Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
pegembara
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by pegembara » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:19 am

Actually the question is a good one.

Can you imagine the Buddha being asked this after the discourse on the not self? https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
"Thus, monks, any form 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.'

"Any feeling whatsoever...

"Any perception whatsoever...

"Any fabrications whatsoever...

"Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness 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.'
Who/what becomes disenchanted with the 5 aggregates? One can also ask who is that which discerns "that which discerns the 5 aggregates" ad infinitum.
"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness.
Sounds very similar to the question that Dhammadinna was asked.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
"What lies on the other side of release?"

"Unbinding lies on the other side of release."

"What lies on the other side of Unbinding?"

"You've gone too far, friend Visakha. You can't keep holding on up to the limit of questions. For the holy life gains a footing in Unbinding, culminates in Unbinding, has Unbinding as its final end.
For a more modern day exposition by Ajahn Sumedho.
‘Just like the question “Can you see your own eyes?”
Nobody can see their own eyes. I can see your eyes but I can’t see my eyes. I’m sitting right here, I’ve got two eyes and I can’t see them. But you can see my eyes. But there’s no need for me to see my eyes because I can see! It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? If I started saying “Why can’t I see my own eyes?” you’d think “Ajahn Sumedho’s really weird, isn’t he!”
Looking in a mirror you can see a reflection, but that’s not your eyes, it’s a reflection of your eyes. There’s no way that I’ve been able to look and see my own eyes. But then it’s not necessary to see your own eyes. It’s not necessary to know who it is that knows – because there’s knowing.’

~ Ajahn Sumedho, What is the Citta?, Forest Sangha Newsletter, Oct. ’88
I can see your face but never mine.
So the face you see in the mirror is just a face!
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

lostitude
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by lostitude » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:58 pm

SDC wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:18 pm
lostitude wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:44 pm
When he says "your very self doesn't know about you", why are "your very self" and "you" taken to be two different things?
For the puthujjana, self can manifest in any number of ways: as an appearance, as that which is responsible for appearance, or both, or neither - depending on the view. But more precisely - keeping in mind Ven. NN's interpretation of DO - experience is always "with this, this is". Self can either be the foreground as appearance or the background as that which gives meaning to appearance. Those two dimensions do not cross into one another. Neither is self, so they aren't aware of each other.

The assumption that self can be either or both or neither, distorts experience in that no matter what happens, self can just remain in the background of that experience - no matter how far you push the issue. Ignorance of the distortion will always keep something behind/outside the aggregates. As long as there is ignorance of this distortion, there is reserved space for self in any given situation.
Thank you SDC, I took some time to respond because I'm very far from experiencing this firsthand so I can only try to imagine what you are talking about. Is this concept of distortion something mainstream, or is it typical of Nanavira's (or Nyanamoli's? I don't know how much he draws from the former) teachings?

Thanks.

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SDC
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by SDC » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:14 pm

lostitude wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:58 pm
...is it typical of Nanavira's (I don't know how much he draws from the former) teachings?
There is no doubt that monks such as Ven. NN and Ven. Ariyavaṃsa draw heavily from Ven. Nanavira's interpretation and descriptions. That has given them the platform to expand into some very unique detail of what Ven. Nv was describing - which of course was his interpretation of suttas. But to limit them to just being two writers who have "continued" with Ven. Nv's work would be a disservice. They have each gotten into such profound territory and have been able to describe their ideas very clearly. Whether or not these ideas are "true" is another matter, but in terms of making the material relatable and descriptive, they have succeeded.
lostitude wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:58 pm
Is this concept of distortion something mainstream
I chose "distortion" out of preference. However, I intended a meaning identical to what Ven. NN means with "disorder" (sakkāyadiṭṭhi: self-view, personality view).
Ven. N. Nyanamoli wrote:Thus, a puthujjana places ‘being’ as that which is first. This type of priority of ‘being’, is the necessary basis for the puthujjana‘s sense of ‘Self’. The notion of constancy, the unchanging nature of the experience as a whole, the independence, is the “extra-temporal changeless ‘self”’ of the puthujjana. ‘(The being of) Self’ is then the reason for things to appear ,they are appearing for it. This arrangement, this particular [dis]order of things is also called: sakkāyadiṭṭhi.
-Appearance and Existence

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SDC
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by SDC » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:23 am

lostitude wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:58 pm
Thank you SDC, I took some time to respond because I'm very far from experiencing this firsthand so I can only try to imagine what you are talking about.
Getting to the meaning of anything (but especially Dhamma) takes some amount of creativity and imagination. While some descriptions (words of another) are better than others, none can replace the act of working to identify it in your own experience. It is almost as if you carefully test out different versions of a thing in order to see what lands in the most effective way. You may be surprised how quickly something does land - maybe not fully, but just enough for you to have cause to pursue it further. I doubt you are very from that at all.

