The Five Aggregates

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: The Five Skandhas - Perception

Postby culaavuso » Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:51 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, I agree that perception is part of a process and difficult to isolate. What I'm questioning is how a perception like "blue" is something that can be clung to - what does that actually mean? As I said, clinging to what follows the perception makes sense, but clinging to the perception itself? :?
I used to work as an electrician, and in that role clinging to the perception of colour is actually quite useful. ;)


In the same way that pleasant feelings can be associated with craving for sensual pleasure, perceptions can be associated with craving for becoming. With the perception "blue" it's not as common, but with a perception like "admiration" or "reputation" or "wealth" it's much more common for the perception to be associated with craving, clinging, and becoming. Perceptions can be any label applied to the notion of self or others or environment, and some of these labels give rise to very strong desires and passions. Perceptions are useful, and that's why it's important to learn to be dispassionate towards perception without abandoning perception completely.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby ccook70 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:59 pm

Perception: Labeling or identifying objects.

Which Objects?

-Visual Objects
-Objects of Sounds
-Objects of Odors
-Objects of Tastes
-Objects of Bodily Contacts
-Objects of Mental Contacts

"What, o Bhikkhus, is the perception-group? There are 6 classes of perception: perception of visual objects, of sounds, of odours, of tastes, of bodily contacts, and of mental contacts."

Perception is not to be avoided, it is to be understood.
It is clinging, passion, and desire for perception that is to be abandoned.

Question: Why is clinging to perception to be avoided? Furthermore, why is clinging to all of the five skhandas to be avoided? Please explain.

Thanks!

Corey
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby culaavuso » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:51 am

ccook70 wrote:Question: Why is clinging to perception to be avoided? Furthermore, why is clinging to all of the five skhandas to be avoided? Please explain.


Clinging/sustenance, which is desire-passion for the aggregates, gives rise to "becoming" through intentional actions, which continues the cycle of samsara. Through practice, disenchantment and dispassion put an end to this cycle and culminate in release and the end of stress and suffering.

SN 22.121
SN 22.121: Upadana Sutta wrote:The Blessed One said, "And what, monks, are clingable phenomena? What is clinging?

"Form is a clingable phenomenon. Any desire-passion related to it, is clinging related to it.

"Feeling is a clingable phenomenon. Any desire-passion related to it, is clinging related to it.

"Perception is a clingable phenomenon. Any desire-passion related to it, is clinging related to it.

"Fabrications are clingable phenomena. Any desire-passion related to them, is clinging related to them.

"Consciousness is a clingable phenomenon. Any desire-passion related to it, is clinging related to it.

"These are called clingable phenomena. This is clinging."


DN 15
DN 15: Maha-nidana Sutta wrote:... From clinging as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, aging, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress.


SN 12.23
SN 12.23: Upanisa Sutta wrote:conviction has stress & suffering as its prerequisite, joy has conviction as its prerequisite, rapture has joy as its prerequisite, serenity has rapture as its prerequisite, pleasure has serenity as its prerequisite, concentration has pleasure as its prerequisite, knowledge & vision of things as they actually are present has concentration as its prerequisite, disenchantment has knowledge & vision of things as they actually are present as its prerequisite, dispassion has disenchantment as its prerequisite, release has dispassion as its prerequisite, knowledge of ending has release as its prerequisite.


SN 12.63
SN 12.63: Puttamansa Sutta wrote:And how is the nutriment of intellectual intention to be regarded? Suppose there were a pit of glowing embers, deeper than a man's height, full of embers that were neither flaming nor smoking, and a man were to come along — loving life, hating death, loving pleasure, abhorring pain — and two strong men, having grabbed him by the arms, were to drag him to the pit of embers. To get far away would be that man's intention, far away would be his wish, far away would be his aspiration. Why is that? Because he would realize, 'If I fall into this pit of glowing embers, I will meet with death from that cause, or with death-like pain.' In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of intellectual intention to be regarded. When the nutriment of intellectual intention is comprehended, the three forms of craving [for sensuality, for becoming, and for non-becoming] are comprehended. When the three forms of craving are comprehended, I tell you, there is nothing further for a disciple of the noble ones to do.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby ccook70 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:09 am

Furthermore on Perception & Consciousness:

It is the clinging to perception & consciousness that is to be avoided.

Could we say that to "perceive" means to observe and subsequently form ideas about something?
How exactly does one cling to perception in the first place?
Clinging to your beliefs and opinions, viewpoints, ideas?

