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5 aggregates

not1not2not1not2 Veteran
edited April 2006 in Philosophy
It appears that the bulk of the posts are off-topic. In an attempt to resuscitate this topic permit me to ask these two questions:

1. Why are the five aggregates equated with Mara, who is the equivalent of the Buddhist devil?

2. Why is the self or attâ not equated with the Buddhist devil?

I'm not too sure what benefit we will gain from framing this Buddhism101 discussion on these two questions. It requires a little too much knowledge as to the buddha's presentation of Mara, which is something which is not the topic of discussion here. Perhaps a new thread is in order. And the second question is getting back into the self debate. Let us not bring such a potentially ugly debate to this thread.

Anyway, I will respond though by offering a small selection from a link which discusses 'the two truths':
http://www.kagyu.org/buddhism/cul/cul03.html
In the Buddha's tradition, the concept, or the presentation, of the two truths is very important. For that reason, in this first weekend course Rinpoche will give the presentation of the two truths through the various traditions of the Dharma. The two truths are the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. The conventional truth is the mode in which things appear, and the ultimate truth is the mode of being, or the way things really are.

When we hold on to the mode of appearance of things, the conventional truth, as having some kind of true existence, then the various kinds of sufferings arise, and the various disturbing emotions. So conditioned existence or samsara arises from holding onto the way things appear as being real, as being true, as having some kind of innate existence. So then, realizing the mode of the way things are, realizing the ultimate truth, pacifies or dispels all of the various disturbing emotions; from that one gains nirvana. Briefly, then, attaching to the mode of appearance as having true existence--this is the confused mind or the bewildered mind. Therefore, it is necessary to reverse that bewildered mind and to realize the nature of things as they are.

Whatever phenomenon there is to be known, that phenomenon can be known in terms of the conventional truth, or it can be known in terms of the ultimate truth, but only in terms of these two truths and not in terms of any other truths. Because of the importance of knowing that phenomena have their existence in terms of these two truths, the Buddha said that all phenomena whatsoever can be known through these two truths, ultimate and conventional, and not in any other way.

Here, one can consider the appearence of the khandas to be the conventional truth, whereas the second (ultimate) truth is true nature of things. The buddha uproots our blindness to the second truth by revealing all the khandas to be impermanent/changing (anicca), unsatisfactory/stressful (dukkha) and without any independent or absolute existence (anatta). This teaching is commonly refered to the 'three marks of existence' and are also known as the 'three dharma seals'. By coming to correct apprehension of the khandas, we will see these three marks directly, without any doubt. By seeing them correctly dispassion towards the khandas occurs, and unbinding consequently.

Direct perception of the three marks is seeing the second truth (ultimate truth). Ultimate truth is the way things really are. So, if we don't know the second truth, then we don't really even know the conventional truth. So, ignorance (avijja) of the second truth is the cause for all of our problems and is the at the very root of samsara.

Sorry if this got too heady. I still suck at breaking this stuff down into bitesize pieces.

take care

_/\_
metta

P.S.- I will gladly take this discussion of the two truths elsewhere if need be.

Comments

  • edited April 2006
    I may agree that here in a learning thread a comprehensive debate on the relationship between self and non-self might not be the best thing for the beginner looking to learn what is meant by the five aggregates. Forgive me if my further thoughts here are clumsily put forth.

    But certainly useful to my way of thinking, and key to the beginner from the very start, is that once the beginner knows what is meant when senior Buddhists passingly refer to the five aggregates (Pali: khandhas, Sanskrit: skhandhas), is the Buddhist teachings attitude towards the five khandhas. Which of course entails describing them in terms of the three marks (namely impermanence, non-self, and suffering) and as something to be set aside. Without getting into a discussion on the nature and existence of Mara, suffice it to say that the picture drawn of Mara from the teachings of the Buddha allows us to agree that Mara is not an influence for our well-being, and so anything associated with Mara we know also not to be.

