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© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 1 'Nanavira's note on rupa' by Mathias on Sun 28 Sep 2008 - 17:15 Hello, in footnote "c" in his note on rupa, Ven. Nanavira wrote: Neither consciousness nor matter, by itself, can appear (or be manifest); for consciousness by itself lacks substance or specification -- it is pure presence or existence without any thing that is present (or exists) --, and matter by itself lacks presence or existence -- it is pure substance or specification, of which one cannot say 'it is' (i.e. 'it is present [or absent]'). Appearance or manifestation must necessarily partake of both consciousness and matter, but as an overlapping and not simply an addition (for the simple superposition of two things each itself incapable of appearing would not produce appearance). Appearance is existence as substance, or substance as existence, and there must be also simple existence (or consciousness) and simple substance (or matter) to support this imbrication. Appearance, in a manner of speaking, is sandwiched between consciousness and matter: there must be rúpa, and náma, and

viññána

. (There is more to be said about this, but not briefly.)

I've highlighted in red what is not clear to me. Maybe someone is able to shed some more light on this subject. My question is: What does Ven. Nanavira mean by "simple" existence (or consciousness) and "simple" substance (or matter)? What does "simple" mean here? If I look at both the images it seems to me as if there is some kind of "pure" or "simple" rupa and vinnana apart from and preceding nama. But that doesn't make much sense to me. If, on the other hand, "pure" or "simple" rupa and vinnana were mere abstractions from the manifestation (nama), then I don't see the reason why the last image doesn't look like this: could make myself clear.

. I hope I

Thank you. Best wishes, Mathias by Piotr on Sun 28 Sep 2008 - 20:20 Hi Mathias, If, on the other hand, "pure" or "simple" rupa and vinnana were mere abstractions from the manifestation (nama), then I don't see the reason why the last image doesn't look like this:

. I hope I could make myself clear.

wouldn't this be a "simple superposition of two things each itself incapable of appearing", which bhante Ñāṇavīra mentions above?


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 2 'Nanavira's note on rupa' by Mathias on Sun 28 Sep 2008 - 20:49 Dear Piotr, perhaps the answer to your question is yes. But my question remains: If they are not a mere abstraction for the purpose of clarifying things, what then is "simple" rupa, what is "simple" vinnana in the above context? Best wishes, Mathias by Piotr on Sun 28 Sep 2008 - 21:46 Hi Mathias, But my question remains: If they are not a mere abstraction for the purpose of clarifying things, what then is "simple" rupa, what is "simple" vinnana in the above context? as I understand him, he says that name depends on matter and conciousness, because name is overlapping of this two things and apart from them it can not exist. I recall that somewhere else he wrote (or maybe it was bhante Ñāṇamoli...) that to speak about conciousness apart from other things, or about other things apart from conciousness, is just the way of speaking, abstraction which may have some purpose (i.e. to distinguish things, etc.) but nothing more. Maybe somebody remembers reference? Best wishes, Piotr by Mathias on Sun 28 Sep 2008 - 22:35 Dear Piotr, piotr wrote: as I understand him, he says that name depends on matter and conciousness. Name is overlapping of this two things and apart from them it can not exist. yes, that is clear to me too. But he also says that there must be also simple existence (or consciousness) and simple substance (or matter) to support this imbrication. To me this sounds as if he has said that matter and consciousness precede their overlapping and


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 3 'Nanavira's note on rupa' were independent of it. piotr wrote: I recall that somewhere else he wrote (or maybe it was bhante Ñāṇamoli...) that to speak about conciousness apart from other things, or about other things apart from conciousness, is just the way of speaking, abstraction which may have some purpose (i.e. to distinguish things, etc.) but nothing more. Maybe somebody remembers reference? No reference here at the moment, but to me this sounds true. In his note on vinnana Nanavira defined consciousness as the presence of a phenomenon, which consists of nama and rupa. So it is absolutely clear that a phenomenon cannot exist apart from it's own presence (existence), which is consciousness. And this is perhaps the main reason why this: Ven. Nanavira wrote: there must be also simple existence (or consciousness) and simple substance (or matter) to support this imbrication. sounds so strange to me. Maybe it's just the language barrier? No ... But I hope I could clarify myself. Best wishes, Mathias by Bhikkhu Nyanamoli on Mon 29 Sep 2008 - 10:09 Dear Mathias, You say: "there must be also simple existence (or consciousness) and simple substance (or matter) to support this imbrication." To me this sounds as if he has said that matter and consciousness precede their overlapping and were independent of it. You almost answered your own question here. Matter and consciousness do precede their overlapping, but structurally not temporally, i.e. they are akalika. Because of such nature they are inconceivable on their own, i.e. they have to overlap in order to appear, but that doesn't mean that they are independent of their overlapping, on the contrary. This all means that you cannot separate these things and examine them on their own (compare the nature of sanna and vedana), but what you can do is to distinguish them within the experience as a whole (even as the utter negatives, like consciousness). Ny.


