Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
"What is mind? No matter. What
is matter? Never mind."
to Buddhism, life is a combination of mind (nama) and matter (rupa). Mind
consists of the combination of sensations, perceptions, volitional
activities and consciousness. Matter consists of the combination of the
four elements of solidity, fluidity, motion and heat.
Life is the co-existence
of mind and matter. Decay is the lack of co-ordination of mind and matter.
Death is the separation of mind and matter. Rebirth is the recombination
of mind and matter. After the passing away of the physical body (matter),
the mental forces (mind) recombine and assume a new combination in a
different material form and condition another existence.
The relation of mind to
matter is like the relation of a battery to an engine of a motor car. The
battery helps to start the engine. The engine helps to charge the battery.
The combination helps to run the motor car. In the same manner, matter
helps the mind to function and the mind helps to set matter in motion.
Buddhism teaches that life
is not the property of matter alone, and that the life-process continues
or flows as a result of cause and effect. The mental and material elements
that compose sentient beings from amoebae to elephant and also to man,
existed previously in other forms.
Although some people hold
the view that life originates in matter alone, the greatest scientists
have accepted that mind precedes matter in order for life to originate. In
Buddhism, this concept is called 'relinking consciousness'.
Each of us, in the
ultimate sense, is mind and matter, a compound of mental and material
phenomena, and nothing more. Apart from these realities that go to form
the nama-rupa compound, there is no self, or soul. The mind part of the
compound is what experiences an object. The matter part does not
experience anything. When the body is injured, it is not the body that
feels the pain, but the mental side. When are hungry it is not the stomach
that feels the hunger but again the mind and its factors, makes the body
digest the food. Thus neither the nama nor the rupa has any efficient
power of its own. One is dependent on the other; one supports the other.
Both mind and matter arise because of conditions and perish immediately,
and this is happening every moment of our lives. By studying and
experiencing these realities we will get insight into: (1) what we truly
are; (2) what we find around us; (3) how and why we react to what is
within and around us; and (4) what we should aspire to reach as a
To gain insight into the
nature of the psycho-physical life is to realize that life is an illusion,
a mirage or a bubble, a mere process of becoming and dissolving, or
arising and passing away. Whatever exists, arises from causes and
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