I'm wondering, retro, what your thoughts are on SN 22.122
. What is to be made of it, in light of what you've written here?
Upadana follows tanha, so saying tanha ceases vs. saying upadana ceases is to split a hair which isn't growing anywhere near the phrase "the aggregates cease", which is a final breakup; arahants wait for this like a worker their wages.
I've mentioned previously that I don't intend to speculate on the phenomenological experience of the arahant, so any "thoughts" will be curtailed by that, but here goes...
The common presentation of "the breaking up of the aggregates" reads like an realist/materialist/ontological one - a bit like "from dust to dust" and all that. The body returning to its elements, sparks of consciousness drifting back out into the cosmos etc... and sure, maybe
that's what it means. Quite possible. But if that is what it means then it appears to have little practical phenomenological relevance, certainly to me in my practice. And sure, there is also the notion of a "with remainder" to be considered, but again, not particularly relevant for me to know what that is, or what to do with it. The practical application or implication of this for the savaka? I just don't see it, though I'm open to being enlightened by others in that space.
However, what paticcasamuppada does make abundantly clear is that upadana (appropriation) gives rise to bhava (existence / becoming) and jati (birth)... and these are things that can be experienced (presumably not the last one though if one adheres to the 3-lifetime model, but that's tangential). I believe each of these nidanas should be known - stop upadana and you stop bhava. The Buddha gave teachings of this ilk...
SN 22.63 wrote:"Lord, if one appropriates the body, one is in bondage to Maara. If one does not appropriate the body, one is free of the Evil One. (Similarly with 'feelings,' 'perceptions,' 'mental formations,' 'consciousness.') That, Lord, is how I understand in full the sense of what the Blessed One has stated in brief."
"Good, good, monk! You have well understood in full the sense of what I stated in brief. If you appropriate the body,... feelings,... perceptions,... mental formations,... consciousness, you are in bondage to Maara. If you do not appropriate, you are free of the Evil One. That is how the sense of what I have stated in brief is to be understood in full."
So what does it mean to "appropriate" the body etc.? If we "believe the aggregates" and take them for granted, we've probably appropriated them before we've even started! And indeed, most likely, this is what we've all done. Now I know you're saying upadana vs tanha might be "splitting hairs", but I think it's very important because both are differentiated phenomenological experiences and both provide opportunities to investigate and deconstruct paticcasamuppada (i.e samsaric experience). If we don't appropriate the aggregates, we won't become anything. And becoming/existence is what leads to the realm of birth-and-death, as symbolized by Mara, the personification of death, in the sutta quote above.
Given that we so automatically "appropriated" the body to date etc., how do we unappropriate
it? How is that done? How does it work in practice? First step seems to be to recognise that the five aggregates need not be consumed "as given", otherwise the outcome (i.e. bhava/existence) is a fait accompli
. Is there a mode of living where we do not "step into" or "take up" the aggregates? How to cultivate it? Somewhere in the upadana > bhava nidana, I suspect there's something quite deep and significant that is largely absent in ancient and contemporary Dhamma discourse, where upadana was taken as clinging (or, simply, a more attenuated version of craving). These are the questions this topic was looking to explore by looking at the relationship between verb (action, kamma, cetana, sankhara) and noun (object, dhamma, sankhata-dhamma). So now that I've provided the necessary context....
Returning to SN 22.122, what I think
this might mean (and again, I don't wish to say it is so because I don't know, because it's not my place to say - but you did ask, and it's the only way to answer your question properly) is that the arahants have the opportunity to enjoy a pleasant abiding, through being aware of "appropriatable" aggregates, and not "stepping into", not "engaging with" and "not taking up" what is observed. By way of analogy, it's like enjoying the view
from a mountain peak of the trees below, without diving off the edge of a cliff down to the green canopy below (and the painful consequences that follow).
I hope that answered your question.