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 4 'Nanavira's note on rupa' by Mathias on Mon 29 Sep 2008 - 13:02 Dear Bhante Nyanamoli. what you say sounds reasonable to me. But then, there seem to be some borderline cases, which (in this context) are not clear to me. Maybe you can tell me what you think about it. For example, the Buddha talked about some kind of devas, called "asanna satta", translated as "beings without sanna" or "unconscious beings". Not in the suttas (as far as I know) but in the commentaries it is said that those beings consist of the rupa khandha only. This sounds wrong to me, because the rupa khandha alone cannot be said to exist. But on the other hand: if they are really without sanna (and therefore without vedana and vinnana), what are they? What is left for them to consist of? Another example, which is perhaps of more importance, is nirodha-samapatti, the temporary cessation of perception and feeling and therefore of consciousness. It's the same question: If matter and consciousness do not precede their overlapping in a temporally sense and if they could not stand alone independently of their overlapping, then they have to cease together with their overlapping and (in this case) with nirodha-samapatti, right? But what makes the arahat come back? One could argue: "I saw your body and the world while you were in nirodhasamapatti, so rupa didn't cease." But I find that argument rather silly, because it is incompatible with the "experience" of nirodha-samapatti itself. Aside from that, such an argument imputes wrongly that consciousness is not just the presence (existence) of the the phenomenon but a kind of "looking at" the phenomenon (from an outside or inside point of view), which implies that the phenomenon itself is there apart from consciousness. In M 43 it is stated: Vitality-fabrications "Friend, are vitality-fabrications the same thing as feeling-states? Or are vitalityfabrications one thing, and feeling-states another?" "Vitality-fabrications are not the same thing as feeling-states, friend. If vitalityfabrications were the same thing as feeling-states, the emergence of a monk from the attainment of the cessation of feeling & perception would not be discerned. It's because vitality-fabrications are one thing and feeling-states another that the emergence of a monk from the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling is discerned." "When this body lacks how many qualities does it lie discarded & forsaken, like a senseless log?" "When this body lacks these three qualities — vitality, heat, & consciousness — it lies discarded & forsaken like a senseless log." "What is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time, and a


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 5 'Nanavira's note on rupa' monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling?" "In the case of the one who is dead, who has completed his time, his bodily fabrications have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications ... his mental fabrications have ceased & subsided, his vitality is exhausted, his heat subsided, & his faculties are scattered. But in the case of a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, his bodily fabrications have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications ... his mental fabrications have ceased & subsided, his vitality is not exhausted, his heat has not subsided, & his faculties are exceptionally clear. This is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time, and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling. So maybe these "vitality-fabrications" are the answer to my question. But to me they seem to be a bit mysterious, because they exist (?) independent of feeling and therefore perception and consiousness. But if consciousness itself is defined as presence or existence, how could they be independent of consciousness? Nanavira said: In itself, purely as inertia or behaviour, matter cannot be said to exist. Wouldn't the same argument then apply to those "vitality-fabrications" too? If not, why? Thank you. Best wishes, Mathias by Bhikkhu Nyanamoli on Mon 29 Sep 2008 - 21:45 Dear Mathias, Here are my thoughts on the issues you raised: You say: "But on the other hand: if they are really without saññā (and therefore without vedanā and viññaṇā), what are they? What is left for them to consist of?" The thing is, we might take the five aggregates as foundational to all experience, past, present and future - rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṇkhāra and viññāṇa are always there, real or imaginary. However, we should also be careful and make the allowance for more subtle states to exist within, like those of immaterial realms of certain devatas or in certain meditative attainments, or the anāgāmī rebirth realms, etc. The difficulty is when we try to interpret and understand them in our own terms, which is that of matter, feelings, perception... The good news is that understanding of those states is not directly related to our problem of suffering ( cf. "Handful of Leaves" Sutta), so even if you don't grasp them (read "attain", in the practice of meditation) you won't be disqualified from possibility to become an arahant. I said attain, since apart from


