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Nama or Name, as expounded by Ven.Nanavira Thera with the aid of Suttapitaka

 

 
Present
 
 
is a Phenomenon of
 
 
Experience.
 
 
The Present is that is Cognized.
 
 
The Phenomenon of
 
 
Presence,Cognition or Consciousness
 
 
is Vinnana.
 
 
Phenomenon 'Vinnana' has 2 characteristics.
 
 
These two characteristics
of the phenomenon 'Vinnana' are Inertia and Designation. .
 
 

Inertia is called as "Patigha"
and

Designation is called as "Adhivachana".

 
 
The Inertia or the 1st character of phenomenon Vinnana is Rupa.
 
 
Inertia is also seen as 'behaviour' of Rupa.
 
 
This 'behaviour of Rupa can be seen or gets presented
only in a passage of time or segment of time however small that may be.
 
 
The' behaviour' of Rupa, or Matter or Substance is represented by Four general modes,
namely
 
 
Earthy,Watery, Fiery and Airy.
 
 

Earthy behavior is that of persistent and resistant or solid.

Watery behaviour is that of cohesiveness.

Fiery behaviour is that is ripening or maturing.

Airy behaviour is that is tense or distended or moving.

 
 

 

Designation or the 2nd character of phenomena 'Vinnana' is Nama or Name.

 
 
Designation is also seen as 'behaviour' of Nama or Name.
 
 
This 'behaviour' can be considered also as it's 'appearance' or the form or the guise adopted by the 'behaviour' as distinct from the 'behaviou'r itself.
 
 

Experience gets conveyed in five ways as can be noticed from below details from Nama, the 2nd characteristic of Vinnana

As disclosed in Majjima Nikaya (MN,i-9<M,i,53>)

 
 
(i) Whether (the experience is) a 'feeling' (Vedana) of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
(ii) Whether (the experience is) a 'perception' (Sanna) of shape, colour, smell or so on
(iii) Whether (the experience is) an 'intention' (Cetana) of significance or purpose
(iv) Whether (the experience is) a 'contact' (Phassa) of engagement of experience
(v) Whether (the experience is) an 'attention' (Manasikara) that of intentional direction of emphasis
 
 

The reason for including 'contact' or Phassa in Nama is due to the reason that when
specifying 'Sanna', or perception, it also necessarily specifies 'the pair of ayathana'
(inner and outer sense bases) and the 'vinnana' of that ayathana or sense base.

for example,
Perception of Colour and Form is specified by Eye,Form and Eye consciousness
Perception of Sourness is specified by Tongue,Taste and Tongue consciousness so on.

Phassa is the coming together with the inner sense base, outer sense base and the Vinnana of that inner sense base

 
 

Rupa (Inertia or Behaviour) does not specify 'Sanna' nor the mode of appearance,be it either visual, audacity and so on.

Rupa is simply 'discovered' by 'Vinnana'.

 
 

Nama on the other hand entails or implies but does not 'include' Vinnana.

 
 

It is logically , not temporally that Manasikara is included in Nama.

Rupa precedes Manasikara.

 
 

Behavior takes place whether it is attended or not. The behaviour of a clock is to tick
and to move the hour and minute arms accordingly. Whether one have the attention
on the clock or not, the clock behaves its own way.

 

 
 

Experience is always particular and selective. It brings one thing to the fore or to the
front stage and rest receding to the background.

 

 
 

Rupa in order to appear, in order to be the phenomena of namarupa, it must be 'Oriented'.

A phenomenon cannot present all of it's aspects at once with equal emphasis, but
only in a perspective involving 'manasikara'.
Manasikara is involved as an intentional modification of the perspective or direction of
emphasis that is given at the most immediate level.

