The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

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Sobhana
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The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by Sobhana »

The Buddha sums up his definition of dukkha with: "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering" (pancu­padanak­khan­dha).

What is the meaning and what are the implications?

An arahant does not cling anymore, but does he still have pancu­padanak­khan­dha? If not, the aggregates, including the body, are not experienced as dukkha anymore?

Does pancu­padanak­khan­dha have an active or passive meaning? Active is that I am currently clinging to the aggregates. Passive would be that due to clinging in a past life these current aggregates have arisen. That would implicate that an arahant still has pancu­padanak­khan­dha although he does not cling anymore.

These questions I think also have important implications if one can be totally free from suffering in this life or only after death when there is no more rebirth.

Why didn't the Buddha just say: aggregates are suffering?

I'd like to hear from you.
JohnK
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by JohnK »

Sobhana wrote: Why didn't the Buddha just say: aggregates are suffering?
As no one has replied yet, I'll offer this brief response.
In reply to the short question: Because they are not suffering unless clung to as I, me, mine.
When I first was exposed to the common translation you quoted in the subject line, I was a bit confused.
I now take it to mean that the aggregates are the field of clinging; they are the subject of all clinging, there is nothing else that can be clung to, they are "the all." However, their existence does not require clinging, for example, by arahants.
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]
hahaha
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by hahaha »

120 (8) Things That Fetter
At Savatthı. “Bhikkhus, I will teach you the things that fetter and
the fetter. Listen to that….
“And what, bhikkhus, are the things that fetter, and what is the
fetter? Form, bhikkhus, is a thing that fetters; the desire and lust
for it is the fetter there. Feeling … Perception … Volitional formations
… Consciousness is a thing that fetters; the desire
and lust for it is the fetter there. These are called the things that
fetter, and this the fetter.”

121 (9) Things That Can Be Clung To
“Bhikkhus, I will teach you the things that can be clung to and
the clinging. Listen to that….
“And what, bhikkhus, are the things that can be clung to, and
what is the clinging? Form, bhikkhus, is a thing that can be clung
to; the desire and lust for it is the clinging there. Feeling …
Perception … Volitional formations … Consciousness is a thing
that can be clung to; the desire and lust for it is the clinging there.
These are called the things that can be clung to, and this the
clinging.”
Even more clear:
“How is it, friend Sariputta, is the eye the fetter of forms or are
forms the fetter of the eye? Is the ear the fetter of sounds or are
sounds the fetter of the ear?… [163] Is the mind the fetter of mental
phenomena or are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind?”
“Friend Ko˛˛hita, the eye is not the fetter of forms nor are forms
the fetter of the eye, but rather the desire and lust that arise there
in dependence on both: that is the fetter there. The ear is not the
fetter of sounds nor are sounds the fetter of the ear, but rather the
desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the
fetter there…. The mind is not the fetter of mental phenomena
nor are mental phenomena the fetter of the mind, but rather the
desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the
fetter there.
“Suppose, friend, a black ox and a white ox were yoked together
by a single harness or yoke. Would one be speaking rightly if one
were to say: ‘The black ox is the fetter of the white ox; the white
ox is the fetter of the black ox’?”
“No, friend. The black ox is not the fetter of the white ox nor is
the white ox the fetter of the black ox, but rather the single harness
or yoke by which the two are yoked together: that is the fetter
there.”
https://archive.org/details/WhatIsTheFe ... lishByMMMF
R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw »

The Buddha sums up his definition of dukkha with: "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering" (pancu­padanak­khan­dha).
Unfortunately i dont understand pali at all and want more information if possible, as it is 1 word translated into 4 i am abit hestitant to rationalize it.
paul
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by paul »

The Buddha sums up his definition of dukkha with: "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering" (pancu­padanak­khan­dha).

Q. What is the meaning and what are the implications?

A. The implications for practice are immense.
“Just as when the component parts such as axles, wheels, frame poles, etc. are arranged in a certain way, there comes to be the mere term of common usage “chariot”, yet in the ultimate sense , when each component is examined, there is no chariot…
Note that the conventional view is dependent on the words which describe the parts.

