MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:03 pm

Hi Spiny,

Spiny said:-"So are you reading into this that an Arahant has no volitional formations whatsoever? No activity "in" the sankhara aggregate at all?

Well, the text says that a bhikkhu with taints destroyed does not generate any of the three kinds of volitional formation. For the rest of the citation I read each statement as a continuation of the description of this bhikkhus state of mind.

For me, the five aggregates are just a way of talking about these five things which always arise together, from moment to moment. If nothing arises then there are no aggregates.

The real problem here is that ordinary language cannot describe enlightenment.
And we cannot imagine a state in which these five things are not present.
Another problem is that our English translations make no sense. The original Pali cannot be translated.

There must have been another way to understand 'eye' and 'visible form', one in which their cessation is not only possible but also obviously required. The same must be true of 'name-and-form' or Dependent Cessation would never have made sense to anyone.

But, of course, the literal understanding of these things is also needed to support literal rebirth. We seem to have lost the non-literal alternative.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 1:20 pm

Hi Spiny,

On the MN 28.27 passage:

Spiny said:-"I'm not sure, but it does seem to blur the distinction between consciousness and contact. Does it describe a situation where one is looking at something but not really seeing it due to being wrapped up in thoughts or whatever?"

I would say that your:-"looking at something but not really seeing it..", is actually 'seeing something but not attending to it.'

But if 'eye-consciousness' means 'seeing' then its non-arising would mean no seeing.

However, if 'eye-consciousness' means something like 'knowing that which is seen in terms of a self' then it is something added to the actual seeing.

Since self is a misunderstanding it needs to be combined with the misunderstanding of 'eye' and the misunderstanding of 'visible object' to form the misunderstanding which is required for feeling to arise.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:03 pm

Hi daverupa,

Daverupa said:-"There's no adding of aggregates; any experience is already comprised of them, with certain exceptions for certain aggregates at certain times (jhana, formless states, etc.). And, without any aggregates, there is no experiencing. The 'something added' is upadana, not the aggregate itself."

I think that this is correct from an Abhidhamma perspective.

In the Sutta Pitaka the aggregates cease, and what remains is not described.
In the Abhidhamma they describe what ceases and what remains in terms of dhammas. The notion of aggregates is extended to cover that which does not cease (while one is alive).

I consider them to be two completely separate and distinct teachings.
But I have almost no understanding of the Abhidhamma.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:14 pm

Hmm.

I've little familiarity with Abhidhamma, so it's interesting that you're seeing an Abhidhamma idea here. Perhaps I've been unknowingly influenced, so that's worth noting.

But consider, for example, reading SN 5.10 with the chariot simile: the aggregates result in a convention 'being', while dukkha is what arises and ceases. The presence of the aggregates is the baseline, and then a further assessment of the presence or absence of dukkha due to craving & clinging - upadana.

This is further discussed in MN 44 & SN 22.48.

Indeed, we read in SN 22.22 that the burden is not the aggregates, but craving. The aggregates yet persist, for a time, in the case of an arahant, though we cannot say there is an arahant in reference to them, but only as another sort of convention.

Similarly, we also cannot say that the arahant will die, only that those aggregates will cease without remainder due to having become cool, and no craving means no aggregates can be taken up as fuel for continued becoming.

I mean, even MN 1 describes how an arahant directly knows the seen, heard, sensed, cognized, and those are all via aggregates.

So, are you sure this idea is Abhidhamma?
    "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]

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:06 pm

Hi everyone,

Contact is a sankhara in the active sense, a volitional formation. This probably means that it is just a habit, just conditioning.

We learn to generate contact, just as we learn to generate feelings. So it should be possible to learn not to generate these things. Many discourses describe something of this sort, a bhikkhu trains himself to not react to things seen by producing feelings, but instead to reduce them, perhaps eliminate them. This training can be extended to contact itself, which, is only another habit, and therefore under our control to some degree.

If we consider the five senses it is probably not true that contact is always occuring. It is only when we make something significant or important to ourselves. So enjoying the beauty of nature is fine, I cannot really think that a glorious sunset is mine.

