MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby SarathW » Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:46 pm

Please consider the following.
Arahant before Parinibbana possesses the following universal mental factors:
=========

The universal mental factors. There are seven mental factors which are called universals because they are common to every state of consciousness. Two are feeling and perception mentioned above. The order in which the other five are given has no sequential significance as they all co-exist in any state of consciousness. They are:
1.Contact (phassa), the coming together of the sense organ, object, and appropriate consciousness.
2.Concentration (ekaggataa), the mental focus on one object to the exclusion of all other objects.
3.Attention (manasikaara), the mind's spontaneous turning to the object which binds the associated mental factors to it.
4.Psychic life (jiivitindriya), the vital force supporting and maintaining the other mental factors.
5.Volition (cetanaa), the act of willing. From a psychological standpoint, volition determines the activities of the associated states; from an ethical standpoint it determines its inevitable consequences. Volition leads to action by body, speech and mind and thus becomes the principal factor behind kamma. Therefore the Buddha said: "cetanaaha.m bhikkhave kamma.m vadaami" — "Volition, O monks, is kamma, I declare." Thus wholesome or unwholesome acts, willfully done, are followed at some time by their appropriate consequences. But if one unintentionally steps on an insect and kills it, such an act has no moral or kammic significance as volition is absent. The Buddha's position here contrasts with that of his contemporary, Niga.n.tha Naataputta, the founder of Jainism. Naataputta taught that even involuntary actions constitute kamma, thus release from sa.msaara (the round of rebirths) can be achieved only by abstaining from all activities.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:24 am

Hi SarathW,

Yes, that seems correct to me, a good clear presentation, but it is the Abhidhamma Teachings.

In the Sutta Pitaka, contact, feeling, perception and so forth, all all said to cease completely.

I do not advise mixing the two teachings. The Sutta Pitaka is confusing enough on its own.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby SarathW » Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:51 am

Hi Vince
Could you give me the link for Sutta please.
:)
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:27 am

vinasp wrote:The Sutta Pitaka is confusing enough on its own.


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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:34 am

vinasp wrote: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.


I'm not sure the suttas clearly support either position.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:53 am

vinasp wrote: Contact is a sankhara in the active sense, a volitional formation.


But in the suttas contact is just described as the meeting of sense-object, sense-organ and sense-consciousness, so it seems more like a passive sankhara arising in dependence on those three aspects.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:19 pm

Hi Spiny,

Vincent said:-"Contact is a sankhara in the active sense, a volitional formation."

Spiny said:-"But in the suttas contact is just described as the meeting of sense-object, sense-organ and sense-consciousness, so it seems more like a passive sankhara arising in dependence on those three aspects."

That is a good point. What I meant at the time was that contact is included in the sankhara khandha by the Abhidhamma, which would make it an active formation. But contact is not explicitly said to be an active sankhara in the Sutta Pitaka. In the earliest strata contact is clearly said to cease:

"Whatever misery arises, all this is because of contact."
"Because of the complete ending and stopping of contact, there is no arising of misery." [PTS Sutta Nipata, K.R.Norman, 1985, p.123, Sn 735]

In a later strata we find this in The Udana, chapter two, sutta 4:

"contacts contact dependent upon the substrate - due to what might contacts contact one lacking that substrate?" [PTS The Udana, Masefield, 1997 p.22]

While this is in the form of a question, there is an implicit statement that contact can cease.

In MN 9.45 we read: "When, friends, a noble disciple understands contact, the origin of contact, the cessation of contact, and the way leading to the cessation of contact, in that way he is one of right view ... and has arrived at this true Dhamma"

The 'way leading to the cessation of contact' is, of course, this noble eightfold path.

"With the arising of the sixfold base there is the arising of contact. With the cessation of the sixfold base there is the cessation of contact."

How one understands the sixfold base will determine how one understands contact. Whether it can cease, and if so, when it can cease.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:58 pm

Hi daverupa,

Daverupa said:-"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?"

