Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

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

Post by reflection » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:04 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi reflection,

If I understand you correctly, then for you, the form aggregate is not actual
physical form but the experience of form. It is this experience of form that
ends with death. Please correct me if I have misunderstood you.

Could you please give your interpretation of these two passages?

"If, through revulsion towards form, through its fading away and cessation, one
is liberated by nonclinging, one can be called a bhikkhu who has attained nibbana
in this very life."
[Repeat for: feeling, perception, volitional-formations and consciousness.]

[Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 967, part of SN 22.115]


" ... And what is it that he extinguishes and does not kindle? He extinguishes
form and does not kindle it. He extinguishes feeling ... perception ...
volitional-formations ... consciousness and does not kindle it. ..."

[Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 917, part of SN 22.79]

Regards, Vincent.
Cessation, extinguishment, fading away or however one wants to call it is not an instant thing if we are talking about the aggregates. Their final stopping is inevitable at enlightenment - so in a sense that's the moment of cessation and one can perfectly state that it is, but the stopping itself happens at the remainderless nibbana after passing away.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:49 pm

Hi reflection,

There is a passage in SN 22.79 which follows the passage I cited.

It is talking about the liberated individual.

"And what is it that he neither extinguishes nor kindles, but abides having
extinguished? He neither extinguishes nor kindles form, but abides having
extinguished it. He neither extinguishes nor kindles feeling ... perception ...
volitional formations ... consciousness, but abides having extinguished it."

On another issue, we seem to have a different understanding of 'impermanence' (anicca). For me, it means that whatever is said to be impermanent, is capable of ceasing, completely and permanently. This can happen at any time, including now. So the teachings are saying that 'form' can disappear or vanish.
Which is intended to make no sense, on a literal interpretation.

Regards, Vincent.

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:06 am

Hi vinasp,

All aggregates are not things, but processes, yes. And I agree they can disappear completely. Not only at full enlightenment but also at the stages of awakening, or the 'attainment' of cessation of perception and feeling. Usually I think the suttas refer to final nibbana, but in the case you gave, it may refer to these other occasions.

However, this may be getting off topic a bit. ;)

With metta,
Reflection

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daverupa
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by daverupa » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:17 am

Comments below; colors for reference.
vinasp wrote:If the aggregates are 'human experience' then they are not going to vanish, a tathagata still has experiences. Unless, what you mean is some kind of distortion of experience due to mental fabrications. Such a distorted experience could cease.
Right; that's 'upadana'.
vinasp wrote:The profound teachings of the Buddha should not be reduced to a version of modern 'process philosophy'. A tathagata is not to be understood as five process streams. A tathagata is beyond any reckoning in terms of form, feeling, and so forth.
I'm not sure what the underlined bit is trying to evoke, but that piece in red earlier is correct. So while we aren't reckoning the tathagata, there are still experiences. These can be described with reference to the five aggregates, without upadana. The final breakup of the aggregates happens later, ideally after a long teaching career.
vinasp wrote:On the other hand, I am moving towards a more 'dynamic' interpretation of the teachings. I think that the aggregates are re-created each moment. So the 'being' which is just a mental fabrication, is also re-created each moment. This means that this 'being' is just five process streams.
Hmm, nevermind this 'momentary' business; as to a being:
SN 23.2 wrote:"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'
Upadana. I also note Ven. Th.'s introduction:
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.
__
vinasp wrote:I avoided using the expression 'human being' because a tathagata is no longer a being.
Yes, that's correct.
vinasp wrote:It would, I think, be very helpful if someone could give us an outline of this 'experience' view of the aggregates.
Well, it's in red, above, and upadana meets your 'unless' criterion.
  • "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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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:27 am

Hi dave,

Quote:"So while we aren't reckoning the tathagata, there are still experiences. These can be described with reference to the five aggregates, without upadana."

But you are reckoning the tathagata. There is still seeing, hearing, ... cognizing,
but there is no fabricated mental 'form-object', and without this there can be no
feeling, perception, or volition, because there is no contact. Without this object
there is no consciousness-of-an-object.

The bliss of awakening is 'objectless' and is not a feeling.

Actual feeling ceases. Actual perception ceases. The volition that arises in
dependence on contact ceases. The consciousness of the fabricated object ceases.

I know that this must be very difficult to understand.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Gaoxing » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:45 am

A different perspective; In semi-darkness a rope is mistaken as a snake but the displeasure is the same. Once in the light, the rope is identified and calmness returns. The illusion of the snake was a real experience to the mind and body but yet not true. So does the illusion of a 'Self' cause suffering. Instead, the aggregates are simple tools for examination allowing us to change mental formations to the anatta reality. The purpose of Buddhism is Wisdom namely, The knowledge about Suffering and the end of Suffering and that is Dependant Origination.
What is the use of this analysis of personal experience in
terms of the five aggregates? What is the use of this reduction
of the apparent unity of personal experience into the elements
of form, feeling, perception, volition or mental formation, and
consciousness? The purpose is to create the wisdom of not-self.
What we wish to achieve is a way of experiencing the world that
is not constructed on and around the idea of a self. We want to
see personal experience in terms of processes – in terms of impersonal
functions rather than in terms of a self and what affects a
self – because this will create an attitude of equanimity, which
will help us overcome the emotional disturbances of hope and
fear about the things of the world.
We hope for happiness, we fear pain. We hope for praise, we
fear blame. We hope for gain, we fear loss. We hope for fame,
we fear infamy. We live in a state of alternate hope and fear. We
experience these hopes and fears because we understand happiness,
pain, and so forth in terms of the self: we understand them
as personal happiness and pain, personal praise and blame, and
so on. But once we understand them in terms of impersonal processes,
and once – through this understanding – we get rid of the
idea of a self, we can overcome hope and fear. We can regard
happiness and pain, praise and blame, and all the rest with equanimity,
with even-mindedness. Only then will we no longer be
subject to the imbalance of alternating between hope and fear.
http://peterdellasantina.org/books/tree ... enment.htm

