Author Topic: What are the aggregates?  (Read 2453 times)

Offline ABC

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2010, 02:49:12 am »
That completes my description of the obvious way in which the aggregates will, at first, be understood. Later, perhaps, we can look at some of the problems which arise from this simple view. But first I would like to hear what other members think, and I will, of course, be happy to try to answer any questions.

I think the suttas are quite straightforward, like below:
Quote
16. "But, monks, there is here a well-instructed noble disciple who has regard for Noble Ones, who knows their teaching and is well trained in it; who has regard for men of worth, who knows their teaching and is well trained in it: he does not consider corporeality in this way: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'; he does not consider feeling... perception... mental formations in this way: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'; and what is seen, heard, sensed, and thought; what is encountered, sought, pursued in mind, this also he does not consider in this way: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self'; and also this ground for views (holding): 'The universe is the Self. That I shall be after death; permanent, stable, eternal, immutable, eternally the same shall I abide in that very condition' — that (view), too, he does not consider thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self.'

40. "Therefore, monks, give up whatever is not yours. [45] Your giving it up will for a long time bring you welfare and happiness. What is it that is not yours? Corporeality is not yours. Give it up! Your giving it up will for a long time bring you welfare and happiness. Feeling is not yours. Give it up! Your giving it up will for a long bring you welfare and happiness. Perception is not yours. Give it up! Your giving it up will for a long time bring you welfare and happiness. Mental formations are not yours. Give them up! Your giving them up will for a long time bring you welfare and happiness. Consciousness is not yours. Give it up! Your giving it up will for a long time bring you welfare and happiness. [46]

41. "What do you think, monks: if people were to carry away the grass, sticks, branches and leaves in this Jeta Grove, or burnt them or did with them what they pleased, would you think: These people carry us away, or burn us, or do with us as they please?" — "No, Lord." — "Why not?" Because, Lord, that is neither our self nor the property of our self." — "So, too, monks, give up what is not yours! Your giving it up will for a long time bring you welfare and happiness. What is it that is not yours? Corporeality... feeling... perception... mental formations... consciousness are not yours. Give them up! Your giving them up will for a long time bring you welfare and happiness."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.022.nypo.html


 :cheesy:

Therefore, Ananda, engage with me friends and not as opponents. That will be for your long-term well-being & happiness - MN 122

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2010, 03:10:48 am »
Does this sutta help?  The note at the end seems particularly significant, ie the point is to abandon desire for the aggregates.

Spiny


SN 35.24 PTS: S iv 15 CDB ii 1140
Pahanaya Sutta: To Be Abandoned
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2001–2010

"Monks, I will teach you the All as a phenomenon to be abandoned. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."
"As you say, lord," the monks responded.
The Blessed One said, "And which All is a phenomenon to be abandoned? The eye is to be abandoned. 1 Forms are to be abandoned. Consciousness at the eye is to be abandoned. Contact at the eye is to be abandoned. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is to be abandoned.
"The ear is to be abandoned. Sounds are to be abandoned...
"The nose is to be abandoned. Aromas are to be abandoned...
"The tongue is to be abandoned. Flavors are to be abandoned...
"The body is to be abandoned. Tactile sensations are to be abandoned...
"The intellect is to be abandoned. Ideas are to be abandoned. Consciousness at the intellect is to be abandoned. Contact at the intellect is to be abandoned. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is to be abandoned.
"This is called the All as a phenomenon to be abandoned."

Note
1. To abandon the eye, etc., here means to abandon passion and desire for these things.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2010, 03:14:50 am »
I recommend the study of one's own mind. The mind clings to the five aggregates. The five aggregates do not cling.

But the aggregates describe the totality of human experience, so the mind is included in the 5 aggregates and not somehow separate from them.  So who or what is clinging to the 5 aggregates?  "It" must be somewhere inside the aggregates.

Spiny

Offline vinasp

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2010, 03:36:23 am »
Hi Spiny,

 You say : "I assume that the "cessation of the aggregates" refers to liberation from the cycle of birth and death."

 Yes, but does this happen in this life before the death of the body or not?

 Best wishes, Vincent.   

