Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

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Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby manas » Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:07 pm

Greetings all,

there is this passage from the Maha-nidana Sutta, (as translated by Ven. Thanissaro):

"'From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes contact. Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how, from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes contact. If the qualities, traits, themes, & indicators by which there is a description of name-group (mental activity) were all absent, would designation-contact with regard to the form-group (the physical properties) be discerned?"

"No, lord."

"If the permutations, signs, themes, and indicators by which there is a description of form-group were all absent, would resistance-contact with regard to the name-group be discerned?"

"No, lord."

"If the permutations, signs, themes, and indicators by which there is a description of name-group and form-group were all absent, would designation-contact or resistance-contact be discerned?"

"No, lord."

"Thus this is a cause, this is a reason, this is an origination, this is a requisite condition for contact, i.e., name-and-form.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


I don't mind having to reread the Maha-nidana Sutta from time to time, because in this way, the meaning of the Discourse as a whole gradually becomes clearer to me. But this passage still leaves me stumped, partly because I don't know what many of the terms are actually referring to, for example "qualities, traits, themes, & indicators", and "permutations, signs, themes, and indicators".

As a whole I find the Great Causes Discourse very inspiring and illuminating, so if someone could help me to understand this one passage, I would much appreciate it. I can normally get a basic comprehension of things I read, but this is an exception...please help :?

kind regards,
manas.
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:47 pm

See if Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation is helpful:
http://suttacentral.net/dn15/en
And his comments,and translation of the Commetaries seem to be completely readable on Google Books:
http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=kMDd ... on&f=false

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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:52 pm

Here's Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of that passage. Neither translation is easy to follow...
Contact

“It was said: ‘With mentality-materiality as condition there is contact.’ How that is so, Ānanda, should be understood in this way: If those qualities, traits, signs, and indicators through which there is a description of the mental body were all absent, would designation-contact be discerned in the material body?”

“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“If those qualities, traits, signs, and indicators through which there is a description of the material body were all absent, would impingement-contact be discerned in the mental body?”

“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“If those qualities, traits, signs, and indicators through which there is a description of the mental body and the material body were all absent, would either designation-contact or impingement-contact be discerned?”

“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“If those qualities, traits, signs, and indicators through which there is a description of mentality-materiality were all absent, would contact be discerned?”

“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“Therefore, Ānanda, this is the cause, source, origin, and condition for contact, namely, mentality-materiality.
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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:57 pm

Ven Nananda's Nibbana Sermons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katukurund ... anda_Thera
http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/eng/home.php
may also be helpful. I've quoted some of those in various places in the Sutta Study section, but don't have time to find them all right now. If you look for the SN 12 entries, that may be helpful.
E.g. http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=12133

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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby manas » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:11 pm

Hi Mike,

thank you for providing all those links, that is most helpful of you. I will go through them first, before asking anything more.

metta,
manas
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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:34 pm

Dear manas,

Here is MOC Walshe’s translation.
‘“Mind-and-body conditions contact.” By whatever properties features, signs, or indications the mind-factor[336] is conceived of, would there, in the absence of such properties…pertaining to the mind-factor, be manifest any grasping at the idea of the body-factor?[337]’ ‘No, Lord.’

‘Or in the absence of any such properties pertaining to the body-factor, would there be any grasping at sensory reaction on the part of the mind-factor?’ ‘No, Lord.’

‘By whatever properties the mind-factor and the body-factor are designated – in their absence is there manifested any grasping at the idea, or at sensory reaction?’ ‘No, Lord.’

‘By whatever properties, features, signs or indications the mind-factor is conceived of, in the absence of these is there any contact to be found?’ ‘No, Lord.’

‘Then, Ānanda, just this, namely mind-and-body, is the root, the cause, the origin, the condition for all contact.’

[336]Nāma-kāya: the mental component of the pair nāma-rūpa ‘name-and-form’ or ‘mind-and-body’. See next note.
[337]Rūpa-kāya: the physical component of the pair nāma-rūpa. Both rāpa and kāya can on occasion be translated ‘body’, but there is a difference. Rūpa is body as material, especially visible, form, while kāya is body as aggregate, as in ‘a body of material, a body of men’.


My current understanding is that the sutta is basically saying:
By whatever properties we can attribute to the mind/mental factors, without those properties, there can’t be any idea of a “physical body”, as such.