My interpretation of the teachings is based on a simple statement:

"By knowing the destruction of formations be thou O Brahmin, one who knows the unmade." [Nanananda, C&R page 71 from Dhp. 383]

The 'unmade' is a synonym for nibbana, 'formations' are either the things made by the mind, or the activities which are making these things, but for the things to be destroyed the constructive activities would have to cease.

The Buddha, describing his own enlightenment uses these words:

"It is hard for such a generation to see this truth, namely, specific conditionality, dependent origination. And it is hard to see this truth, namely, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbana."

The 'stilling of all formations' shows that activities are meant, so this means the cessation of mental volitional constructive activities.

The next question is: What are these constructed things that must be removed?

"Then, bhikkhus, it occurred to me:'I have discovered this path to enlightenment, that is, with the cessation of name-and-form comes the cessation of consciousness ...... such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering." [BB, TCDB, part of SN 12.65 - The City.]

Again, in SN 12.3 - The Two Ways - we find that the 'wrong way' is dependent origination:

"With ignorance as condition, volitional formations [come to be]..... such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering."

But the 'right way' is:

"With the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of volitional formations ..... such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering."

Of course, if ignorance ceases then everything else ceases, that is full enlightenment. But ignorance can also be gradually reduced, which results in the gradual reduction of all the other things (see SN 12.69 - The Surge.]

Also, craving is the main driving force behind samsaric existence, by concentrating on craving and reducing it, one can reduce the 'strength' of all the other items, even bringing 'cyclic existence' to an end.

In order to allow for the 'stages' of enlightenment, we need to have cessation of only a section of the chain of linked items. This is shown in those discourses which speak, for example, of the cessation of the six bases. This implies the cessation of all of the items which are dependent on that item.
The items which still remain, represent the things which are yet to be eliminated.

The teaching on Dependent Origination was completed before the doctrine of the aggregates was begun. So the connections between the two are often not seen.
The item 'six bases' is the five aggregates subject to clinging, in the sense that it is the objects of clinging. So when the six bases cease, then the five aggregates subject to clinging have ceased. The items 'name-and-form' and 'consciousness' are the five aggregates.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby daverupa » Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:19 pm

I'm not sure how best to approach these ideas...

vinasp wrote:In order to allow for the 'stages' of enlightenment, we need to have cessation of only a section of the chain of linked items. This is shown in those discourses which speak, for example, of the cessation of the six bases. This implies the cessation of all of the items which are dependent on that item.
The items which still remain, represent the things which are yet to be eliminated.


I'm fairly certain that a stepwise literal cessation of parts of the 12-fold DO chain is not something we can map to the four noble persons (I'm fairly sure it's not a correct understanding, altogether, but let us hear from others).

The teaching on Dependent Origination was completed before the doctrine of the aggregates was begun.


I don't think there is very good evidence for this; can you show something?

The item 'six bases' is the five aggregates subject to clinging, in the sense that it is the objects of clinging.


The six bases are the six sense spheres, which require namarupa-vinnana, and this occurs by way of the aggregates, and these aggregates can function as fuel or not, but it is not the case that the six sense spheres are the aggregates; the aggregates are a fivefold way of describing experience in a given sense sphere, and thus each sense sphere encompasses a set of aggregates at any given time, but a different set will obtain at another sense sphere & at another time.

For example, I can hear pleasant music during a dentist visit, and depending on attention to the body sense sphere or the ear sense sphere, there will be pleasant or unpleasant feeling along with sanna, and sankhara as well for the most part, but the aggregates describing the ear-sense are not the aggregates describing the body-sense, though they are both 'sets of aggregates'. Furthermore, an arahant in the same dentist chair could also hear the music and attend to the body, so their sense spheres have not literally ceased in the way you imagine.

Perhaps you think that vinnana-namarupa allows for the senses to operate without clinging, and as clinging shows up, they are called the six sense bases?

So when the six bases cease, then the five aggregates subject to clinging have ceased. The items 'name-and-form' and 'consciousness' are the five aggregates.


