependent upon that duality. In the Dukkhasamudayasutta (SN 35.106) he indicates that contact is the meeting of the three. And that feeling arises dependent upon contact.

Nama rupa is defined in several suttas, but take the Vibhaṅgasutta (SN 12.2) where it is described as affect (vedanā), perception (saññā), intentionality (cetanā), contact (phasso) and attention (manasikāro).

So, it seems to me that an inference of nama-rupa as the binary mind/body completely misses the implication of contact and attention in the nature of “the mental” and its dependency relation, which is grounded in the senses (which are perceived to be a binary, but are dependently arisen themselves).

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Myself, I drew upon Zielinski’s definition of media as “spaces of action for constructed attempts to connect what is separated,” (Deep Time of the Media, pg.7), to come to my own understanding of the senses.

Underlying Bahiya Sutta is Paticcasamuppada. Sense faculties condition contact, contact conditions feelings, and so on to birth and with birth as a condition, suffering. This birth is considered as birth of an independent and separate self. This entire process is of the mind which itself is conditioned by environment, culture, etc.
When mind is free from conditioning by accumulated memories and preferences and so on, the chain of causation stops at contact. There is no arising of independent separate self anywhere. (Visankhara gatam cittam)