The Five Khandas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Sam Vara
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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:10 pm

Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:47 am
Interesting, and I agree with the idea that the khandas are a model of experience.


However I wasn't convinced by the rather weak arguments put forward in this section:

“If consciousness were not to descend into the mother’s womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?” “No, Lord.”
“If the consciousness of a young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form grow up, develop and reach maturity?” “No, Lord.” (DN 15)

This passage has been use to justify a biological interpretation of a large segment of the twelve links for centuries, whereby name-and-form is equated with the person, or psychophysical organism, that acquires or sustains consciousness, much like the five khaṅdhas have generally been assumed to define the person dur­ing the same period.[15] However, there are several reasons why the biological interpretation cannot be right: First, the biological in­terpretation is speculative and rather uninteresting in itself, and provides no material for practice or insight. Second, the biologi­cal interpretation displaces a much more viable interpretation that lays bare the role of cognition in creating the subject-object dual­ity upon which craving depends, and that does provide material for practice and insight.[16] Finally, the role in biological concep­tion of consciousness makes consciousness into something sub­stantial that can move through space and enter the mother’s womb in order to run and wander through the round of rebirths, which seems suspiciously similar to Sāti’s pernicious view discussed earlier.[17]
I was more concerned with the lack of consistency and clarity in defining what consciousness actually is, but yes, I agree that this isn't a particularly strong passage. In particular, I think he is being over-confident in saying that the biological interpretation "cannot be right", particularly as the first two of his three arguments are based on the utility of viewpoints rather than their validity. A proposition can be true without having much utility for a particular person who understands it. Utility seems more dependent upon what one wills or wants to achieve, rather than how things stand in the world. However, given that he is talking about experience, I think he is entitled to downplay the biological view, in that it describes an objective world rather than the subjective loka he is concerned with. How we are conceived is very different from how we conceive the world! This is one of those areas where his debt to Sue Hamilton would have been better to have been acknowledged.

Do you find all three of his arguments here equally weak?

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by DooDoot » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:14 pm

rightviewftw wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:46 am
That makes perfect sense in a way the Annihilationist just does not belive in the 3rd Noble Truth. Yet he belives the 1st, 2nd and the 4th but rejects the 3rd as impossible, when it is actually possible. He will have inaccurate conception of the whole thing ofc and argue vs Sutta to fit his understanding.
Its seems like defeat occurred immediately, without even firing a bullet. I think it might be possible some views about 'annihilationism' may not possibly conform with the suttas.
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:55 pm
I think the avoidance of "components" and essences answers your point about what he is refuting at the end: it is, I think, the idea of dependent origination being used to depict rebirth over successive lives.

I'm not quite sure why you think there is annihilationism involved in his position; could you explain a bit more, and say where you find it?
The Bhikkhu Cintita appears to be refuting the idea of dependent origination used to depict rebirth over successive lives & as biological, which appears why the Bhikkhu Cintita is being accused of being an annihilationist; similar to how the Buddha was accused of being an anihilationist in MN 22.

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:42 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:14 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:55 pm
I think the avoidance of "components" and essences answers your point about what he is refuting at the end: it is, I think, the idea of dependent origination being used to depict rebirth over successive lives.

I'm not quite sure why you think there is annihilationism involved in his position; could you explain a bit more, and say where you find it?
The Bhikkhu Cintita appears to be refuting the idea of dependent origination used to depict rebirth over successive lives & as biological, which appears why the Bhikkhu Cintita is being accused of being an annihilationist; similar to how the Buddha was accused of being an anihilationist in MN 22.
Ah, I see! If so, then the Bhikkhu Cintita might well be happy to be in such good company!

