Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

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vinasp
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:14 am

Hi reflection,

Quote: "Considering quotes like this, the aggregates that make up an arahant, are also still clinging-aggregates:" [quote from SN 22.122.]

That passage is extremely misleading. I have given my opinion about it on another
thread. I repeat the post here:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

SN 22.122 wrote: "An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease ..."

This passage is examined by Mathieu Boisvert in his "The Five Aggregates
- Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology." [EDSR, 1995.] He says:

" ... an arahant can still be characterized by the pancupadanakkhandha."

He quotes Buddhaghosa:

"Although the aggregates of the arahant who has destroyed the cankers
become conditions for clinging in others, when they say, for example,
"Our senior uncle the Thera! Our junior uncle the Thera!," the noble
paths, fruits, and nibbana are not grasped, misapprehended, or clung
to." [ I have simplified this, so it's not an exact quote.]

Boisvert continues;

"This implies that, although those who do not generate any more clinging
(the arahant) have totally eradicated the biases, they still possess
the five clinging-aggregates in the sense that their five aggregates
still constitute a ground for clinging in others." [ page 27.]

------------------------------------------------------------------

Since most people do not read the Commentaries, this is a very easy mistake
to make. It mislead me for years. The expression 'five clinging aggregates' is
being used here, in a special, and very unusual sense.

Many other passages make it clear that the five clinging aggregates have ceased
for an arahant.

Regards, Vincent.

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:15 am

vinasp wrote:Hi reflection,
...
Since most people do not read the Commentaries, this is a very easy mistake
to make. It mislead me for years. The expression 'five clinging aggregates' is
being used here, in a special, and very unusual sense.

Many other passages make it clear that the five clinging aggregates have ceased
for an arahant.

Regards, Vincent.
Well, that's an interesting way to interpret it, but I've thought of that already. I can agree the sutta of the clinging-aggregates of the arahant I gave before is a bit of an odd duck. But considering the context in the sutta itself, it makes sense to me to interpret it literally. Why would we have another interpretation for the passage of the arahant while all other persons are treated in the exactly same way?

But also considering the broader context of the canon; the many times the aggregates are treated in general without making any distinction whatsoever. Take for example the many occasions where form, feeling, etc are mentioned to be impermanent and suffering, yet don't mention clinging. Or SN 22.22 where the two are synonyms:
"And which is the burden? 'The five clinging-aggregates,'
...
A burden indeed are the five aggregates,
Or Dhp 202 which mentiones the 'bare' aggregates to be suffering (natthi khandhasama dukkha).

If the distinction was of such importance, it would have been made there also.

If you have some quotes that make a distinction between the aggregates for an arahant and the clinging aggregates for someone else, please share, for I do not know of their existence. They would be interesting to read.

With metta,
Reflection

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:08 am

Thanks, some interesting observations. I was looking again at the Khanda Sutta and the added description for all the clinging aggregates is:
"clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation".

Maybe looking at this would help. What does "sustenance" mean here - is it a reference to the 4 nutriments? And does "mental fermentation" refer to mental proliferation?
It seems clear that dukkha is synonymous with "clinging aggregates" but I'm still not clear whether dukkha is synonymous with the aggregates.
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:10 am

reflection wrote:If the distinction was of such importance, it would have been made there also.
Not necessarily. My assumption is that the Khanda Sutta carries most weight in describing the khandas - because that's the title and subject of the sutta.
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:12 am

Jason wrote: In my opinion, I'd say that both are ultimately dukkha, but in different senses, i.e., dukkha as a characteristic of phenomena and dukkha as an experience.
That would seem to imply that dukkha continues until pari-nibbana?
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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:26 am

porpoise wrote:
reflection wrote:If the distinction was of such importance, it would have been made there also.
Not necessarily. My assumption is that the Khanda Sutta carries most weight in describing the khandas - because that's the title and subject of the sutta.
Well, do you prefer to interpret many suttas in terms of one, or one in terms of many? I prefer the latter. It's always dangerous to interpret things based on one sutta alone, because there has been editing going on in the suttas - that's a fact. Also I don't think the division there is that clear anyway. If we can get one thing out of that sutta, it's that the clinging-aggregates are a subset of the aggregates and there is no direct mention of arahant-aggregates or something like that. Should the Buddha have intended a difference between aggregates and clinging-aggregates, it's not in suffering since they are both still suffering.

Here we have another quote that occurs many, many times that basically uses the same line as SN22.48 - describing the general aggregates:
What do you think, monks — Is form etc. constant or inconstant?" "Inconstant, lord." "And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?" "Stressful, lord." "And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, lord."