 

 
 

To be present is -to be here and now
To be absent is -to be here and there
To be absent is -to be there and now
To be absent is -to be there and then

'then' means not now, some other time

'there' means, not here, at some other place

Attention is intentional difference between presence and absence.

i.e. Between varying degrees of presence or consciousness

 

 
 

Consciousness is the difference between the presence in any degree and utter non presence or non existence.

An image may be present or absent,but even if present, it is always absent reality.

 

 
 

Mind consciousness or mano vinnana is the presence of an image, since an image can be 'absent of an image of an image'

Intention is the absent in relation to the present

Every present is relatively accompanied by a number of absents

 

 
 

The present is singular


The absent is plural

 
 

Each absent is a 'possibility' of the present and the ordered total of the present's absents is the significance of the present.

for example, what it points to, or indicates,beyond itself, which is also its intention.

 
 
In general, no two absents - even of the same order - are of exactly the same 'weight'
 
 

'Volition', what is more commonly understood by 'intention' is usually a double intention

(in the sense used here).

for example, it is intentional intention

 
 

This simply means that certain of absents or possibles, are 'intentionally emphasized' at the expense of the others. When in course of time, one absent comes in wholly to predominate over the others

( often but not necessarily, the one preferred)

 
 
The 'present' suddenly 'vanishes' and the absent takes its place as the new present.
 
 
The vanished that was present is now to be found among the absents. This is a 'description of action' or 'kamma' in its essential form, but leaving out of account 'the question of kammavipaka' which is 'acinteyya' and therefore beyond the scope of Notes,
 
 
 
 

Some Comments on 'Nama' or Name

With Ven. Nanavira Thera’s description on 'Nama' or Name, many hidden concepts and ideologies have come in to the light which may help one to look deep into 'namarupa' concept of the Lord Buddha's Sutta discourses.

Regarding ‘experience’ there could be lot of ideas formed. When Ven.Thera mentions 'experience', it is about something we are undergoing at the 'present moment' that he is mentioning. It is with cognition and consciousness we are experiencing the present. It is a ‘real time’ concerning the very ‘moment’. Each experience is happening in a time slot where the duration of it may be so small that we may not be able to realize it. At this very present, you are reading these words in a sentence . It is the experience you are having in this present time. So the point to be taken is that an experience will not take place unless there is a presence.

It is said that the presence, cognition or consciousness are phenomenon of ‘Vinnana’, which is the word Gautama Buddha used in his sermons for the above mentioned phenomenon. The two characteristics of 'Vinnana' being 'Patigha' and 'Adhivachana' or 'Inertia' or 'Designation'. Inertia of Vinnana is called as 'Rupa' and Designation of Vinnana is called 'Nama'. Behaviour of Rupa can be seen or come into prominence through the 'Four Mahabhuta's general modes'. They being Earthy, Watery, Fiery and Airy modes.
Designation of Vinnana can also be considered as its 'behaviour' and also its 'appearance'. Experiences of Vedana,Sanna,Cetana, Phassa and Manasikara had been categorized into Nama and explained well in the Thera’s notes.

Behaviour is explained with an example of a ticking of a Clock, as it is vital to understand the 'behaviour' of Mahabhuta. Whether we notice or not of the behaviour of Mahabhuta, they would always 'behave their particular way according to the modes', as had been in the "past, at present or in future". Other important discloses are that Rupa precedes Manasikara and Rupa or Inertia does not specify 'Sanna' nor the mode of Rupa’s appearance. That means the Rupa or Inertia is not connected to the way how they should appear and they are quite independent of the mode of the appearance.
In fact, for Rupa or Inertia, in order to appear, in order to be the phenomena of 'namarupa', it must be 'Oriented'.( Adjusted or located in relation to surroundings or circumstances; sometimes used in combination)
Another important statement is that ‘a phenomenon cannot present all of it's aspects at once with equal emphasis', but only in a perspective involving 'manasikara'.’ Here an emphasis is given at the immediate level so that any other perspectives will have varying sublevels below the perspective who has the main emphasis. If taking further,and if we are thinking of something at this moment, the thing we are thinking about gets the maximum emphasis until another perspective had been selected as the main emphasis. This way, we make layers over layers of perspectives with experiences that moves back to the past with unimaginable speed. Every present moment with cognition and consciousness will make image layers of micro level time durations that will make our own past.