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by pegembara » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:51 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:02 pm
pegembara wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:41 am
There is this sutta where the Buddha said that it would be better to assume that the body as self that is annihilated at death than to assume a consciousness as a self that persists ie. consciousness is much more impermanent than the body and is "annihilated" by day and by night.
"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 (Yañca kho etaṃ, bhikkhave, vuccati cittaṃc itipi, mano itipi, viññāṇaṃ itipi, taṃ rattiyā ca divasassa ca aññadeva uppajjati aññaṃ nirujjhati. 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.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

nirujjhati
ni + rudh + ya
ceases; dissolves; vanishes.
"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.
Sorry but I cannot correlate this sutta (SN 12.61) with annihilationism (uccheda). What exactly are you asserting in your post? Where in SN 12.61 does the Buddha say that it would be better to assume that the body as self that is annihilated at death? :shrug: Thanks. The Pali word 'uccheda' or 'ucchijjati' (annihilation) is obviously not found in SN 12.61. The word in SN 12.61 is 'nirujjhati'.
Ekaṃ samayaṃ āyasmā sāriputto sāvatthiyaṃ viharati jetavane anātha­piṇḍi­kassa ārāme. Tena kho pana samayena yamakassa nāma bhikkhuno evarūpaṃ pāpakaṃ diṭṭhigataṃ uppannaṃ hoti: “tathāhaṃ bhagavatā dhammaṃ desitaṃ ājānāmi, yathā khīṇāsavo bhikkhu kāyassa bhedā ucchijjati vinassati, na hoti paraṃ maraṇā”ti.

On one occasion the Venerable Sāriputta was dwelling at Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s Park. Now on that occasion the following pernicious view had arisen in a bhikkhu named Yamaka: “As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed is annihilated and perishes with the breakup of the body and does not exist after death.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/sn22.85
That's why the word annihilated is in quotation marks. That is the consciousness lasts for hardly a moment that it cannot be said to truly exist and annihilation doesn't apply. Nirujjhati is more appropriate.
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.
Isn't this what materialists believe? You only live once and once the body is no more - that's the end. As opposed to eternalist who believe that self/consciousness carries on like Bhikkhu Sati.

How would the puthujana see the body that is discarded in the charnel ground - a bone here and there? Dust and ashes.
"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.
The rupa khandha is the easiest to let go and consciousness the hardest.

viewtopic.php?t=16541
Last edited by pegembara on Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by rightviewftw » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:48 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:14 pm
The Bhikkhu Cintita appears to be refuting the idea of dependent origination used to depict rebirth over successive lives & as biological, which appears why the Bhikkhu Cintita is being accused of being an annihilationist; similar to how the Buddha was accused of being an anihilationist in MN 22.
This passage you mean?
Misrepresentation of the Tathāgata

“So saying, bhikkhus, so proclaiming, I have been baselessly, vainly, falsely, and wrongly misrepresented by some recluses and brahmins thus: ‘The recluse Gotama is one who leads astray; he teaches the annihilation, the destruction, the extermination of an existing being.’ As I am not, as I do not proclaim, so have I been baselessly, vainly, falsely, and wrongly misrepres ented by some recluses and brahmins thus: ‘The recluse Gotama is one who leads astray; he teaches the annihilation, the destruction, the extermination of an existing being.’

“Bhikkhus, both formerly and now what I teach is suffering and the cessation of suffering. If others abuse, revile, scold, and harass the Tathāgata for that, the Tathāgata on that account feels no annoyance, bitterness, or dejection of the heart. And if others honour, respect, revere, and venerate the Tathāgata for that, the Tathāgata on that account feels no delight, joy, or elation of the heart. If others honour, respect, revere, and venerate the Tathāgata for that, the Tathāgata on that account thinks thus: ‘They perform such services as these for me in regard to this which earlier was fully understood.’

“Therefore, bhikkhus, if others abuse, revile, scold, and harass you, on that account you should not entertain any annoyance, bitterness, or dejection of the heart. And if others honour, respect, revere, and venerate you, on that account you should not entertain any delight, joy, or elation of the heart. If others honour, respect, revere, and venerate you, on that account you should think thus: ‘They perform such services as these for us in regard to this which earlier was fully understood.’
If that is what you mean then id argue that the bolded part of the quotation has not been established about Bhikkhu Cintita.
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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:25 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:10 pm
Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:47 am
Interesting, and I agree with the idea that the khandas are a model of experience.


