Resistance and Designation (Notes on DN 15)

Posted: March 28, 2013 by Bhikkhu Ninoslav Nyanamoli in Bhikkhu's Notebook, Dhamma Article

 

Nāmarūpapaccayā phasso’ti iti kho panetaṃ vuttaṃ, tadānanda,
imināpetaṃ pariyāyena veditabbaṃ, yathā nāmarūpapaccayā phasso. Yehi,
Ānanda, ākārehi yehi liṅgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi nāmakā-yassa
paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu liṅgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu
asati api nu kho rūpakāye adhivacanasamphasso paññāyethā ti?

No hetaṃ, bhante.

Yehi, Ānanda, ākārehi yehi liṅgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi
rūpakāyassa paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu ākāresu tesu liṅgesu
tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu tesu uddesesu asati, api nu kho nāmakāye
paṭighasamphasso paññāyethā ti?

No hetaṃ, bhante.

Yehi, Ānanda, ākārehi yehi liṅgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi
nāmakāyassa ca rūpakāyassa ca paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu ākāresu
tesu liṅgesu tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu tesu uddesesu asati, api
nu kho adhivacanasamphasso vā paṭighasamphasso vā paññāyethā ti?

No hetaṃ, bhante.

Yehi, Ānanda, ākārehi yehi liṅgehi yehi nimittehi yehi uddesehi
nāma-rūpassa paññatti hoti, tesu ākāresu tesu ākāresu tesu liṅgesu
tesu nimittesu tesu uddesesu tesu uddesesu asati, api nu kho phasso
paññā-yethā ti?

No hetaṃ, bhante.

Tasmātihānanda, eseva hetu etaṃ nidānaṃ esa samudayo esa paccayo
phassassa, yadidaṃ nāmarūpaṃ.

-‘With name-&-matter as condition, contact’, so it was said: how
it is, Ānanda, that with name-&-matter as condition there is contact
should be seen in this manner. Those tokens, Ānanda, those marks,
those signs, those indications by which the name-body is described,—they
being absent, would designation-contact be manifest in the matter-body?

-No indeed, lord.

-Those tokens, Ānanda, those marks, those signs, those indications
by which the matter-body is described,—they being absent, would resistance-contact
be manifest in the name-body?

-No indeed, lord.

-Those tokens, Ānanda, those marks, those signs, those indications
by which the name-body and the matter-body are described,—they being
absent, would either designation-contact or resistance-contact be
manifest?

-No indeed, lord.

-Those tokens, Ānanda, those marks, those signs, those indications
by which name-&-matter is described,—they being absent, would contact
be manifest?

-No indeed, lord.

-Therefore, Ānanda, just this is the reason, this is the occasion,
this is the arising, this is the condition of contact, that is to
say name-&-matter.

1. ‘Matter’ is required for ‘name’ to be present. If there would not be that which is ‘named’, ‘name’ would not be able to arise. If on the other hand, ‘name’ is absent, ‘matter’ would simply be inconceivable. Thus, there is no ‘name’ without ‘matter’ and there is no ‘matter’ without ‘name’, hence-name-&-matter. In this way ‘name’ designates the resistance, and ‘matter’ resists the designation. Without ‘name'(-body), there would not be any designation manifested in ‘matter'(-body), but without ‘matter'(-body), there would not be any resistance manifested in the ‘name'(-body). It is these respective manifestations of ‘designation’ and ‘resistance’ that are puthujjana’s problem.

2. With name-&-matter, he assumes that it is this ‘matter’ that is designated. Through that assumption, designation manifests in that matter body1. In this way one’s ‘matter’ is designated-one is contacted.

With name-&-matter, he assumes that it is this ‘name’ that is resisted. Through that assumption, resistance manifests in that name-body. In this way one’s ‘name’ is resisted-one is contacted.

