Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

The Self....And The Five Aggregates...

ShoshinShoshin No one in particularNowhere Special Veteran
edited March 28 in Buddhism Basics

: ~Walpola Rahula~ ( from "What The Buddha Taught"

Aggregates are of five types

(1) Aggregates of material body or form, derived from the four basic material elements. These aggregates include:

eye <= contact with => visible forms (sights)
ear <= contact with => audible forms (sounds)
nose <= contact with => odors
tongue <= contact with => tastes
body <= contact with => tangible forms
mind <= contact with => mental objects

Note that mind is a faculty (a sixth “sense”). It is not an owner of other aggregates, nor a self.

(2) Aggregate of sensations – pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feelings experienced through contact of physical and mental organs or faculties with forms (external or internal).

Pleasure, pain, and neutral feeling are due to contact of five senses and mind with objects. The mind is not a spiritual substance, not a Cartesian thinking thing (no duality of matter and spirit). The mind is an organ or faculty that sees mental objects or thought objects. Mental objects are based upon experience of visible, auditory, tasty, odorous, and tangible forms.

(3) Aggregate of perceptions: not feeling, but recognition of objects. Depends upon contact between organs and objects.

(4) Aggregate of mental formations, volitional acts. There are fifty-two of these. See list. These are the locus of karma. These are volitional acts or acts of will (such as willing, intending, deciding, determining, wanting) which set things into motion (such as through body, speech, or thought). These are the initiators and the engines of continuance of the momentum of samsara.. (See pp. 22 - 23) See handout about karma and how it works. Karma is action which produces more actions and reactions. Action and reaction is the cause/effect nexus of conditioned states.

(5) Aggregate of consciousness: “Consciousnesses” are phenomena of awareness that arise in association with sensation, perception, volition, etc. There is no such thing as “consciousness itself.” Each consciousness arises due to and associated with the other aggregates. Consciousness depends upon contact between internal faculties or organs and their internal or external objects. Consciousness depends on the other aggregates and has no independent existence.

Note on anatman: No permanent, unchanging, individual soul or spirit. Ego or self is itself a mental construct or mental formation, due to illusion or wrong belief that there is an “owner” behind the aggregates, “an unmoved mover.”

Constant flux: coming to be/ passing away, emergence/disappearance of conditioned states or compounds. Rising and falling of sensations, perceptions, volitional acts, acts of consciousness. Impermanence. The end of one is the cause of the beginning of another.

The idea of the self is a mental formation, a false idea that arises from the working together and interdependence of the five aggregates. Idea of the self is a volitional act, an act of will. It arises from the illusion of attachment to sensations, perceptions, mental formations, and thoughts. We think in terms of my body, my mind, my feelings, my hopes, my dreams, my ideas, my opinions, my beliefs, my salvation, my liberation, my nirvana. This is a matter of trying to grasp and hold on to (or own). The key to all bad karma is selfish striving to get, to keep, to get rid of, to continue, to increase.

Life is movement, process. There is no thinker behind the thought. Thoughts come and go as birds appear and disappear in the sky. Clinging to thoughts is like wanting to catch the birds, keep them, bind them. My philosophy, my religion, my way of life.

Stream of becoming, flux, process of thirst/craving/hankering/chasing/seeking without beginning in time. Seeing things as they are means seeing them for what they are – conditioned states, insubstantial, fleeting, impermanent. This “characteristic” of reality does not jar one who is enlightened, calm, serene, detached (smiling).

Aversion, repugnance, and hatred are “unskillful” or “immoral” mental formations (volitional acts). Aversion to suffering is an unskillful act. One should not hate suffering or become impatient with it. That is a reaction that only leads to more suffering.

Alan Watts "The Self"

Sam Harris "The Self"

Krishnamurti - The Self

Double double toil and trouble.... From the five aggregates "I" arise...

lobsterpaulysoJaySonVastmindpersonSnakeskinpegembara

Comments

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I wonder about the distinction between mind and consciousness.

    Is it saying that mental objects are the contents (thoughts, feelings, imaginings) and consciousness is the phenomenal experience of them? Like the mental objects are the reflected objects in a mirror and consciousness is the mirror itself?

    And then it makes me think about the way current scientific and philosophical thinking conceive of how consciousness arises.

    Shoshin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    (5) Aggregate of consciousness: “Consciousnesses” are phenomena of awareness that arise in association with sensation, perception, volition, etc. There is no such thing as “consciousness itself.” Each consciousness arises due to and associated with the other aggregates. Consciousness depends upon contact between internal faculties or organs and their internal or external objects. Consciousness depends on the other aggregates and has no independent existence.

    That agrees with the Upaya sutta:

    “Bhikkhus, though someone might say: ‘Apart from form, apart from feeling, apart from perception, apart from volitional formations, I will make known the coming and going of consciousness (vinnana), its passing away and rebirth, its growth, increase, and expansion’—that is impossible.”

