[L. 147 | 157] (undated)


I do not say that rūpa is appearance. I say, rather, that rūpa is what appears. Rūpa, on its own, cannot appear (and therefore does not exist): in order to appear (or to exist) rūpa requires nāma; that is to say, it requires feeling and perception. Similarly, rūpa, on its own, is not significant; for a thing is significant, has an intention, only when it appears from a certain point of view; and without nāma (and viññāna) rūpa is without a point of view (or orientation). Thus cetanā (intention) is nāma (see M. 9: i,53, where nāma is defined as vedanā saññā cetanā phassa manasikāra [attention = point of view; my present point of view is what I am at present attending to]). Without nāma we cannot speak of rūpa: there is no adhivacana. But without rūpa there is nothing to speak of: there is no patigha.

Though purpose is a form of intention, it is rather a crude and obvious form (though useful as a starting-point)—there is intention of a much more subtle nature (which, however, we need not discuss here). The varieties of intention are infinite. I agree, of course, that there is no purpose in existence, as such. There is no reason why I or anything else should exist. But when something exists it is always (negatively) related to other things, i.e. it is significant.

Editorial note:

[147.1] (undated): But apparently in response to a letter dated 20 November 1961. [Back to text]