Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Name-and-form
11
52%
Mind-and-body
1
5%
Mentality-and-materiality
8
38%
Other (explain below)
1
5%
 
Total votes: 21

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retrofuturist
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Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:57 am

Greetings,

Let us know you regard nāma-rūpa...

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by _anicca_ » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:48 am

Name and form is the most accurate translation, but I feel like mentality-materiality explains it better.

Although, it is best not to confuse direct translations with their meanings.
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

:buddha1:

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by DooDoot » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:54 am

Do the texts below contradict each other? If so, how can this contradiction be reconciled to keep both texts authentic? Could there possibly be two valid translations, dependent upon context?

Texts 1: Consciousness & nama-rupa mutually dependent
On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahakoṭṭhita were dwelling at Baraṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana... Well then, friend, I will make up a simile for you, for some intelligent people here understand the meaning of a statement by means of a simile. Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with nama-and-rupa as condition, consciousness comes to be; with consciousness as condition, nama-and-rupa comes to be... So too, with the cessation (nirodhaṃ) of nama-and-rupa comes cessation (nirodhaṃ) of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness comes cessation of nama-and-rupa. SN 12.67

Venerable Sariputta addressed the bhikkhus thus... With the arising of consciousness there is the arising of nama-and-rupa. With the cessation (nirodhaṃ) of consciousness there is the cessation (nirodhaṃ) of nama-and-rupa. MN 9
Texts 2: Consciousness (including discernment) & nama-rupa not mutually dependent
Great Brahma, taking the monk by the arm and leading him off to one side, said to him... "Go right back to the Blessed One"...
Consciousness without feature,
without end,
luminous all around:
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
nama-and-rupa
are all brought to an end (uparujjhatī).
DN 11

At Savatthi. Then the brahman Jata Bharadvaja went to the Blessed One...
A man established in virtue, discerning,
developing discernment & mind,
a monk ardent, astute:
he can untangle this tangle...
Where name-&-form,
totally stop (uparujjhati) without trace:
that's where the tangle
is cut.
SN 7.6

uparujjhati
to be stopped, broken, annihilated, destroyed
Last edited by DooDoot on Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by 2600htz » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:10 pm

Hello:

I think they all sound right if we pick the detailed definitions of the suttas, but honestly if someone who never has heard about this asks me to try to explain what the Buddha taught i would talk about "mind and body" process.

In modern times some people have a conflict when u start talking about the 4 great elements, or mentality being something else than physical activity in the brain, so i would try to avoid "name and form" and "mentality-materiality".

Regards.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by SarathW » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:52 pm

I voted mentality and materiality.
It does not matter which term you use as far as you understand what it means.
Nama-rupa is one of the most confusing words to understand.
I am still not fully convinced what it exactly means.
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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by DNS » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:01 pm

Bhante Madawela Punnaji has translated Nama as "label" and Rupa as "Image" which seems to be more compatible to the anatta doctrine as there is no permanence in either nama or rupa.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:37 pm

Greetings David,

That's an interesting rendering... like name and from, but made a bit more "obvious". So long as the term "image" didn't lead people to assume that nama-rupa was restricted to visual phenomena, then this rendering is as good as any.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by paul » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:21 pm

The Buddha taught dependent origination only to show how "through ignorance and delusion, the present existence and suffering has come about", and over-emphasizing it will result in an unbalanced view:
Edit: (the words in parenthesis are quoted from 'paticcasamuppada' (2), Buddhist Dictionary, the overall conclusion is drawn from my understanding.)

"Consciousness is for corporality a condition by way of co-nascence only at the moment of conception, thereafter a condition by way of post-nascence and nutriment..." Buddhist Dictionary, Nyanatiloka.
In other words, the comparison with the two sheaves of reeds propped against each other, when one falls the other falls too, is the definitive image. (Vism. XVIII, 32ff.)
Last edited by paul on Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:41 pm

Greetings Paul,
paul wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:21 pm
The Buddha taught dependent origination only to show how "through ignorance and delusion, the present existence and suffering has come about", and over-emphasizing it will result in an unbalanced view:
Are these your words, Nyanatiloka's words, or someone else's words? It's the first time I've ever seen anyone warn about over-emphasising paticcasamuppada.

:o

Thus, I'm curious to know the origin of these words, but couldn't ascertain it from how you had represented them.

Thanks.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by Garrib » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:51 pm

I also am not totally sure what nama-rupa REALLY means - but I like mentality-materiality. Name and form seems to make sense, but you have to really think about it for a while before it starts to gel - the first time I read "name and form" I was really perplexed.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by SarathW » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:07 am

DNS wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:01 pm
Bhante Madawela Punnaji has translated Nama as "label" and Rupa as "Image" which seems to be more compatible to the anatta doctrine as there is no permanence in either nama or rupa.
Actually that is how I understand it too, but no Sutta support for it.
The way I understand we give a name to a Rupa.
It is like a mental image.
If I see the night sky, I will see some light.
But if I see the Big Dipper that means I made a name for the constellation.
But there is no real Big Dipper it is only a mental image.
Even though it is the mental image there is a practical use of it.
In the same way our body is a mental construct.