It may be different where mind-contact is involved, because the apparent self needs continuity, or it will vanish.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:09 pm

vinasp wrote:Many discourses describe something of this sort, a bhikkhu trains himself to not react to things seen by producing feelings, but instead to reduce them, perhaps eliminate them.


Not exactly:

SN 36.6 wrote:If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. This, bhikkhus, is called a noble disciple who is detached from birth, aging, and death; who is detached from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; who is detached from suffering, I say.


Contacts still occur for a time, arahants remain alert and mindful, etc.
    "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]

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Sylvester » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:13 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

This third factor is translated as 'engagement' by Bhikkhu Bodhi and by Ven. Thanissaro.

According to D.W.Evans (1992) the Pali expression means something like 'consent to sustenance.'

Sustenance suggests one of the nutriments but which one?

Whatever it is, if it is not present, then there is no arising of consciousness, which means 'no coming together of these three', which in turn means no contact.

This must create a problem for those who think that 'eye-consciousness' means seeing. Of course, there is already a word for 'seeing' in Pali, and there is no need to invent a new one.

To a native Pali speaker it would be obvious that 'eye-consciousness' does not mean seeing. It would sound strange, like I would, if I started talking about 'eye-knowing.'

Besides, consciousness is said to cease, and also the six-bases. The sankhara's are said to construct form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness. Enlightenment is the stopping of all sankhara's, volitional constructive activities.

Regards, Vincent.


The Comy interprets tajja samannāhāra to mean attention. The Chinese parallel to this sutta also says the same. Some previous thoughts - viewtopic.php?f=43&t=20612&start=60#p289297

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:26 pm

Hi daverupa,

daverupa said:-"I've little familiarity with Abhidhamma ..."

Then I was wrong, sorry!

The problem is that in the Sutta Pitaka the aggregates are understood in two quite different ways by the two main groups of recipients.

The noble disciple understands that the aggregates cease, but for him, 'form' is only something constructed by the mind, so there is no problem. Of course, actual form, ones body, external things continue as before, they are not constructed by the mind.

The ordinary man understands 'form' as actual form, so it cannot cease before death. This is why his understanding of the teachings is completely different.

This explains the discourses which describe the Arahant in terms of the five aggregates, they have to say this or it would make no sense to the ordinary man.

If one understands 'form' as the experience of actual or imagined form, then one runs into the same problem, such experience cannot cease until death.

This really needs much more explanation, but may serve as a starting point.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 18, 2014 5:23 pm

vinasp wrote:The noble disciple understands that the aggregates cease...


I think you're still making the misstep you were making back in this thread.

To 'scatter' the aggregates is to make them an unfit fuel-pile, not to literally eradicate them into non-existence during the remaining lifespan of the body.

Let me ask you: what is the problem with considering that an arahant still experiences via aggregates, without clinging, during the remainder of the body's lifespan?
    "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]

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:13 pm

I agree with Dave. As I've said in other places, I think that it is a stretch to assume that "cessation" happens immediately.
"One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity as pure & bright as this towards the dimension of the infinitude of space and to develop the mind along those lines, that would be fabricated. One discerns that 'If I were to direct equanimity as pure and bright as this towards the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... the dimension of nothingness... the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception and to develop the mind along those lines, that would be fabricated.' One neither fabricates nor mentally fashions for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, one is not sustained by anything in the world (does not cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'

"Sensing a feeling of pleasure, one discerns that it is fleeting, not grasped at, not relished. Sensing a feeling of pain... Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns that it is fleeting, not grasped at, not relished. Sensing a feeling of pleasure, one senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of pain... Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one senses it disjoined from it. When sensing a feeling limited to the body, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to the body.' When sensing a feeling limited to life, one discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' One discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, all that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:46 pm

Hi daverupa,

daverupa said:-"Let me ask you: what is the problem with considering that an arahant still experiences via aggregates, without clinging, during the remainder of the body's lifespan?"

I agree that an arahant still has a body, he still has the five senses together with the mind, and he still experiences things. The body will live out its natural lifespan. I agree also that clinging has been eliminated.

I do not understand what you mean by: ".. an arahant still experiences via aggregates .."
Why would he need any aggregates in order to experience things?

I also think that much more than just clinging has ceased, craving, feeling, contact, six bases, name-and-form, consciousness, ignorance.