However I wasn't convinced by the rather weak arguments put forward in this section:

“If consciousness were not to descend into the mother’s womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?” “No, Lord.”
“If the consciousness of a young boy or girl were to be cut off, would name-and-form grow up, develop and reach maturity?” “No, Lord.” (DN 15)

This passage has been use to justify a biological interpretation of a large segment of the twelve links for centuries, whereby name-and-form is equated with the person, or psychophysical organism, that acquires or sustains consciousness, much like the five khaṅdhas have generally been assumed to define the person dur­ing the same period.[15] However, there are several reasons why the biological interpretation cannot be right: First, the biological in­terpretation is speculative and rather uninteresting in itself, and provides no material for practice or insight. Second, the biologi­cal interpretation displaces a much more viable interpretation that lays bare the role of cognition in creating the subject-object dual­ity upon which craving depends, and that does provide material for practice and insight.[16] Finally, the role in biological concep­tion of consciousness makes consciousness into something sub­stantial that can move through space and enter the mother’s womb in order to run and wander through the round of rebirths, which seems suspiciously similar to Sāti’s pernicious view discussed earlier.[17]
I was more concerned with the lack of consistency and clarity in defining what consciousness actually is, but yes, I agree that this isn't a particularly strong passage. In particular, I think he is being over-confident in saying that the biological interpretation "cannot be right", particularly as the first two of his three arguments are based on the utility of viewpoints rather than their validity. A proposition can be true without having much utility for a particular person who understands it. Utility seems more dependent upon what one wills or wants to achieve, rather than how things stand in the world. However, given that he is talking about experience, I think he is entitled to downplay the biological view, in that it describes an objective world rather than the subjective loka he is concerned with. How we are conceived is very different from how we conceive the world! This is one of those areas where his debt to Sue Hamilton would have been better to have been acknowledged.

Do you find all three of his arguments here equally weak?
Yes, I agree the first two arguments look quite contrived. The Sati argument is perhaps stronger, but I don't find it conclusive. On the one hand we are told that consciousness always arises dependently ( MN38 ), on the other hand the DN 15 passage above seems to describe name+form being dependent on consciousness. Actually I think the suttas are ambiguous on this point. Some versions of DO describe name+form arising in dependence on consciousness, while others describe a mutual dependence of name+form and consciousness - but neither seems to quite fit with the assertion that consciousness always arises dependently. :thinking:

I need to think further about the distinction between "objective" and "subjective" here. I view the khandas as describing "my world" rather than "the world", so I view them as a model of subjective experience. But I don't think a biological/physical interpretation of DO is inconsistent with that view - it can still be seen as describing personal or subjective experience.
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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by James Tan » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:38 am

Fyi , DN 15 is a corrupted sutta or later development .

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:55 am

James Tan wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:38 am
Fyi , DN 15 is a corrupted sutta or later development .
It would be good to see some evidence for this assertion.

Not that it effects the thrust of my argument above.
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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by James Tan » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:39 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:55 am
James Tan wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:38 am
Fyi , DN 15 is a corrupted sutta or later development .
It would be good to see some evidence for this assertion.

Not that it effects the thrust of my argument above.
If the consciousness arises dependent on sense organ and object , how is it possible to say it descended onto the womb ?

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:13 am

James Tan wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:39 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:55 am
James Tan wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:38 am
Fyi , DN 15 is a corrupted sutta or later development .
It would be good to see some evidence for this assertion.

Not that it effects the thrust of my argument above.
If the consciousness arises dependent on sense organ and object , how is it possible to say it descended onto the womb ?
The DN 15 passage is only one problem. The bigger problem is the contradiction posed by variations of DO, where either name+form arises in dependence on consciousness, or where name+form and consciousness are mutually dependent.

Anyway, I don't want to derail this thread into yet another debate about DO interpretation.

Maybe we need a "Great DO interpretation" thread. ;)

I have made the suggestion: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=31302&p=459814#p459814
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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by DooDoot » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:53 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:13 am
The bigger problem is the contradiction posed by variations of DO, where either name+form arises in dependence on consciousness, or where name+form and consciousness are mutually dependent.
U forgot where consciousness is caused by nama-rupa (SN 22.82; SN 22.56; for example) & when consciousness arises dependent upon sense bases (MN 18; MN 38; MN 148; etc). However, I doubt any of these are contradictions.

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:59 am

Dinsdale wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:13 am
James Tan wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:39 am
Dinsdale wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:55 am


It would be good to see some evidence for this assertion.

Not that it effects the thrust of my argument above.
If the consciousness arises dependent on sense organ and object , how is it possible to say it descended onto the womb ?
The DN 15 passage is only one problem. The bigger problem is the contradiction posed by variations of DO, where either name+form arises in dependence on consciousness, or where name+form and consciousness are mutually dependent.

