Duality: Mind & Matter?

It is usually taken to be so, and this is not incorrect in a crude sense, but I believe this is not a fruitful way to think about it. These are specific kinds of terms used in distinct contexts that indicate a certain approach or way of approaching understanding, especially in the context of the times.

Here, it is viññāṇa, i.e. awareness.

You don’t ask for much, do you? Maybe some other time!

That’s right, although see above: this way of talking about these states is not really idiomatic. There’s also the realm of the asannasatta, which apparently is only rupa.

But regardless, the arupas are still dependent on rupa; they depend on the previously developed rupajjhanas, which in turn depend on having a body to practice meditation. So these are highly specialized states that can be considered as temporary suspensions of physical properties.


I meant that I was referring to “derived materiality” (upādāyarūpa) when I spoke of the subtle forms of rūpa.

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Well , I certainly would appreciate Buddha if He is still available ?!


With all due respect , I don’t think so . The physicality still around , not that anyone could access to only ! IMO .

Good question- but it is based on some assumptions. Therefore a categorical answer isn’t possible!

This is correct…

…as shown in this sutta quote:

"‘Everything exists’: That is one extreme. ‘Everything doesn’t exist’: That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle. SN12.15

I would assert that the Buddha talks about the existence of experiences- for example- the experience of the five aggregates.

He says these experiences are connected to each other and have a cause and effect relationship (paticcasamuppada).

He doesn’t speculate much more about objective existence except:

when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, ‘non-existence’ with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, ‘existence’ with reference to the world does not occur to one. SN12.15

What follows on from there is does the experience of ‘mental’ phenomena arise from the experience of other mental phenomena. The answer is yes (contact phassa gives rise to feelings vedana for example).

“With contact as a requisite condition there is feeling”. MN148

Does the experience of matter give rise to the experience of consciousness? Again the answer is yes.

Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye. Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises consciousness at the ear. MN148

Consciousness also gives rise to the experience of mental phenomena.
Mental phenomena can give rise to consciousness, as volitional formations giving rise to consciousness in the DO.

We see a real world and therefore we are attached to these nodes (or ‘jewels’) in the web of causality.

with metta

Does the stones(matter) give rise to consciousness !?

a dead person , the eyes and forms doesn’t give rise to consciousness !

Forgive me , what is the criteria for determining the arising of consciousness ?

I believe you are talking in terms of conventional reality ie- in terms of how a mind with delusion sees reality. For that answer you should look in biology books…

I believe there is an EBT sutta where the Buddha says ‘the sense’ doors refer to the faculty of life -ie the the body has to be alive, for this to be applicable.

Does the Buddha says anything about the faculty of life ?! By life are we referring to consciousness ?

There are 2 distinct separate scenarios: a meditator during his arupa meditative state, and those devas who currently reside in those arupa worlds. Your statement on the temporary suspensions of physical properties would apply to the former but not the latter, for those devas in the arupa realms exist without rupa. And the reverse is also true for those beings in the asaññasatta-rupa-loka/fine-material-world where only the body is present but there’s no mind/consciousness. Also notice “rupa-loka” really means “fine-material”, for those beings in those realms, their rupa is so subtle that we humans in the kama-loka/sensual-world would not be able to see them with our fleshy eyes. (ref: )

MN 43

“In regard to this body, your reverence, when how many things are got rid of, does this body lie cast away, flung aside like unto a senseless log of wood?” “In regard to this body, your reverence, when three things are got rid of: vitality, heat and consciousness, then does this body lie cast away, flung aside like unto a senseless log of wood.”

Well this isn’t overwhelming at all, thank you all for your discussions! I have a lot to mull over. I’m going to have to train my mind to think of nama-rupa differently than I have been. It seems rupa refers to the experience of physical properties, and nama must be the experience of mental properties? It’s really all about experiential properties then. It’s not saying that’s all there is or that it’s separate from matter, just that it’s all that’s important, and those kinds of questions really aren’t.

Also, just so I get this part correct, consciousness is not then, a separate element of some sort, but is just the label given to the potential for subjective experience. A potential that becomes actualized when the necessary conditions are met, specifically sense organs engaging with sense objects. Is it to be understood that sense organs could engage with sense objects without the arising of consciousness? Or is this just an innate feature of our reality, that when this engagement occurs, conscious experience arises? I suppose there are cases when someone is in a coma, you can sometimes present their eyes with images, and their brain activates as if it is seeing, and yet there is no conscious experience of it.