He assumes that it is this ‘matter’ that is designated.
He assumes it is the same ‘matter’ that is designated and is the condition for ‘name’; he assumes it is a different ‘matter’ that is designated and is the condition for ‘name’; He assumes it is both-same-&-different matter that is designated and is the condition for ‘name’; He assumes it is neither-same-nor-different ‘matter’ that is designated and is the condition for ‘name’. Either way-the assumption is there.

That which resists him he designates as the same, different, both-same-&-different, or neither same-nor-different, as that because of which ‘name’ is there. The designation manifests in this ‘matter’.2
Thus, he designates (contacts) his resistance. Contact is there.

He assumes that it is this ‘name’ that is resisted.
He assumes it is the same ‘name’ that is resisted and is the condition for ‘matter’; He assumes it is a different ‘name’ that is resisted and is the condition for ‘matter’; He assumes it is both-same-&-different ‘name’ that is resisted and is the condition for ‘matter’; He assumes it is neither-same-nor-different ‘name’ that is resisted and is the condition for ‘matter’; Either way-the assumption is there.

That which is designated he resists as the same, different, both-same-&-different, or neither same-nor-different, as that because of which ‘matter’ is there. The resistance manifests in this ‘name’.3
Thus, he resists (contacts) his designation. Contact is there.

3. Cf. Mūḷapariyāya Sutta, MN 1:

Pathaviṃ pathavito sañjānāti; pathaviṃ pathavito saññatvā pathaviṃ maññati, pathaviyā maññati, pathavito maññati, pathaviṃ meti maññati, pathaviṃ abhinandati. taṃ kissa hetu? `apariññātaṃ tassā’ti vadāmi.

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…

What a puthujjana has to realise 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’.4 This is saying nothing else than ‘matter’ is and will always be outside of one’s reach, outside of that which has appeared.5 Perception is that which is perceived, but perception would not be possible if there is no matter to be perceived; on the other hand matter would be inconceivable if perception was indiscernible. If one thinks “it is because of the matter, that perception is there”, that thought is perceived, which means that that which is ‘matter’ in that thought is also perceived. But since it is only perception that can be perceived, that ‘matter’ which is perceived in that thought, cannot be that ‘matter’ which cannot be perceived, since it is perceived. In this way, from ‘matter’, a puthujjana has a percept of ‘matter’, which he conceives to be that same ‘matter’ because of which there is a percept of matter. Or he conceives it to be different ‘matter’ because of which there is a percept of matter. Or he conceives it to be both-same &-different ‘matter’ because of which there is a percept of matter. Or he conceives it to be neither-same-nor-different ‘matter’ because of which there is a percept of matter. Either way ‘matter’ is conceived. He becomes responsible for the manifestation of the conceiving of that ‘matter’, he “makes” that ‘matter’ exist.6 That “creation” is his-thus it is ‘my‘ ‘matter’.7 But, since that ‘my matter’ is conceived as that ‘matter’ because of which there is a percept of matter, then that percept[ion]
too becomes ‘my perception’.8 The same goes for one’s feelings and intentions. They are all conceived as mine. Since the puthujjana’s whole experience is his, he thinks he himself is-the view of Self exists.9

4. When consciousness does not indicate any ‘me’ or ‘mine’, that ‘matter’ because of which there is a percept of matter, does not manifest itself in that perception (or feeling, or intention)-it does not manifest itself in ‘name’. Thus, in perception there is only perception, i.e. in the seen there is only that which is seen, namely-the seen (and so on for all the senses).10 One ceases to “perceive ‘matter”‘; one knows11 such a thing is impossible or inconceivable,12 one simply understands13: there is matter, there is perception (or feeling, or intention), there is (non-indicative) consciousness. One understands-there are five “heaps”.14 Since one understands them, one ceases to assume them. With the cessation of assumption, that which they were assumed to be, ceases-bhava comes to an end.

Bhikkhu Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli


Footnotes:

1upādānapaccayā bhavo.

2‘Name’ assumes existence in ‘matter’-‘name’ exists.