    But the sutta distinguishes between engaged and disengaged consciousness.

    Engaged

    Consciousness, bhikkhus, while standing, might stand engaged with form; based upon form, established upon form, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion. [The same is repeated for feeling, perception and volitional formations, but consciousness is excluded from the list.]

    Disengaged

    “Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu has abandoned lust for the … [aggregates, including consciousness this time], with the abandoning of lust the basis is cut off: there is no support for the establishing of consciousness....

    “When that consciousness is unestablished, not coming to growth, nongenerative, it is liberated. By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.”

    Other suttas in the Khandha Vagga of the Samyutta Nikaya make similar points, such as SN 22.3, SN 22.54 and SN 22.87

    Thanissaro’s translation of SN 23.2 has this pragmatic note:

    A number of discourses (among them, SN 35.191; AN 6.63) make the point that the mind is fettered, not by things like the five aggregates or the objects of the six senses, but by the act of passion & delight for them. There are two ways to try to cut through this fetter. One is to focus on the drawbacks of passion & delight in & of themselves, seeing clearly the stress & suffering they engender in the mind. The other is to analyze the objects of passion & delight in such a way that they no longer seem worthy of interest. This second approach is the one recommended in this discourse: when the Buddha talks of "smashing, scattering, & demolishing form (etc.) and making it unfit for play," he is referring to the practice of analyzing form minutely into its component parts until it no longer seems a fit object for passion & delight. When all five aggregates can be treated in this way, the mind is left with no conditioned object to serve as a focal point for its passion, and so is released — at the very least — to the stage of Awakening called non-return.

    ShoshinJaySonpersonpegembara
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    I think it's useful to utilize the concept of the five aggregates as a means of analyzing the way we create a sense self in relation to/via craving in an effort to help see this process and remove the vast net of clinging that gives rise to suffering as long as we don't in turn reify them and construct a self out of them. I see the aggregates as more of a strategy to end suffering than concrete realities.

    ShoshinSnakeskin
  • Engaged

    Consciousness, bhikkhus, while standing, might stand engaged with form; based upon form, established upon form, with a sprinkling of delight, it might come to growth, increase, and expansion. [The same is repeated for feeling, perception and volitional formations, but consciousness is excluded from the list.]

    Disengaged

    “Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu has abandoned lust for the … [aggregates, including consciousness this time], with the abandoning of lust the basis is cut off: there is no support for the establishing of consciousness....

    “When that consciousness is unestablished, not coming to growth, nongenerative, it is liberated. By being liberated, it is steady; by being steady, it is content; by being content, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.”

    When identification to form, feeling, perception and thoughts are abandoned, what is left is the identification with the knower/experiencer or consciousness itself.

    The Final Citadel of the Self Illusion

    These last two candidates are the ‘doer’ and the ‘knower’. Underneath all the temporary identities, these two lurk as the last stronghold against truth, the final citadel of self-illusion. The unenlightened person, when pressed hard by reason and insight, will eventually fall back to defending their self existence as either “the one who does”, “the one who knows”, or usually both. It takes powerful deep insight based on Jhàna to storm this last citadel and see beyond the illusion.

    The Buddha’s Word on “The One Who Knows”

    Even some good, practising monks fail to breach self-illusion’s last line of defence, “the knower”. They take as a permanent and ultimate reality “the one who knows” or “the original mind” or “the pure knowing” or other descriptions of the citta. To be accurate, such concepts belong to the teachings of Hinduism and not to Buddhism. The Buddha clearly refuted these theories as not penetrating deeply enough.

    https://brahmswrote.wordpress.com/2000/09/

    ShoshinSnakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I'm aware that "I am" not permanent....but I often 'think' I am
    Especially when I'm happy, but then this too is just a scam
    This also goes for when I am feeling sad, feelings come and then they go
    There is something I can't quite put my finger on, that always seems to know
    I know the feelings won't last... but I often think they will
    It is an interesting phenomenon when it comes to what and how I feel
    The mind is often tricked into 'thinking' that some things are true
    Perhaps they're just illusions for the ego to live through!

    There's a sense of fluctuating knowledge (knowingness) that there is no permanently abiding self pulling the strings, but the aggregates continue to act as though there's a puppeteer...a permanent string puller :)

    Maybe it's just the self-generating puppet master called Karma :) ...who knows ???

    pegembaraSnakeskin
  • Mara is the puppet master.