Offline vinasp

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2010, 05:11:55 am »
Hi ABC,

 I agree with most of what you say. But here are a few things which I do not think are
 correct.

ABC: "My answer to your question is the mind clings to the body."

V: That is not an answer to the question which was: "Does the mind cling to the actual
    body or only to a mental-representation of the actual body?"

 ABC: "My view is to think the body is a 'mental representation' is delusion."

V: I did not say that the body is a mental representation, that would be a delusion.

 ABC:"This is not the case." "The suttas state the 'residue' is feeling or vedana."

V: Every book I have read says that 'upaadi' is unspecified 'stuff'. Which is why I said
     "... usually understood as the five aggregates". Can you provide a reference?

 ABC: "To end, the residue is not the five aggregrates. The suttas do not state this."

 V: The suttas do not say that the residue is the five aggregates. They also do not say
      that the residue is not the five aggregates.

ABC:"The suttas state Nibbana is attained here & now."

V: Is that nibbana with residue, or nibbana without residue? Is parinibbana attained
    here and now? My answer would be "Yes" to all three. But I was explaining the
    popular understanding of these things - not the advanced understanding.

ABC:"The mind clings to the five aggregates. The five aggregates do not cling."

V: This is in response to my use of the expression: "The five aggregates of clinging."
    What expression would you prefer for 'panc'upadanakhandha'?

 Perhaps you could explain your understanding of the aggregates, I would be most
 interested.

 Best wishes, Vincent.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2010, 06:50:14 am »
Source:  The Khandas=The Aggregates

http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Buddhist.Dictionary/dic3_k.htm#khandha

Quote
Khandha: the 5 'groups of existence' or 'groups of clinging' upādānakhandha alternative renderings: aggregates or clusters, categories of clinging's objects. These are the 5 aspects in which the Buddha has summed up all the physical and mental phenomena of existence, and which appear to the ignorant man as his ego, or personality, to wit:

1 the materiality group khandha rūpa-khandha,
2 the feeling group vedanā-khandha,
3 the perception group saññā-khandha,
4 the mental-construction group sankhāra-khandha,
5 the consciousness-group viññāna-khandha

Whatever there exists of material things, whether past, present or future, one's own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, all that belongs to the materiality group. Whatever there exists of feeling... of perception... of mental constructions... of consciousness... all that belongs to the consciousness-group S. XXII, 48. - Another division is that into the 2 groups: mind 2-5 and materiality 1 nāma-rūpa, whilst in Dhamma Sanganī, the first book of the Abhidhamma, all the phenomena are treated by way of 3 groups: consciousness 5, mental properties 2-4, materiality 1, in Pāli citta cetasika, rūpa Cf. Guide I.

What is called individual existence is in reality nothing but a mere process of those mental and physical phenomena, a process that since time immemorial has been going on, and that also after death will still continue for unthinkably long periods of time. These 5 groups, however, neither singly nor collectively constitute any self-dependent real ego-entity, or personality attā nor is there to be found any such entity apart from them. Hence the belief in such an ego-entity or personality, as real in the ultimate sense, proves a mere illusion.

When all constituent parts are there,
The designation 'cart' is used;
Just so, where the five groups exist,
Of 'living being' do we speak. S. V. 10.

The fact ought to be emphasized here that these 5 groups, correctly speaking, merely form an abstract classification by the Buddha, but that they as such, i.e. as just these 5 complete groups, have no real existence, since only single representatives of these groups, mostly variable, can arise with any state of consciousness. For example, with one and the same unit of consciousness only one single kind of feeling, say joy or sorrow, can be associated and never more than one. Similarly, two different perceptions cannot arise at the same moment. Also, of the various kinds of sense-cognition or consciousness, only one can be present at a time, for example, seeing, hearing or inner consciousness, etc. Of the 50 mental constructions, however, a smaller or larger number are always associated with every state of consciousness, as we shall see later on.

