Sylvester wrote:rūpa = the physical khandha associated with the 5 material senses
nāma = the 4 arūpa khandhas (including consciousness).
Possibly I'm missing the point, but are you saying this analysis is incorrect?
Also, is there any correlation here with the distinction between the 4 elements and the 6 elements? The additional 2 elements are space and consciousness, which appear to tie in with the 1st and 2nd formless jhanas.
Well, I'll try to refrain from a right/wrong judgement and simply point out the differences in treatment.
The Abhidharmic axiom rūpa
= the physical khandha
associated with the 5 material senses does not quite fit in MN 28 here -
Following the same analysis with contact at the 5 senses -
But when internally the intellect is intact and externally ideas come into range, and there is a corresponding engagement, then there is the appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness.
The form of what has thus come into being is gathered under the form clinging-aggregate. etc etc
I don't see any reason why rūpa
should be associated only with the 5 material doors, not when Sue Hamilton has noted that such an association is never made in the suttas. If anything, MN 28 is even more radical in suggesting that mental contact can give rise to rūpa
, as with the rest of the other 4 aggregates. We also have DN 15 making the heretical suggestion -
If the permutations, signs, themes, and indicators by which there is a description of form-group were all absent, would resistance-contact (paṭighasamphassa) with regard to the name-group be discerned?
What this plainly states are -
1. form is associated with paṭigha
can function in a paṭigha
As far as I can see, that doesn't leave very much room for the position that paṭigha
is not also a function of the mind.
My take on name-&-form is that the Buddha was borrowing Upanishadic terminology to deal with the process of naming and appearance that arises with contact (described most fully in DN 15). You won't find nāma
defined as the 4 arūpa khandhas
in the Pali suttas, since the standard definition of nāma
is feeling, perception, intention, contact and attention. Consciousness is not included within nāma
in the Pali suttas. I have however seen this done in at least one Chinese parallel in the Agamas, and I suspect this is a textual error that allowed the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma to move away from the naming/appearance treatment to an ontological essay on material/non-material.
While the Abhidharmic exegesis has its value for those interested in ontology, I think that model misses the point about why and how bare sensory impression contact (paṭighasamphassa
) leads to delineation contact (adhivacanasamphassa
) and subsequently to the emotional responses. Suffering in the affective sense revolves around that vortex, especially if the adhivacanasamphassa
infers incorrectly that a self exists.
My suspicion about the transition from rūpa
to the arūpa
lies in the absolute dependance of the latter on the former. As you point out, rūpa
includes space (again, MN 28). "Infinite space" can be delineated once one frees oneself from the sensory impression of "space", but yet, one cannot get to the delineation of "infinite space" without a referent, namely "space". This absolute dependance of delineation of name on form is suggested by the above-quoted passage in DN 15. The delineation of "infinite space" depends on the ability to cognise "space". I suspect that what happens in the transition from rūpa
to the arūpa
is that the meditator sets down paṭighasaññā
of space, and directs his/her attention to the abstract delineation of infinite space.
In this regard, I think a better interpretation of paṭighasaññā
would be not to treat it as a genitive tappurisa
(ie perception of resistance), but possibly as an ablative tappurisa
(perception from paṭigha
). Alternatively, it could be read as a kammadhāraya
compound, where the paṭigha
Take with a pinch of salt...