So you do see the six sense bases as aggregates subject to clinging, and vinnana-namarupa as the aggregates simpliciter? I don't think there is any support for this idea.
    "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 culaavuso » Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:22 pm

daverupa wrote:
vinasp wrote: The teaching on Dependent Origination was completed before the doctrine of the aggregates was begun.


I don't think there is very good evidence for this; can you show something?


MN 26 explains that the earliest teachings were given to the Group of Five at Isipatana until all five attained arahantship:

MN 26: Ariyapariyesanā Sutta wrote:Then the thought occurred to me, 'To whom should I teach the Dhamma first? Who will quickly understand this Dhamma?' Then the thought occurred to me, 'They were very helpful to me, the group of five monks who attended to me when I was resolute in exertion. What if I were to teach them the Dhamma first?' Then the thought occurred to me, 'Where are the group of five monks staying now?' And with the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human, I saw that they were staying near Varanasi in the Deer Park at Isipatana.
...
Then, wandering by stages, I arrived at Varanasi, at the Deer Park in Isipatana, to where the group of five monks were staying.
...
And so I was able to convince them. I would teach two monks while three went for alms, and we six lived off what the three brought back from their alms round. Then I would teach three monks while two went for alms, and we six lived off what the two brought back from their alms round. Then the group of five monks — thus exhorted, thus instructed by me — being subject themselves to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, seeking the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke, Unbinding, reached the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding.


During this time Ven. Añña-Kondañña became the first stream entrant. This event is described as following a teaching regarding the middle way, the eightfold path, and the four noble truths in SN 56.11:

SN 56.11: Dhamma­cakka­ppavattana Sutta wrote:That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the group of five monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being given, there arose to Ven. Kondañña the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.

And when the Blessed One had set the Wheel of Dhamma in motion, the earth devas cried out: "At Varanasi, in the Game Refuge at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahman or contemplative, deva, Mara or God or anyone in the cosmos."
...
Then the Blessed One exclaimed: "So you really know, Kondañña? So you really know?" And that is how Ven. Kondañña acquired the name Añña-Kondañña — Kondañña who knows.


The attainment of arahantship for all of the Group of Five, the first hearers of the Dhamma, was after a discussion of the five aggregates as described in SN 22.59:

SN 22.59: Pañcavaggiya Sutta wrote:I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five monks
...
Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with form, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the group of five monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being given, the hearts of the group of five monks, through not clinging (not being sustained), were fully released from fermentation/effluents.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:29 am

Hi daverupa,

vincent said:-"The item 'six bases' is the five aggregates subject to clinging, in the sense that it is the objects of clinging."

daverupa said:-"... but it is not the case that the six sense spheres are the aggregates .."

That was careless wording on my part. What I meant was that the six bases and the five aggregates subject to clinging are interchangeable, that you can substitute one for the other.

You can see this in SN 56.13 which is the four noble truths, except that the first truth is given as the five aggregates subject to clinging. And again in SN 56.14 where the first truth is just the six bases.

So the cessation of suffering (the five aggregates subject to clinging) is equivalent to the cessation of the six bases.

Also, there are passages which speak of 'the aggregates, bases, and elements,' which shows that these are equivalent (as mental objects).

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby chownah » Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:50 am

What happens if a visual object meets with an intact eye and consciousness is not present?
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Fri Jun 20, 2014 4:28 am

Hi everyone,

SN 56.14 is interesting in another way. By having only the six bases as the truth of suffering, it means that they must cease for suffering to cease.

It also shows that the purpose of the noble eightfold path is to bring about the cessation of the six bases.

It therefore prevents the common misunderstanding that only craving or clinging are to be eliminated.

"Bhikkhus, the arising, continuation, production, and manifestation of the eye is the arising of suffering, the continuation of disease, the manifestation of aging-and-death." [part of SN 35.21]

"Therefore, bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu should wish, 'May I dwell unstirred with the dart removed!' he should not conceive the eye ... forms ... eye-consciousness ...." [part of SN 35.91]

"Whatever, bhikkhus, is the extent of the aggregates, the elements, and the sense bases, he does not conceive that, does not conceive in that, does not conceive from that, does not conceive, 'That is mine.' [part of SN 35.91]

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby culaavuso » Fri Jun 20, 2014 5:11 am

vinasp wrote:SN 56.14 is interesting in another way. By having only the six bases as the truth of suffering, it means that they must cease for suffering to cease.

