Appearance of That Which We Call Physical: An Analytical Study of the Concept of Rȗpa From the Theravada Perspective

Seth Evans


The objectives in this research paper seek to correctly define Rȗpa as the Buddha intended, and show common misconceptions in understanding the concept.  The trend to define Rȗpa as an objective object from a modern scientific approach is misleading, and not what the Buddha intended when discussing Rȗpa.  Instead,  Rȗpa is meant to be understood as objects of consciousness that appear through experience. As such, this article suggests using -appearance of that which we call physical- as an alternate translation. This paper gives the intended meaning of  Rȗpa in the Buddha's teachings as well as showing the importance of its correct understanding , from the Theravada perspective.  The results not only show how intrinsic  Rȗpa is to the teachings of the Buddha,  as an object of experience rather than an entity of  matter, but also how foundational Rȗpa is when considering the Dhamma as a whole.

Full Text:



I.B. Horner (trans.), The Book of Middle Length Sayings, 1954–9, 3 volumes, Bristol: Pali Text Society

Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.), The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, 1995, Somerville: Wisdom Publications

Nyanatiloka Mahathera, Guide to the Abhidhamma

Bhikkhu Nyanamoli (trans.), The Path of Purification, Visuddhimagga, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy 2011

Bhikkhu Bodhi, A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, Kandy

Translated by Nārada Thera, Vājirārāma, Abhidhammatha Sangaha, Colombo

tr C. A. F. Rhys Davids, A Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics, Royal Asiatic Society, 1900; reprinted with corrections, Pali Text Society

Mehm Ti Mon, Abhidhammatha Sangaha

tr T. W. and C. A. F. Rhys Davids Dialogues of the Buddha, 1899–1921, 3 volumes, Pali Text Society, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3.

tr Maurice Walshe Thus Have I Heard: the Long Discourses of the Buddha, Wisdom Pubs, 1987


  • There are currently no refbacks.