    Related to this is the point that there are a couple of other ways of referring to our existence which we can recognize as basically synonymous with the five khandhas in that they are used interchangeably when discussing the three marks, the path, etc. Namely, "loka" ("world") and "sabba"("cosmos"). Some suttas which exemplify this interchangability might be useful:

    On the Khandhas: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/samyutta/sn-22-095-tb0.html

    On Loka (world):
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/samyutta/sn35-082.html

    On Sabba (cosmos):
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/samyutta/sn35-023.html
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/samyutta/sn35-024.html

    It also might be worthwhile to note that while the apparent attitude towards the khandhas is entirely negative, the Buddha's way is not one of actively opposing them but rather the "middle way" of dispassion (both alternatives involve passion). This is one way to explain the teaching of the middle way, which is the Buddha's alternative to the two basic religious approaches to the khandhas. One we often call "being" or "eternalism", which is the notion that we can work with the khandhas, making them something worthy of a heavenly rebirth--a salvation by works, something referred to aptly in Zen as like trying to polish a stoneware tile into a mirror. The other we often call "non-being" or "annihilationism" which is the notion that, while correct that the khandhas are not for our own good, mistakenly undertakes the active opposition of the khandhas in the form of mortification or even suicide.

    As said before, the Buddha's alternative to these is the cultivation of dispassion with regard to the khandhas, with regard to notions of being or non-being. In such a way the Buddhist "wears out his body with patience," providing for its survival so long as the path is unfulfilled (otherwise one would die in ignorance, impelled to rebirth) but all the while guarding against sensuality and working to completely sever the roots of future production of the khandhas*.


    in friendliness,
    V.

    *Working to disabuse ourselves of the notion that we are any one or all of the five khandhas, we must also guard against the sense that at the breakup of our current existence known by the five khandhas that we will merely cease to exist, be annihilated, will be no more in any sense whatsoever. Partly because such a notion, if it bothers us, will probably cause a great deal of worrying and attachment to what we will consequently see as our only existence (and thus a precious thing to be savored)--our life, and if it does not bother us, will take away our reason for avoiding the extreme of religious annihilationism. Speculations as to the nature of our state after death, however, should not overly concern us, because the knowledge that discarding passion for the khandhas ensures our undying well-being, is sufficient to allay any such anxiety.
  • edited April 2006
    So essentially, reading both posts and the links provided, we should acknowledge that what we define as "I" is made up of the 5 khandhas. This would be "conventional truth". Knowing this we also open ourselves to understanding "ultimate truth" in that these khandhas are not fixed and immovable, they constantly change so what was "I" before I started typing is not the same as the "I" that is here at this moment - there is no fixed self on which to attach a definition of "I".
    Knowing this though, one should not cling to the definition of the khandas nor should one reject them out of hand as both ways lead to further suffering. Instead we should view them dispassionately - we can try to understand them and how they relate to "self", "non-self", etc but to get too involved with them leads to suffering.

    Am I on the right track? It's a lot to get my head round! :)
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 2006
    All,

    Some nutriment for your discussion:
    Setting at Savatthi. Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Sela dressed... she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day's abiding.

    Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Sela, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:

    By whom has this puppet been created?
    Where is the maker of the puppet?
    Where has the puppet arisen?
    Where does the puppet cease?

    Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Sela: "Now who is this...? This is Mara the Evil One... desiring to make me fall away from concentration."

    Then the bhikkhuni Sela, having understood, "This is Mara the Evil One," replied to him in verses:

    This puppet is not made by itself,
    Nor is this misery made by another.
    It has come to be dependent on a cause,
    When the cause dissolves then it will cease.

    As when a seed is sown in a field
    It grows depending on a pair of factors:
    It requires both the soil's nutrients
    And a steady supply of moisture.

    Just so the aggregates and elements,
    And these six bases of sensory contact,
    Have come to be dependent on a cause;
    When the cause dissolves they will cease.

    Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, "The bhikkhuni Sela knows me," sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.

    - SN V.9

    Setting at Savatthi. Then, in the morning, the bhikkhuni Vajira dressed and, taking bowl and robe, entered Savatthi for alms. When she had walked for alms in Savatthi and had returned from her alms round, after her meal she went to the Blind Men's Grove for the day's abiding. Having plunged into the Blind Men's Grove, she sat down at the foot of a tree for the day's abiding.