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 6 'Nanavira's note on rupa' that one can only speculate about them. And that is what I'll try to do now-In terms of rūpa / ārupa experience I can refer to you to Ven. Ñāṇavīra's Early letters where he wrote: "I now think that the four ārupas are just these four modes of transcendence taken as objects—that is to say, when you have overcome or disregarded all perceptions of matter, resistance, or variety, all you perceive is perception (which is why the ārupas are saññamayā) in its four modes. The scheme is this:— In the fourth jhāna you perceive a material kasina or totality (your translation, I believe). And this is unchanging or rigid. When you disregard the matter you have just an infinite (a totality of) rigid framework, i.e., space. This is rigidity. You then turn your attention to the existence of this infinite space, and you have an infinity (since transcendence is towards an infinity of appearances) of temporalization or consciousness (consciousness = temporalization as Sartre makes clear). This is endurance. You then consider the rūpakasina as plastic—i.e. as existing in an infinity of different forms. But since there is not matter there are no different forms so you have simply an infinity of different-things-that-aren’t-there, an infinity of nothings. This is plasticity. (You arrive at the same thing by considering consciousness as a nothing, a néant, and from (iii) there is an infinity of them.) But for there to be perception of an infinite number of things (that-aren’t-there) you must be able to perceive one and then not perceive that one but another, and so on. Thus (iii) could also be described as perception-and-non-perception. But now we turn our attention to the concept uniting (or behind) (iii). And since we know that this concept or unity possesses (iii)—pathaviṃ me ti maññati—it is obviously not (iii). It is therefore neither-perception-nor-non-perception. And this concept for unity is change." -Early letters, [EL. 38] 13.ix.1957 (Ven. Ñāṇavīra was originally using rigidity, endurance, plasticity, change as translations of four elements). Thus, although the coarse aspect of matter has disappeared (the one which is usually regarded as matter), the subtler aspects of it which are: "earthy, or persistent and resistant, or solid; watery, or cohesive; fiery, or ripening, or maturing; airy, or tense, or distended, or moving" -CtP, note on NAMA. are still there. In Ven. Ñāṇavīra's words: "These four mahābhūta are the general modes of behaviour or matter". In looser terms, we can say that the general amount of behaviour which we are used to in our


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 7 'Nanavira's note on rupa' everyday experience, and which we often assume to be the matter, has changed in those ārupa attainments i.e. something else has taken its place: "An exception is made for the highest spheres of consciousness, where matter is transcended by a process of successive abstraction, but all the other items are still present." - CtP, Letters, [L. 134] 3 December 1964. (Note that here "process of successive abstraction" is that which is matter) All this is highly provisional, but it can perhaps help you acquire an idea of the more subtle aspects of experience as a whole and also help you see all of the gratuitous assumptions which we use in our approach when we want to understand something. In strictest sense, rūpa on its own is always "below" our experience: "So, although our experience rests on these four things (four mahābhuutas, it is useless digging down to find them (as Heisenberg hopes to do); for they will always be just below our feet" -- Early Letters, [EL. 33] 14.viii.1957 And this simply means that rūpa, in order to appear, can appear only as nāma-rūpa, (it has to find the "footing"). This would also shed some light onto your question of nirodha-samapatti. As I tried to say, there are subtler parts within the experience which cannot be understood in terms of five aggregates, or at least not in the usual sense which we employ them (the terms). As far as āyusaṇkhāra goes (or "that upon which life stands"), that determination is, as Ven. Ñāṇavīra somewhere said, "not to be experienced". That simply means that you cannot experience that which your experience stands upon, or rather you can, but that will entail you becoming a Buddha, since, as far as I know, he was the only one capable of relinquishing his "lifedeterminations" in an act of will (this also gives you a glimpse of his powers). So, āyu-saṇkhāra, is too subtle to be experienced here-and-now. If you have troubles understanding this, try seeing the experience as Ven. Ñāṇavīra would often describe it -- an infinite hierarchical structure, then it might become clear that there will always be parts of it which are too far removed within that infinity in order to be seen (or even imagined) here-and-now, or it will require too much effort (i.e. many life-times) to do so. However, no matter how far āyusaṇkhāra might be, it is still a saṇkhāra, thus it doesn't escape the statement - sabbe saṇkhāra anicca, and that's all what's needed. Once the principles of our experience are clearly seen, it won't be necessary to go and investigate every individual aspect or instance of it. After all this which is said above, the reply to your: Wouldn't the same argument then apply to those "vitality-fabrications" too? If not, why? would be: no, and that is because they don't exist. In the light of hierarchical structure of experience, they