3‘Matter’ finds footing in ‘name’-‘matter’ exists.Cf. DN 11.

4

It would be as wrong to say ‘a feeling is perceived’ as it would ‘a percept is felt’ (which mix up saññā and vedanā); but it is quite in order to say ‘a feeling, a percept, (that is, a felt thing, a perceived thing) is cognized’, which simply means that a feeling or a percept is present (as, indeed, they both are in all experience—see Majjhima v,3 (M.i,293)). Strictly speaking, then, what is cognized is nāmarūpa, whereas what is perceived (or felt) is saññā (or vedanā), i.e. only nāma. This distinction can be shown grammatically. Vijānāti, to cognize, is active voice in sense (taking an objective accusative): consciousness cognizes a phenomenon (nāmarūpa); consciousness is always consciousness of something. Sañjānāti, to perceive, (or vediyati, to feel) is middle voice in sense (taking a cognate accusative): perception perceives [a percept] (or feeling feels [a feeling]). Thus we should say ‘a blue thing (= a blueness), a painful thing (= a pain), is cognized’, but ‘blue is perceived’ and ‘pain is felt’. (In the Suttas generally, due allowance is to be made for the elasticity in the common usage of words. But in certain passages, and also in one’s finer thinking, stricter definition may be required.)-Ñāṇavīra Thera, Clearing the Path, 2010, p. 92.

5Cf. Ñāṇavīra Thera, Seeking The Path, 2010, p. 40, §§17-18: “[Four mahābhutā]…will always be just below our feet.”

6Thus, ‘matter’ can never be perceived, but it can “find footing” in that which is perceived (or felt, or intended).

7He delights in his own creation, because it is his own creation.

8If one is not to conceive that ‘matter’ because of which there is a percept of matter, one would not conceive oneself as that because of which there is a perceiver and conceiver of the world. Cf. SN 35.116:

The eye… ear… nose… tongue… body… mind… is that in the
world by which one is a perceiver and conceiver of the world.

Also, cf. Ñāṇavīra Thera, op.cit. p. 298:

And when shall we ‘not be that by which’? … the Buddha tells us: it is when, for us, in the seen there shall be just the seen, and so with the heard, the sensed, and the cognized. And when in the seen is there just the seen? When the seen is no longer seen as ‘mine’ (etaṃ mama) or as ‘I’ (eso’ham asmi) or as ‘my self’ (eso me attā): in brief, when there is no longer, in connexion with the senses, the conceit ‘I am’, by which ‘I am a conceiver of the world’.

9That’s how the sense of the ‘mine’ leads to the sense of ‘Self’.

10Cf. Bāhiya Sutta, Ud. 10/8.

11“Wisdom is to be developed…”-MN 43.

12If it were fundamentally subject to one’s conceivings, freedom from conceivings would not be possible. Cf. my Notes on AN 1.51.

13“…consciousness is to be understood”.-MN 43.

14Simultaneous, superimposed, utterly indifferent to each other.


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Comments
  1. Michael Rae says:

    Dear Bhikkhu,
    I have just read your four recent postings on this site. I must admit that some of it is a bit beyond me but, as previously, I do appreciate your writings on the work of the Ven Nanavira.
    You probably do not need this, but I felt you should receive some feedback – in case you had the feeling that your postings were going unnoticed! Anyway, my comment is on your second posting “Resistance and Designation”. These are unfamiliar terms (in the context of name-and-matter) to me and I wonder why you introduce them. I wonder whether as an alternative you have any views on Nanavira’s own suggestion in RUPA (Clearing the Path p95) that ‘name’ could be seen as the ‘appearance of behaviour’ and ‘matter’ as the ‘behaviour of appearance’. It was only a few years ago that a poster on the old NT chat-room drew my attention to this description of Nanavira’s and I have found it helpful ever since. I wonder whether you have any views or comments on this?
    Using your phraseology, this would presumably mean that “He assumes that the behaviour of this appearance is this matter” and “He assumes that the appearance of this behaviour is this name”. This type of expression also seems to lead directly to the description you give in #3 that follows immediately.
    These remarks are sent not as a challenge but more as a dialogue from someone who makes no pretention about great achievements in this area and I would appreciate your feedback. As I say, I have enjoyed and benefitted from your insightful comments previously to other posters.
    Regards,
    Acha