    Then Mara the Evil One, desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in the bhikkhuni Vajira, desiring to make her fall away from concentration, approached her and addressed her in verse:

    By whom has this being been created?
    Where is the maker of the being?
    Where has the being arisen?
    Where does the being cease?

    Then it occurred to the bhikkhuni Vajira: "Now who is this that recited the verse — a human being or a non-human being?" Then it occurred to her: "This is Mara the Evil One, who has recited the verse desiring to arouse fear, trepidation, and terror in me, desiring to make me fall away from concentration."

    Then the bhikkhuni Vajira, having understood, "This is Mara the Evil One," replied to him in verses:

    Why now do you assume 'a being'?
    Mara, have you grasped a view?
    This is a heap of sheer constructions:
    Here no being is found.

    Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
    The word 'chariot' is used,
    So, when the aggregates are present,
    There's the convention 'a being.'

    It's only suffering that comes to be,
    Suffering that stands and falls away.
    Nothing but suffering comes to be,
    Nothing but suffering ceases.

    Then Mara the Evil One, realizing, "The bhikkhuni Vajira knows me," sad and disappointed, disappeared right there.

    - SN V.10

    :)

    Jason
  • edited April 2006
    Thanks Jason, I particularly liked this verse from the second sutta :

    "Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
    The word 'chariot' is used,
    So, when the aggregates are present,
    There's the convention 'a being.."


    Don't ask me why, I just like it ! :)
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    Frizzer wrote:
    Thanks Jason, I particularly liked this verse from the second sutta :

    "Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
    The word 'chariot' is used,
    So, when the aggregates are present,
    There's the convention 'a being.."


    Don't ask me why, I just like it ! :)

    Makes sense to me too... as does your previous post. Pertinently and succinctly summarised.
  • Bobby_LanierBobby_Lanier Veteran
    edited April 2006
    The Mara-samyutta 4 of the Samyutta-Nikaya makes it clear that Mara's realm is the five aggregates which the Buddha rejects, transcending them. Mara’s realm also includes the sense organs and their objects which consist of "forms, sounds, tastes, odors, tactiles, and all mental objects" which the Buddha called "the terrible bait of the world" of which "the world is infatuated" (S.i.112-113).

    The ordinary person who is not an ‘ariyan’ being one who lacks ‘right view’ is infatuated with their senses and sensory objects. They cannot see ‘through them’ so to speak which makes such objects, therefore, appear real when they are illusory. Because of this infatuation, the ordinary person can be said to be under the power of Mara the Evil One.

    Turning to the discourses found in the Radha-samyutta 23 of the Samyutta-Nikaya they are quite unique among other discourses in underscoring the fact that the five aggregates belong to Mara. Here is an illustrative passage which is taken from Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of The Connected Discourses of the Buddha.
    "When there is form, Rahda, there might be Mara, or the killer, or the one who is killed. Therefore, Radha, see form as Mara, see it as the killer, see it as the one who is killed. See it as a disease, as a tumor, as a dart, as misery, as really misery. Those who see it thus see rightly. When there if feeling ... When there is perception ... When there are volitional formations ... When there is consciousness, Radha, there might be Mara, or the killer, or the one who is killed" (S.iii.189).

    Keeping this in mind, in the same section the Buddha addresses the fact that the five aggregates are anattâ (not the self). This is very important for it is safe to conclude from this that anattâ, by semantic implication, is also Mara the Evil One!

    In dealing with this matter, we are to understand that our real self is not the Mara aggregates. The Buddha in many discourses throughout the canon denies that his self is anyone of the five aggregates.

    This brings me to the observation that Theravada Buddhism has not been sufficiently clear-sighted in drawing together the connection between anattâ and Mara the Evil One as he relates to the five aggregates. Perhaps the reason for this lack of perspicacity owes to their unwillingness to give up the theory that the Buddha, without equivocation, denied the self.

    A more enlightened view would be to understand that our self is not really bound up with the Mara of the five aggregates. In this context, what anattâ means is that what belongs to Mara the Evil One and the aggregates is not our authentic self, hence, an = not + attâ = the self.