:juggling:
If I take that logic I have to vote for name and form.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by perkele » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:32 am

SarathW wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:07 am
DNS wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:01 pm
Bhante Madawela Punnaji has translated Nama as "label" and Rupa as "Image" which seems to be more compatible to the anatta doctrine as there is no permanence in either nama or rupa.
Actually that is how I understand it too, but no Sutta support for it.
The way I understand we give a name to a Rupa.
It is like a mental image.
If I see the night sky, I will see some light.
But if I see the Big Dipper that means I made a name for the constellation.
But there is no real Big Dipper it is only a mental image.
Even though it is the mental image there is a practical use of it.
In the same way our body is a mental construct.

:juggling:
If I take that logic I have to vote for name and form.
This is good reasoning and well-explained. I totally agree with it.

Nama-rupa - name and form, are these complementary parts of conscious experience: the image and its label. The quale and its designation. That also fits in well with nāma-rūpa and viññāṇa (consciousness) being mutually dependent, "just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other", as quoted in the second reply here.

Mentality/materiality and mind/body don't seem to make any sense at all in the context, although they might seem more aesthetically pleasing for some, and especially the former sounding possibly more "scientific". But it seems to me that the distinction is not about mind/matter duality at all, but that both nama and rupa are aspects of the mental.

So I, too, voted "name and form".

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:48 am

perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:32 am
Nama-rupa - name and form, are these complementary parts of conscious experience: the image and its label.
How does this relate to suffering & the cessation of suffering? Does labelling a form a "dog" or "tree" or "moon" cause suffering?
Bhikkhus, both formerly and now what I teach is suffering and the cessation of suffering. MN 22
:candle:
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:32 am
Mentality/materiality and mind/body don't seem to make any sense at all in the context..
In the context of suffering & the cessation of suffering mentality/materiality can make sense, such as below:
So if a monk should wish: 'May neither my body be fatigued nor my eyes, and may my mind, through lack of clinging, be released from fermentations,' then he should attend carefully to this same concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing. SN 54.8
Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of sensual desire, he has abandoned the thought of renunciation to cultivate the thought of sensual desire, and then his mind inclines (namati) to thoughts of sensual desire. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of ill will…upon thoughts of cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of non-cruelty to cultivate the thought of cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of cruelty. MN 19

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by aflatun » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:04 am

DooDoot wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:54 am
Do the texts below contradict each other? If so, how can this contradiction be reconciled to keep both texts authentic? Could there possibly be two valid translations, dependent upon context?

Texts 1: Consciousness & nama-rupa mutually dependent
On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta and the Venerable Mahakoṭṭhita were dwelling at Baraṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana... Well then, friend, I will make up a simile for you, for some intelligent people here understand the meaning of a statement by means of a simile. Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with nama-and-rupa as condition, consciousness comes to be; with consciousness as condition, nama-and-rupa comes to be... So too, with the cessation (nirodhaṃ) of nama-and-rupa comes cessation (nirodhaṃ) of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness comes cessation of nama-and-rupa. SN 12.67

Venerable Sariputta addressed the bhikkhus thus... With the arising of consciousness there is the arising of nama-and-rupa. With the cessation (nirodhaṃ) of consciousness there is the cessation (nirodhaṃ) of nama-and-rupa. MN 9
Texts 2: Consciousness (including discernment) & nama-rupa not mutually dependent
Great Brahma, taking the monk by the arm and leading him off to one side, said to him... "Go right back to the Blessed One"...
Consciousness without feature,
without end,
luminous all around:
Here long & short
coarse & fine
fair & foul
nama-and-rupa
are all brought to an end (uparujjhatī).
DN 11

At Savatthi. Then the brahman Jata Bharadvaja went to the Blessed One...
A man established in virtue, discerning,
developing discernment & mind,
a monk ardent, astute:
he can untangle this tangle...
Where name-&-form,
totally stop (uparujjhati) without trace:
that's where the tangle
is cut.
SN 7.6