"...when there are five aggregates [as objects] of clinging, there comes to be the mere term of common usage "a being", "a person", yet in the ultimate sense, when each component is examined, there is no being as a basis for the assumption "I am" or “I”...
—Vism. XVIII, 28

To develop right view regarding clinging it is necessary to practise mindfulness of the body:
“kaya -gata-sati: Mindfulness with regard to the body: …when keeping one’s attention fixed outwardly (i.e. on the bodies of other beings), and when all the parts appear distinctly, then all humans and animals moving about lose the appearance of living beings and appear like heaps of many different things.”
—Vism. VIII, 140


"But when a man rejects this correct vision and assumes that a [permanent] being exists, he has to conclude either that it comes to be annihilated, or it does not. [...]

And how do those with eyes see? Here a Bikkhu sees what is become as become, he has entered on the way to dispassion for it, to the fading away of greed for it, to it's cessation. This is how one sees." Vism XVIII, 30.

So the right view is dualistic, recognising both conventional ("sees what is become as become") and ultimate reality. The gateway between these two is the entrance to practice, but it cannot be distinguished without practise of kaya-gata-sati.

Q. An arahant does not cling anymore, but does he still have pancu­padanak­khan­dha? If not, the aggregates, including the body, are not experienced as dukkha anymore?

A. “After the experience of total release, the arahant returns to an experience of the world of the six senses, but with a sense of being disjoined from it because the mind no longer feeds on it.
“Sensing a feeling of pleasure, [the arahant] senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of pain, he senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, he senses it disjoined from it. This is called a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones disjoined from birth, ageing, &death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is dis jointed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.”—SN36:6 "Right Mindfulness", Thanissaro Bikkhu.
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by santa100 »

Sobhana wrote:Does pancu­padanak­khan­dha have an active or passive meaning? Active is that I am currently clinging to the aggregates. Passive would be that due to clinging in a past life these current aggregates have arisen. That would implicate that an arahant still has pancu­padanak­khan­dha although he does not cling anymore.
Ven. Bodhi's note from "Connected Discourses" explains the difference between PancUpadanaKkhandha/Five Aggregates subject to Clinging and PancaKkhandha/Five Aggregates:
The key terms distinguishing the pañc’upādānakkhandhā from the pañcakkhandhā are sāsava upādāniya, “with taints and subject to clinging.” The pañc’upādānakkhandhā are included within the pañcakkhandhā, for all members of the former set must also be members of the latter set. However, the fact that a distinction is drawn between them implies that there are khandha which are anāsava anupādāniya, “untainted and not subject to clinging.” On first consideration it would seem that the “bare aggregates” are those of the arahant, who has eliminated the āsava and upādāna. However, in the Abhidhamma all rūpa is classified as sāsava and upādāniya, and so too the resultant (vipāka) and functional (kiriya) mental aggregates of the arahant (see Dhs §§1103, 1219). The only aggregates classed as anāsava and anupādāniya are the four mental aggregates occurring on the cognitive occasions of the four supramundane paths and fruits (see Dhs §§1104, 1220). The reason for this is that sāsava and upādāniya do not mean “accompanied by taints and by clinging,” but “capable of being taken as the objects of the taints and of clinging,” and the arahant’s mundane aggregates can be taken as objects of the taints and clinging by others(see As 347). For a detailed study of this problem, see Bodhi, “Aggregates and Clinging Aggregates.”
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bodom
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by bodom »

Sobhana wrote:Why didn't the Buddha just say: aggregates are suffering?

I'd like to hear from you.
There only heavy when you pick them up.

:namaste:
With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

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ganegaar
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by ganegaar »

R1111 wrote:The Buddha sums up his definition of dukkha with: "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering" (pancu­padanak­khan­dha).
Unfortunately i dont understand pali at all and want more information if possible, as it is 1 word translated into 4 i am abit hestitant to rationalize it.
pancu­padanak­khan­dha = Panca (five) + upaadaana (clinging, of nature of clingable!) + skanda (aggregates)

A phrase seen in Sutta's is: "“sankhittena pancupadanakkhandha dukkha”
which means, "In summary pancupadanakkhandha are 'suffering' "

Also note that "dukkha" is really misleading to be translated!; more you read, you will see translating Dukkha as suffering (or any other English word we know of) may lead to misrepresentations in one way or the other!.
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw »

Interesting thread i think there is a good chance we will get to the bottom of this:)
ganegaar wrote: pancu­padanak­khan­dha = Panca (five) + upaadaana (clinging, of nature of clingable!) + skanda (aggregates)

A phrase seen in Sutta's is: "“sankhittena pancupadanakkhandha dukkha”
which means, "In summary pancupadanakkhandha are 'suffering' "
I am curious about the word Upaadaaa, any breakdown of it?