Pulsar
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by Pulsar » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:38 pm

lostitude, a fine thread, many good answers
intellectually however, whatever answer given, is not conducive to
your own realization of 'who'? or what, the subject is.

I faced the same riddle once, and tried to split my head intellectually, but my head did not split, so one reads MN 63 and begins the hard home work one has been avoiding.
Buddha does not say, there is a self or not-self specifically.

An edited excerpt from MN 63 to fit the discussion.
"Malunkyaputta, if anyone were to say, 'I won't live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that "The cosmos is eternal, (there is a self) or the cosmos is not eternal (non-self), the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata.
then further down, the sutta says
Malunkyaputta, it's not the case that when there is the view, 'The cosmos is eternal,' there is the living of the holy life. And it's not the case that when there is the view, 'The cosmos is not eternal,' there is the living of the holy life. Whatever view there is, of these, there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose destruction I make known right in the here & now.
So I take it our problem is not that there is a self, or not, but this aging, death, sorrow and so on, the things that need to be settled. Buddha helps with solving the riddle and for this
supramundane right view
is important, and the rest of the Noble Path. But to set foot on Noble Path, right view is critical, thus doing away with wrong view, i.e. discarding notion of self

concentration of the jhanic strength is important, as MN 64 indicates.

An excerpt from MN 64
There is a path Ananda a way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters. (notion of 'I' is the first fetter)
that anyone without relying on that path, on that way, shall know or see or abandon the five lower fetters this is not possible.
and further below in the same sutta Buddha says, here I modify the words
for simplicity and for a better fit it to the question of OP.
And what, Ananda, is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters?" Here with seclusion from any
acquisitions (sensual), with shedding of all unwholesome states, (greed, cruelty, delusion)
mental formations are tranquilized, (not restlesss, not torpor etc)
With thought applied and investigative, in that rapture and pleasure born of
seclusion one will have a glimpse of what it is not to be
burdened with self


Dear lostitude, Jhanas are not hard to do at all as some imply, at least the first jhana, I find instructions for vipassana kinda confusing, it is my kamma, but my own ordinary understanding has served me well, to get glimpses of what Buddha said.

You asked When he says
"your very self doesn't know about you", why are "your very self" and "you" taken to be two different things?
The venerable was merely trying to clarify using conventional lang, that is the best anyone can do. I enjoyed listening to him. Thanks for posting it.
It is not a thing that can be communicated verbally.

Some time ago I posted something in the Personal Experience Forum, it relates to your question also, so here is an excerpt from that post.
a breakthrough, 'The counterpoint'
to Kaccanagotta, when it seemed to casual observer,
there is no self, neither non-self, not being, not non-being;
nor existence and non-existence, struggling to convey
profundity
of the thing Tathagata broke thru to;

but this pronouncement did not leave out
the affirmation of the existence of the five aggregates,
the impermanent process, impersonal,
The peaceful sage, did not annihilate the being, the person, the emotions associated,
but simply said in other words, those are like the vaporous
fumes;
a contrail, a streak of the sky;
left by a flying machine;
so being, existence is or is not?

as you gaze at the sky, can you say for sure the plane
that was moments ago speeding across
was there, but for the vaporous
fumes also disappearing, tell tale
marks
PS Above was based on two suttas of Samyutta nikaya, personalized of course, thanks for asking a question that once I asked myself. :candle:

auto
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by auto » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:34 pm

widespread intrusion of delusion on high places. I wonder how these people talk themselves out of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_insertion
Causal-contextual

The causal-contextual theory of thought insertion focuses on a lack of a feeling of ownership. This theory differs from the standard approach because rather than explaining thought insertion by saying the subject lacks a sense of agency, this model explains thought insertion by theorizing that the subject lacks a sense of ownership, which in turn creates a lack of agency.
irony?

lostitude
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by lostitude » Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:59 pm

auto wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:34 pm
widespread intrusion of delusion on high places. I wonder how these people talk themselves out of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_insertion
Causal-contextual

The causal-contextual theory of thought insertion focuses on a lack of a feeling of ownership. This theory differs from the standard approach because rather than explaining thought insertion by saying the subject lacks a sense of agency, this model explains thought insertion by theorizing that the subject lacks a sense of ownership, which in turn creates a lack of agency.
irony?
Are you being ironic?

auto
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by auto » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:32 pm

lostitude wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:59 pm
auto wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:34 pm
widespread intrusion of delusion on high places. I wonder how these people talk themselves out of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_insertion
Causal-contextual

The causal-contextual theory of thought insertion focuses on a lack of a feeling of ownership. This theory differs from the standard approach because rather than explaining thought insertion by saying the subject lacks a sense of agency, this model explains thought insertion by theorizing that the subject lacks a sense of ownership, which in turn creates a lack of agency.
irony?
Are you being ironic?
no, i straightforward know there is a self.

