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Sankhara (Re: Nama Rupa)

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  • robmoult
    Hi Victor, ... The definition of sankhara in Nyanatiloka s Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines starts, This term has, according to its context,
    Message 1 of 45 , Nov 23, 2002
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      Hi Victor,

      --- In dhammastudygroup@y..., "yu_zhonghao" <yu_zhonghao@y...> wrote:
      > Why and how does sankhara condition consciousness?

      The definition of "sankhara" in Nyanatiloka's "Manual of Buddhist
      Terms and Doctrines" starts, "This term has, according to its
      context, different shades of meaning, which should be carefully
      distinguished...." It then proceeds to give multiple definitions.

      You are probably familiar with the term "sankhara" as applied as one
      of the five aggregates. In this case, it means all of the cetasikas
      minus feeling and perception.

      The definition of "sankhara" when used as part of dependent
      origination is quite different. In dependent origination, "sankhara"
      is the 29 rebirth-producing cetana which fall into three classes:
      - Formations of merit (punnabhisankhara): cetana in the 8 maha
      kusala cittas and cetana in the 5 rupavacara cittas
      - Formations of demerit (apunnabhisankhara): cetana in the 12
      akusala cittas
      - Formations of the imperturbable (anenjabhisankhara): cetana in the
      4 arupavacara cittas

      In short, sankhara represents the 29 types of kamma (kamma = cetana)
      associated with the 17 lokiya kusala cittas and the 12 akusala
      cittas.

      Just as sankhara has a unique definition when used as part of
      dependent origination, so too does consciousness (vinnana) have a
      unique definition when used as part of dependent origination. As
      part of dependent orgination, consciousness means the 32 lokiya
      vipaka cittas.

      You have probably seen the diagram of dependent origination which
      shows sankhara as the last of the "past period (kala)" and vinnana
      as the first of the "present period". Most of the focus when
      describing the link between sankhara and vinnana is on how at the
      time of rebirth (patisandhi-kala), the 11 akusala cetanas (excluding
      uddhacca-cetana) and the 17 lokiya kusala cetanas (excluding the two
      abhinna-cetanas) condition the arising of the 19 rebirth
      consciousnesses. However, dependent origination does not have to
      extend over three lives and during a lifetime (pavatti-kala) the 12
      akusala cetanas (including uddhacca-cetana) and the 17 lokiya kusala
      cetanas (excluding the two abhinna-cetanas) condition the arising of
      vipaka cittas which arise in the thought process as follows:
      - Formations of merit: 8 mahakusala cetanas and 5 rupavacara cetanas
      condition the arising of 8 kusala vipaka cittas (5 sense
      consciousness, receiving, 2 investigating), 8 mahakusala vipaka
      cittas (here the mahakusala vipaka cittas play a role of
      registration cittas, not patisandhi cittas) and 5 rupavacara vipaka
      cittas
      - Formations of demerit: 12 akusala cetanas condition the arising of
      7 akusala vipaka cittas (5 sense consciousness, receiving,
      investigating)
      - Formations of the imperturbable: 4 arupavacara cetanas condition
      the arising of 4 arupavacara vipaka cittas

      All of the conditioning between sankhara and vinnana is according to
      asychronous kamma condition and natural decisive support condition

      In simple words, the second link in dependent origination tells us
      that kamma conditions vipaka; it is kamma that conditions our
      rebirth citta (which is vipaka) and it is kamma that conditions our
      sense door consciousness, receiving, investigating and registration
      cittas. Everything that happens to us is a result of our kamma. Our
      current situation is a result of our kamma. What we do in our
      current situation is not determined by our past kamma ("free will?")
      and what we do in our current situation creates new kamma for us.

      Victor, does this help?

      Metta,
      Rob M :-)
    • Jonothan Abbott
      Victor Here is an alternative way of looking at this question. Nama and rupa are terms chosen by the Buddha to designate certain aspects of the knowledge
      Message 45 of 45 , Dec 7, 2002
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        Victor

        Here is an alternative way of looking at this question.

        'Nama' and 'rupa' are terms chosen by the Buddha to designate certain
        aspects of the knowledge gained by him in attaining enlightenment.
        They are not something that was there waiting to be 'discovered' by
        the Buddha.

        To my understanding, 'nama' and 'rupa' designate the
        dhammas/fundamental phenomena of which the world as we know it is
        comprised. In other words, they designate something about the
        present moment -- for me, the moment conventionally known as 'writing
        a post', for you, 'reading a post'. Writing/reading posts is the
        conceptual description of the present moment; the reality is various
        namas and rupas.

        Just to complicate things, the compound term nama-rupa has a slightly
        narrower meaning in certain contexts. But it still refers to
        specific aspects of the fundamental phenomena of which the present
        moment is comprised.

        In my view, the best place to find out more about the underlying
        phenomena designated by these terms is the Abhidhamma, the
        commentaries, and the Visuddhi-Magga. I do not think there is much
        to be gained by looking into the derivation of the terms themselves,
        since they are only labels (although the Visuddhi-Magga does give an
        explanation for each in terms of its derivation).

        Just my thoughts.

        Jon

        --- yu_zhonghao <yu_zhonghao@...> wrote:
        > Hi all,
        >
        > I have been thinking for the last couple days about the meaning
        > of "nama-rupa" and would like to write down some ideas.
        >
        > 1. The Sanskrit/Pali word "nama", the English word "name", the
        German
        > word "Name", and the French word "Nom" all share the same root in
        the
        > linguistic family of Indo-European languages. The Chinese
        > translated "nama-rupa" as "ming-se", where "ming" means "name" in
        > English, and "se" literally means "color". The compound word
        "nama-
        > rupa" has been translated as "name-and-form" in some literature
        > and "mentality-materiality" in other. Whether the word "nama" is
        > translated as "name" or "mentality" in English, questions remain:
        > what does it mean by "nama"? What does it mean by "rupa"?
        >
        > 2. Name is representation. Rupa is what is being represented.
        There
        > are representations of representations. In other words, nama and
        > rupa are relational. They are not two categories with some number
        > of elements.
        >
        > 3. Representation of something is possible only when there is
        > consciousness, and representations are representation through six
        > modalities of senses (five modalities of bodily senses plus the
        > modality of intellect.)
        >
        > I look forward to some discussion on the meaning of nama-rupa.
        >
        > Have a good day,
        > Victor


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