Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

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Dinsdale
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:19 pm

vinasp wrote: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.
Yes, that's how it seems to me. Self-identification is synonymous with clinging to the aggregates, so cessation of one leads to cessation of the other.
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daverupa
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by daverupa » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:49 pm

porpoise wrote:Self-identification is synonymous with clinging to the aggregates, so cessation of one leads to cessation of the other.
Well, there is the conceit "I am" and there is sakkaya-ditthi, 'embodiment-view', seeing the self in this or that. So, even without self-identification, the fetter of conceit remains - work is yet to be done.
  • "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]

vinasp
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:00 pm

Hi everyone,

Perhaps it would help if we could sort out what kinds of suffering cease at the
time of awakening. Refection has already quoted this sutta:

"Bhikkhus, there are these three kinds of suffering. What three?
suffering due to pain, suffering due to formations, suffering due
to change. These are the three kinds of suffering.
The Noble Eightfold Path is to be developed for direct knowledge
of these three kinds of suffering, for the full understanding of
them, for their utter destruction, for their abandoning."

[Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 1561, SN 45.165]

My interpretation of this, is that all three kinds of suffering cease with
completion of the noble eightfold path.

1. Suffering due to pain, is the mental suffering which is generated by the
'worldling' in response to bodily pain. [see: Arrow Sutta.]

2. Suffering due to formations, is the suffering which results from mental
formations, all of which will have ceased with full awakening.

3. Suffering due to change, is the suffering which the 'worldling' experiences
due to things changing - because he is clinging to things. If he was not
clinging there would be no suffering due to change. Change, in itself, is
not suffering.

4. Bodily pain is not included because it can still be present after awakening.
These are just 'three kinds of suffering' and are not meant to include all
suffering.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:38 pm

Hi reflection,

There is something that puzzles me about your interpretation. You speak of the
aggregates not ceasing until death. Let us consider just the form aggregate.

"And what, bhikkhus, are the five aggregates?
Whatever kind of form there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or
external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near,
this is called the form aggregate. ..." - [BB, CD, page 886, part of SN 22.48]

This seems, to me, to be saying that all the form in the cosmos is the form
aggregate.

Q1. Why would anyone think that the form aggregate is just ones own body?

Q2. Does all the form in the cosmos end when one person dies?

Regards, Vincent.

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:51 pm

We have to be careful to not get lost in terms of "the aggregates of the arahant" or take the aggregates to be solid things. It's not like I have certain aggregates and someone else has others. The aggregates are tools descriptive of experience. That's one thing to always keep in mind when discussing these. - just as a general remark.
porpoise wrote: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.
If there is any sutta that states the arahant is 'just plain aggregates' in contrast to the clinging-aggregates, please let me know because I don't know of one. However, there is at least the quote of the arahant and clinging-aggregates that I shared before.

Now the problem with stating that the interchangeability is because there are just a few exeptions I think doesn't really hold, because in all occasions where the aggregates are defined as to what they are, there is no mention between different types of aggregates. If there was anywhere a place to make a clear distinction between for example clinging-form and not-clinging form, to explain how the arahant aggregates would be different, it would be there. Yes, there is the sutta that defines aggregates and clinging-aggregates, but be aware that it also doesn't mention non-clinging aggregates and it doesn't mention any stage of awakening. Again, if anything, according to that sutta, the clinging-aggregates are a subset of the general aggregates. It could as well be that we already experience both while not being an arahant.

But to illustrate further, take for example:
"And what, friends, is form as a clinging-aggregate? The four great existents and the form derived from them. And what are the four great existents? They are the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
This sutta directly defines clinging-form, yet it mentiones just the four elements. It doesn't say anything about clinging or not clinging. It's very clearly defining everything in the four elements. So at least the body is always a clinging-aggregate. But the sutta goes on how other clinging-aggregates arise from contact. Not from clinging or craving, just from general contact of the senses. Of course an arahant also has sense-contact. Why does Sariputta still calls them clinging-aggregates then?

