Sankhara (Re: Nama Rupa)
- 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
- 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
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
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
- Formations of demerit: 12 akusala cetanas condition the arising of
7 akusala vipaka cittas (5 sense consciousness, receiving,
- 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?
Rob M :-)
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
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.
--- yu_zhonghao <yu_zhonghao@...> wrote:
> Hi all,German
> 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
> word "Name", and the French word "Nom" all share the same root inthe
> linguistic family of Indo-European languages. The Chinese"nama-
> translated "nama-rupa" as "ming-se", where "ming" means "name" in
> English, and "se" literally means "color". The compound word
> rupa" has been translated as "name-and-form" in some literatureThere
> 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.
> 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,
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