Some writers on Buddhism who have not understood that the five khandha are just classificatory groupings, have conceived them as compact entities 'heaps', 'bundles', while actually, as stated above, the groups never exist as such, i.e. they never occur in a simultaneous totality of all their constituents. Also those single constituents of a group which are present in any given body-and-mind process, are of an evanescent nature, and so also their varying combinations. Feeling, perception and mental constructions are only different aspects and functions of a single unit of consciousness. They are to consciousness what redness, softness, sweetness, etc. are to an apple and have as little separate existence as those qualities.

In S. XXII, 56, there is the following short definition of these 5 groups:

What, o Bhikkhus, is the materiality-group? The 4 primary elements mahā-bhūta or dhātu and materiality depending thereon, this is called the materiality-group.

What, o Bhikkhus, is the feeling-group? There are 6 classes of feeling: due to visual contact, to sound contact, to odour contact, to taste contact, to bodily contact, and to mind contact.

What, o Bhikkhus, is the perception-group? There are 6 classes of perception: perception of visual objects, of sounds, of odours, of tastes, of bodily contacts, and of mental contacts.

What, o Bhikkhus, is the group of mental constructions? There are 6 classes of intentional states cetanā with regard to visual objects, to sounds, to odours, to tastes, to bodily contacts and to mind objects.

What, o Bhikkhus, is the consciousness-group? There are 6 classes of consciousness: visual-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, and mind-consciousness.

About the inseparability of the groups it is said:

''Whatever, o brother, there exists of feeling, of perception and of mental constructions, these things are associated, not dissociated, and it is impossible to separate one from the other and show their difference. For whatever one feels, one perceives; and whatever one perceives, of this one is conscious M. 43.

Further: Impossible is it for anyone to explain the passing out of one existence and the entering into a new existence, or the growth, increase and development of consciousness independent of materiality, feeling, perception and mental constructions S. XII, 53

For the inseparability and mutual conditionality of the 4 mental groups see: paccaya 6, 7.

Regarding the impersonality anattā and emptiness suññatā of the 5 groups, it is said in S. XXII, 49:

Whatever there is of materiality, feeling, perception, mental constructions and consciousness, whether past, present or future, one's own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, this one should understand according to reality and true understanding: 'This does not belong to me, this am I not, this is not my Ego.'

Further in S. XXII, 95: Suppose that a man who is not blind were to behold the many bubbles on the Ganges as they are driving along; and he should watch them and carefully examine them. After carefully examining them, however, they will appear to him empty, unreal and unsubstantial. In exactly the same way does the Bhikkhu behold all the material phenomena... feelings... perceptions... mental constructions... states of consciousness, whether they be of the past, present or future... far or near. And he watches them and examines them carefully; and after carefully examining them, they appear to him empty, unreal and unsubstantial.

The 5 groups are compared, respectively, to a lump of froth, a bubble, a mirage, a coreless plantain stem, and a conjuring trick S. XXII, 95.

See the Khandha Samyutta S. XXII; Vis.M XIV.

SUMMARY OF THE 5 GROUPS

I. Materiality Group

khandha rūpa-khandha

A. Underived no-upādā 4 elements

the solid, or earth-element pathavī-dhātu
the liquid, or water-element āpo-dhātu
heat, or fire-element tejo-dhātu
motion, or wind-element vāyo-dhātu

B. Derived upādā 24 secondary phenomena

Physical sense-organs of: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, body

Physical sense-objects: form, sound, odour, taste, bodily impacts

'Bodily impacts' photthabba are generally omitted in this list, because these physical objects of body-sensitivity are identical with the afore-mentioned solid element, heat and motion element. Hence their inclusion under 'derived materiality' would be a duplication.

femininity itthindriya
virility purisindriya
physical base of mind hadaya-vatthu
bodily expression kāya-viññatti s. viññatti
verbal expression vacī-viññatti
physical life rūpa jīvita s. jīvita
space element ākāsa-dhātu
physical agility rūpassa lahutā
physical elasticity rūpassa mudutā
physical adaptability rūpassa kammaññatā
physical growth rūpassa upacaya
physical continuity rūpassa santati s.
decay jarā
impermanence aniccatā
nutriment āhāra

II. Feeling Group

vedanā-khandha

All feelings may, according to their nature, be classified as 5 kinds:

bodily pleasant feeling sukha = kāyikā sukhā vedanā
bodily painful feeling dukkha = kāyikā, dukkhā
mentally pleasant feeling somanassa = cetasikā sukhā vedanā
mentally painful feeling domanassa = cetasikā dukkhā vedanā
indifferent feeling upekkhā = adukkha-m-asukhā vedanā

III. Perception Group

saññā-khandha

All perceptions are divided into 6 classes: perception of form, sound, odour, taste, bodily contact, and mental contact.