Now, if we just take the form part; we can all agree there is no clinging to form for enlightened ones. That makes the interpretation of clinging-aggregates to be aggregates subject to clinging impossible. So clinging-aggregates must mean something else. If we also take in mind all quotes that say whatever is impermanent is suffering, it also can't mean something like suffering-aggregate.

Now as a disclaimer, while I tend to take the position of equating the aggregates and the clinging aggregates, I'm keeping open a possibility of there being a slight difference only arahants know about, but to me quite clearly it is not in clinging to them and it is not in suffering vs not suffering either.

With metta,
Reflection
Last edited by reflection on Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:54 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi reflection,

There is something that puzzles me about your interpretation. You speak of the
aggregates not ceasing until death. Let us consider just the form aggregate.

"And what, bhikkhus, are the five aggregates?
Whatever kind of form there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or
external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near,
this is called the form aggregate. ..." - [BB, CD, page 886, part of SN 22.48]

This seems, to me, to be saying that all the form in the cosmos is the form
aggregate.

Q1. Why would anyone think that the form aggregate is just ones own body?

Q2. Does all the form in the cosmos end when one person dies?

Regards, Vincent.
When talking about the cessation of suffering, would it also not be just for one being instead of suffering for every being?.. seems quite obvious that it is not for all or else the Buddha wouldn't have made an end to suffering..

So when talking about the cessation of the aggregates, it's the aggregates that make up a particular being, of course. But with that, the experience of all external form ceases as well. There will not be anything internal neither external. How do you know there is something "out there" if all experience comes through your six senses? That's why the Buddha called the six senses 'the world'.
At Savatthi. Then the Venerable Ananda approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him: "Venerable sir, it is said, 'cessation, cessation.' Through the cessation of what things is cessation spoken of?" "Form,... , consciousness, Ananda, is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, to vanishing, to fading away, to cessation. Through its cessation, cessation is spoken of.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:59 pm

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.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:46 pm

Hi reflection,

Quote:"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. ..."

Yes,this is a problem. My interpretation would be that the explicit distinction is
a later development. The teachings spoke about these five things and said that they
should be seen as:'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

If one succeeds in seeing them as 'not my self' then form 'seen as self' ceases.
But form seen as 'this I am' still remains, but this too can be eliminated.

One can eliminate both together, or one can do it in two stages. The later
teachings are based on removing self-view first, then the conceit 'I am'.

So the distinction, which was previously implicit, was made explicit by the use
of the term 'five clinging aggregates'.

These clinging aggregates arise from regarding things as self, or related to self.
They are associated with craving, which is why only the clinging aggregates are
mentioned in all versions of the four noble truths.

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

Quote:"Should the Buddha have intended a difference between aggregates and clinging-aggregates, it's not in suffering since they are both still suffering."

You are correct in that they are both still suffering. But the suffering which is
the clinging aggregates is much greater than the suffering which is the aggregates.

In the four noble truths, the clinging aggregates are the first truth - suffering.
What is meant is the suffering which originates from craving - second truth.
The suffering which ceases when craving ceases - third truth.
The suffering which is eliminated at the stage of the non-returner, which is when
craving ceases. All four truths have to be understood together.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:24 am

reflection wrote:Now the problem with stating that the interchangeability is because there are just a few exeptions I think doesn't really hold, because in all occasions where the aggregates are defined as to what they are, there is no mention between different types of aggregates. If there was anywhere a place to make a clear distinction between for example clinging-form and not-clinging form, to explain how the arahant aggregates would be different, it would be there. Yes, there is the sutta that defines aggregates and clinging-aggregates, but be aware that it also doesn't mention non-clinging aggregates and it doesn't mention any stage of awakening. Again, if anything, according to that sutta, the clinging-aggregates are a subset of the general aggregates. It could as well be that we already experience both while not being an arahant.
But the Khanda Sutta doesn't describe the clinging aggregates as a subset of the general aggregates, and I don't understand how this interpretation makes sense in the context of DO. Which aspects of the aggregates specifically do you think could not be subject to clinging for us as non-Arahants?

