Duality: Mind & Matter?


Of course speaking timewise, everything is temporary. But the main point is that the notion that rupa is a prerequisite for consciousness to exist is certainly false, as evidenced from those devas living in the Arupa realms, who can exist with a complete absence of rupa for tens of thousands of eons.


In Buddhism, causes and effects need not exist at the same time. Rebirth in a formless realm is a subsequent effect of the previously developed rupajjhanas, which in turn depend on having a body.


I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here. If monk John Doe due to his successful practice of ArupaSamapatti gets reborn into an Arupa realm in hist next life as deva John Doe 2.0, then the deva John Doe 2.0 certainly can live without any rupa as a prerequisite, for at least tens of thousands of eons, correct?


The translation threw me off too, but the video posted by Pasanna makes it clear why Ven. Brahm uses it. He translates sankhara as ‘Will’, in the same meaning as Schopenhauer (he mentions him during the talk). Schopenhauer reduces all experience to Will and ‘representation’ (or ‘appearance’). The experience of the world (or objects of the world) by the subject happens in the subject’s consciousness - this dichotomy is the linchpin of his philosophy.

‘Will’ is taken by Schopenhauer to be a metaphysical thing that is beyond time whose nature is endless striving, through and through. But, if we understand sankhara as Will, then it can be brought to an end since it depends on a cause - ignorance. Removal of ignorance will bring Will to an end, along with consciousness and what is cognized (‘objects of consciousness’), resulting in total cessation.

It makes sense to me.


The prerequisite is the previously developed rupajjhanas. That’s why it is a “pre”-requisite.


That’s a past cause, not a functional pre-requisite. If Ven. Sujato’s previous life was a Ms. Jane Doe, then it’s valid to say Ms. Jane Doe is a past cause to Ven. Sujato’s existence, but not a functional pre-requisite for his current existence. If pre-requisite is a bit too fuzzy, would you say those arupa-devas can exist without the need of rupa as a “current and necessary” condition?


Sure. But this redefines the question, limiting it to causes that are current. Generally speaking in Buddhism a condition is not defined relative to time: what matters is that it is a condition, not when it is a condition. In some cases time may be relevant and brought in, but it is unusual and must be specified.

In the Abhidhamma Patthana, these temporal relations are specified more explicitly:

  • purejātapaccaya: A prior condition for a subsequent effect (such as a seed planted that grows into a tree).
  • sahajātapaccaya: A condition occurs at the same time as its effect (such as pillars holding up a roof).
  • pacchājātapaccaya: A subsequent condition for what previously exists (such as food eaten to sustain the body).


I don’t think it’s redefining the question at all. I think it’s totally legit to put it within a time scope, for if we don’t place a time bound on it, then anything can be a “past and necessary” condition to everything. The dust from big bang cloud to the air molecules from explosion of the Hiroshima bomb would have some relevance to some future arupa deva, etc…


Your right, it absolutely does. But the scope of causality in Buddhism is not limited by time, it is defined by the origin and ending of suffering.


But you should already sawthe big issue if we use this zero-time-bound framework to address the particular questions, again, back to the question of Ven. Sujato, is Ms. Jane Doe a “current and necessary” condition for his existence? Just like if Rupa is a “current and necessary” condition for the Arupa devas?


Like most Pali terms the meaning of name and form seems context dependant. I see it like this:
Sammaditti sutta MN9: the four elements and their derivatives, contact, feelings, labelling, intentions and contemplation.
Mahanidana sutta DN15: body of the foetus, and mind
Kacchayanagotta sutta SN12.15: features the DO- eg: intension to see, based on ignorance, driven by craving: we look - then according to the sequence, there arises name-rupa. Contact arises after that. Feeling arises after this. So the missing bit of the puzzle has to be ‘objects of awareness’ which is what nama-rupa is denoting and has the best fit in this context.

With the type of particular samadhi (in the four types of samadhi scheme) that allows one to see the arising and passing away of these phenomena as it is happening it becomes possible to separate out these phenomena as they are taking place. Otherwise they are seen as how ingredients in a cup of tea are experienced- all together. However we can see them temporarily if attention is utilised in a certain way (like seeing the steps of making a cup of tea). This is the final meaning- the separation of mental and material (which is both projected into the external world) phenomena: there’d No such thing as a beautiful flower. One bit is internal and mental the other , the flower, is external.