    • Bhikkhu Ninoslav Nyanamoli says:

      Dear Acha,

      Thank you for your comment. The reason why I was discussing nama-rupa in terms of ’designation’ and ’resistance’ is DN 15, which is also found in /Notes on Dhamma/ (NoD) as an additional text. The Pali terms are /adhivacana/ and /pat.igha/. Also, the lack of explanations in my recent essays are intentional; I’m more concerned with presenting things in an /opanayiko/ way, i.e. “leading”, making one see for oneself,—the order of things, their nature—not just accepting it on account of intellectual satisfaction and/or compatibility with the respective views.

      That’s why it would be wrong to regard these recent essays as a commentary to Ven. Ñanavira’s writtings. Although they both point at the same things, NoD are slightly more ’explanatory’ or ’informative’, i.e. they are much /broader/ in terms of the context, but they are /leading on/ in a lesser degree. This is really good and useful in the beginning when one is trying understand what needs to be understood and learn /how to/ regard and read the Suttas. Once this is accomplished one has to carry on further and forsake even that “existential” approach one had in the beginning. That’s why I have taken for granted in my writings that the reader is already versed in Ñanavira’s /Notes/ and /Letters/, which can be considered as a /prerequisite/ for understanding my more recent essays. In other words, whatever I write stands directly upon the way I have understood NoD, but it is not concerned with it (the concern are the Suttas, which were understood /through/ NoD).

      /Resistance and Designation/ (R&D) could be described using ’behaviour’ and ’appearance’ in the following manner:
      —Those tokens… by which the name-body is described,—they being absent, would designation-contact /appear/ in the matter-body…

      —Those tokens… by matter-body is described,—they being absent would resistance-contact /behave/ in name-body…
      [You will notice the absence of the term ’manifestation’. Cf. R&D, para. Ÿ1, where “manifestations of ’designation’ and ’resistance’” are said to be the problem].

      Or you could simply say:
      —Those tokens… by which the name-body is described,—they being absent, would designation /contact/ the matter-body…
      —Those tokens… by which the matter-body is described,—they being absent would resistance /contact/ name-body…

      Or the way you put it is also fine, with a slight change:
      —He assumes that behaviour of /this appearance/ is that which is ’matter’.
      —He assumes that appearance of /this behaviour/ is that which is ’name’.

      /Assuming/ that it is ’this appearance’ that behaves, that because of which behaviour is there /manifests/ in the name-body. What is that because of which behaviour is there? ’Matter’ is that because of which behaviour is there. But, since ’matter’ can only be /known as/ ’behaviour’ then it is correct to say that behaviour is that because of which behaviour is there; or “in behaviour there is only behaviour”, or even more concisely: /behaviour behaves/. Thus, in thinking that it is the appearance that behaves, that behaviour, that resistance, /contacts/ the name-body (it is manifested in it).

      /Assuming/ that it is ’this behaviour’ that appears, that because of which appearance is there /manifests/ in the matter-body. What is that because of which appearance is there? ’Name’ is that because of which appearance is there. But, since ’name’ can only be /known as/ ’appearance’ then it is correct to say that appearance is that because of which appearance is there; or “in appearance there is only appearance”; or even more concisely: /appearance appears/. Thus, in thinking that it is the behaviour that appears, that appearance, that designation, /contacts/ the matter-body (it is manifested in it).

