aggregates and intent

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aggregates and intent

Postby no mike » Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:20 pm

Looking inside the mind, and contemplating the aggregates, I am fixated on intent.

Where does consciousness respond to mind and sense objects by throwing switches, pushing buttons, lifting levers, striking the keys, and executing the manifestation of intent? What of the mind’s hands that open the gates of speech, walking, decision-making, inking words to pages, cooking breakfast, and living the life of will?

What is intent? Where is it?

What directs and moves attention from one focus to another?

What operates the gates, controlling the flow of thoughts and reflection? Where is the refinery in the mind that transforms coarse objects of perception into right view?

Is enlightenment the liberation of intent from the aggregates?
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:52 pm

Hi no mike

This is a large and tricky question that goes to the heart of the Path.

I think you can only answer it by detailed investigation for yourself. I've found walking meditation to be a particularly good place to investigate intention. I can't answer "What is intent?" but I can sometimes discern intent happening as another phenomenon, along with motion, feeling, etc...

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby SarathW » Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:49 pm

Hi no mike
As mike said this is a hard question to answer in few words.
I think technically, intent is one of the Cetasikas.
This should be understood in terms of seventeen thought moment. Eg: First you have the intention thought moment to cooking the breakfast.
Then the subsequent thought processes do the necessary thing to do the cooking.

Please read the attached.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby chownah » Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:20 am

Who is this that asks about intent?
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby SarathW » Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:37 am

:)
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby barcsimalsi » Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:30 am

My mind shared the same questions few months back and seem to have understood much better now so may i share with you what i see and may others correct me if there’s mistakes.

Since i still have a hard time going through the details of thought moments described by abhidhamma, in the moment i will just simplify my understanding by the shallow surface of the aggregates.

Where does consciousness respond to mind and sense objects by throwing switches, pushing buttons, lifting levers, striking the keys, and executing the manifestation of intent? What of the mind’s hands that open the gates of speech, walking, decision-making, inking words to pages, cooking breakfast, and living the life of will?

One needs to see dependent arising of mental phenomena to understand this.
Each time there’s action or intention, you can try to recall the preceding process to discern the chain of cause and effect.

Action <-- intention ( thoughts fabrication ) <-- perception (memory) <-- contact (consciousness + sense objects)
The aggregates are interdependent.

What is intent? Where is it?

Intention is a property of thoughts process. Thoughts fabricate after contact triggers accumulated experience known as memory. You can't really think of something that you have not experience before...

What directs and moves attention from one focus to another?

Thoughts conditioned by other aggregates.

What operates the gates, controlling the flow of thoughts and reflection?

A mass of interdependent aggregates.

Where is the refinery in the mind that transforms coarse objects of perception into right view?

Right view is formed when accurate information regarding a particular phenomena is sufficient.

Is enlightenment the liberation of intent from the aggregates?

I can’t understand this question… :? :embarassed:
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby no mike » Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:04 pm

All very good responses, I could quote them all, thank you;

I will clarify what I have not yet found in the Dhamma. What moves the view around our conscious field, and where in the mind are the "go" buttons pushed, gates opened, thoughts followed or diverted, and the strings of our sinews pulled?

If there is a looking glass in consciousness, what is the element that aims and focusses what to examine? If the collection of memories and mental objects and present flow of events entering consciousness from sense-contact were collections of water droplets in the clouds of our mind, precipitation will follow, but what is operating the irrigation gates, deciding which fields to be watered, which ponds to be filled?

When I am practicing walking meditation, where in consciousness is the part in the mind that sends the message "go" and lifts foot? Where is the hand that reaches for mindfulness and pulls it into view?

Where is the mind's hand that lets go of earthly grasping? What sends the signal to let it all go?
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:35 pm

My personal take on this - I consider these things to be, broadly speaking, movements of the mind itself. Which manifest in different ways, different functions. I think this is better understood by practicing being (relatively) still internally. Then the actuality of action becomes clearer.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:25 pm

no mike wrote:When I am practicing walking meditation, where in consciousness is the part in the mind that sends the message "go" and lifts foot? Where is the hand that reaches for mindfulness and pulls it into view?