Could we say that "Consciousness" means sensual awareness of something?
How does one cling to consciousness?
Being attached to sensory stimuli?

"What, o Bhikkhus, is the perception-group? There are 6 classes of perception: perception of visual objects, of sounds, of odours, of tastes, of bodily contacts, and of mental contacts."

"And what is consciousness? These six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness."

Culaavuso stated,

"Clinging/sustenance, which is desire-passion for the aggregates, gives rise to "becoming" through intentional actions, which continues the cycle of samsara. Through practice, disenchantment and dispassion put an end to this cycle and culminate in release and the end of stress and suffering."

-How does clinging to the aggregates give rise to "becoming?"
-What does "becoming" mean?
-What sorts of "intentional actions" are you referring to?

Thanks!

Corey
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:47 am

ccook70,

From the Mahavedalla Sutta (MN43): The Greater Set of Questions and Answers

""Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."

You might want to read the entire Sutta which can be found at Access to Insight.......Google for it.....lots of Suttas with different translations for many......has a search function.......you will like it!
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P.S. Also, google for Nyanatiloka Buddhist dictionary...a great reference!
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby culaavuso » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:01 am

ccook70 wrote:Could we say that to "perceive" means to observe and subsequently form ideas about something?
How exactly does one cling to perception in the first place?
Clinging to your beliefs and opinions, viewpoints, ideas?


Perception is labeling things. For example, you see a color but it's just a color without a name. There is a perception which assigns a label to this color, saying that it's "blue". The idea of "blue" isn't really there, and in fact there are quite a few other colors that you might have seen and also called "blue". If someone told you that it was "blue", you wouldn't know from that alone exactly what color it was. Perception is the labeling that we use to make sense of the world.

Reading through The Five Aggregates: A Study Guide can help with a number of these questions. One thing found in that study guide is a quote from SN 22.79 that discusses this to some degree.

SN 22.79
SN 22.79: Khajjaniya Sutta wrote:And why do you call it 'perception'? Because it perceives, thus it is called 'perception.' What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called perception.


To some extent clinging to beliefs, opinions, and views involves clinging to perceptions. One example might be clinging to the perception of strength, and then being unable to lift a heavy object. Without the clinging, it's much easier to see that the object is just too heavy to lift. With the clinging, one might become upset or try too hard and injure themselves trying to lift the heavy object. It gives rise to a mental sense that things 'should' be like what the label means, instead of how they actually are. Ajahn Chah has a good story about this kind of thing in It's Like This

Ajahn Chah wrote:Suppose there are two groups of people: one group intelligent, the other group stupid. They go to buy things in the market. The stupid group doesn't know anything, so they buy a shit-pot and use it to fix rice -- because they don't know anything at all. The intelligent people see that and they get disgusted -- "How can they use a shit-pot as a rice-pot? It's disgusting."
Why do they find it disgusting? The shit-pot is still new; it's never been used, so it's like an ordinary pot. It's still clean. So why are they disgusted by it? Because they hold onto the idea that it's a shit-pot, that's all. Actually, it's just an ordinary pot. They suffer and get disgusted because they cling to their ideas about it.


ccook70 wrote:Could we say that "Consciousness" means sensual awareness of something?
How does one cling to consciousness?
Being attached to sensory stimuli?


Yes, "consciousness" is awareness of something, but it's not really distinguishable from that something in a useful way. It doesn't really matter so much if the desire-passion that is clinging is "for" a particular aggregate. When there is desire, passion, and clinging, that is a cause for becoming to arise. That is an indication that disenchantment and dispassion are not fully cultivated. All aggregates are to be treated the same way: they are inconstant, stressful, and not self, and are best seen with disenchantment and dispassion. "Consciousness" is more a quality of experience than a separate "thing" to be isolated from the rest of experience.

ccook70 wrote:-How does clinging to the aggregates give rise to "becoming?"
-What does "becoming" mean?
-What sorts of "intentional actions" are you referring to?


"Becoming" is the state of change of things in a particular direction. It's different from "Being" because "being" implies that a thing can be a something as a constant state, whereas "becoming" is much more suggestive of the reality that it's moving things towards some state that will either not be acheived, or if it's achieved then as soon as it is achieved things will continue to change and the state of affairs will no longer be the same. When craving arises, desire and passion for that which is craved can follow it. The desire and passion forms intentions which form actions which change the world ('becoming') in a way that attempts to bring about whatever was craved. In the end, this either yields frustration if the attempt fails or increased cravings in the future if the attempt succeeds.