As i understand it the Aggregates can be said to be Name&Form (referred to as mass of suffering sometimes in the Suttas) and are Dukkha because it is of 3Cs. The Arising of Aggregates is conditioned by Past Kamma and karmic volition, a result of clinging.
Also note that "dukkha" is really misleading to be translated!; more you read, you will see translating Dukkha as suffering (or any other English word we know of) may lead to misrepresentations in one way or the other!.
I think this is obvious aswell, i wouldnt attempt to translate it in one word but to me these words come to mind, painful, burden, suffering, a state of deprivation and bondage.
Last edited by R1111 = rightviewftw on Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Sobhana
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by Sobhana »

Thank you for the answers so far.

hahaha, can you rephrase your quotes with your own words and link them directly to a question? I don't quit understand what your quotations imply.

Does anyone have a link to Bodhi's paper “Aggregates and Clinging Aggregates”?

When the Venerable Ajahn Brahm was asked, if an arahant is free from all dukkha, he answered in the negative: "no, an arahant is not free from all suffering". If we assume for the sake of argument this is correct: where is the suffering coming from? When the khandha/aggregates represent the all, then suffering needs to come from the aggregates. Right? Doesn't this imply that for an arahant they continue to be "aggregates subject to clinging" and not simply exist as aggregates?
JohnK
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by JohnK »

This is from Bodhi's Intro to Chap. IX of In The Buddhas's Words pasted from Wisdom Pub website (in case it is helpful to anyone).
IX,4(1) The Five Aggregates. The five aggregates (pañcakkhandha) are the main categories the Nikāyas use to analyze human experience. The five are: (1) form (rūpa), the physical component of experience; (2) feeling (vedanā), the “affective tone” of experience—either pleasant, painful, or neutral; (3) perception (saññā), the identification of things through their distinctive marks and features; (4) volitional formations (saṅkhārā), a term for the multifarious mental factors involving volition, choice, and intention; and (5) consciousness (viññāṇa), cognition arisen through any of the six sense faculties—eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.

Examination of the five aggregates, the topic of the Khandhasaṃyutta (Saṃyutta Nikāya, chapter 22), is critical to the Buddha’s teaching for at least four reasons. First, the five aggregates are the ultimate referent of the first noble truth, the noble truth of suffering (see the exposition of the first truth in Text II,5), and since all four truths revolve around suffering, understanding the aggregates is essential for understanding the Four Noble Truths as a whole. Second, the five aggregates are the objective domain of clinging and as such contribute to the causal origination of future suffering. Third, clinging to the five aggregates must be removed to attain liberation. And fourth, the kind of wisdom needed to remove clinging is precisely clear insight into the true nature of the aggregates. The Buddha himself declares that so long as he did not understand the five aggregates in terms of their individual nature, arising, cessation, and the way to their cessation, he did not claim to have attained perfect enlightenment. The full understanding of the five aggregates is a task he likewise enjoins on his disciples. The five aggregates, he says, are the things that must be fully understood; their full understanding brings the destruction of greed, hatred, and delusion (SN 22:23).

The word khandha (Skt: skandha) means, among other things, a heap or mass (rāsi). The five aggregates are so called because they each unite under one label a multiplicity of phenomena that share the same defining characteristic. Thus whatever form there is, “past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near,” is incorporated into the form aggregate; whatever feeling there is, “past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near,” is incorporated into the feeling aggregate; and so for each of the other aggregates. Text IX,4(1)(a) enumerates in simple terms the constituents of each aggregate and shows that each aggregate arises and ceases in correlation with its own specific condition; the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to bring each aggregate to an end. Here we find the “four-truth pattern” applied to the five aggregates, an application that follows quite logically from the role that the five aggregates play in representing the first noble truth.