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 8 'Nanavira's note on rupa' are "that upon which the existence stands". I hope this can be helpful to you in any way. Best regards. Nyanamoli

by Mathias on Tue 30 Sep 2008 - 12:37 Dear Bhante Nyanamoli, yes, what you wrote was helpful to me. Thank you. If you have troubles understanding this, try seeing the experience as Ven. Ñāṇavīra would often describe it -- an infinite hierarchical structure, then it might become clear that there will always be parts of it which are too far removed within that infinity in order to be seen (or even imagined) here-and-now, or it will require too much effort (i.e. many life-times) to do so. If I understand this correctly, that infinite hierarchical structure of experience also includes past lives and other realms of existence etc. But in some way all this is hidden from me now. I do not experience it at the moment. At the first glance this seems to contradict the notion that those things are part of an infinite hierarchical structure of experience. They seem to be outside of it. I have trouble with the notion that all those things are a part of "experience" right now in some mysterious way despite the fact that I don't know anything about them. I suspect it has to do with the nature of nescience. Nescience would not be real nescience if we would know in detail what we not know. So nescience is hidden from itself or includes itself. And if (that infinite hierarchical structure of) experience is infiltrated with nescience or in other words: if nescience is itself part of experience, then it has to be a negative experience or something like a "present absence" of knowledge. This came up into my mind as answer to my own question some minutes ago. But nevertheless I would like to hear your opinion if possible. Probably my mistake is/was to identify experience to much with it's positive parts and regard the negative parts as non-experience or non-existent. Thank you. Best wishes, Mathias by Bhikkhu Nyanamoli on Wed 1 Oct 2008 - 7:51 Dear Mathias, Thank you for the clear reply. Let me now try clarifying what I meant:


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 9 'Nanavira's note on rupa' The infinite hierarchical structure of experience holds as it is, and as Ven. Ñāṇavīra described it, and I used it provisionally in order to show you in which direction to go in order to find obtain an idea about to your previous questions. Indeed, unless someone has supernatural powers, it is not possible to see previous life-times nor different realms, and that's why any "explanation" of them should be treated with caution. However, it should also be clear that the hierarchical structure of experience does not mean that only this experience is hierarchical, and that some other might be otherwise. The structure is there, and experience, can be said, is within; or rather, more precisely, the structure is being experienced. That is why that even with supernatural powers, one doesn't go outside of this experience in order to, let's say, see the past lives or so, they are rather found within (in the broadest sense of the word). Now, I can't remember in which Sutta that was (you might have come across it), but the Buddha once said to a certain monk that whoever remembers one, two, hundred or many hundreds of previous lives, what that person remembers is nothing but these five aggregates. Thus, when you say: At the first glance this seems to contradict the notion that those things are part of an infinite hierarchical structure of experience. I would rather correct it, and say "within" instead of "part of", since the structure (the five aggregates) remains, unless, of course, once reaches para-nibbana. What changes there is the perspective of it i.e. different experiences of the structure. Again, no harm in repeating, this is not directly related to understanding of the Dhamma, so sometimes it is better not investing too much effort in it. Before I continue, I must credit you for formulating your questions rather well, because, as you yourself see, that often gives you an answer if nescience is itself part of experience, then it has to be a negative experience or something like a "present absence" of knowledge.

Not-seeing nescience, is the condition for nescience, and that not-seeing is a negative phenomenon which, nevertheless, exists. That means that not-seeing is there, present, in experience, and as long as that is the case seeing cannot take place. As soon as seeing occurs, not-seeing disappears: To see avijjā or non-seeing, avijjā or non-seeing must cease. Avijjā therefore comes first; for, being its own condition, it can have no anterior term that does not itself involve avijjā" - CtP, Note on Paticcasamuppāda, §24 And then you very nicely describe the most general application of micchādiṭṭhi: Probably my mistake is/was to identify experience to much with it's positive parts and regard the negative parts as non-experience or non-existent. Here is what I wrote sometime ago, in one of my "continually-unfinished" essays (I hope you won't mind this longer extract):