    Love ya all,

    Bobby
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Let's please not ruin this thread by reviving the anatta debate and disparaging Theravada. If you want to do that please do the former on the anatta thread and the latter elsewhere.

    _/\_
    metta
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited April 2006
    not1not2,

    I agree.

    Sincerely,

    Jason
  • edited April 2006
    Was the conclusion I drew in my first post right though?
    I'm really trying to understand all this. :confused:

    Cheers,
    Adrian
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Frizzer wrote:
    Was the conclusion I drew in my first post right though?
    I'm really trying to understand all this. :confused:

    Cheers,
    Adrian

    In my understanding, you are on the right track.:thumbsup:

    _/\_
    metta
  • edited April 2006
    Excellent! :D

    Thank you.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    ( I Told you.....):grin:
  • edited April 2006
    Frizzer wrote:
    So essentially, reading both posts and the links provided, we should acknowledge that what we define as "I" is made up of the 5 khandhas. This would be "conventional truth". Knowing this we also open ourselves to understanding "ultimate truth" in that these khandhas are not fixed and immovable, they constantly change so what was "I" before I started typing is not the same as the "I" that is here at this moment - there is no fixed self on which to attach a definition of "I".
    Knowing this though, one should not cling to the definition of the khandas nor should one reject them out of hand as both ways lead to further suffering. Instead we should view them dispassionately - we can try to understand them and how they relate to "self", "non-self", etc but to get too involved with them leads to suffering.

    Am I on the right track? It's a lot to get my head round! :)

    I can't tell if you are on the right track or not. I get the feeling that this notion of the "two truths" tends to confuse more than elucidate. If there were a discourse of the Buddha (sutta) which clearly explained a teaching on the two truths, that would probably be very helpful to this discussion.

    V.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    So start one... have a free thread on me... ;)
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    I would argue that discussing these subjects without the ultimate & relative distinctions is more confusing. I have seen many discussions/debates get ugly because the distinction was not made.

    In fact much of Buddhist thought relies on the doctrine of two truths for coherence, especially the Mahayana. And we cannot discount the work of Nagarjuna, which helped to establish this doctrine, simply because he was not the buddha himself.

    _/\_
    metta
  • edited April 2006
    Well I've had a very quick google and all I could find was this on Wikipedia

    Two_Truths_Doctrine
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    "Anything you can do I can do better"..... Which one of you is Ethel Merman....? :grin:
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    From Nagarjuna and the Limits of Thought by Jay L. Garfield and Graham Priest:
    2. Conventional and Ultimate Reality

    Central to Nagarjuna's view is his doctrine of the two realities. There is, according to Nagarjuna, conventional reality and ultimate reality. Correspondingly, there are two truths: conventional truth, the truth about conventional reality; and ultimate truth, the truth about the ultimate reality-qua ultimate reality. For this reason, discussion of Nagarjuna's view is often phrased in terms of two truths, rather than two realities.

    The things that are conventionally true are the truths concerning the empirical world. Nagarjuna generally calls this class of truths "samv¸ti-satya," or occasionally "vyavah>ra-satya." The former is explained by Nagarjuna's commentator Candrakırti to be ambiguous. The first sense-the one most properly translated into English as "conventional truth (reality)" (Tibetan: tha snyad bden pa) is itself three ways ambiguous: On the one hand, it can mean ordinary, or everyday. In this sense a conventional truth is a truth to which we would ordinarily assent -common sense augmented by good science. The second of these three meanings is truth by agreement. In this sense, the decision in Australia to drive on the left establishes a conventional truth about the proper side of the road. A different decision in the USA establishes another. Conventional truth is, in this sense, often quite relative. (Candrakırti argues that, in fact, the first sense it is also relative-relative to our sense organs, conceptual scheme, etc. In this respect he would agree with such Pyrrhonian skeptics as Sextus.) The final sense of this cluster is nominally true. To be true in this sense is to be true in virtue of a particular linguistic convention. So, for instance, the fact that shoes and boots are different kinds of things here, but are both instances of one kind-lham-in Tibetan makes their cospecificity or lack thereof a nominal matter. We English speakers, on the other hand, regard sparrows and crows both as members of a single natural superordinate kind, bird. Native Tibetan speakers distinguish the bya (the full-sized avian) from the bya'u (the smaller relative). (Again, relativism about truth in this sense lurks in the background.)