See this sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;, which gives a variation on DO - in this sutta the "allure of clingable phenomena" is synonymous with clinging to the 5 aggregates, and this leads to craving. So again there is the meaning of aggregates subject to clinging rather than "clinging aggregates".
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:27 am

reflection wrote:Now, if we just take the form part; we can all agree there is no clinging to form for enlightened ones. That makes the interpretation of clinging-aggregates to be aggregates subject to clinging impossible.
I think this example strongly supports the interpretation of "aggregates subject to clinging" and is also consistent with DO.

And again I have to ask, which aggregates do you think an Arahant still clings to?
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Gaoxing
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by Gaoxing » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:56 am

us as non-Arahants
Hmmmmm! Non-Buddhist? Thing? Name? Form?

Metta?
Empty-Process?

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reflection
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by reflection » Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:10 pm

porpoise wrote: But the Khanda Sutta doesn't describe the clinging aggregates as a subset of the general aggregates, and I don't understand how this interpretation makes sense in the context of DO. Which aspects of the aggregates specifically do you think could not be subject to clinging for us as non-Arahants?

See this sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;, which gives a variation on DO - in this sutta the "allure of clingable phenomena" is synonymous with clinging to the 5 aggregates, and this leads to craving. So again there is the meaning of aggregates subject to clinging rather than "clinging aggregates".
It does describe them as a subset because:
"Whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the form aggregate.
Bhikkhu Bodhi agrees with that:
The 5 clinging aggregates are included within the 5 aggregates, for all members of the former set must also be members of the latter set. http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=6867" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
In the upadana-sutta the equation between 'clingable phenomena' and the aggregates is made by the translator, it isn't explicitly in there as far as I'm aware. In general I'd advice to also read translations by others than Thanissaro also - if you don't already do. But that aside, if we look at how the suttas themselves define clinging in context of DO, we find something that doesn't mention the aggregates directly:
"And what is clinging/sustenance? These four are clingings: sensuality clinging, view clinging, precept & practice clinging, and doctrine of self clinging. This is called clinging.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
So, we have to be careful. The suttas often use terms that depend on context. To simply equate clinging in DO to clinging in clinging-aggregates is not nescessarily true. So when clinging in DO stops, who says that clinging-aggregates stop directly at that intant - to be 'replaced' by non-clinging aggregates? This is nowhere explicitly in the suttas as far as I'm aware.

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"?

But I don't want to go in an endless exchange. I notice we're getting in a loop of arguments. And I also don't want to get too much entangled in suttas. So I trust I made my point and if you still disagree, that's fine.

:anjali:

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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:51 pm

Hi everyone,

The aggregates are what makes up 'a being', but this 'being' is just a mental
fabrication. The path to awakening eliminates this fabricated 'being'.

The five clinging aggregates are closely related to the view of self.
They probably represent that which is regarded as self.

By which I mean the 'object' of the regarding, where this 'object' is something
fabricated by the mind. So when the view of self ceases, then 'form-seen-as-self'
also ceases.

The five aggregates are closely related to the conceit 'I am'.
They probably represent that which is regarded as ' I am this'.

The real problem is that the teachings operate on two levels. They try to use
the aggregates to also explain the actual rebirth of beings, where 'being' is
understood literally.

Some discourses are intended for 'worldlings', some are intended for noble
disciples. What is said about the aggregates may be different in these two kinds
of discourse.

Regards, Vincent.

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daverupa
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by daverupa » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:59 pm

vinasp wrote:The aggregates are what makes up 'a being'
Well, I think it's more useful to consider the aggregates as five aspects of human experience, rather than as five things which make up what a human being 'is'...
  • "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]

vinasp
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Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Post by vinasp » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:47 pm

Hi daverupa,

Quote: "Well, I think it's more useful to consider the aggregates as five aspects of human experience, rather than as five things which make up what a human being 'is'."

In my opinion, this is a misunderstanding of the teachings, propagated by academic
writers on Buddhism.

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.

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.

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.

I avoided using the expression 'human being' because a tathagata is no longer a
being.

It would, I think, be very helpful if someone could give us an outline of this
'experience' view of the aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.

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