Š Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 10 'Nanavira's note on rupa' A dogma has been developed which not only declares the question about the meaning of Being to be superfluous, but sanctions its complete neglect. It is said that 'Being' is the most universal and the emptiest of concepts. As such it resists every attempt at definition. -- M. Heidegger, Being and Time, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2005, p. 21. No doubt the reason for this is the inherent (though not indestructible) incapability of people to face and hold the ambiguity, the main characteristic of being, and even not to discern it as such: We do not know what 'Being' means. But even if we ask, 'What is 'Being'?', we keep within the understanding of the 'is', though we are unable to fix conceptually what that 'is' signifies. We do not know even the horizon in terms of which that meaning is to be grasped and fixed. But this vague average understanding of Being is still a fact. However much this understanding of Being (an understanding which is already available to us) may fluctuate and grow dim, and border on mere acquaintance with a word, its very indefiniteness is itself a positive phenomenon which needs to be clarified. -- op. cit. p. 25. The last sentence describes very accurately the nature of a mind carrying the great deal of ignorance; indefiniteness, ambiguity, uncertainty, all of these and similar, real, experiences are always overlooked or pushed aside i.e. only "certainty" and "definiteness" come to be regarded as existing. In different words, one's attitudes towards nonexistence and, let us say, ambiguity for example, are the same. Human mind is too accustomed in dealing with the positive categories of its own experience so when the thing less 'solid' and 'positive' is met the natural (ignorant) response is dismissal. It takes great amount of effort just to look at it, without interfering, and even greater to solve that ambiguity or more precisely - to extinguish it, since there is no ontically positive answer that could settle it. In the Suttas this kind of Being is what is meant by bhava, so in order for the Buddha's teaching to apply the thorough grasp (existential, not intellectual) of one's being has to be formed. Then it can perhaps be little clearer that obtaining the idea of what the Buddha wanted to say will be far more difficult than originally thought, as by default, as already mentioned above, the problem of being (of one's existence) is not even seen. Once that problem is spotted, one will start looking for an answer and the descriptions one comes across, offered in a form of a guidance, will slowly become intelligible. Basically, the bottom line is that one has to see that nothingness (i.e. negativity) exists as such. What people generally do, as you say in your own example, is taking the positive aspects of experience too much for granted. As long as this attitude (view) is not abandoned, whenever one encounters a negative, one will try to solve it, interpret it, etc. in those very positive terms. Needless to say, such attempt is doomed to fail, since as soon as you approach negative as positive (i.e. as soon as you intend it), that then becomes a positive or central, and then


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 11 'Nanavira's note on rupa' something else becomes negative and so on; note that intention itself is a negative, and that is why to positive appears as positive: It will be seen that intentions by themselves are a purely structural affair, a matter of negatives; and when the question is asked, 'What are the intentions upon this occasion?' the answer will be in the positive terms of nāmarūpa and viññāṇa. -CtP, Note on CETANĀ. (see also note on DHAMMA & NĀMA) Only once one starts grasping the "signs of one's mind", i.e. seeing the phenomenal nature of a dhamma, a phenomenon, as such, one will be able to see that negative exists as much as positive. In different words, a negative thing and a positive thing, regardless how different and incompatible they might be, they are still -- a thing (dhamma), and as such part of our experience. So, I better stop now, this reply is already getting long enough. Again, I hope that any of this can perhaps stimulate your reflection. With best wishes, Nyanamoli by Piotr on Wed 1 Oct 2008 - 14:31 Hi bhante Ñāṇamoli, Now, I can't remember in which Sutta that was (you might have come across it), but the Buddha once said to a certain monk that whoever remembers one, two, hundred or many hundreds of previous lives, what that person remembers is nothing but these five aggregates. it's Khajjanīya Sutta (SN 22.79) Best wishes, Piotr by Mathias on Wed 1 Oct 2008 - 18:00 Dear Bhante Nyanamoli, a longer reply is no problem at all for me. And I'm glad to hear that I was able to make myself clear, because not a single one of my articles arose without the help of a dictionary. Again, no harm in repeating, this is not directly related to understanding of the


Š Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 12 'Nanavira's note on rupa' Dhamma, so sometimes it is better not investing too much effort in it. That's true. We don't know how many time is left for us. And I myself am not ready to die. Too much fear. As long as I knew death I wanted to escape from it or, more precise, from my fear of death. And there is a very strong urge in me to solve this problem before death actually arrives. I'm scared of death but at the same time I'm tired of living. I would describe my life as a boring (sometimes painful) road to death. There is no point in that. And despite the fact that I don't want to die now, I don't want to get a new life after death only to discover there once more that some day I have to die again. I wonder how such an absurd thing as "life" (or samsara) can actually be real. Sometimes I cannot believe that "I am" or that something exists at all, it just seems to implausible, even with my eyes wide open. Maybe this is one of the reasons why I took refuge to the Buddha-Dhamma, because all other religions glorify some kind of existence. But the very fact of existence (even in heaven) seems absurd to me. Not necessarily painful, but absurd nonetheless. I want to escape but I'm afraid I could actually succeed. A dilemma. I'm stuck. I'm confronted with a problem I cannot solve. Sometimes it seems that madness is only one step away. So my days went by one after another, and all I do is either contemplating the problem (and other minor problems) or trying to forget it for a while by diversion. It's like hoping that one day a miracle will happen, but it wont, I guess. Best wishes, Mathias by Bhikkhu Nyanamoli on Wed 1 Oct 2008 - 22:50 Dear Mathias, Thank you for taking time to reply. You say: It's like hoping that one day a miracle will happen, but it wont, I guess. Indeed, I can understand how you feel. Compare this Sutta: Like to a hen when the eggs are not completely sat on, made ripe and developed in eight, ten or twelve places, this desire should arise- `O! my chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily.' Yet it is not possible that the chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily. What is the reason? There, bhikkhus, the hen has not completely sat on, made ripe and developed the eggs, in eight, ten or twelve places, and however much this desire should arise- `O! my chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily.' Yet it is not possible that the chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily. In the same manner bhikkhus, to the bhikkhu not applied to development, even if such thoughts as these may not arise.- `O! my mind should be released from desires without holding to them.' yet his mind is released from desires. What is the reason? Because of its developed state...