This sutta makes a distinction between trainees and arahants similar to that made by the Discourse on Right View. Trainees have directly known the five aggregates by way of the four-truth pattern and are practicing for their fading away and cessation; they have thereby “gained a foothold (gādhanti) in this Dhamma and Discipline.” Arahants too have directly known the five aggregates by way of the fourtruth pattern, but they have gone further than the trainees. They have extirpated all attachment to the aggregates and are liberated by nonclinging; thus they are called “consummate ones” (kevalino) who cannot be described by way of the round of rebirths.

A detailed catechism on the aggregates, treating them from diverse angles, can be found in Text IX,4(1)(b). Because the five aggregates that make up our ordinary experience are the objective domain of clinging (upādāna), they are commonly called the five aggregates subject to clinging (pañc’upādānakkhandhā). Clinging to the five aggregates occurs in two principal modes, which we might call appropriation and identification. One either grasps them and takes possession of them, that is, one appropriates them; or one uses them as the basis for views about one’s self or for conceit (“I am better than, as good as, inferior to others”), that is, one identifies with them. As the Nikāyas put it, we are prone to think of the aggregates thus: “This is mine, this I am, this is my self” (etaṃ mama, eso ’ham asmi, eso me attā). In this phrase, the notion “This is mine” represents the act of appropriation, a function of craving (taṇhā). The notions “This I am” and “This is my self” represent two types of identification, the former expressing conceit (māna), the latter views (diṭṭhi). Giving up craving is so difficult because craving is reinforced by views, which rationalize our identification with the aggregates and thus equip craving with a protective shield. The type of view that lies at the bottom of all affirmation of selfhood is called identity view (sakkāyadiṭṭhi). The suttas often mention twenty types of identity view, obtained by considering one’s self to stand in any of four relations to each of the five aggregates: either as identical with it, as possessing it, as containing it, or as contained within it. The “uninstructed worldling” holds some kind of identity view; “the instructed noble disciple,” having seen with wisdom the selfless nature of the aggregates, no longer regards the aggregates as a self or the belongings of a self. Adopting any of these views is a cause of anxiety and distress. It is also a leash that keeps us bound to the round of rebirths—see above, Text I,2(3) and Text I,4(5).
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]
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mikenz66
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by mikenz66 »

Thanks John.

Links to the Suttas that Bhikkhu Bodhi mentions can be found here:
In the Buddha's Words - Open Source Version

Specifically:
IX 4. The Domain of Wisdom
  • (1) By Way of the Five Aggregates
    • (a) Phases of the Aggregates (SN 22.56) SC
      (b) A Catechism on the Aggregates (SN 22.82 = MN 109, abridged) SC SC
      (c) The Characteristic of Nonself (SN 22.59) SC
      (d) Impermanent, Suffering, Nonself (SN 22.45) SC
      (e) A Lump of Foam (SN 22.95) SC
:heart:
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by vinasp »

Hi sobhana,

Here I attempt to answer some of your questions, but not in the order in which you asked them.

Sobhana:- "Why didn't the Buddha just say: aggregates are suffering?"

Because that would be open to only one interpretation, that there is no way for suffering to end within this present life, it can only happen when there are no aggregates, so one would have to remove craving for a next life and then wait for the present aggregates to end.

Sobhana:- "Does pancu­padanak­khan­dha have an active or passive meaning?"

Both.

Sobhana:- "Active is that I am currently clinging to the aggregates."

The worldling is currently clinging to the NEXT set of aggregates, his next life.

Sobhana:- "Passive would be that due to clinging in a past life these current aggregates have arisen."

Yes the present aggregates are the object of past clinging.

Sobhana:- "That would implicate that an arahant still has pancu­padanak­khan­dha although he does not cling any more."

I think that this is one interpretation, but it would mean that suffering cannot end within this present life.

The other is that the aggregates should not be understood in a literal way, and that pancupadanakkhandha has ceased for an Arahant.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by JohnK »

Hello, Vincent.
vinasp wrote:...the present aggregates are the object of past clinging.
Based on my current, tentative understanding, I would have worded this: the present aggregates are the result of past clinging.
Are you suggesting something a bit different that I should try to understand? (I'm not conversant in the Pali phrases you mention, so I certainly could be missing something.) Thank you.
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]
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Re: The meaning of "aggregates subject to clinging are suffering"

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw »

I think it can well be said that the Aggregates are subject to clinging when the ideas of self indentification arises in regards to them, my perceptions, my thoughts, fantasies and body.
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