But perhaps we have each arrived at a different understanding of what aggregate means, and are using the word in different ways.

I would expect to find discourses which support the interpretation that the arahant still has aggregates, and that only craving and clinging have ceased. Separate teachings are composed for each level of understanding. Dependent Origination is too deep for most people.

But the stream-winner is said to understand it, even though he has not yet brought about the cessation of all these things.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:02 pm

vinasp wrote: I also think that much more than just clinging has ceased, craving, feeling, contact, six bases, name-and-form, consciousness, ignorance..

I don't understand how this view is consistent with the suttas, such as what I just quoted.

:anjali:
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:19 pm

Additionally,

vinasp wrote: I do not understand what you mean by: ".. an arahant still experiences via aggregates .."
Why would he need any aggregates in order to experience things?


Because the aggregates are how experiencing happens at all. It can happen with or without upadana.

An arahant will have only sankhara that are free of upadana (giving a talk, going on almsround, etc.), these sankhara are altogether gone during jhana, and there may even be less aggregates during perception-feeling-cessation (though the issues with respect to jhana, the eight liberations, and the formless attainments are another thread altogether).

But the fact remains that e.g. going on almsround, or sitting on a low seat, etc. ad nauseum, the arahant experiences contacts.

MN 36 wrote:"And how is one developed in body and developed in mind? There is the case where a pleasant feeling arises in a well-educated disciple of the noble ones. On being touched by the pleasant feeling, he doesn't become impassioned with pleasure, and is not reduced to being impassioned with pleasure. His pleasant feeling ceases. With the cessation of the pleasant feeling there arises a painful feeling. On being touched with the painful feeling, he doesn't sorrow, grieve, or lament, beat his breast or becomes distraught. When that pleasant feeling had arisen in him, it didn't invade his mind and remain because of his development of the body. When that painful feeling had arisen in him, it didn't invade his mind and remain because of his development of the mind. This is how one is developed in body and developed in mind."
    "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]

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Unrul3r » Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:24 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Unrul3r wrote:Here's the answer I found: The phenomenon that you are describing is entering the emotional stage (saṅkhāra), where you feel big or small emotions after perceiving an object incorrectly. For example, perceiving danger were there is none, will generate fear. Or, from your example, perceiving the sea as beautiful, will generate a pleasant mental feeling.

On the other hand, the vedanā is instantaneous from contact, you don't even need to recognize (That's why in the suttas it is mentioned a lot of times as [organ]samphassajā vedanā). If you have your eyes functioning, there is a world around you & are conscious of sight, you are feeling something through the eyes. For example, if you enter a room with very bright light after you've been in a dark place, your eyes will hurt. Or, if you enter a room with loud noise after being in a silent space, it will hurt your ears. Or the inverse, if you enter a quiet space after being in a room with loud noise, you'll feel relief.
You don't even need to recognize the sound. But when you recognize the loud noise as unpleasant, then it can generate aversive saṅkhāras.


Thanks, that's a good explanation, particularly the distinction between immediate vedana and subsequent sankhara. Is this related to the distinction in the Arrow Sutta between bodily pain ( 1st dart ) and mental anguish ( 2nd dart)?

Sorry to go off topic, Vincent!


Yes. The Arrow Sutta refers that the difference between unlearned & learned are the obsessions (rāgānusayo, paṭighānusayo, avijjānusayo). The unlearned has them and the learned does not. These obsessions are saṅkhāras just as the Volition Suttas (SN 12.38, 39, 40) make evident by using the verbs intend (ceteti), plan (pakappeti) & obsess (anuseti) together. These obsessions start with wrong perceptions (subhasaññā, patighasaññā & ayoniso manasikara). And these, in turn, start with vedanā.

:anjali:

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:05 pm

Hi mike,

Mike said:- [ citation from MN 140]

I think that you are trying to show that an enlightened individual still has feelings. It depends on what one means by enlightened.

Most descriptions of enlightenment are not describing the final stage. If they speak of these things:
1. Destruction of the (three) asavas.
2. Liberation through non-clinging.

Or use the formula:- 'Birth has ended ...', then this is the stage before the final stage.

