Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby Gaoxing » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:56 am

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

Metta?
Empty-Process?
User avatar
Gaoxing
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:08 pm
Location: China

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby 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, 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


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

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


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:
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby 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.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby 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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3723
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby 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.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby reflection » Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:04 pm

vinasp wrote: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.

Cessation, extinguishment, fading away or however one wants to call it is not an instant thing if we are talking about the aggregates. Their final stopping is inevitable at enlightenment - so in a sense that's the moment of cessation and one can perfectly state that it is, but the stopping itself happens at the remainderless nibbana after passing away.
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby vinasp » Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:49 pm

Hi reflection,

There is a passage in SN 22.79 which follows the passage I cited.

It is talking about the liberated individual.

"And what is it that he neither extinguishes nor kindles, but abides having
extinguished? He neither extinguishes nor kindles form, but abides having
extinguished it. He neither extinguishes nor kindles feeling ... perception ...
volitional formations ... consciousness, but abides having extinguished it."

On another issue, we seem to have a different understanding of 'impermanence' (anicca). For me, it means that whatever is said to be impermanent, is capable of ceasing, completely and permanently. This can happen at any time, including now. So the teachings are saying that 'form' can disappear or vanish.
Which is intended to make no sense, on a literal interpretation.

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby reflection » Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:06 am

Hi vinasp,

All aggregates are not things, but processes, yes. And I agree they can disappear completely. Not only at full enlightenment but also at the stages of awakening, or the 'attainment' of cessation of perception and feeling. Usually I think the suttas refer to final nibbana, but in the case you gave, it may refer to these other occasions.

However, this may be getting off topic a bit. ;)

With metta,
Reflection
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby daverupa » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:17 am

Comments below; colors for reference.

vinasp wrote: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.


Right; that's 'upadana'.

vinasp wrote: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.


I'm not sure what the underlined bit is trying to evoke, but that piece in red earlier is correct. So while we aren't reckoning the tathagata, there are still experiences. These can be described with reference to the five aggregates, without upadana. The final breakup of the aggregates happens later, ideally after a long teaching career.

vinasp wrote: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.


Hmm, nevermind this 'momentary' business; as to a being:

SN 23.2 wrote:"Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Radha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be 'a being.'


Upadana. I also note Ven. Th.'s introduction:

A number of discourses (among them, SN 35.191; AN 6.63) make the point that the mind is fettered, not by things like the five aggregates or the objects of the six senses, but by the act of passion & delight for them.


__

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


Yes, that's correct.

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


Well, it's in red, above, and upadana meets your 'unless' criterion.
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3723
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:27 am

Hi dave,

Quote:"So while we aren't reckoning the tathagata, there are still experiences. These can be described with reference to the five aggregates, without upadana."

But you are reckoning the tathagata. There is still seeing, hearing, ... cognizing,
but there is no fabricated mental 'form-object', and without this there can be no
feeling, perception, or volition, because there is no contact. Without this object
there is no consciousness-of-an-object.

The bliss of awakening is 'objectless' and is not a feeling.

Actual feeling ceases. Actual perception ceases. The volition that arises in
dependence on contact ceases. The consciousness of the fabricated object ceases.

I know that this must be very difficult to understand.

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby Gaoxing » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:45 am

A different perspective; In semi-darkness a rope is mistaken as a snake but the displeasure is the same. Once in the light, the rope is identified and calmness returns. The illusion of the snake was a real experience to the mind and body but yet not true. So does the illusion of a 'Self' cause suffering. Instead, the aggregates are simple tools for examination allowing us to change mental formations to the anatta reality. The purpose of Buddhism is Wisdom namely, The knowledge about Suffering and the end of Suffering and that is Dependant Origination.

What is the use of this analysis of personal experience in
terms of the five aggregates? What is the use of this reduction
of the apparent unity of personal experience into the elements
of form, feeling, perception, volition or mental formation, and
consciousness? The purpose is to create the wisdom of not-self.
What we wish to achieve is a way of experiencing the world that
is not constructed on and around the idea of a self. We want to
see personal experience in terms of processes – in terms of impersonal
functions rather than in terms of a self and what affects a
self – because this will create an attitude of equanimity, which
will help us overcome the emotional disturbances of hope and
fear about the things of the world.
We hope for happiness, we fear pain. We hope for praise, we
fear blame. We hope for gain, we fear loss. We hope for fame,
we fear infamy. We live in a state of alternate hope and fear. We
experience these hopes and fears because we understand happiness,
pain, and so forth in terms of the self: we understand them
as personal happiness and pain, personal praise and blame, and
so on. But once we understand them in terms of impersonal processes,
and once – through this understanding – we get rid of the
idea of a self, we can overcome hope and fear. We can regard
happiness and pain, praise and blame, and all the rest with equanimity,
with even-mindedness. Only then will we no longer be
subject to the imbalance of alternating between hope and fear.
http://peterdellasantina.org/books/tree_of_enlightenment.htm
User avatar
Gaoxing
 
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:08 pm
Location: China

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby daverupa » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:28 am

vinasp wrote:The bliss of awakening is 'objectless' and is not a feeling.


