Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Dinsdale
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:12 am

daverupa wrote:But, did the Buddha's back hurt?
And was it dukkha? ;)
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:23 am

vinasp wrote: Total for 'pañcupādānakkhandhā' (59), three variant forms add (7) to the results.
So 33 for "aggregates" and 66 for "clinging aggregates"? Does this support the idea of these terms being used interchangably? And is "clinging aggregates" the correct translation or should it be "aggregates subject to clinging"?
The other option seems to be that "clinging aggregates" are different from "aggregates ( either a distinct set or a subset ) but I'm still struggling to see how this would apply.
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santa100
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by santa100 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:23 pm

clinging aggregates, aggregates subject to clinging, or aggregates affected by clinging, etc. all indicate that the aggregates are the condition or the objects for clinging. So to us worldings, the aggregates mean just the same as the 'clinging aggregates' because we're yet able to abandone the 'clinging' part. But to the Buddha or the arahants, aggregates are just aggregates. They've completedly abandoned the 'clinging' part. They can still feel physical pains and stuff, but they no longer 'identify' with them, there's no "I", "mine", or "myself" there. To the 80 year-old Buddha, of course there's a body that feels the back pain, but there's no "Buddha", "His", or "Himself" to indentify with it. It's just simply a feeling aggregate, it's no longer a feeling aggregate "affected by clinging"..

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daverupa
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by daverupa » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:32 pm

porpoise wrote:
daverupa wrote:But, did the Buddha's back hurt?
And was it dukkha? ;)
The point was whether an arahant can be said to 'have experiences' or not.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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equilibrium
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by equilibrium » Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:52 pm

The title says it all.....ask yourself this simple question.....who is "DOING" the Clinging?

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:38 pm

Hi everyone,

Five aggregates - totals per Nikaya: DN: 0, MN: 0, SN: 2, AN: 0, KN: 32.

Five clinging aggregates -- totals: DN: 4, MN: 20, SN: 23, AN: 4, KN: 14.

In the four main Nikaya's (DN, MN, SN, AN.) the 'five aggregates' are only found
three times if we include DN 33.
The 'five clinging aggregates' are found fifty-one times.

All the KN references are in works generally held to be later compositions?
The Abhidhamma has these two sets of aggregates.
Could these three mentions of 'five aggregates' all be very late additions?

If I had to decide just based on this word-frequency data, I would say this:

There are numerous passages which talk about 'form, feeling, perception, volitional
formations, and consciousness. Let us call them 'these five things'.
They are clearly a set of terms which are used together. They could have been used
for a long time, and be mentioned in over one hundred discourses, before anyone
came up with a name for this set of five things. It looks, to me, as if the name
they used was - the five clinging aggregates.

It seems that the split into two sets of terms is found in the teachings which
were composed after the four main Nikaya's [most of KN, and the Abhidhamma.]

Teachers and writers on Theravada Buddhism have been explaining 'these five things'
based on the later teachings. When we take a close look at the four main Nikaya's
we find things which do not fit this later doctrine.

Conclusion: When the four Nikaya's were the current teaching, any mention of
'these five things' was understood as: the five clinging aggregates.
But if there is more than one way to understand 'these five things', then there is
more than one meaning to 'the five clinging aggregates'.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:33 am

Hi everyone,

At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One,
liberated by nonclinging through revulsion towards form, through its fading away
and cessation, is called a Perfectly Enlightened One.
A bhikkhu liberated by wisdom, liberated by nonclinging through revulsion towards
form, through its fading away and cessation, is called one liberated by wisdom. ..."

[Repeat for feeling, and so forth. BB, CD, page 900, part of SN 22.58]

What does this mean - liberated through the fading away and cessation of form?

The Buddha still had a body after enlightenment, so also do the liberated bhikkhus.
It must be that 'form' here does not mean actual form, nor can it mean the
experience of form, which continues after enlightenment.

It can only mean some sort of mental fabrication which is called 'form'.

"Therefore, bhikkhus, any kind of form whatsoever ... any kind of feeling ... [and so forth]
... should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: 'This is not mine,
this I am not, this is not my self.'
This is called, bhikkhus, a noble disciple who dismantles and does not build up,
... who extinguishes and does not kindle.
And what is it that he dismantles and does not build up? He dismantles form and
does not build it up, .... he dismantles feeling .... consciousness and does not
build it up.
......
And what is it that he extinguishes and does not kindle? He extinguishes form
and does not kindle it. He extinguishes feeling ..."

[ BB, CD, page 916-7, edited parts of SN 22.79]

Seeing form thus: 'This is not my self', is a noble disciple who extinguishes
'form' and does not kindle it. He reduces, diminishes, form-seen-as-self, until
there is none left. So this form-seen-as-self is not actual form but a fabrication.

The next section describes those who neither extinguish nor kindle, but who abide
having extinguished form, feeling etc.

These five things are what makes up a being, but 'a being' can be understood in two
different ways. In a literal sense where the form is an actual physical body, or
in a psychological sense where form is only a mental fabrication.