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 13 'Nanavira's note on rupa' ...Like to a hen when the eggs are completely sat on, made ripe and developed in eight, ten or twelve places, this desire should arise- `O! my chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily.' It is possible that the chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily. What is the reason? There, bhikkhus, the hen has completely sat on, made ripe and developed the eggs, in eight, ten or twelve places, and even if this desire should not arise- `O! my chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily.' Yet it is possible that the chicken should break the shell with the nails of their feet or with their beaks and be born again healthily. In the same manner bhikkhus, to the bhikkhu applied to development, even if such thoughts as these may not arise.- `O! my mind should be released from desires without holding to them.' yet his mind is released from desires. What is the reason? Because of its developed state. -- Anguttara Nikaya, Bhāvānasuttaṃ, 7.67 Thus, as you can see there is nothing wrong in waiting and hoping for a miracle to happen, that is as long as you keep striving. Whether you wish for a miracle or not, as long as you invest an effort into your practice (keeping the precepts, meditating, contemplating), there is nothing to feel bad about. Even if you do, that still shouldn't be a reason to stop practising, on the contrary, and that is because any effort that you put in liberating your mind will not be in vain. You might not see the results immediately, but nevertheless they are there (i.e. ripening): Bhikkhus, just as a mason or his apprentice seeing the marks of the handle of the adze, finger marks and thumb marks, would not know, today I have rubbed off this number of marks, tomorrow this number will be rubbed off and afterwards this much, yet knowledge arises that they are rubbed off. In the same manner to the bhikkhu abiding in the development it does not occur, this number of my desires are destroyed today, this much tomorrow and afterwards this much, yet knowledge arises, that they are destroyed. -- op.cit. Wishing you all the best, Nyanamoli by Mathias on Thu 2 Oct 2008 - 1:09 Dear Bhante Nyanamoli, Thus, as you can see there is nothing wrong in waiting and hoping for a miracle to happen, that is as long as you keep striving. Whether you wish for a miracle or not, as long as you invest an effort into your practice (keeping the precepts, meditating, contemplating), there is nothing to feel bad about. Even if you do, that still shouldn't be a reason to stop practising, on the contrary, and that is because any effort that you put in liberating your mind will not be in vain. You might not see the results immediately, but nevertheless they are there (i.e. ripening):


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 14 'Nanavira's note on rupa' thank you. I think it's useful to remember that from time to time. Even if the path to liberation seems to be long and stony, we only need to walk it once. And at some point we will never fall back. Best wishes, Mathias *** by Acinteyyo on Tue 19 Jan 2010 - 13:44 Hi, first of all, sorry for intercepting this thread. I read the notes on NĀMA, RŪPA and VIÑÑĀNA over and over again and tried to compare it with my own experience, but it seems that rūpa cannot be directly percieved. When there is an experience (composed of nāmarūpa), viññāna can easily be noted, because of the existence of the experience. It seems possible to identify the "nāma-part" (vedanā, saññā, cetanā, phassa, manasikāra, whereas vedanā and saññā appear quite well, cetanā, phassa and manasikāra seem to appear more "under the surface" kind of indirectly observable) but then there is nothing left of the experience. I must have put something wrongly into the "nāma-part" because I can't identify anything which should be rūpa or rūpa is not observable directly and nāma just implies rūpa. Maby matter is not observable directly but only via it's appearance. Like seeing for example. I cannot see (visible) objects directly, what is seen is the emitted light and not the object itself which appears then. Perhaps I didn't perceive anything directly and just thought too much about it, now I'm confused. Any help? Thoughts? best wishes, Acinteyyo by Mathias on Tue 19 Jan 2010 - 17:31 Dear Ainteyyo, according to my understanding, rupa is the inertia/resistance/behaviour of the phenomenon: Behaviour as such is not part of the experience as you already said. It is present only as "the behaviour of [sense-]perception". You wrote: Maby matter is not observable directly but only via it's appearance. Like seeing for example. I cannot see (visible) objects directly, what is seen is the emitted light and not