"Thus, monks, any form etc. whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'
But that aside, to me the difference between the aggregates isn't really useful in the practice anyway. It's more useful to see all as impermanent thus suffering.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:11 pm

Hi reflection,

Thank you for your interesting reply. I respond to the first part here.

Quote: "Well, that's an interesting way to interpret it, but I've thought of that already. I can agree the sutta of the clinging-aggregates of the arahant I gave before is a bit of an odd duck. But considering the context in the sutta itself, it makes sense to me to interpret it literally. Why would we have another interpretation for the passage of the arahant while all other persons are treated in the exactly same way?"

I think that most people find that passage about the arahant to be puzzling for the
following reasons:

1. Suffering ceases with awakening, this is the whole point of the teachings.
2. The suffering that ceases may be mental suffering, not bodily suffering.
3. The origin of suffering is craving, craving ceases with awakening, so suffering
ceases at that stage.
4. The five clinging aggregates are said to be suffering.
5. Therefore: The five clinging aggregates cease at awakening.

If you think that the arahant still has the five clinging aggregates then:

1. Suffering has not ceased for the arahant.
2. Craving has not ceased for the arahant.
3. How then does an arahant differ from an ordinary person?

I need to think a bit about your other points, but I will respond to them.

Regards, Vincent.

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:35 pm

Thanks for your reply. Let me clarify.

We have to consider that there are multiple types of suffering:
"Monks, there are these three kinds of suffering.[1] What three? Suffering caused by pain,[2] suffering caused by the formations (or conditioned existence),[3] suffering due to change.[4] It is for the full comprehension, clear understanding, ending and abandonment of these three forms of suffering that the Noble Eightfold Path is to be cultivated..."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
After enlightenment, some of these sufferings will be ended (suffering of mental pain) while other more subtle forms of suffering are not (formations, change). Those have to do with the aggregates, which are always changing, are impermanent; this applies to all formations without exeption.
"In seeing six rewards, it's enough motivation for a monk to establish the perception of stress with regard to all fabrications without exception.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
So it is incorrect to say all suffering stops at enlightenment; however, it does stop at parinibbana.

Cessation of something does not have to be immediate. The suttas also say the awakened ones have cessated death, or made an end to aging and death or what have you. Well, obviously that ain't true because they will still die once. So to cessate suffering doesn't mean it's instantly either. Therefore, while it is a common assumption, I don't think any sutta will have a direct quote stating an enlightened one is not suffering anymore - at least I have not stumbled upon it and it would not make sense on various levels. Yes, the suttas say they made an end to suffering, but that's something different. I can make an end to a boil by turning down the gas, but the water doesn't stop boiling at that very same moment.

Now, isn't it likely that the Buddha used the word clinging-aggregate just to clarify which khandhas he's talking about? - the aggregates that make up a person. I think it would be because the word aggregate (khandha) itself can refer to many other things, like a treetrunk for example, or just mass in general, like in MN13 "mass of suffering".

So because there is only inconstancy, there is only suffering. Sounds harsh perhaps, but it doesn't really matter because it happens to no-one. There are just things occuring that are not satisfying. When there is clinging, these things will keep on happening, but when clinging stops, they will end soon for that particular person.

With metta,
Reflection

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by equilibrium » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:53 pm

The awakened one does not die because the awakened one "knows".....also known as "deathlessness".

vinasp
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:08 pm

Hi porpoise,

Quote:""clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation".
Maybe looking at this would help. What does "sustenance" mean here - is it a reference to the 4 nutriments? And does "mental fermentation" refer to mental proliferation?
It seems clear that dukkha is synonymous with "clinging aggregates" but I'm still not clear whether dukkha is synonymous with the aggregates." [End Quote.]

The Pali:

"... sāsavaṃ upādāniyaṃ, ayaṃ vuccati rūpupādānakkhandho. ..."[DPR, SN 22.48]

" ... that are with the cankers, subject to clinging, these are called the
form-clinging-aggregate. ..."

I cant read Pali, but I gather that 'sasava' means - 'with the asava's'.

The prefix 'sa' means 'with', and 'asava' refers to the three, or four, asava's
which are eliminated at awakening. These have been translated in many ways, for
example: Cankers; Corruptions; Taints; Fermentations.

So it seems that the clinging aggregates are only found in those who have not yet
eliminated the asava's.

The term 'upadaniya' is, I am told, a bit of a problem.

The Pali 'upadana' may mean 'clinging' or 'fuel', the literal meaning is 'uptake'.
The word is used to refer to the way that a fire or a flame consumes its fuel.

Bhikkhu Bodhi translates 'upadana' as 'clinging', in most cases.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu translates with both meanings: clinging/sustenance.