    THE famous magician- whose; miraculous performances you have thoroughly enjoyed on
    many an occasion, is back again in your town.'The news of his arrival has spread far and wide,
    and eager crowds are now making for the large hall where he is due to perform today.. You too
    buy a ticket and manage to enter the hall. There is already a scramble for seats, but you are not
    keen on securing one, for, today you have entered with a different purpose in mind. You have
    had a bright idea to outwit the magician - to play a trick on him yourself. So you cut your way
    through the thronging crowds and stealthily creep into some concealed corner of the stage.

    The magician enters the stage through, the dark curtains, clad in his pitchy black suit.
    Black boxes containing his secret stock-in-trade are also now on the stage. The performance
    starts and from your point of vantage you watch. And as you watch with sharp eyes every
    movement of the magician, you now begin to discover,' one after the other, the secrets
    behind those 'breath-taking' miracles of your favorite magician. The hidden holes and false
    bottoms in his magic boxes, the counterfeits and secret pockets, the hidden strings and
    buttons that are pulled and pressed under the cover of the frantic waving of his magic-wand.
    Very soon you see through his bag of wily tricks so well, that you are able to discover his next
    'surprise' well in advance. Since you can now anticipate his `surprises', they no longer surprise
    you. His 'tricks' no longer deceive you. His 'magic' has lost its magic for you. It no longer
    kindles your. imagination as it used to do in the past. The magician's 'hocus-pocus' and
    'abracadabra' and his magic wand now suggest nothing to you -for, you know them now for
    what they are, that is: 'meaningless'. The whole affair has now turned out to be an empty-
    show, one vast hoax - a treachery.

    In utter disgust, you turn away from it to take a peep at the audience below. And what a
    sight! A sea of craned necks - eyes that gaze in blind admiration; mouths that gape in dumb
    appreciation; the 'Ah!'s and 'Oh!'s and whistles of speechless amazement. Truly, a strange
    admixture of tragedy and comedy which you could have enjoyed instead of the magic-show, if
    not for the fact that you yourself were in that same sorry plight on many a previous occasion.
    Moved by compassion for this frenzied crowd, you almost frown on the magician as he
    chuckles with a sinister grin at every applause from his admirers. "How is it," you wonder,
    "that I have been deceived so long by this crook of a magician?" You are fed up with all this
    and swear to yourself - "Never will I waste my time and money on such empty shows, Nev-
    ver."

    The show ends. Crowds are now making for the exit. You too slip out of your hiding place
    unseen, and mingle with them. Once outside, you spot a friend of yours whom you know as a
    keen admirer of this magician. Not wishing to embarass him with news of your unusual
    experience, you try to avoid him, but you are too late. Soon you find yourself listening to a
    vivid commentary of the magic performance. Your friend is , now reliving those moments of the
    'bliss-of-ignorance' which he had just been enjoying. But before long he discovers that you are
    mild and reserved today, and wonders how you could be so, after such a marvellous show.

    "Why? You were in the same hall all this 'time, weren't you?"
    "Yes, I was."
    "Then, were you sleeping?". "Oh ! No."
    "You weren't watching closely, I suppose."
    “No, no, I was watching it alright, may be I was watching too closely."
    "You say you were watching, but you don't seem to have seen the show."
    "No, I saw it. In fact I saw it so well that I missed the 'show!"

    Magic of Mind
    Bhikkhu Nanananda

    Shoshin
  • “...... Suppose, monks, a magician or a magician's apprentice should hold a magic-
    show at the four cross-roads; and a keen-sighted man should see it, ponder over it and
    reflect on it radically. Even as he sees it, ponders over it and reflects can it radically, he
    would find it empty; he would find it hollow; he would find it void of essence. What
    essence, monks, could there be in a magic show?
    Even so, monks, whatever consciousness -be it past, future or present, in oneself
    or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near - a,monk sees it, ponders
    over it and reflects on it radically. And even as he sees it, ponders over it and reflects on
    it radically, he would find it empty; he would find it hollow; he would find it void of
    essence. What essence, monks, could there be in a consciousness?2......"

    Form is like a mass of foam And feeling-but an airy bubble.
    Perception is like a mirage And formations a plantain tree.
    Consciousness is a magic-show, A juggler's trick entire.
    All these similes were made known By the 'Kinsman-of-the-Sun."

    S. III 142.

    Shoshin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran
    edited March 31

    The brain's magic uses not only misdirection and slight of hand but real-time, revisionist history too. Perception as a mirage is more a reality than a simile. This 16 minute video dissects some of the brain's visual and temporal tricks.

    If the brain is doing that with what we believe we see, how reliable is anything else it says?

    Shoshinpegembara
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    The Self Illusion - Susan Blackmore

    I remember reading one of her books on "Consciousness" a few year ago and found it quite interesting :)

    Snakeskin
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited April 2

    We identify our bodies through our senses. What happens when those senses get fooled and identify inanimate objects as self?

    SnakeskinlobsterShoshin
Sign In or Register to comment.