Regards, Vincent.
Last edited by vinasp on Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:08 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, the Tathgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One,
liberated by nonclinging through revulsion towards form, through its fading away
and cessation, is called a Perfectly Enlightened One.
A bhikkhu liberated by wisdom, liberated by nonclinging through revulsion towards
form, through its fading away and cessation, is called one liberated by wisdom. ..."

[Repeat for feeling, and so forth. BB, CD, page 900, part of SN 22.58]

What does this mean - liberated through the fading away and cessation of form?

The Buddha still had a body after enlightenment, so also do the liberated bhikkhus.
It must be that 'form' here does not mean actual form, nor can it mean the
experience of form, which continues after enlightenment.

It can only mean some sort of mental fabrication which is called 'form'.
And now we see how some of the Mahayana notions arose.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Sylvester » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:21 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, the Tathgata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One,
liberated by nonclinging through revulsion towards form, through its fading away
and cessation, is called a Perfectly Enlightened One.
A bhikkhu liberated by wisdom, liberated by nonclinging through revulsion towards
form, through its fading away and cessation, is called one liberated by wisdom. ..."

[Repeat for feeling, and so forth. BB, CD, page 900, part of SN 22.58]

What does this mean - liberated through the fading away and cessation of form?

The Buddha still had a body after enlightenment, so also do the liberated bhikkhus.
It must be that 'form' here does not mean actual form, nor can it mean the
experience of form, which continues after enlightenment.

It can only mean some sort of mental fabrication which is called 'form'.

Have a care with this passage. I think you are reading "its fading away and cessation", as if "its" were referring to "form". This is what the Pali reads -
Tathāgato bhikkhave, arahaṃ sammāsambuddho rūpassa nibbidā virāgā nirodhā anupādāvimutto 'sammāsambuddhā'ti vuccati, bhikkhūpi bhikkhave, paññāvimutto rūpassa nibbidā virāgā nirodhā anupādā vimutto 'paññāvimutto'ti vuccati.
You certainly have "revulsion towards form" being supplied by rūpassa nibbidā. However, the next part of formula switches from the singular to the nominative plurals virāgā nirodhā. The referent of these 2 events is not rūpa or any of the other Aggregates, otherwise they would have had to remain in the singular like nibbidā. Instead, it would probably be referring to "craving", from the First Sermon's taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho .

"Therefore, bhikkhus, any kind of form whatsoever ... any kind of feeling ... [and so forth]
... should be seen as it really is with correct wisdom thus: 'This is not mine,
this I am not, this is not my self.'
This is called, bhikkhus, a noble disciple who dismantles and does not build up,
... who extinguishes and does not kindle.
And what is it that he dismantles and does not build up? He dismantles form and
does not build it up, .... he dismantles feeling .... consciousness and does not
build it up.
......
And what is it that he extinguishes and does not kindle? He extinguishes form
and does not kindle it. He extinguishes feeling ..."

[ BB, CD, page 916-7, edited parts of SN 22.79]

Seeing form thus: 'This is not my self', is a noble disciple who extinguishes
'form' and does not kindle it. He reduces, diminishes, form-seen-as-self, until
there is none left. So this form-seen-as-self is not actual form but a fabrication.
I've not checked the Pali for these passages, but it appears to be the present-tense problem for the verbs "dismantles" and "extinguishes". Just bear in mind that the present-tense in Pali can function as a reference to the future, and not necessarily as contemporaneous with the non-self contemplation.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:55 pm

Hi everyone,

Some thoughts:

1. The teachings which are later than the four main Nikaya's, do seem to use both
five aggregates, and five clinging aggregates, frequently.

2. I am not familiar with these later teachings but whenever two such expressions
are found, certain questions arise, such as: What is the distinction which
requires that two terms be used?

3. But, can the four main Nikaya's be understood in terms of two sets of aggregates?
If the Arahant is said to still have the five clinging aggregates, then there
would seem to be no role for another set of aggregates. What does this other
set do? Why do we even need to know about them?

4. If the aggregates are used to explain literal rebirth, then the Arahant,
although he is not reborn, must still have aggregates until he passes away.

5. If there is another, non-literal way, to understand the aggregates and rebirth,
then these aggregates could have ceased for an Arahant. But the teachings could
not say this explicitly, because it would make no sense to those who understood
the aggregates in a literal way. So the teachings MUST say that the Arahant still
has aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:18 pm

vinasp wrote:So the teachings MUST say that the Arahant still
has aggregates.
So, if you poke an arahant with a pointy stick and he bleeds, that is just mind created blood?
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

vinasp
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:37 am

Hi tilt,

Quote: "So, if you poke an arahant with a pointy stick and he bleeds, that is just mind created blood?"

I never intended anything of that sort, so I must have failed to express my ideas
clearly. In what follows 'aggregate' is used in general way to mean either kind, if
there is more than one kind.