Intentional actions are of three sorts: bodily, verbal, and mental. Bodily actions are things like moving an arm to grab something. Verbal actions would be things like asking someone else to hand it to you. Mental actions would be things like choosing to pay full attention to thoughts and feelings of how nice it would be to have that thing. These intentions shape actions which change what is experienced.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby pegembara » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:40 am

Ajahn Chah wrote:
Suppose there are two groups of people: one group intelligent, the other group stupid. They go to buy things in the market. The stupid group doesn't know anything, so they buy a shit-pot and use it to fix rice -- because they don't know anything at all. The intelligent people see that and they get disgusted -- "How can they use a shit-pot as a rice-pot? It's disgusting."
Why do they find it disgusting? The shit-pot is still new; it's never been used, so it's like an ordinary pot. It's still clean. So why are they disgusted by it? Because they hold onto the idea that it's a shit-pot, that's all. Actually, it's just an ordinary pot. They suffer and get disgusted because they cling to their ideas about it.


Perception although useful is still a form of delusion. It is not "real". I see a color and call it red. You may actually see a different color and also call it red. You and I may actually be seeing different things and still "agree" to call that color red. Red is a convention and not reality. As long as one realise that perception is not ultimately real ie. empty, delusion is not able to take hold.

"Whatever is seen or heard or sensed
and fastened onto as true by others,
One who is Such — among the self-fettered —
wouldn't further claim to be true or even false.

"Having seen well in advance that arrow
where generations are fastened & hung
— 'I know, I see, that's just how it is!' —
there's nothing of the Tathagata fastened."
Kalaka Sutta


"Citta, these are the world's designations, the world's expressions, the world's ways of speaking, the world's descriptions, with which the Tathagata expresses himself but without grasping to them."
Potthapada Sutta


"By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one.
Kaccayanagotta Sutta
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby Mkoll » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:57 am

Ajahn Chah wrote:Suppose there are two groups of people: one group intelligent, the other group stupid. They go to buy things in the market. The stupid group doesn't know anything, so they buy a shit-pot and use it to fix rice -- because they don't know anything at all. The intelligent people see that and they get disgusted -- "How can they use a shit-pot as a rice-pot? It's disgusting."
Why do they find it disgusting? The shit-pot is still new; it's never been used, so it's like an ordinary pot. It's still clean. So why are they disgusted by it? Because they hold onto the idea that it's a shit-pot, that's all. Actually, it's just an ordinary pot. They suffer and get disgusted because they cling to their ideas about it.

:rofl:

Ajahn Chah is the master of crude but super-effective Dhamma.

culaavuso wrote:"Becoming" is the state of change of things in a particular direction. It's different from "Being" because "being" implies that a thing can be a something as a constant state, whereas "becoming" is much more suggestive of the reality that it's moving things towards some state that will either not be acheived, or if it's achieved then as soon as it is achieved things will continue to change and the state of affairs will no longer be the same. When craving arises, desire and passion for that which is craved can follow it. The desire and passion forms intentions which form actions which change the world ('becoming') in a way that attempts to bring about whatever was craved. In the end, this either yields frustration if the attempt fails or increased cravings in the future if the attempt succeeds.

:goodpost:
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:17 am

chownah wrote:So, where precisely do you see the clinging happening?....at consciousness?...or at fabrications?.....or where?


It's a tricky question! I tend to see this as a linear process, ie consciousness > perception > feeling > fabrication. So with this approach, clinging would arise at the fabrication stage. Possibly a linear approach is over-simplistic, but trying to explain it in a non-linear way gets very complicated!

Eg eye-consciousness and form leads to perception of"blue", then there is a feeling reaction to "blue", then we're into craving and aversion ( I'm trying to tie this in with the process described in dependent origination ).
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:21 am

culaavuso wrote:The idea of "blue" isn't really there, and in fact there are quite a few other colors that you might have seen and also called "blue". If someone told you that it was "blue", you wouldn't know from that alone exactly what color it was. Perception is the labeling that we use to make sense of the world.


Perception is labelling, but in terms of colour perception I'd suggest that it isn't an entirely subjective process. For example when I trained as an electrician we had to do a test for colour blindness.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:22 am

chownah wrote:From the Mahavedalla Sutta (MN43): The Greater Set of Questions and Answers

""Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."