The inflection 'upadaniya' means 'subject to clinging', or 'offers sustenance'.

If one understands 'upadana' as sustenance, then it could refer to the four
nutriments.

The expression 'mental proliferation' is usually a translation of the Pali term
'papanca', the meaning of this term is not clear.

Pali experts - please correct any errors in these opinions.

Regards, Vincent.
Last edited by vinasp on Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

vinasp
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:01 pm

Hi reflection,

Have you considered MN 44? - link:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In this sutta the five clinging aggregates are called 'sakaya', which Thanissaro
translates as 'self-identification'.

"These five clinging-aggregates are the self-identification described by the Blessed One."

It goes on to say that craving is the origination of self-identification,
that is, the origination of the five clinging-aggregates.

It then says that the cessation of craving is the cessation of self-identification, which is therefore, the cessation of the five clinging-aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Gaoxing » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:14 am

Just some terms and ideas;

Non-conceptual awareness happens when Not-self is realised in the ever present fact of Impermanence and Suffering has ceased. It is wrong view to think Impermanence and Not-self are characteristics stuck to suffering. Awareness requires the aggregates to function.

Seeking refuge in something permanent will lead to endless suffering. Nothing is permanent. Clinging or attachment yearns permanence and sees change as suffering.

In the presence of Ignorance, Attachment and Ill-will, Impermanence is perceived as Suffering. Impermanence is not a cause of suffering but only an occasion to suffering. With Ignorance, Attachment and Ill-will removed Impermanence works cessation (Nirodha) which then continues to work happiness eternally.

To utterly destroy the aggregates would require decapitation!

It is however possible to utterly destroy clinging which changes awareness to a Not-self, Impermanent and Happy state or characteristic of the aggregates. Therefore Impermanence gives rise to evolving happiness-aggregates where a previous state again becomes suffering- or clinging-aggregates if it were to be clung to. :bow:

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:48 am

vinasp wrote:Hi reflection,

Have you considered MN 44? - link:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

In this sutta the five clinging aggregates are called 'sakaya', which Thanissaro
translates as 'self-identification'.

"These five clinging-aggregates are the self-identification described by the Blessed One."

It goes on to say that craving is the origination of self-identification,
that is, the origination of the five clinging-aggregates.

It then says that the cessation of craving is the cessation of self-identification, which is therefore, the cessation of the five clinging-aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.
I'd say self-identification is a bit of a skewy translation. The aggregates aren't the same as self-identification. It's more often translated as personality, which makes more sense already. And I've seen translations where the two aren't equated, but say something in the lines of "in the clinging-aggregates does he see a self". I'm no pali expert, so I can't say which one is best, but to say the clinging-aggregates are self-identification is just not right.

However, to me it's illustrating how the sutta goes on to describe the same five aggregates without any mention of clinging for those with 'self-identification' and those without.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:06 pm

reflection wrote:We have to consider that there are multiple types of suffering:
"Monks, there are these three kinds of suffering.[1] What three? Suffering caused by pain,[2] suffering caused by the formations (or conditioned existence),[3] suffering due to change.[4] It is for the full comprehension, clear understanding, ending and abandonment of these three forms of suffering that the Noble Eightfold Path is to be cultivated..."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
After enlightenment, some of these sufferings will be ended (suffering of mental pain) while other more subtle forms of suffering are not (formations, change).
So in your view which of these 3 types of dukkha cease for an Arahant?
I wonder if the Arrow Sutta is relevant here - while the experience of bodily pain remains ( the first arrow ) there is cessation of the resulting mental pain ( the second arrow ). There's another sutta which is similar ( I'll need to look it up ) which speaks of the impermanence of the body not being suffering for a noble disciple.
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:16 pm

reflection wrote:Cessation of something does not have to be immediate.

Now, isn't it likely that the Buddha used the word clinging-aggregate just to clarify which khandhas he's talking about? - the aggregates that make up a person. I think it would be because the word aggregate (khandha) itself can refer to many other things, like a treetrunk for example, or just mass in general, like in MN13 "mass of suffering".
I understand dependent origination as discussing dependently arising processes rather than events, so I agree with your first point. But I do think that "clinging aggregate" is a direct reference to the clinging nidana in DO, so it makes sense to speak about the cessation of clinging ( to the aggregates )leading to the cessation of dukkha. So "clinging aggregate" refers to the aggregates in their usual state of being clung to.

As for the apparent interchangeability of "aggregate" and "clinging aggregate" in the suttas, perhaps this is because for they are the same thing for everyone except an Arahant? So we have clinging aggregates while an Arahant just has plain aggregates.
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