No one is denying that the Arahant has a real body. The question is what the 'form'
aggregate really is. Anyone who thinks that the 'form' aggregate is, or includes,
or is the experience of, the actual body, must understand that the 'form' aggregate
is still present for an Arahant.

But most of the earlier passages just speak of 'form, feeling etc.' which I refer
to as 'these five things'. We also find passages like the following:

"In conceiving form, venerable sir, one is bound by Mara; by not conceiving it
one is freed from the Evil One. [The Buddha confirms that this is correct.]
[repeat for feeling etc. BB, CD, page 907, part of SN 22.64]

This seems to open up the possibility that 'form' in 'these five things' could
mean something other than actual form.

If there is another way to understand 'these five things', then perhaps they do
cease for an Arahant. This would not mean that the Arahant has no actual body,
but only that he no longer conceives form.

This interpretation is similar to the philosophy of mind called 'intentionality'
which, in its modern form, was originated by Franz Brentano.

Regards, Vincent.

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:23 am

That quote in SN 22.64 is about conceiving all aggregates. Conceiving as in giving birth to them:
"And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.
So no reason to take 'form' as something special based on that quote.

BUT we have to consider why the Buddha did teach the aggregates in the first place. What does he mention so often together with these aggregates? No-self, impermanence and suffering. The Buddha wanted us to understand that in every experience there is no core, nothing where it all swirls around. That it's all impermanent and thus suffering. So to get that clear he came with the aggregates, saying that "any form/feeling/etc whatsoever" has no self. That's what it's about. What exactly is every aggregate into it's tiny details is not so important there. You can understand annata without knowing the exact differences between feeling and perception etc, because the aggregates are mainly just descriptive tools to point to something. (or rather to nothing :tongue: )

So yes the question is what the 'form' aggregate really is - empty of a self, full of suffering. But no the question is not what the 'form' aggregate really is in terms of it's precise definition. This also get's us away from the question on whether it's important to understand the difference -if any- between clinging-aggregates and aggregates. The same applies, some intellectual understanding of what these terms might mean is not the point. We need to see the three characteristics. And if we have seen them, we need to remember. Whether it is in clinging-aggregates or aggregates, well, that's not important, really.

At least, that's my perspective on it all. Perhaps I could have shared this a bit sooner in the topic, but here she is anyway. ;)

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Hanzze » Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:04 am

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. There he addressed the monks, "Monks, an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted with this body composed of the four great elements, might grow dispassionate toward it, might gain release from it. Why is that? Because the growth & decline, the taking up & putting down of this body composed of the four great elements are apparent. Thus the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted, might grow dispassionate, might gain release there.

"But as for what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness,' the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with it, unable to grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from it. Why is that? For a long time this has been relished, appropriated, and grasped by the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person as, 'This is me, this is my self, this is what I am.' Thus the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is unable to grow disenchanted with it, unable to grow dispassionate toward it, unable to gain release from it.

"It would be better for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person to hold to the body composed of the four great elements, rather than the mind, as the self. Why is that? Because this body composed of the four great elements is seen standing for a year, two years, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred years or more. But what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another. Just as a monkey, swinging through a forest wilderness, grabs a branch. Letting go of it, it grabs another branch. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. Letting go of that, it grabs another one. In the same way, what's called 'mind,' 'intellect,' or 'consciousness' by day and by night arises as one thing and ceases as another.

...Uninstructed
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:21 am

Hi reflection,

Quote: "That quote in SN 22.64 is about conceiving all aggregates. Conceiving as in giving birth to them: ..."

Such an interpretation depends on two very different meanings of 'conceive' in
English. I do not think that the corresponding Pali word can mean 'giving birth'
in the literal sense. Other discourses also speak of 'conceiving', for example:

"Bhikkhus, I will teach you the way that is appropriate for the uprooting of
all conceivings. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak ...
"And what, bhikkhus, is the way that is appropriate for uprooting all conceivings?
Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu does not conceive the eye, does not conceive in
the eye, does not conceive from the eye, does not conceive, 'The eye is mine.'
He does not conceive forms ... eye consciousness ... eye-contact ... and as
to whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition - whether pleasant
or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant - he does not conceive that, does
not conceive in that, does not conceive from that, does not conceive, 'That is mine.'
"He does not conceive the ear ....
He does not conceive the mind ... mental phenomena ... mind-consciousness ...
mind-contact ... and as to whatever feeling arises with mind-contact as
condition ... he does not conceive that, does not conceive in that, does
not conceive from that, does not conceive, 'That is mine.'
"He does not conceive all, does not conceive in all, does not conceive from
all, does not conceive, 'All is mine.'
"Since he does not conceive anything thus, he does not cling to anything in
the world. Not clinging, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally
attains Nibbana. ....."

[ Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 1144, SN 35.30]

This covers: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body (tactile), mind - and their objects.
It covers the six kinds of consciousness, and the six kinds of feeling.
And it says that since he does not conceive anything he does not cling to anything
in the world. My interpretation: That which is conceived is the object of clinging,
when the object ceases then the clinging ceases.

Regards, Vincent.

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