Without the properties of the body-factor, viz. the physical basis for the senses, the mind couldn’t grasp at any sense reaction (because sense reaction wouldn’t be possible without the physical body's material organs).

If there was no nāma-rūpa, there couldn’t be grasping at ideas or sensory reactions because their basis, viz. their causes and conditions, are not present.

Without feelings, perceptions, and formations there is no contact.

Nāma-rūpa conditions all contact.

[NB that the six-sense bases aren’t included between name-and-form and contact as it often is. But it is not rare in the suttas for one or more of the links of dependent origination to be absent.]


Comments or suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

:anjali:
When this is, that is.
From the arising of this comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.
-SN 12.61

Ex nihilo nihil fit.

Peace,
James
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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby manas » Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:37 am

Thanks Mkoll, I am just :reading: for now, but your rephrasing is beginning to make it clearer. It will sink in eventually :)

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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:56 pm

Mkoll wrote:My current understanding is that the sutta is basically saying:
Without feelings, perceptions, and formations there is no contact.
Nāma-rūpa conditions all contact.


I'm wondering how this passage relates to the standard description for "contact", eg as described in the Loka Sutta, SN12.44:
"Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving."

Does this suggest a literal explanation of the OP passage, ie nama-rupa here just means mind-body, the aggregrates, a "person"? No person, no contact. :reading:
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Re: Could someone please explain or rephrase this passage?

Postby Thule » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:42 pm



I liked Ven Nanananda's example of a little child:
http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/file ... m#_ednref9
Vedanā, saññā, cetanā, phasso, manasikāro - idaṃ vuccatāvuso, nāmaṃ; cattāri ca mahābhūtāni, catunnañca mahābhūtānaṃ upādāyarūpaṃ - idaṃ vuccatāvuso, rūpaṃ. Iti idañca nāmaṃ idañca rūpaṃ - idam vuccatāvuso nāma-rūpaṃ.[9]
"Feeling, perception, intention, contact, attention - this, friend, is called 'name'. The four great primaries and form dependent on the four great primaries - this, friend, is called 'form'. So this is 'name' and this is 'form' - this, friend, is called 'name-and-form'."

Well, this seems lucid enough as a definition but let us see, whether there is any justification for regarding feeling, perception, intention, contact and attention as 'name'. Suppose there is a little child, a toddler, who is still unable to speak or understand language. Someone gives him a rubber ball and the child has seen it for the first time. If the child is told that it is a rubber ball, he might not understand it. How does he get to know that object? He smells it, feels it, and tries to eat it, and finally rolls it on the floor. At last he understands that it is a plaything. Now the child has recognised the rubber ball not by the name that the world has given it, but by those factors included under 'name' in nāma-rūpa, namely feeling, perception, intention, contact and attention.

[...and a little later...]

Rūpa exists in relation to 'name' and that is to say that form is known with the help of 'name'. As we saw above, that child got a first-hand knowledge of the rubber ball with the help of contact, feeling, perception, intention and attention. Now in the definition of 'form' as cattāri ca mahābhūtāni, catunnañca mahābhūtānaṃ upādāya rūpaṃ the four great primaries are mentioned because they constitute the most primary notion of 'form'. Just as much as feeling, perception, intention, contact and attention represent the most primary notion of 'name', conventionally so called, even so the four great primaries form the basis for the primary notion of 'form', as the world understands it.

It is not an easy matter to recognize these primaries. They are evasive like ghosts. But out of their interplay we get the perception of form, rūpasaññā. In fact what is called rūpa in this context is rūpasaññā. It is with reference to the behaviour of the four great elements that the world builds up its concept of form. Its perception, recognition and designation of form is in terms of that behaviour. And that behaviour can be known with the help of those members representing name.

The earth element is recognized through the qualities of hardness and softness, the water element through the qualities of cohesiveness and dissolution, the fire element through hotness and coolness, and the wind element through motion and inflation. In this way one gets acquainted with the nature of the four great primaries. And the perception of form, rūpasaññā, that one has at the back of one's mind, is the net result of that acquaintance. So this is nāma-rūpa. This is one's world.
....
Paṭigha and rūpasaññā form a pair. Paṭigha is that experience of resistance which comes by the knocking against an object, and rūpasaññā, as perception of form, is the resulting recognition of that object. The perception is in terms of what is hard, soft, hot or cold. Out of such perceptions common to the blind worldlings, arises the conventional reality, the basis of which is the world.
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