This is the non-returner, craving and clinging are eliminated, this world has ceased, the five aggregates subject to clinging have ceased, suffering has ceased, the process of renewed existence (of the apparent self) has ceased. The six bases have ceased, and all DO items dependent on them. This is the psychological death of the apparent self.

What remains? The five aggregates, or name-and-form with consciouness, together with the conceit 'I am'. So some form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness has been eliminated (five clinging Aggregates), but some remains, the five aggregates.

Passages describing the final stage are often ambiguous and can seem to be talking about death (which it is - in a way.The psychological death of 'I am').

This is just an outline, it would require an entire thread.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby LXNDR » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:08 pm

barcsimalsi wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: It feels more like the perception happens first, followed by a feeling based on that perception. So for example if I have a pleasant mental feeling associated with looking at the sea, doesn't the perception of "sea" come first? Or to put it another way, how can a feeling arise from a sense-object if there is no initial recognition of that sense-object?
Unfortunately the suttas don't say much about what perception ( sanna ) actually involves, beyond the example of say recognising a colour. :thinking:

Maybe you can try to reflect the moment when your naughty classmate place a beautiful nail on your chair waiting for you to sit, if not because of feeling why did people immediately lift up their butt when the mind can barely recognize anything.

Yet if you are referring to inner feelings which arise due to specific mental state then one needs to consider the process of chemical reaction which may take sometime except for neutral feelings.


although the discussion is well past this stage, i'll just leave it here

Mahavedalla Sutta (MN 43) wrote:"Feeling, perception, & consciousness, friend: Are these qualities conjoined or disjoined? Is it possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them?"

"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."

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:19 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi mike,

Mike said:- [ citation from MN 140]

I think that you are trying to show that an enlightened individual still has feelings. It depends on what one means by enlightened.

The sutta seems clear to me that it is talking about an awakened individual:
...
Unsustained, one is not agitated. Unagitated, one is totally unbound right within. One discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'
...
"Sensing a feeling of pleasure, one discerns that it is fleeting, not grasped at, not relished. Sensing a feeling of pain...
...

:anjali:
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:52 pm

Hi daverupa,

daverupa said:-"Because the aggregates are how experiencing happens at all."

I still do not understand what you mean, please explain more.

Do you mean he must have a body in order to have the five senses, and that this body is the form aggregate? Or do you mean that a 'being' is the aggregates?

On the quotation from MN 36, one must be careful with passages talking about the instructed noble disciple, it probably means a learner (sekha).

When I say that contact and feeling have ceased, I am talking about full enlightenment. The contact and feeling which have ceased for a non-returner are the items 'contact' and 'feeling' in the DO chain. But he still has some contact and feeling remaining, in the item 'name-and-form.'

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:41 pm

vinasp wrote:Do you mean he must have a body in order to have the five senses


Well, there is a manomaya body that has those five senses and is yet without physicality, though there would still be rupa...

and that this body is the form aggregate?


...so, yes. Jhana is secluded from the five senses altogether, and therefore takes place at mano, & there can still be rupa as an aggregate at that sense gate.

On the quotation from MN 36, one must be careful with passages talking about the instructed noble disciple, it probably means a learner (sekha).


Please consider SN 22.22.

When I say that contact and feeling have ceased, I am talking about full enlightenment. The contact and feeling which have ceased for a non-returner are the items 'contact' and 'feeling' in the DO chain. But he still has some contact and feeling remaining, in the item 'name-and-form.'


I suspect there may be room for refinement in how you understand the links in paticcasamuppada, else there is room for me, or both.

Nevertheless, as I understand it, you think links of the chain must necessarily & literally cease along the noble Path, during life. Where is this idea from? Is there Sutta?

:anjali:
    "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]

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:49 pm

Hi Sylvester,

Sylvester said:-"The Comy interprets tajja samannāhāra to mean attention. The Chinese parallel to this sutta also says the same. Some previous thoughts ..."

I must thank you for this information, your expert knowledge is always much appreciated.

Since I think that 'eye' and 'visible-form' have a double meaning, this would entail a double meaning for 'eye-consciousness' and 'contact' also.

( Oh what a tangled web we weave ....)

Fortunately, this problem seems to be a minor one, so I may set it aside.

Regards, Vincent.


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