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daverupa
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by daverupa » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:28 am

vinasp wrote:The bliss of awakening is 'objectless' and is not a feeling.
Did the Buddha's back hurt?
  • "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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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:21 pm

reflection wrote:Now I agree that we cling to the aggregates, and that arahants don't. But I'd say the arahant doesn't cling to the clinging-aggregates, but the clinging-aggregates are still there. And that's also what the suttas say, in addition to the sutta on an arahant clinging-aggregates I gave before, we also have:
These five clinging-aggregates — not attached to, not clung to — lead to his long-term happiness & well-being."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
According to your interpretation the sutta wouldn't it say "these five aggregates that is clung to, not being clung to"?
No, not if "aggregates" and "clinging aggregates" are used interchangeably, as seems to be the case. And the translation "aggregates subject to clinging" is quite common. And I still don't see how "clinging aggregates" being a subset of "aggregates" is supported by the suttas in general and DO in particular.

I think the following 2 extracts from MN109 support the view that liberation entails the "conversion" of clinging aggregates to aggregates - or more simply the cessation of clinging to the aggregates.
The first extract says desire and lust for the aggregates = clinging to the aggregrates. The second extract describes liberation as being the removal of lust and desire for the aggregates - which means the removal of clinging to the aggregates.

MN109.6 "It is the desire and lust in regard to the five aggregates affected by clinging that is the clinging there."
MN109.12 "The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for material form - this is the escape in the case of material form ( and similarly for the other aggregates ) "
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:00 pm

vinasp wrote: The five aggregates are closely related to the conceit 'I am'.
As I understand it self-view results from clinging to the aggregates.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:04 pm

vinasp wrote: "If, through revulsion towards form, through its fading away and cessation, one
is liberated by nonclinging, one can be called a bhikkhu who has attained nibbana
in this very life."
[Repeat for: feeling, perception, volitional-formations and consciousness.]

[Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 967, part of SN 22.115]
That's puzzling, I don't see how it fits in with DO...
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:32 pm

And I still don't see how "clinging aggregates" being a subset of "aggregates" is supported by the suttas in general and DO in particular.
Neither do I - As far as I'm aware, it's only SN 22.48 that makes this classification of the aggregates.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:06 pm

Hi everyone,

I just did a DPR search for 'pañcakkhandhā', and these were the results:

pañcakkhandhā (33) ; pañcakkhandhānam (1) - DN: 0, MN: 0, SN: 2, AN: 0, KN: 32

The SN results are SN 22.22 Bharasuttam, and SN 22.48 Khandhasuttam.

The KN results (I omit the details) are: Patis: 8, Nett: 6, Pet: 18.

I am sure that 'pañcakkhandhā' is mentioned once in DN, I will investigate this,
perhaps I need to search with a slightly different form of the word.

Can we draw any conclusions from these results?

DPR = Digital Pali Reader. 'pañcakkhandhā' = The five aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:43 pm

Hi everyone,

The five aggregates are the first item in the list of 'five things' in DN 33,
the five clinging aggregates are the second item in the list - the Pali:

♦ “pañcakkhandhā. rūpakkhandho vedanākkhandho saññākkhandho saṅkhārakkhandho viññāṇakkhandho.

♦ “pañcupādānakkhandhā. rūpupādānakkhandho VAR vedanupādānakkhandho saññupādānakkhandho saṅkhārupādānakkhandho viññāṇupādānakkhandho.

Walshe [1987] translates as follows:

"(1) Five aggregates: body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations,
consciousness." [DN 33.2.1.(1)]

"(2) Five aggregates of grasping (pancupadana-kkhandha) [as (1)]."

I still can't see why the first DPR search missed this entry.

Regards, Vincent.

vinasp
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:47 pm

Hi everyone,

I did a DPR search with 'pañcupādānakkhandhā', and these are the results.

Total for 'pañcupādānakkhandhā' (59), three variant forms add (7) to the results.

Totals per Nikaya: DN: 4, MN: 20, SN: 23, AN: 4, KN: 14.

DN results: DN 22 (twice), DN 33, DN 34.

MN results: MN 9, MN 10 (twice), MN 28 (three times), MN 44 (twice), MN 109 (twice)
MN 112, MN 141 (twice), MN 149 (six times), MN 151.

SN results: SN 22.22, SN 22.48, SN 22.82 (three times), SN 22.85 (twice), SN 22.103
SN 22.104, SN 22.105, SN 22.122 (four times), SN 22.123 (three times).
SN 38.15, SN 45.93, SN 45.113, SN 46.30, SN 56.11, SN 56.13.

AN results: AN 3.62, AN 4.254, AN 6.63, AN 9.66.

KN results (details omitted): Khp (1), Nidd II (1), Patis (6), Nett (2),
Pet (4).

DPR seems to have missed DN 14.2.22 - not sure why.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by daverupa » Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:51 am

But, did the Buddha's back hurt?
  • "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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