The explanations on ‘to be present’ and ‘to be absent’ are unheard of this way and has depth not seen from the surface.

To be present is -to be here and now
To be absent is -to be here and there
To be absent is -to be there and now
To be absent is -to be there and then

Attention (manasikara) is intentional difference between presence and absence.


This we can expand the following way.

(1) Attention is intentional difference between to be here and now and to be here and there
or
(2) Attention is intentional difference between to be here and now and to be there and now
or
(3) Attention is intentional difference between to be here and now to be there and then

Consciousness is the difference between the presence in any degree and utter non presence or non existence.

This is a very important statement.
The amount of one's consciousness may depend on the difference of the presence and non presence,
Writing the sentence following way,
More the knowledge of the presence, more the amount of consciousness.
Less the knowledge of the presence, less the amount of consciousness.
So while we are in deep sleep,
If no knowledge of the presence, then no consciousness at all then.


Another important aspect regarding an Image is expressed as such by the Thera.

An image may be present or absent, but even if present, it is always absent reality.

An image (Rupa, Inertia) we are considering can be a ‘present’ image experienced by us now (Form, Sound, Smell, Taste or Touch) or can be even an 'absent' image. Even that ‘ present image’ being ‘assessed’ by our organs, will not be in the status of 'present' image category than a moment, since the status of 'present' rapidly becomes the 'absent'. The ‘manovinnana’ brings back to us the ‘images’ of past experiences of ‘namarupa’ even though the ‘images are of absent reality’.


It is not possible at all to have a image of the present even for a while since the ‘present’ image goes down the memory lane to the past to make way to more newer and newer ‘present images’ that literally have no ending of becoming, and other than making all ‘present’ images to ‘absent’ images in no time!

Mind consciousness or 'mano vinnana' is the presence of an “image”, or since an image can be absent, of an image of an image' (for ex. image of “an image that had been there but is absent now”.)

Venerable Thera also points out that relative to the imaginary of mental experience, five -base experience is real. But also relative to what is 'central' in a given field of ' five-base experience', whatever is 'peripheral' in that field, is already beginning to partake of the nature of 'imaginary'.

Some discussion that could be found on 'Real' and 'Imaginary', appearing in the Note on Nama is as follows.

Real= Present,Central,Actual

Imaginary=Absent,Peripheral,Possible

The disjunctions 'central/peripheral' and 'actual/possible' or 'certain/possible' represent two slightly different aspects of the more general 'present/absent'

Central/Peripheral is as it is in 'strict reflection'.

Actual/Possible is in 'abstract judgment' or 'discursive reflection'.

 

 

‘Intention’ is the 'absent' in relation to the 'present'. Here we have ‘intention’ is due to the fact that what we need is not being in ‘presence’. So we ‘intend’ to have it at this moment, since it is 'absent'.

Every present is relatively accompanied by a number of absents. Here we are comparing the present with that not present. Suppose we have a chair in front of us. We can compare the chair to unaccountable number of other forms apart from the chair that are absent. So any presence will accompany with unlimited number of absents ( in any ‘namarupa’ conditions)

 
 
 
 
Phenomenon-any state or process known through the senses rather than by intuition or reasoning
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Main Key Words for Nama-Name by Ven.Nanavira Thera  Notes

 

 

 

Reference

CLEARING THE PATH – Writings of Nanavira Thera (1960-1965) – Volume-I – NOTES ON DHAMMA (NAMA, pp 73-79,BCC Edition 2001)

 

Find 'NAMA' and other complete works by Ven. Nanavira Thera, by visiting www.nanavira.org



 

 

 

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