uparujjhati
to be stopped, broken, annihilated, destroyed
What's your take on it?
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by perkele » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:20 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:48 am
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:32 am
Nama-rupa - name and form, are these complementary parts of conscious experience: the image and its label.
How does this relate to suffering & the cessation of suffering? Does labelling a form a "dog" or "tree" or "moon" cause suffering?
Your question makes no sense to me.
DooDoot wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:48 am
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:32 am
Mentality/materiality and mind/body don't seem to make any sense at all in the context..
In the context of suffering & the cessation of suffering mentality/materiality can make sense, such as below:
The context here was the mutual dependence of the nidanas of viññana and nāma-rūpa, illustrated by the Buddha with the simile of sheaves of reed standing against each other.
DooDoot wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:48 am
So if a monk should wish: 'May neither my body be fatigued nor my eyes, and may my mind, through lack of clinging, be released from fermentations,' then he should attend carefully to this same concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing. SN 54.8
Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of sensual desire, he has abandoned the thought of renunciation to cultivate the thought of sensual desire, and then his mind inclines (namati) to thoughts of sensual desire. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of ill will…upon thoughts of cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of non-cruelty to cultivate the thought of cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of cruelty. MN 19
The following quotes that you provide here, although the second contains the word "namati", and the first both "body" and "mind" (whatever the original Pali in those instances is), have apparently nothing to do with that compound, nāma-rūpa, that appears as one of the twelve nidānas. And I don't see how they contradict the rendering of nāma-rūpa in the twelve nidānas as name and form.

Of course, rūpa can mean physical form or body. But words can have a spectrum of meanings dependent on context, and sometimes these meanings map to different words in another language.
And the word namati in "his mind inclines (namati) to thoughts of sensual desire" also seems to fit reasonably well with how I understand nāma in the context of nāma-rūpa.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by SarathW » Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:59 am

Does labelling a form a "dog" or "tree" or "moon" cause suffering?
No.
But what you create is what is in your mental image.
I imagine a house plan first and then build a house.
The same way we make a nama-rupa and build a body with six sense base.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:36 am

perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:20 am
Your question makes no sense to me.
So suffering & the cessation of suffering makes no sense to you? That mind-&-body or mentality-&-materiality may experience changes due to suffering or may be primed/prepared by ignorance to create suffering makes no sense to you?
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:20 am
The context here was the mutual dependence of the nidanas of viññana and nāma-rūpa, illustrated by the Buddha with the simile of sheaves of reed standing against each other.
This appears to be not relevant to the view that nama-rupa means "the image and its label" because nama-rupa is not defined like this in the stock suttas. The stock suttas defined nama as "feeling, perception, intention, contact & attention" rather than "labelling" and define "rupa" as "the form derived of earth, wind, fire & water" rather than mere sense objects such as an ice-cube that is only made from water. "Rupa" is a word used for the physical body in MN 62 and as one of five aggregates in SN 22.79, which is said to be: "Deformed by cold, deformed by heat, deformed by hunger, deformed by thirst, deformed by contact with flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and serpents". A rock or drop water is obviously not deformed by thirst or hunger.
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:20 am
The following quotes that you provide here, although the second contains the word "namati", and the first both "body" and "mind" (whatever the original Pali in those instances is), have apparently nothing to do with that compound, nāma-rūpa, that appears as one of the twelve nidānas. And I don't see how they contradict the rendering of nāma-rūpa in the twelve nidānas as name and form.
MN 19 seems to be saying the mind inclines with the sankhara (defilments & thoughts) that issue. When the mind inclines with a defilement & thought (such as lust), the body will also incline. Have you ever noticed if the mind thinks sexual thoughts, for example, certain equivalent effects will occur simultaneously to the physical body? Or if the mind thinks certain thoughts & the body has certain arousals, consciousness will simultaneously be aware of or land on those nama-rupas?
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:20 am
Of course, rūpa can mean physical form or body.
OK.
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:20 am
But words can have a spectrum of meanings dependent on context, and sometimes these meanings map to different words in another language.
Why do you provide some concrete examples, as I have done, which relate to the core essence of Buddhism. namely, suffering & the cessation of suffering?
perkele wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:20 am
And the word namati in "his mind inclines (namati) to thoughts of sensual desire" also seems to fit reasonably well with how I understand nāma in the context of nāma-rūpa.
So we agree! nama-rupa may not mean "label-object" but, instead, possibly the mind-body inclining towards engaging in sense contact & other (kammic) activity with the external world.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by form » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:58 am

I think it should be name and form, based on the internal and external sense bases. From nothing it becomes something.

Richard Gombrich has interpreted it as the initiation of an atman based on vedic information.

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:59 am

SarathW wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:59 am
But what you create is what is in your mental image.
I imagine a house plan first and then build a house.
SN 12.67 appears to not support his view:
Name-and-form, friend Koṭṭhita, is not created by oneself, nor is it created by another, nor is it created both by oneself and by another, nor has it arisen fortuitously, being created neither by oneself nor by another; but rather, with consciousness as condition, name-and-form comes to be.”

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Re: Nāma-rūpa is best rendered as...?

Post by form » Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:09 am

Of course, rūpa can mean physical form or body. But words can have a spectrum of meanings dependent on context, and sometimes these meanings map to different words in another language.

------------------------------------------------------------

Regarding the above, doesn't rupa means particles? Something like atoms and subsequently smaller particles?

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