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 15 'Nanavira's note on rupa' the object itself which appears then. In this case, matter would be some kind of reality which is hidden behind or beyond experience. But Bhante Nanavira wrote (6 July 1963, to Mr. Samaratunga): The fact is, however, that the notion of Reality concealed behind appearances is quite false. So rupa cannot be the matter of the physicists which is supposed to be already there before it actually appears to us. Rupa is together with its appearance, namely as the behaviour of the appearance. To appear is the only way for rupa to come into existence. That is my understanding so far. I also have big trouble to understand certain things. It often turns out that my understanding is different from that of others. Best wishes, Mathias by Acinteyyo on Tue 19 Jan 2010 - 23:25 Hi Mathias, yes, I too came across this, that reality hidden behind appearance is false. I'm just having trouble to understand how appearance behaves. To see or identify the behaviour of appearance, it seems to me like I'm always overlooking (or I ignore) it's behaviour. It is also difficult for me to understand that rūpa means "matter" or "behaviour". "matter" and "inertia" or "resistance" is more graspable. I can hardly see the similarity between "matter" and "behaviour". best wishes, Acinteyyo Edit: Today I think I got it! Any appearance shows a more or less complex behaviour. The appearance of a phenomenon is not even imaginable without it's behaviour. A colour (sanna as part of nama) for example can "behave" persistant or a table "behaves" kind of solid, what I mean is the appearance behaves in such a way but this behaviour is obviously not the appearance itself. On the other hand behaviour without appearance is like "moving without content", like "moving without something (appearance) that moves". behaviour without appearance cannot exist and appearance without behaviour cannot exist either. It's actually very well expressed in the Note on rūpa: As rūpa in nāmarūpa, the four mahābhūtā get a borrowed existence as the behaviour of appearance (just as feeling, perception, and intentions, get a borrowed substance as the appearance of behaviour). And nāmarūpa is the condition for viññāna as viññāna is for nāmarūpa Ven. Ñanavira really is much more eloquent than I am.


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 16 'Nanavira's note on rupa' best wishes, Acinteyyo by Mathias on Wed 20 Jan 2010 - 11:37 Acinteyyo wrote: yes, I too came across this, that reality hidden behind appearance is false. I'm just having trouble to understand how appearance behaves. To see or identify the behaviour of appearance, it seems to me like I'm always overlooking (or I ignore) it's behaviour. It is also difficult for me to understand that rūpa means "matter" or "behaviour". "matter" and "inertia" or "resistance" is more graspable. I cannot see the similarity between "matter" and "behaviour". I think the behaviour is really just the behaviour, i. e. how the appearance behaves. For example: every appearance lasts or endures for a certain amount of time (however short). That's its intertia. Bhante Nanavira uses a Morse code as an example for a certain behaviour. He also gives an example for all the five khandhas (see his note an "Dhamma"), namely a:

solid pleasant shady tree for lying under that I now see Instead of solid, pleasant, shady, tree for lying under, visible to me , and so on, we have matter (or substance), feeling, perception, determinations, consciousness [...] So the appearance "pleasant, shady tree for lying under" "behaves" "solid", which is rupa. What bothers me is that no one else seems to define "rupa" or "vinnana" and many other things like Bhante Nanavira did. Everyone seems to have is own definition which is then adopted by the followers of those thought leaders or teachers as "the truth". In fact you can obviously read out every of those various definitions out of the suttas and (what is even worse), you will be able to confirm them in your own experience if you are willing to. It's very frustrating. I become more and more sick of this. Edit: Sorry, I saw your edit to late. I think we have the same understanding now. by Acinteyyo on Wed 20 Jan 2010 - 13:18 Thank you very much! It is so obvious but anyhow I didn't see it that clearly as I do now. MN wrote: every appearance lasts or endures for a certain amount of time (however short). That's its intertia. This makes perfect sense to me. I wonder why I didn't understand it right from the start. "Inertia" is the best term I can imagine to express this for example.


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 17 'Nanavira's note on rupa' MN wrote: What bothers me is that no one else seems to define "rupa" or "vinnana" and many other things like Bhante Nanavira did. Everyone seems to have is own definition which is then adopted by the followers of those thought leaders or teachers as "the truth". In fact you can obviously read out every of those various definitions out of the suttas and (what is even worse), you will be able to confirm them in your own experience if you are willing to. It's very frustrating. I become more and more sick of this. Edit: Sorry, I saw your edit to late. I think we have the same understanding now. I think it is because there are only few westerners like Ven. Ñanavira, who are likewise eloquent and straight to the point. The different attitudes of east and west make things difficult to understand on one hand. The "base of understanding" is just different. And on the other hand since language actually is in itself missleading as long as everyone is putting his own interpretation of the meaning of words into it, this additionally makes things rather worse when it comes to mutual understanding. I think one shouldn't pay words too much attention, the emphasis should be put on the meaning. I try to put much effort in finding out what the person I try to understand meant with the used phrases instead of only apply my own interpretation and meaning of it as a "base for understanding". That's very difficult, sometimes more sometimes less possible but it is at least possible at all. There's only one exception, what's impossible to understand, is what one has never experienced. Even the best possible phrasing would not be appropriate enough to transmit what is supposed to be transmitted. In such a case, own experience is the only way to gain understanding. That's part of the path, isn't it? best wishes, Acinteyyo by Mathias on Wed 20 Jan 2010 - 22:17 Yes, I agree with you. by Acha on Fri 22 Jan 2010 - 13:23 Thanks for an interesting thread Acinteyyo and Mathias. I am particularly grateful as you pointed out a passage in Nanavira's Notes that I had never really picked up on before. This is the notion that Matter is 'the behaviour of appearance' and Name 'the appearance of behaviour' in experience or consciousness.