With metta


The question is if “contact” is nama, how do you relate it in the nidana where consciousness conditions nama rupa (with contact) which in turn conditions six senses base and thereafter “contact” again ?!


Good question!

This is why I said nama-rupa has subtlely different meanings based on the context the term is used. In the context in which you mention above, I prefer ‘objects of consciousness’ (ie sounds, sights, sensations, thoughts, feelings, emotions etc). Coming together of these 3 (tinnan sanghati phasso) is contact.

It is said that consciousness is the only thing that can be aware of itself (like a mirror reflecting itself off another mirror). If the object is also a mental component, the process in which that component is identified (as a component of the process) is through another higher order process of identification, which includes that very component again -there is no other extra components that can be utilised for the process. I know -this is a complex area.

What makes this kind of awareness of the awareness possible is the development of samadhi. Wisdom manifests only when there is samadhi, and not when it is not present.

with metta


Namarupa arises ?
(Feeling, perception, volition, contact and attention) arises ?!
the sequence is correct ?!

Namarupa Is the objects of conciousnesses ?!

In the context of zygote or pre embryo/foetus , there is no eye no ear no nose no mouth no body(yet) no minds , how does the consciousness arises then ?! Or when does the consciousness lands on the foetus ?
After the death of a person , his /her consciousness seeking to land on a new body which is already Available ?!


On the basis that the Buddha is not talking about the objective world but the pure experience of it, yes, experience (nama rupa) arises - and all most right away- passes away. Only to be replaced by another experience, arising and passing away. Otherwise we will only see one flower for the rest of our lives and forever more -assuming that stimulus came from the eye door.

Yes, it’s rather condensed. It is Ignorance-intension (includes craving)-consciousness-nama-rupa-sense doors-contact. I hope it’s more recognisable now?

Well the sense of touch is working at 8 weeks - the skin touch sensors must be working - it pulls its foot away. However the brain is connected to the body around 17 weeks, so possibly after that. Time cannot be measured very well when talking about raw experiential phenomena (and may not be particularly relevant).

With metta


Isn’t there actually a sutta where the buddha says there’s a way you can think of mind and matter as the same, and there’s a way you can think of mind and matter as different? Or am I thinking about something else?


There’s an essay called ‘Consciousness Mysticism in the Discourses of the Buddha’ by Peter Harvey, in a comparative religion text titled The Yogi and the Mystic, edited Karel Werner, which might be useful. There used to be a decent preview on Google Books although it’s been some time since I looked.


I think I was thinking of SN12.35, the end part.


As I see it the essential distinction in the suttas is that between form ( rupa ) and formless ( arupa ).
The distinction seems pretty clear in terms of nama-rupa ( formless-form ).
In terms of the 5 aggregates the distinction would be that between form and the other 4 ( formless ) aggregates. In terms of the six properties of a person in MN140, the distinction would be that between consciousness ( formless ) and other 5 properties ( form or derived form ).
In terms of the sense-bases the distinction would be that between the 5 “physical” sense bases ( form or derived form ) and the mind-base ( formless ).
And so on.


It’s important to listen carefully to how the suttas work, how they phrase things, context and nuance. Otherwise we always just insert our own ideas. I still do catch myself doing this!

The Buddha didn’t speak of name and form as a dualism. Rather, they are together in mutual relation with consciousness. The fundamental divide is between name and form on the one side, and consciousness on the other.

Yes, it would be, if the suttas used a dualistic analysis. But they don’t, so this is not what they say. What they actually do is oppose the first four aggregates with consciousness, and treat each of the first four aggregates as “grounds” in which consciousness grows. (SN 22.54) :herb:

If you apply a dualistic analysis to the suttas, you’ll end up with dualistic results. But if you listen to what the suttas are saying, it is something quite different. Nowhere in the suttas do they say that there are two fundamental kinds of substance in the world, mental and physical.

We do the Dhamma a disservice by inserting what may be the single most dysfunctional and harmful idea to come out of European philosophy into a teaching that has no need for it.