    But these three senses cluster as one family against which stands yet another principal meaning of "samv¸ti." It can also mean concealing, hiding, obscuring, occluding. In this sense (aptly captured by the Tibetan "kun rdzob bden pa," literally costumed truth) a samv¸ti-satya is something that conceals the truth, or its real nature, or as it is sometimes glossed in the tradition, something regarded as a truth by an obscured or a deluded mind. Now, the Madhyamaka tradition, following Candrakırti, makes creative use of this ambiguity, noting that, for instance, what such truths conceal is precisely the fact that they are merely conventional (in any of the senses adumbrated above) or that an obscured mind is obscured precisely in virtue of not properly understanding the role of convention in constituting truth, etc.

    This lexicographic interlude is important primarily so that when we explore Nagarjuna's distinction between the conventional and the ultimate truth (reality), and between conventional and ultimate perspectives -the distinct stances Nagarjuna distinguishes towards the world, taken by ordinary vs enlightened beings -the word "conventional" is understood with this cluster of connotations, all present in Nagarjuna's treatment. Our primary concern as we get to the heart of this exploration will be, however, with the notion of ultimate truth (reality) ("paramartha-satya", literally truth of the highest meaning, or truth of the highest object). This we can define negatively as the way things are, considered independently of convention, or positively as the way things are, when understood by a fully enlightened being who does not mistake what is really conventional for something that belongs to the very nature of things.

    What is ultimate truth/reality, according to Nagarjuna? To understand this, we have to understand the notion of emptiness, which for Nagarjuna is emphatically not nonexistence, but, rather, interdependent existence. For something to have an essence (Tibetan, rang bzhin; Sanskrit, svabh>va) is for it to be what it is, in and of itself, independently of all other things. (This entails, incidentally, that things that are essentially so are eternally so; for if they started to be, or ceased to be, then their so being would depend on other things, such as time.) To be empty is precisely to have no essence, in this sense.

    The most important ultimate truth, according to Nagarjuna, is that everything is empty. Much of the Madhyamika (henceforth MMK) consists, in fact, of an extended set of arguments to the effect that everything that one might take be an essence is, in fact, not one -that everything is empty of essence and of independent identity. The arguments are interesting and varied, and we will not go into them here. But just to give the flavor of them, a very general argument is to be found in MMK V. Here, Nagarjuna argues that the spatial properties (and by analogy, all properties) of an object cannot be essential. For it would be absurd to suppose that the spatial location of an object could exist without the object itself -or, conversely, that there could be an object without location. Hence, location and object are co-dependent.

    From this it follows that there is no characterized
    And no existing characteristic. (MMK, V: 4 a, b)


    The existence in question here is, of course, ultimate existence. Nagarjuna is not denying the conventional existence of objects and their properties.

    With arguments such as the preceding one, Nagarjuna establishes that everything is empty, contingently dependent on other things -dependently coarisen, as it is often put.

    We must take the 'everything' here very seriously, though. When Nagarjuna claims that everything is empty, everything includes emptiness itself. The emptiness of something is itself a dependently co-arisen property of that thing. The emptiness of emptiness is perhaps one of the most central claims of the MMK. Nagarjuna devotes much of Chapter VII to this topic. In that chapter, using some of the more difficult arguments of the MMK, he reduces to absurdity the assumption that dependent co-arising is itself an (ultimately) existing property of things. We will not go into the argument here: it is its consequences that will concern us.