IV. Group of Mental Constructions

sankhāra-khandha

This group comprises 50 mental phenomena, of which 11 are general psychological elements, 25 lofty qualities, 14 kammically disadvantageous qualities. Cf. Tab. 11.

V. Consciousness Group

viññāna-khandha

The Suttas divide consciousness, according to the senses, into 6 classes: eye-, ear-, nose-, tongue-, body-, mind-consciousness.

The Abhidhamma and commentaries, however, distinguish, from the kammical or moral viewpoint, 89 classes of consciousness. Cf. viññāna and Tab. 1.

The moral quality of feeling, perception and consciousness is determined by the mental constructions.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2010, 06:51:45 am by Bodhisatta2010 »
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Offline TongueTied

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2010, 12:40:55 pm »
Nice pull Ron.  I never made the inference before, but it sounds like the aggregates are a characterization of the properties of existential awareness.

Honestly, I never liked to think in terms of the aggregates.  I find it to be a stifling classification system.  There's so many phenomena which are some mixture of two or not well described by any of them.  I think it's best to not take them too seriously, but to take the lesson that phenomena manifest in many varied, but semi-predictable, ways.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2010, 01:41:06 am »
Hi Spiny,

 You say : "I assume that the "cessation of the aggregates" refers to liberation from the cycle of birth and death."

 Yes, but does this happen in this life before the death of the body or not?

 Best wishes, Vincent.   


Well since the aggregates represent the totality of human experience it's hard to see how they can cease before death.  Presumably what ceases on enlightenment is clinging to the aggregates.

Spiny

Offline vinasp

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2010, 07:26:09 pm »
Hi Spiny,

How do you interpret passages like this one from SN 22.56?

"The fourfold round in what way? I had direct knowledge of form... of the origination
of form... of the cessation of form... of the path of practice leading to the cessation of form.
"I had direct knowledge of feeling...
"I had direct knowledge of perception...
"I had direct knowledge of fabrications...
"I had direct knowledge of consciousness... of the origination of consciousness... of the
cessation of consciousness... of the path of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness.

"And what is form? The four great existents(1) and the form derived from them: this is
called form. From the origination of nutriment comes the origination of form. From the
cessation of nutriment comes the cessation of form. And just this noble eightfold path
is the path of practice leading to the cessation of form, i.e., right view, right resolve,
right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

Link: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.056.than.html

 Best wishes, Vincent.

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What are the aggregates?
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2010, 01:29:55 am »
Hi Spiny,

How do you interpret passages like this one from SN 22.56?

"The fourfold round in what way? I had direct knowledge of form... of the origination
of form... of the cessation of form... of the path of practice leading to the cessation of form.
"I had direct knowledge of feeling...
"I had direct knowledge of perception...
"I had direct knowledge of fabrications...
"I had direct knowledge of consciousness... of the origination of consciousness... of the
cessation of consciousness... of the path of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness.

"And what is form? The four great existents(1) and the form derived from them: this is
called form. From the origination of nutriment comes the origination of form. From the
cessation of nutriment comes the cessation of form. And just this noble eightfold path
is the path of practice leading to the cessation of form, i.e., right view, right resolve,
right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

Link: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.056.than.html

 Best wishes, Vincent.


I think this is referring to paranibbana, ie release from the cycle of birth and death when an enlightened being dies.  I say this because the general formula applied in this sutta to the aggregates ( knowledge, origination, cessation, path to cessation ) is the same as in the four Noble Truths which apply the formula to suffering.  So it seems here that the aggregates ( human experience ) are being portrayed as equivalent to suffering.

Spiny

 


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