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 18 'Nanavira's note on rupa' So elegant - and something for me to mull on over the next few weeks. Thanks for that - and regards, Acha by Mathias on Mon 10 May 2010 - 18:12 Hello, I think my (our?) understanding of rupa is still incomplete. In my exchange of ideas with "Acinteyyo" I only spoke of rupa as behaviour, but rupa is also substance. According to Nyanavira, rupa is that which appears and as "Bhikkhu Nyanamoli" (Bhante Nyanamoli) already pointed out, in strictest sense, rupa on its own is always "below" our experience, which cannot be said of "mere" behaviour or movement (see accinteyyo's simile): "movement" of a thing is not "below" that thing, neither is "behaviour". I see now that my understanding regarding rupa is blocked in a similar way as it was in Sister Vajira (before her attainment), in other words: I am also prone to regard rupa as appearance or part of the appearance or as "illusion" ("the world is a dream"). I only want to mention this in case someone else has similar problems regarding the understanding of rupa. Until now, I could not unravel that knot fully, but I hope that I (and you) will succeed. With best wishes, Mathias by Mathias on Tue 5 Oct 2010 - 15:19 I only want to add the following from Ven. Nanavira (Marginalia, Appearance and Reality): The only primary quality of matter is time. The following excerpt from an undated letter of Ven. Nanavira might also be useful: [...] How, then, is D. 15 (Nidāna Suttanta) to be understood? Clearly it is saying that rūpa cannot arise independent of nāma, or nāma of rūpa. By this I understand that in any experience, involving no matter which sense (note that I am not denying that whenever there is cakkhuviññāṇa [say] there is also manoviññāṇa, but simply asserting that this fact is irrelevant in the present context), what appers is (i) describable: it is saññā (which is nāma), or distinguishable as colour(-and-shape), sound, smell, taste, touch, or idea—and note that of saññā the Buddha says (I quote from memory): Saññatvā, evaṃ saññī ahosinti hoti (A. VI,vi,8 ), which shows why saññā, being the basis


© Path Press – Archive of AKALIKA FORUM – nanavira.top-talk.net 19 'Nanavira's note on rupa' of description, is nāma or adhivacana—; and it is (ii) possessed of a certain resistance that is independent of the particular quality or percept that manifests it (though it cannot be manifest except in the form of some percept or other—rather as different instruments can be devised to detect or "perceive" electromagnetic waves), and this resistance (paṭigha) is rūpa (and just as the programme that is received by the wireless set can only be heard when the set is on, yet is independent of the set in that the set is not responsible for the programme, which thus possesses its own inertia or resistance vis-à-vis the set, so the "programme" of rūpa that we perceive when this or that sense is on is dependent upon perception in order to appear, but is independent of, or resistant to, perception in that we do not perceive whatever we wish to perceive but what is arbitrarily forced upon us—which, of course, is distorted by our maññanā, rather [though not exactly] as a defective wireless set distorts the programme [but with "defective" perception, i.e. maññanā, it is useless trying to discover the "undistorted programme" that was "actually broadcast by the BBC" before our "defective" perception distorted it]). The division of phassa into paṭigha and adhivacana samphassa does not, as I understand it, correspond to a distinction between the five senses and the mind, but rather to the twofold necessity of all experience, in that it consists of a certain independent, arbitrary, resistant, datum (RŪPA) which, however, is obliged, in order to appear, to be descriptible as seen or heard or smelt and so on (as well as pleasant, unpleasant, etc.), i.e. to appear as a particular percept ( NĀMA). This D. 15 passage describes phassa from the inside—i.e. reflexively and without reference to the twelve āyatanas (which are seen from the outside as in M. 28). [...] The letter can be found amongst the letters of 1959 (EL. 151) on the Nanavira Thera Dhama Page. It belongs to his "early letters".

Nanavira's note on rupa  

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