Anyway, I don't want to derail this thread into yet another debate about DO interpretation.

Maybe we need a "Great DO interpretation" thread. ;)

I have made the suggestion: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=31302&p=459814#p459814
Our brains are never going to truly understand how DO works. After all, it is part of the chain. Our thinking can never unite subject and object. Isn't this much clear to anyone who has tried? Why create unnecessary stress trying to achieve anything other than our immediate needs? The present moment needs no 'understanding', no illumination, no nothin'. :D

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by DooDoot » Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:01 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:59 am
Our brains are never going to truly understand how DO works.... The present moment needs no 'understanding', no illumination, no nothin'.
Doesn't sound like Buddhism, to me, which appears to say DO is something to be seen & verified.
Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination, and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering.’ At that point too, friends, much has been done by that bhikkhu.”

MN 28
What exactly did the Buddha spend many hours doing?
Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying at Uruvela, beside the river Nerañjara at the foot of the Bodhi Tree, having just realized full enlightenment. At that time the Lord sat cross-legged for seven days experiencing the bliss of liberation. Then, at the end of those seven days, the Lord emerged from that concentration and gave well-reasoned attention during the first watch of the night to dependent arising in forward order, thus:

This being, that is;
from the arising of this, that arises.

That is:

with ignorance as condition, activities come to be;
with activities as condition, consciousness comes to be;
with consciousness as condition, name-and-form comes to be;
with name-and-form as condition, the sixfold base comes to be;
with the sixfold base as condition, contact comes to be;
with contact as condition, feeling comes to be;
with feeling as condition, craving comes to be;
with craving as condition, grasping comes to be;
with grasping as condition, being comes to be;
with being as condition, birth comes to be;
with birth as condition, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair come to be.
This is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance:


When things become manifest
To the ardent meditating brahman,
All his doubts then vanish since he understands
Each thing along with its cause.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .irel.html

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:10 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:01 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:59 am
Our brains are never going to truly understand how DO works.... The present moment needs no 'understanding', no illumination, no nothin'.
Doesn't sound like Buddhism, to me, which appears to say DO is something to be seen & verified.

Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination, and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering.’ At that point too, friends, much has been done by that bhikkhu.”
Is Buddhism something concrete and eternal, Doo Doot? I think you've missed something along the way. You keep repeating and repeating the words of someone you only know from a book. How has suffering ceased in your case? Tell us how you've come to nirodha samapatti. Was it through the formless jhanas or was it through the 4th jhana where you began to meditate on the 5 khandas and saw the fallacy of an inherent self and the subsequent release of desire and attachment? Do you see things the way they really are now or do you see what you have memorized by years of intellectual application? The brain is not what makes the difference here. You can't think yourself into awakening. It should be obvious by now.

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Re: The Five Khandas

Post by DooDoot » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:32 am

Saengnapha wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:10 pm
...nirodha samapatti.
Sorry but the suttas appear to say nirodha samapatti is only a temporary optional development, which the enlightened mind emerges from. The suttas do not say the enlightened mind of a Buddha generally abides in the unconsciousness of nirodha samapatti. For example, in MN 151, it is said the mind of a Great Man abides in 'Sunnata' (Emptiness of Self). Even when the Buddha passed away, DN 16 states the Buddha did not pass away in nirodha samapatti but emerged from the 4th jhana into ordinary consciousness before passing away. In the suttas, nirodha samapatti is compared to a corpse:
What is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time, and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling?

In the case of the one who is dead, who has completed his time, his bodily fabrications [breathing] have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications [thoughts] ... his mental fabrications [perceptions & feeling] have ceased & subsided, his vitality is exhausted, his heat subsided & his [five sense] faculties are scattered. But in the case of a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, his bodily fabrications have ceased & subsided, his verbal fabrications ... his mental fabrications have ceased & subsided, his vitality is not exhausted, his heat has not subsided, & his faculties are exceptionally clear. This is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time, and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html


In this video, the last Hindu guru shares how he could not remember his meditation; how his 6 hours & even 6 days of meditation seemed like 6 minutes. If this is true, his mind may have entered nirodha samapatti (or otherwise fell asleep due to sloth & torpor).


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