lostitude
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by lostitude » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:50 pm

auto wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:32 pm
lostitude wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:59 pm
auto wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:34 pm
widespread intrusion of delusion on high places. I wonder how these people talk themselves out of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_insertion



irony?
Are you being ironic?
no, i straightforward know there is a self.
It's funny you raise this, because I often wonder if buddhism isn't just a way to train your mind to become insane, and if nibbana is not simply a dignified form of psychosis. "Ipseity disorders"? I'm sure some threads must have discussed this already but the search function is not working at my end.

auto
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by auto » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:49 am

lostitude wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:50 pm
auto wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:32 pm
lostitude wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:59 pm
Are you being ironic?
no, i straightforward know there is a self.
It's funny you raise this, because I often wonder if buddhism isn't just a way to train your mind to become insane, and if nibbana is not simply a dignified form of psychosis. "Ipseity disorders"? I'm sure some threads must have discussed this already but the search function is not working at my end.
having depression and suicidal thoughts and not coming aware of self to be able to see that this depression is a delusion. While coming aware and seeing "why i am having such a state?" depression disappears right after and im relieved and feel light..

read on if want the longer version:
sense of self is important, and as like it is with macrocosm the self you sense is the enlightened one and following it you get to its place and then get to know a knowledge what lets you to concentrate in a certain way..
When you don't have life, nothing going on for you, depression, intense pressure creeps in then the delight in solitude happen accompanied with sense of self.
Self is under what you take refugee, the just being aware of oneself is not enough to get rid of intense pressure that even walking is hard to do, the knowledge arises what sets you free.

it can't be prognosed it happen differently every time, so thinking you have a solution for next time happening, well you aren't even aware when the main event is on, and if you are you are not able to snap out of it..
poor doctors who try to figure it out.

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Akashad
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by Akashad » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:17 pm

Experiences are experiencing itself.It's got nothing to do with us.We are just inserting ourselves in the picture.

It's like we lay claim to seeing,touching,thoughts,intentions and the one who is doing the observing oblivious to the fact that no one is actually doing the observing, observing is observing itself.

binocular
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by binocular » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:31 pm

auto wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:34 pm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_insertion
Causal-contextual

The causal-contextual theory of thought insertion focuses on a lack of a feeling of ownership. This theory differs from the standard approach because rather than explaining thought insertion by saying the subject lacks a sense of agency, this model explains thought insertion by theorizing that the subject lacks a sense of ownership, which in turn creates a lack of agency.
irony?
An ironic consequence of naive realism. People trying so hard not to own their thoughts, and then this bears fruit!
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by binocular » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:44 pm

lostitude wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 12:44 pm
My question is, when you discern feelings, perceptions, etc. as aggregates you have no control over and no ownership of, who or what is doing the discerning? Same for the sense of self, when you discern your own sense of self, who is the spectator as it were?
When he says "your very self doesn't know about you", why are "your very self" and "you" taken to be two different things?
I think it needs to be considered here that not rarely, when Buddhists talk about anatta, there is the unspoken assumption that goes something like "And since you don't really exist, you don't matter, and nothing that has to do with you matters".

If one contemplates the topic of anatta with this assumption in mind, one can expect some problems along the way.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:59 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:44 pm
I think it needs to be considered here that not rarely, when Buddhists talk about anatta, there is the unspoken assumption that goes something like "And since you don't really exist, you don't matter, and nothing that has to do with you matters".

If one contemplates the topic of anatta with this assumption in mind, one can expect some problems along the way.
As it is, apparently, unspoken, how might we distinguish this claim from a mistaken assumption on the listener's part?

auto
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Re: Who/what is discerning the 5 aggregates?

Post by auto » Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:05 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:31 pm
auto wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:34 pm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_insertion
Causal-contextual

The causal-contextual theory of thought insertion focuses on a lack of a feeling of ownership. This theory differs from the standard approach because rather than explaining thought insertion by saying the subject lacks a sense of agency, this model explains thought insertion by theorizing that the subject lacks a sense of ownership, which in turn creates a lack of agency.
irony?
An ironic consequence of naive realism. People trying so hard not to own their thoughts, and then this bears fruit!
yes that makes sense.

https://accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn ... .than.html
A third time, Bāhiya said to the Blessed One, "But it is hard to know for sure what dangers there may be for the Blessed One's life, or what dangers there may be for mine. Teach me the Dhamma, O Blessed One! Teach me the Dhamma, O One-Well-Gone, that will be for my long-term welfare & bliss."
aversion towards world, seem like it is psychosis
"Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen....only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that.
and its overcome by naive realism.

issue is
Now, not long after the Blessed One's departure, Bāhiya was attacked & killed by a cow with a young calf.
was the fear precedented?

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