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Nāma-rūpa: lit. 'name and form': 'mind-and-body', mentality and materiality. It is the 4th link in the dependent origination see: paticcasamuppāda 3, 4 where it is conditioned by consciousness, and on its part is the condition of the sixfold sense-source. In two texts D. 14, 15, which contain variations of the dependent origination, the mutual conditioning of consciousness and mind-and-body is described see also S. XII, 67, and the latter is said to be a condition of sense-contact phassa; so also in Sn. 872.

The third of the seven purifications see: visuddhi the purification of views, is defined in Vis.M XVIII as the;correct seeing of mind-and-body,; and various methods for the discernment of mind-and-body by way of insight-meditation vipassanā are given there. In this context, 'mind' nāma comprises all four mental groups, including consciousness. - See nāma

In five-group-existence pañca-vokāra-bhava, mind-and body are inseparable and interdependent; and this has been illustrated by comparing them with two sheaves of reeds propped against each other: when one falls the other will fall, too; and with a blind man with stout legs, carrying on his shoulders a lame cripple with keen eye-sight: only by mutual assistance can they move about efficiently see: Vis.M XVIII, 32ff. On their mutual dependence, see also paticca-samuppāda 3.

With regard to the impersonality and dependent nature of mind and materiality it is said:

Sound is not a thing that dwells inside the conch-shell and comes out from time to time, but due to both, the conch-shell and the man that blows it, sound comes to arise: Just so, due to the presence of vitality, heat and consciousness, this body may execute the acts of going, standing, sitting and lying down, and the 5 sense-organs and the mind may perform their various functions; D. 23.

Just as a wooden puppet though unsubstantial, lifeless and inactive may by means of pulling strings be made to move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity; just so are mind and body, as such, something empty, lifeless and inactive; but by means of their mutual working together, this mental and bodily combination may move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity.

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


Maha Thera Nyanatiloka. Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, Buddhist Publication Society, first edition 1952.