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: ~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...