    For Western philosophers, it is very tempting to adopt a Kantian understanding of Nagarjuna (as is offered, e.g., by Murti 1955). Identify conventional reality with the phenomenal realm, and ultimate reality with the noumenal, and there you have it. But this is not Nagarjuna's view. The emptiness of emptiness means that ultimate reality cannot be thought of as a Kantian noumenal realm. For ultimate reality is just as empty as conventional reality. Ultimate reality is hence only conventionally real! The distinct realities are therefore identical. As the Vimilakırtinirdesa-sutra puts it, "To say this is conventional and this is ultimate is dualistic. To realize that there is no difference between the conventional and the ultimate is to enter the Dharma-door of nonduality," or as the Heart Sutra puts it more famously, "Form is empty; emptiness is form; form is not different from emptiness; emptiness is not different from form." The identity of the two truths has profound soteriological implications for Nagarjuna, such as the identity of nirvana and samsara. But we will not go into these. We are now nearly in a position to address the first of Nagarjuna's limit contradictions.

    Sorry 'bout all that. I know it's way on the heady side.

    I'll try to find the link for the whole article. I copied it to WordPad without it.

    _/\_
    metta
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    N1N2... I find it difficult to join in, because my "immature" understanding is not sufficiently developped to take all this in... I just find it hard to wrap my head around it all, though I'm willing and eager... so I just throw in the occasional puerile infantile comment.

    Don't mind me.... :grin:
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    In other words, the full truth of phenomena is the not just the appearance, but the nature of the appearance. If you only know the appearance without understanding the nature of the appearance (ie- the three marks & dependent co-arising) then you will are being led around by the appearances, with no control or hope of escape from this state.

    When you become aware of the nature of these appearances, you become awakened to reality as it is. It is important here to understand that the conventional and the ultimate are not regarded as two distinct realities, but rather as two truths. In other words, two ways of discerning and describing reality. In most mahayana schools, they have this approach of contemplating things from an ultimate view and from a conventional view.

    With the metaphor of water, we can regard the conventional as the waves and the ultimate as the water itself. They are both distinct, but you cannot separate them. They are two aspects of the same thing. Likewise are the khandhas (and the 6 sense spheres), they give the appearance of an individual existence, but in reality are just like the waves, having no fundamental reality of their own. They arise and cease dependent upon conditions. They are not the conditions, but they are not separate from the conditions. Just like the waves are dependent upon the conditions of wind, convection and the fluid nature of water, but they are not the same or distinct from those conditions.

    Additionally, and just as importantly, is the understanding that all terms, mental models and so on are simply provisional designations. The reality of a chariot is provisional upon the wheels, the cart, etc. as well as our mental recognition and designation of chariot. While no designations can be considered ultimately true, they do serve functions which should not be discarded until fully carried out. This ties into the raft simile, where the buddha describes his teachings as a raft to be discarded once its utility has been fully realized and is no longer necessary.

    Applied to the khandhas, we realize that they too are just designations, with no ultimate reality. They require components and they are simply mental designations. However, the buddha chose these designations as they were liberating when applied.

    The process goes something like this. The model of paticca samuppadda (dependent co-arising) can be viewed as a feedback loop, which is the basis of conditioned existence. This conditioned existence, is our own experiential reality (as well as the experiential reality of others), appears as the six sense spheres and can be divided into the 5 aggregates, which are marked by the qualities of impermance, unsatisfactoriness and not-self. Now, normally the feedback loop (which includes consciousness) is unaware of itself. The buddha, on the other hand, thoroughly investigated these matters through an awareness of unsatisfactoriness (dukkha). He devised these teachings in a way which makes throws the whole of the feedback loop into the whole of the feedback loop. The feedback loop becomes aware of itself and unbinding occurs. This is the whole point of Insight (Vijja) meditation. It is also why we need to have more than just an intellectual knowledge of these subjects.

