SDC wrote:aflatun wrote:I'm still struggling a bit with how rupa (generally speaking), and the "inaccessibility" of all five aggregates plays into his (Ven. NN) thinking, I'm hoping to gather some quotes that are giving me trouble and posing a question (s) once I've gathered my half baked thoughts
Both monks put tremendous emphasis on the inaccessibility of matter/behaviour in their writings. I'm not sure if I've gathered the same for the other four aggregates, but given the relationship described below, that inaccessibility of rūpa is indeed a factor. I hope these shed some light here.
From SN on Rūpa:Footnote c wrote:...Thus it will be observed that all difference in appearance (nāma) is difference in either consciousness (viññāna) or matter (rūpa). Why is this? Neither consciousness nor matter, by itself, can appear (or be manifest); for consciousness by itself lacks substance or specification—it is pure presence or existence without any thing that is present (or exists)—, and matter by itself lacks presence or existence—it is pure substance or specification, of which one cannot say 'it is' (i.e. 'it is present [or absent]'). Appearance or manifestation must necessarily partake of both consciousness and matter, but as an overlapping () and not simply an addition (for the simple superposition of two things each itself incapable of appearing would not produce appearance). Appearance is existence as substance, or substance as existence, and there must be also simple existence (or consciousness) and simple substance (or matter) to support this imbrication. Appearance, in a manner of speaking, is sandwiched between consciousness and matter: there must be rūpa, and nāma, and viññāna. - Ven. ÑanaviraSN on Rūpa wrote:In itself, purely as inertia or behaviour, matter cannot be said to exist. (Cf. Heidegger, op. cit., p. 212.) And if it cannot be said to exist it cannot be said to cease. Thus the question 'Where do the four mahābhūtā finally cease?' is improper. (The question will have been asked with the notion in mind of an existing general material world common to all. Such a general world could only exist—and cease—if there were a general consciousness common to all. But this is a contradiction, since consciousness and individuality [see SAKKĀYA] are one.) But behaviour can get a footing in existence by being present in some form. As rūpa in nāmarūpa, the four mahābhūtā get a borrowed existence as the behaviour of appearance (just as feeling, perception, and intentions, get a borrowed substance as the appearance of behaviour). And nāmarūpa is the condition for viññāna as viññāna is for nāmarūpa. When viññāna (q.v.) is anidassana it is said to have ceased (since avijjā has ceased). Thus, with cessation of viññāna there is cessation of nāmarūpa, and the four mahābhūtā no longer get a footing in existence. (The passage at Salāyatana Samyutta xix,8 <S.iv,192>, ...bhikkhu catunnam mahābhūtānam samudayañ ca atthagamañ ca yathābhūtam pajānāti, ('...a monk understands as they really are the arising and ceasing of the four great entities') is to be understood in this sense.) - Ven. ÑanaviraResistance and Designation wrote:
From earth, he has a percept of earth; having had from earth a percept, he conceives [that to be] earth, he conceives [that to be] in earth, he conceives [that to be] out of earth, he conceives earth as ‘mine’, he delights earth. Why is that? He has not fully understood it, I say… (MN 1)
What a puthujjana has to realize is that regardless of what he perceives, it is always his perception that is perceived. Whether it is ‘earth’, ‘water’, ‘fire’, ‘air’ or any other thing that MN 1 mentions, all one will ever perceive (puthujjana and arahant alike) is one’s own perception of that ‘matter’. This is saying nothing else than ‘matter’ is and will always be outside of one’s reach, outside of that which has appeared. - Ven. N. Ñanamoli
Much to digest here, sorry I have to be brief. My sense that all of the aggregates are inaccessible comes from listening to his recorded talks more than anything, in writing he seems to focus more on matter in this regard. Here is a cut and paste of some snippets from my transcription thread with some intervening text removed:
I mean you have no control to such an extent that you can’t even think matter. You can think in regard to that which matter is. And even that which you think that matter is …in regard to which you’re thinking, that’s also a thought. That’s how inaccessible elements are. And consciousness is out there with them, equally inaccessible. And then you will realize that whatever comes as a result of conscious matter, namely, feeling, perception, intentions…are equally inaccessible. So, my sense of my self… me, volition, intention, determination…are not mine. Inconceivable to be mine...
Yeah all of those…like there is…and that’s that inaccessible thing. Because if there wouldn’t be…Nibbana is the inaccessible. It’s real, in…in every experience… In experience of (a) Buddhist, Non Buddhist, Puthujjana, Arahant…Nibbana is there. It’s just whether it’s fully understood or not. If there wouldn’t be inaccessible, means, access would be there. And freedom from it would not be possible. But because there is inaccessible, freedom from anything that you could have accessed before is possible...
Basically it pertains to the way you take them, or not: The five aggregates. And you take them, for as long as you don’t fully understand…that it’s impossible to take them in the first place. They’re inaccessible. Not knowing that they’re inaccessible, you access them…through that lack of knowledge. So there is no room for it, but it has always been there. So its beginningless but actually its not supposed to be there. Its not needed, its not necessary, it’s a parasite as Nanavira referred to it…but beginningless. Something you know before, because if you knew before you couldn’t have fallen onto this not knowing. Because once you know, you cannot not know anymore. So this lack of knowledge is beginningless, yet completely gratuitous. Not knowing that they’re inaccessible. That’s it.