Did the Buddha's back hurt?
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3723
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:21 pm

reflection wrote: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


According to your interpretation the sutta wouldn't it say "these five aggregates that is clung to, not being clung to"?



No, not if "aggregates" and "clinging aggregates" are used interchangeably, as seems to be the case. And the translation "aggregates subject to clinging" is quite common. And I still don't see how "clinging aggregates" being a subset of "aggregates" is supported by the suttas in general and DO in particular.

I think the following 2 extracts from MN109 support the view that liberation entails the "conversion" of clinging aggregates to aggregates - or more simply the cessation of clinging to the aggregates.
The first extract says desire and lust for the aggregates = clinging to the aggregrates. The second extract describes liberation as being the removal of lust and desire for the aggregates - which means the removal of clinging to the aggregates.

MN109.6 "It is the desire and lust in regard to the five aggregates affected by clinging that is the clinging there."
MN109.12 "The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for material form - this is the escape in the case of material form ( and similarly for the other aggregates ) "
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:00 pm

vinasp wrote: The five aggregates are closely related to the conceit 'I am'.


As I understand it self-view results from clinging to the aggregates.
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:04 pm

vinasp wrote: "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]



That's puzzling, I don't see how it fits in with DO...
User avatar
Spiny Norman
 
Posts: 1767
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby reflection » Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:32 pm

And I still don't see how "clinging aggregates" being a subset of "aggregates" is supported by the suttas in general and DO in particular.

Neither do I - As far as I'm aware, it's only SN 22.48 that makes this classification of the aggregates.
User avatar
reflection
 
Posts: 1115
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:27 pm

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:06 pm

Hi everyone,

I just did a DPR search for 'pañcakkhandhā', and these were the results:

pañcakkhandhā (33) ; pañcakkhandhānam (1) - DN: 0, MN: 0, SN: 2, AN: 0, KN: 32

The SN results are SN 22.22 Bharasuttam, and SN 22.48 Khandhasuttam.

The KN results (I omit the details) are: Patis: 8, Nett: 6, Pet: 18.

I am sure that 'pañcakkhandhā' is mentioned once in DN, I will investigate this,
perhaps I need to search with a slightly different form of the word.

Can we draw any conclusions from these results?

DPR = Digital Pali Reader. 'pañcakkhandhā' = The five aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 9:43 pm

Hi everyone,

The five aggregates are the first item in the list of 'five things' in DN 33,
the five clinging aggregates are the second item in the list - the Pali:

♦ “pañcakkhandhā. rūpakkhandho vedanākkhandho saññākkhandho saṅkhārakkhandho viññāṇakkhandho.

♦ “pañcupādānakkhandhā. rūpupādānakkhandho VAR vedanupādānakkhandho saññupādānakkhandho saṅkhārupādānakkhandho viññāṇupādānakkhandho.

Walshe [1987] translates as follows:

"(1) Five aggregates: body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations,
consciousness." [DN 33.2.1.(1)]

"(2) Five aggregates of grasping (pancupadana-kkhandha) [as (1)]."

I still can't see why the first DPR search missed this entry.

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby vinasp » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:47 pm

Hi everyone,

I did a DPR search with 'pañcupādānakkhandhā', and these are the results.

Total for 'pañcupādānakkhandhā' (59), three variant forms add (7) to the results.

Totals per Nikaya: DN: 4, MN: 20, SN: 23, AN: 4, KN: 14.

DN results: DN 22 (twice), DN 33, DN 34.

MN results: MN 9, MN 10 (twice), MN 28 (three times), MN 44 (twice), MN 109 (twice)
MN 112, MN 141 (twice), MN 149 (six times), MN 151.

SN results: SN 22.22, SN 22.48, SN 22.82 (three times), SN 22.85 (twice), SN 22.103
SN 22.104, SN 22.105, SN 22.122 (four times), SN 22.123 (three times).
SN 38.15, SN 45.93, SN 45.113, SN 46.30, SN 56.11, SN 56.13.

AN results: AN 3.62, AN 4.254, AN 6.63, AN 9.66.

KN results (details omitted): Khp (1), Nidd II (1), Patis (6), Nett (2),
Pet (4).

DPR seems to have missed DN 14.2.22 - not sure why.

Regards, Vincent.
vinasp
 
Posts: 921
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Aggregates v. clinging aggregates

Postby daverupa » Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:51 am

But, did the Buddha's back hurt?
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 3723
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

PreviousNext

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot], purple planet and 2 guests