It also shows that the purpose of the noble eightfold path is to bring about the cessation of the six bases.

It therefore prevents the common misunderstanding that only craving or clinging are to be eliminated.


An alternate reading could be that what is required for their cessation is dealt with by practicing for the ending of craving.

SN 56.11: Dhamma­cakka­ppavattana Sutta wrote:And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.


SN 23.2: Satta Sutta wrote:"In the same way, Radha, you too should smash, scatter, & demolish form, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for form.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish feeling, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for feeling.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish perception, and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for perception.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish fabrications, and make them unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for fabrications.

"You should smash, scatter, & demolish consciousness and make it unfit for play. Practice for the ending of craving for consciousness — for the ending of craving, Radha, is Unbinding."


SN 56.11: Dhamma­cakka­ppavattana Sutta wrote:Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.


MN 44: Cūḷavedalla Sutta wrote:"Is it the case, lady, that clinging is the same thing as the five clinging-aggregates or is it something separate?"

"Friend Visakha, neither is clinging the same thing as the five clinging-aggregates, nor is it something separate. Whatever desire & passion there is with regard to the five clinging-aggregates, that is the clinging there."


SN 12.2: Vibhaṅga Sutta wrote:From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby vinasp » Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:10 am

Hi culavuso,

culavuso said:-"An alternate reading could be that the cessation of craving results in the cessation of the five aggregates and the six sense bases."

This is correct. The focus is on the elimination of craving, but with the full knowledge of what will cease if one is successful. Is it an alternative?

You did mean the five aggregates subject to clinging, and not the five aggregates?

So if one completes the noble eightfold path, in this life, what, in your opinion, ceases at that point in time?

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby culaavuso » Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:26 am

vinasp wrote:So if one completes the noble eightfold path, in this life, what, in your opinion, ceases at that point in time?


Papañca.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:10 am

chownah wrote:What happens if a visual object meets with an intact eye and consciousness is not present?
chownah


No contact, according to the suttas.
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Unrul3r » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:23 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
chownah wrote:What happens if a visual object meets with an intact eye and consciousness is not present?
chownah


No contact, according to the suttas.


Indeed. And one doesn't even need to go by the suttas. Just look at the experience right now. One is sitting on a chair typing a post. His attention is on typing and not on the contact of his bum with the chair. So, the chair meets with his bum, but since his attention is on the typing, there is no contact.

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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:24 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,
It also shows that the purpose of the noble eightfold path is to bring about the cessation of the six bases.
It therefore prevents the common misunderstanding that only craving or clinging are to be eliminated.


Though this passage from MN149 confirms that the source of the problem is infatuation with the sense bases and contact, and not those things in and of themselves. It doesn't support the idea that the sense bases and contact are things to be "got rid of", rather that they are things to be properly understood.

The Blessed One said: "Not knowing, not seeing the eye as it actually is present; not knowing, not seeing forms... consciousness at the eye... contact at the eye as they actually are present; not knowing, not seeing whatever arises conditioned through contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain, or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — as it actually is present, one is infatuated with the [i]eye... forms... consciousness at the eye... contact at the eye... whatever arises conditioned by contact at the eye and is experienced as pleasure, pain, or neither-pleasure-nor-pain.[/i]
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Re: MN 28 and the Clinging Aggregates.

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:31 am

vinasp wrote: You did mean the five aggregates subject to clinging, and not the five aggregates?


But as per previous discussion, the suttas don't really support the idea of 2 discreet sets of aggregates. The distinguishing feature of the "clinging aggregates" is that they're subject to clinging and the taints - so if one removes the taints and clinging one is left with "plain aggregates". I think this supports the view that the goal is to remove clinging and the taints from the experience of the aggregates - it's not saying there are 2 separate sets of aggregates, one clinging and one non-clinging.
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