Yes. Rupa is simply the rupa-parts of a given experience. The aggregate-parts together comprise a given experience, and any & all experiences can be summed up under the aggregates with nothing left over.

Yes, such as with lawnmower sounds landing on the functional ears of a sleeping person. Or someone who is intent on reading, who doesn’t hear someone calling their name.

Sure; a living being means “experiential potential”, while any given actualization of an experience is ‘contact’.

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Those kinds of questions maybe important …in other contexts. But as far as self transformation goes, knowing the subatomic structure of …whatever doesn’t mean anything.

Precisely. When consciousness (vinnana) arises, we become aware of mentality and materiality (through a mental component called contact phassa) -this is of course the four steps of the DO which has vinnana, nama-rupa, sense doors and contact. It is possible (rarely) that nama-rupa might present itself to the sense doors, but not give rise to consciousness. I am reluctant at this point to use the English term consciousness, because that is not quite the right fit; it isn’t wrong either, for our purposes now. But according to the Buddha’s (and his disciple’s) experience, there is a distinct element of experience called vinnana. It’s cause is nama-rupa. It gives rise to contact. It can be …here’s a hard bit…experienced purely on its own (without the need for an object of consciousness), hence its inclusion as the 5th aggregate, rather than disseminated among the others.

with metta

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I’d like to see the texts that clearly indicate “Nama” refers to mental properties, experienced or otherwise. Could be. It’s just that I don’t know what the texts are.

Feeling, perception, volition, contact and attention — these are called mentality. MN9

With metta


I think if we consider nama-rupa as objects of consciousness it’s clearer.

Sound is an an object of ear cnciousness.
A rock is an object or eye consciousness, then you kick it and it’s touch consciousness and sound consciousness.

It doesn’t mean the rock has awareness. It means this mind is aware of that rock via the sense doors.


I see how that could be the case, but it does also seem to refer to the processes of mind themselves as well, and not just the experience.


Even tens of thousands of eons is still just a temporary suspension.

Think of it like a monkey throwing a stick in the air: it doesn’t really escape gravity, it just behaves like gravity is suspended for a while. Big monkeys like us throw spaceships into orbit, where they slip the surly bonds of gravity for much longer, maybe many years. But still, eventually it’s coming down.

I really don’t like the whole terminology of “objects” of consciousness. Nāma are participants in consciousness; they are complex, active processes that enable consciousness to happen. If we reflect on them, we can turn consciousness towards them and in that sense they could be thought of as “objects”, but it is such a misleading word.

Compare the “subjects” of a psychological experiment. Say you put a bunch of people in a room and ask them to complete a task. Then the experimenter walks into the room, and strolls around gazing over people’s shoulders. Is that going to affect the outcome? You betcha! The participants are not “objects”, operating independent of the observer. They and the observer form one system, affecting and changing each other. If this is so on a macro level, how much more so in the mind!


From MN 9

“And what is mentality-materiality, what is the origin of mentality-materiality, what is the cessation of mentality-materiality, what is the way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality? Feeling, perception, volition, contact, and attention—these are called mentality. The four great elements and the material form derived from the four great elements—these are called materiality. So this mentality and this materiality are what is called mentality-materiality. With the arising of consciousness there is the arising of mentality-materiality. With the cessation of consciousness there is the cessation of mentality-materiality. The way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view…right concentration.

Okay…I possibly, slightly…might…get it…a bit.

…okay…so in terms of “getting it” on an intellectual level - which I feel can pave the way for experiential levels… This statement scares me! I mean there’s a heck of a lot I/we don’t know.

Will you be using slightly different terms when you do your translations Bhante, or will the context, in each case, simply make the meaning of whatever terms you’ve used for nama, rupa and namarupa, clear? From memory, reading what you’ve written before, I believe you favour the latter approach?

Well…I would love to know what all the different contexts are and how the meaning changes a bit…not that I’m asking you for any such undertaking!! :slight_smile: But this kind of thing points to one reason among many, as to why so many of us have so much respect for you! I mean, it’s not everyday you come across someone who’s lived the Vinaya for so many, many years and thus has very high Sila/integrity; knows alot about meditation and actually practices it; and then has years of expertise in Pali and other scholarly stuff… Phew! Thanks for taking the time out of your translation work to make comments here Bhante. :white_flower: :anjal: :dharmawheel: Words don’t begin to touch on how much it’s appreciated! :grinning:


Translating nāmarūpa is one of the deep impossibilities of Buddhist translation. I have tried many approaches, none of them satisfactory, and for now I have returned—like the land-seeking crow—to the familiar rendering as “name and form”.