    take care

    _/\_
    metta

    P.S.- Fede, Consider yourself not-minded. :)
  • edited April 2006
    I've been trying to come up with an adequate reply to Frizzer, since his post referenced mine, but I kept feeling like his reading of my post is over-complicated by the notion of the two truths, which I never wanted my contributions to get caught up in. Sometimes it's more difficult to get untangled than it is to get tangled! That's when I realized that my post (#2) is really out of context here. Neither being a reply to post #1 of this moderator-created thread nor related to the concept of "the two truths" but really an attempt to contribute to the original basic discussion of the five khandhas. For my part, the Buddha's discourse is refreshingly clear of such philosophical complications...one of the reasons why I finally decided to rely on the Nikayas as my mainstay for the teaching. I still maintain that we do not need to formulate a principle of "two truths" to understand the Buddha's teaching...so, not thinking it useful, I'm not very sure how to encourage Frizzer in his understanding of the Khandhas as taught by the Buddha, only that all you ever need to know of the khandhas as taught by the Buddha is probably taught in the khanda-vagga of the samyutta Nikaya, of which accesstoinsight has a partial collection:
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/samyutta/index.html#khandha
    to which I would wholeheartedly direct you for study and reflection.

    As such I apologize for the disconnect (it wasn't by choice), and I think I'll bow out of this particular thread.

    in friendliness,
    V.
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    No problem, Vaccha. To be perfectly honest, it is more likely that my two truths discussion is the one that is off-topic, though I do still feel it is relevent to the aggregates discussion and, also, I was responding to questions. From this point on though, I will attempt to redirect my comments more directly to a discussion of the aggregates.

    _/\_
    metta
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Here is a study guide on the 5 aggregates from access to insight:

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/study/khandha.html

    _/\_
  • edited April 2006
    Thanks guys.
    This is what drew me to zen you see. In the tradition I follow we are told not to get too caught up in study of sutras and indepth philosophical discussions as it just leads to confusion. The emphasis is purely on zazen and an experiential knowledge of these things rather than an intellectual one.
    However, I find philosophy fascinating hence my trying to get to grips with this.
    Once again, thank you both for taking the time to try and help me out. :)
  • Bobby_LanierBobby_Lanier Veteran
    edited April 2006
    It is somewhat of an urban legend to suggest that Zen eschews the study of sutras, etc. Zen, going back to the Sung Dynasty, bases its whole lineage theory on a somewhat spurious Sutra called the Dharmatrata Dhyana Sutra without which its so-called lineage theory collapses.

    Zen masters during the T'ang Dynasty and before, demonstrated a superior knowledge of the Mahayana canon. Not only that, one of the earliest schools of Zen, the Lanka School, is based entirely on the Lankavatara Sutra!

    It is rather a difficult case to prove that Zen, in its formative stages, placed an exclusive emphasis on zazen. This is somewhat of another urban legend. The earliest form of so-called Zen meditation was called "i-hsing san-mei" (one practice samadhi). There is a paper by Benard Faure entitled The Concept of On-Practice Samadhi in Early Ch'an which can be found in Traditions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism published by The Kuroda Institute and edited by Peter N. Gregory. It is a great book!

    My apologies for being off-topic.


    Love ya all,


    Bobby
  • edited April 2006
    Hi there Bobby, reading my post I could have explained myself better. What I meant to say was that there is less of an emphasis on sutra study, at least as a lay member, than in some other traditions.

    When I first started investigating soto zen I was reading whatever I could get my hands on. The resident monk at our zen center told me to stop reading and just "do" the practice. At this early stage I was told to just get on with meditating and trying to live by the precepts rather than worrying too much about sutra study - that can come later.
    In our tradition the Heart Sutra is the core text - although I believe others are also used.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll try and check it out.

    Take care,
    Adrian
  • not1not2not1not2 Veteran
    edited April 2006
    I believe the word Ch'an is the Chinese word for Dhyana (meditation) and Zen is likewise the corresponding Japanese word. So, while Zen could be considered as a sutra-based vehicle (sutrayana), its primary emphasis in practice is meditation, and I believe that has always been the case (though I am no scholar on the subject). I think the reason it didn't really have a so much emphasis on sutras is that it was simply expected of students to know the sutras on their own, and they attempted to directly introduce the essence of buddhism through zazen and koans (in the Soto tradition).

    Also Dogen and severel other teachers had been quite well-learned in the sutras and the philosophies (such as Tendai). And while studying the sutras may not directly introduce the essence of mind, it is certainly advisable to study them thoroughly. Just don't expect study alone to get you to the other shore.

    _/\_
    metta
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