      Thus, behaviour behaves and appearance appears, or resistance resists and designation designates. In this way behaviour /does not manifest/ in appearance and appearance /does not manifest/ in behaviour. (Or behaviour /does not contact/ appearance, appearance /does not contact/ behaviour).
      By not being manifest, they do not exist.
      By not existing, they cannot be destroyed.
      By not being destroyed, they cannot cause one to suffer.

      Note here that above I have emphasized “known as” (among other things). This is because without paying the appropriate attention to it, one will in- evitably fall into the assumption that ’matter’ and ’behaviour’ are the same (different, both…neither…) and that ’name’ and ’appearance’ are the same (different, both…neither…). This is why it is probably even more accurate to say ’matter’ is /known from/ ’behaviour’, ’name’ is /known from/ ’appearance’. ’Matter matters’, ’name names’.

      Let me know if more questions arise after this.

      Ñanamoli

      • acha says:

        Thanks Bhikkhu,

        I was not familiar with the sutta terminology that you refer to.
        I appreciate that your approach is based on ‘practice’ and is not concerned with a merely intellectual understanding.
        Your writings suggest that you are a person who can hold many different points of view in your mind – alas, I am a person who needs things to be simple.
        Am I right therefore in thinking that all the various points we have discussed could be phrased in a modified version of what you wrote? ie.

        He assumes that behaviour of this appearance is known as/from ‘matter’

        He assumes that appearance of this behaviour is known as/from ‘name’.

        Regards,

        Acha

      • Bhikkhu Ninoslav Nyanamoli says:

        Dear Acha,

        You could say:

        He assumes that behaviour of this appearance is that which is ‘matter’.
        He assumes that appearance of this behaviour is that which is ‘name’.

        He does not know that ‘name’ and ‘matter’ can only be known as ‘appearance’ and ‘behaviour’, hence he /assumes/ them to be that. With ‘assumption’, behaviour and appearance are /identified/ (or conceived) with ‘matter’ and ‘name’ respectively, and then there are following directions that this identification (conceiving) can go:

        behaviour (appearance) is the same as ‘matter’ (name),
        behaviour (appearance) is different from ‘matter’ (name),
        behaviour (appearance) is both-the-same-and-different from ‘matter’ (name),
        behaviour (appearance) is neither-the-same-nor-different from ‘matter’ (name).

        So the whole thing reads:

        He assumes that behaviour of this appearance is that which is [the same as] ‘matter’.
        He assumes that behaviour of this appearance is that which is [different from] ‘matter’.
        He assumes that behaviour of this appearance is that which is [both-the-same-and-different from] ‘matter’.
        He assumes that behaviour of this appearance is that which is [neither-the-same-nor-different from] ‘matter’.

        Either way, for him, it is this appearance that /behaves/.

        He assumes that appearance of this behaviour is that which is [the same as] ‘name’.
        He assumes that appearance of this behaviour is that which is [different from] ‘name’.
        He assumes that appearance of this behaviour is that which is [both-the-same-and-different from] ‘name’.
        He assumes that appearance of this behaviour is that which is [neither-the-same-nor-different from] ‘name’.

        Either way, for him, it is this behaviour that /appears/.

        What needs to be seen is that it is the behaviour that behaves and the appearance that appears, and the identification, in any of the above possible ways, /cannot fundamentally make any difference at all/—behaviour will be behaving and appearance will be appearing, they cannot enter each others’ domains—the structure remains unaffected. Apart from the indifferent simultaneous presence of behaviour and appearance, there is no relationship between the two and that is the very reason why freedom from them both is possible. (Of course, until this is understood, that lack-of-understanding /will be/ the relationship between the two).

        Let me know what you think.

        With best wishes,

        Nyanamoli

  2. acha says:

    Thank-you once again Bhikkhu.
    I appreciate your clarification of the distinction between how (for most of us) ‘behaviour appears’ in experience and that ‘appearance behaves’ – but that (for one who sees) ‘behaviour behaves’ and ‘appearance appears’.
    I suspect that this is very profound and important and is something I need to incorporate more into my life.
    Regards,
    Acha

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