We learn in the Dhammapada, that the mind precedes all things...
This causality is explained in more detail in the Buddha's teaching on paticcasamuppada...Dhammapada wrote:1. Mind precedes all dhammas. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.
2. Mind precedes all dhammas. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.
Within that, there is mention of nama-rupa, and as explored in the recent Nāmarūpa - Named Form? topic, form is known by way of "name". Ven. Nanananda explains the matter thusly...SN 12.15 wrote:From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.
... all of which (eventually!) brings me here to the Theravada meditation forum.Ven. Nanananda wrote:As far as the teachings in the suttas are concerned, nāma still has a great depth even when it is understood in the sense of `name'.
Nāmaṃ sabbaṃ anvabhavi, nāmā bhiyyo na vijjati, nāmassa ekadhammassa, sabbeva vasamanvagū.
"Name has conquered everything,
There is nothing greater than name,
All have gone under the sway,
Of this one thing called name."
yogam āyanti maccuno.
"Beings are conscious of what can be named,
They are established on the nameable,
By not comprehending the nameable things,
They come under the yoke of death."
All this shows that the word nāma has a deep significance even when it is taken in the sense of `name'. But now let us see whether there is something wrong in rendering nāma by `name' in the case of the term nāma-rūpa. To begin with, let us turn to the definition of nāma-rūpa as given by the Venerable Sāriputta in the Sammādiṭṭhisutta of the Majjhima Nikāya.
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.
"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 `nameand-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. This shows that the definition of nāma in nāma-rūpa takes us back to the most fundamental notion of `name', to something like its prototype. The world gives a name to an object for purposes of easy communication. When it gets the sanction of others, it becomes a convention.
As an illustration of the sweeping power of name, he points out that if any tree happens to have no name attached to it by the world, it would at least be known as the `nameless tree'. Now as for the child, even such a usage is not possible. So it gets to know an object by the aforesaid method. And the factors involved there, are the most elementary constituents of name.
Now it is this elementary name-and-form world that a meditator also has to understand, however much he may be conversant
with the conventional world. But if a meditator wants to understand this name-and-form world, he has to come back to
the state of a child, at least from one point of view. Of course in this case the equanimity should be accompanied by knowledge
and not by ignorance. And that is why a meditator makes use of mindfulness and full awareness, satisampajañña, in his attempt
to understand name-and-form. Even though he is able to recognize objects by their conventional names, for the purpose of comprehending name-and-form, a meditator makes use of those factors that are included under `name': feeling, perception, intention, contact and attention. All these have a specific value to each individual and that is why the Dhamma has to be understood each one by himself -
paccattaṃ veditabbo. This Dhamma has to be realized by oneself. One has to understand one's own world of name-and-form by oneself. No one else can do it for him. Nor can it be defined or denoted by technical terms.
Now it is in this world of name-and-form that suffering is found.
There is often the view put forward that vipassana is "non-conceptual"... (this has been explored previously in Vipassana: conceptual or non-conceptual?).
To the extent that is accepted as a "non-conceptual", could it be discerning what ven. Nanananda described above as "the most fundamental notion of `name', to something like its prototype" - namely, the qualities (dhammas, if you will) of feeling, perception, intention, contact and attention?
... or is the mode of observation and that which is observed something even less conceptual than that? And if so, how could such a practice be explained with recourse to the Buddha's teaching? Is there a belief that something pre-fabricated is being observed, or observing?