But does this mean we are wasting our time in trying to understand how this stuff works?
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:27 am

pegembara wrote: You may actually see a different color and also call it red.


If you're colour blind you might, but I think people with normal colour vision would agree on "red", particularly if we're talking primary colours.
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Re: The Five Skandhas - Perception

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:30 am

culaavuso wrote:... but with a perception like "admiration" or "reputation" or "wealth" it's much more common for the perception to be associated with craving, clinging, and becoming.


But are things like that really perceptions, or are they fabrications? I'm not sure.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:40 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
chownah wrote:From the Mahavedalla Sutta (MN43): The Greater Set of Questions and Answers

""Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."



But does this mean we are wasting our time in trying to understand how this stuff works?

Certainly not a waste of time......I post here to help all of us who are trying to understand how this stuff works.....if I thought it a waste of time I wouldn't be here.
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Re: The Five Skandhas - Perception

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:43 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
culaavuso wrote:... but with a perception like "admiration" or "reputation" or "wealth" it's much more common for the perception to be associated with craving, clinging, and becoming.


But are things like that really perceptions, or are they fabrications? I'm not sure.

If you could not separate the two then it would certainly be difficult to discern which one applies.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby chownah » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:46 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
pegembara wrote: You may actually see a different color and also call it red.


If you're colour blind you might, but I think people with normal colour vision would agree on "red", particularly if we're talking primary colours.

A long time ago I read an article which indicated that scientists had determined that a person will have a different perception of color depending on their mood......can't remember exactly how they determined that though.
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P.S. As I recall they claimed that different moods would affect the perception of different shades of red.....they were not saying that red would look like yellow or anything extreme like that. I looked around a bit and couldn't find a reference for this so I'm wondering if my memory is mistaken on this.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:00 am

chownah wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
pegembara wrote: You may actually see a different color and also call it red.


If you're colour blind you might, but I think people with normal colour vision would agree on "red", particularly if we're talking primary colours.

A long time ago I read an article which indicated that scientists had determined that a person will have a different perception of color depending on their mood......can't remember exactly how they determined that though.
chownah
P.S. As I recall they claimed that different moods would affect the perception of different shades of red.....they were not saying that red would look like yellow or anything extreme like that. I looked around a bit and couldn't find a reference for this so I'm wondering if my memory is mistaken on this.
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You wouldn't want moody electricians then!
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby barcsimalsi » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:47 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Yes, good point. So perhaps it's not just the fear of losing perception "abilities", but also the fear of degradation of those abilities?

Yes, looks the same to me.


Spiny Norman wrote:since there seems to be an inevitability to the process of perception. So as long as my hearing's OK I am going to hear sounds of various sorts, and in that sense perception itself seems like a neutral activity and not an object of clinging.

To make things easier, i think we shall refer perception to the labels that arise in the mind rather than a separate stage of activity. Same like how feeling dependently arise therefore both are call mental formation.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby Mkoll » Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:10 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
chownah wrote:From the Mahavedalla Sutta (MN43): The Greater Set of Questions and Answers

""Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them."



But does this mean we are wasting our time in trying to understand how this stuff works?

Not necessarily.

But I don't think we should expect to come to a definitive answer via rational thought which says: "Ah, so this is how it is." We can dance around the answer by thinking on it forever but we can only come to it via calm-insight. And if calm-insight arises when reading this, that's great.
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Re: The Five Aggregates

Postby pegembara » Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:51 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
pegembara wrote: You may actually see a different color and also call it red.


If you're colour blind you might, but I think people with normal colour vision would agree on "red", particularly if we're talking primary colours.



My "red" could actually be "pink" to you. So even if we agree to label that color as red, it does not tell us what we are actually seeing.

Form is like a glob of foam;
feeling, a bubble;
perception, a mirage;
fabrications, a banana tree;
consciousness, a magic trick —
this has been taught
by the Kinsman of the Sun.
However you observe them,
appropriately examine them,
they're empty, void
to whoever sees them
appropriately.

Phena Sutta

When we're born, our brains most likely do the same thing, the scientists said. Our neurons aren't configured to respond to color in a default way; instead, we each develop a unique perception of color. "Color is a private sensation," Carroll said.

http://www.livescience.com/21275-color- ... tists.html
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