I'm not sure that these are useful questions. I think that the important thing is to see that there is seeing, there is intention, there is movement. Observed this and reflect on discourses such as:
SN 22.59 Anatta-lakkhana Sutta, The Characteristic of Nonself
http://suttacentral.net/sn22.59/en
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:50 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
no mike wrote:When I am practicing walking meditation, where in consciousness is the part in the mind that sends the message "go" and lifts foot? Where is the hand that reaches for mindfulness and pulls it into view?

I'm not sure that these are useful questions. I think that the important thing is to see that there is seeing, there is intention, there is movement. Observed this and reflect on discourses such as:
SN 22.59 Anatta-lakkhana Sutta, The Characteristic of Nonself
http://suttacentral.net/sn22.59/en
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nymo.html

:anjali:
Mike


Yes, I think Mike's advice is helpful. Asking where intention is, can mislead us into thinking that it occupies an identifiable point in space. It doesn't, any more than (say) love or hope occupy a specific place. Intention just arises, as part of the mind. It is intriguing, because our culture often insists that intention is uniquely "ours", especially when it wants to hold us accountable for something. But it just arises on a set of conditions, just like everything else; and it passes away again, and it isn't what we are, nor does it belong to us. As you will see in SN 22.59, if we truly owned it, then it would be under our control and it would do as it is told. But this is self-evidently impossible, because then it would depend upon another intention (i.e. the intention to intend something) and this leads to a particularly fruitless regression.

Rather than conceptualising about it ("What is it? Where is it?") it is better to note when it arises. I think it is helpful to see it as a quality of certain types of contact, rather than a thing in itself.
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:41 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Intention just arises, as part of the mind. It is intriguing, because our culture often insists that intention is uniquely "ours", especially when it wants to hold us accountable for something. But it just arises on a set of conditions, just like everything else; and it passes away again, and it isn't what we are, nor does it belong to us. As you will see in SN 22.59, if we truly owned it, then it would be under our control and it would do as it is told. But this is self-evidently impossible, because then it would depend upon another intention (i.e. the intention to intend something) and this leads to a particularly fruitless regression.

Hm. I'm not sure that interpretation is quite in line with the following:
"'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...

"[This is a fact that] one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Last edited by kirk5a on Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:48 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Sam Vara wrote: Intention just arises, as part of the mind. It is intriguing, because our culture often insists that intention is uniquely "ours", especially when it wants to hold us accountable for something. But it just arises on a set of conditions, just like everything else; and it passes away again, and it isn't what we are, nor does it belong to us.

Hm. I'm not sure that interpretation is quite in line with the following:
"'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...

"[This is a fact that] one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Either the concept of ownership is different here (just as there are multiple meanings in English) or we have canonical evidence that the Buddha thought that actions were self. He said elsewhere that he did not, so I favour the former view.
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:51 pm

See the discussion in various other threads about kamma and anatta:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=17191
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=18521

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:57 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Either the concept of ownership is different here (just as there are multiple meanings in English) or we have canonical evidence that the Buddha thought that actions were self. He said elsewhere that he did not, so I favour the former view.

The way you are interpreting things sounds fatalistic. The Buddha did not deny the existence of (changing) beings which continue on the round of rebirths. Given the importance of kamma, I don't think it's right to view intentions as something which "just arise" in an uncontrollable manner. Volitional action just means that it IS controllable.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:08 pm

kirk5a wrote: Given the importance of kamma, I don't think it's right to view intentions as something which "just arise" in an uncontrollable manner. Volitional action just means that it IS controllable.

This gets to the heart of the difficulty. The volitions arise due to causes and conditions, which, if you observe them closely, often don't seem to be under the control of some [i]thing[/i] (in agreement with suttas such as the one I referred to above). Yet there does appear that choices are being made, and there are clear teachings that those volitional actions have consequences...

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:13 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:Either the concept of ownership is different here (just as there are multiple meanings in English) or we have canonical evidence that the Buddha thought that actions were self. He said elsewhere that he did not, so I favour the former view.

The way you are interpreting things sounds fatalistic. The Buddha did not deny the existence of (changing) beings which continue on the round of rebirths. Given the importance of kamma, I don't think it's right to view intentions as something which "just arise" in an uncontrollable manner.


It is not intended to be fatalistic, so I am happy to clarify. Intentions are real. But the fact that they are real is not incompatible with them being conditioned by circumstances which themselves cannot be affected by me. For example, I cannot this moment intend that I become enlightened, or even that I can walk on water. If I fall ill or get hit over the head, I may not be able to intend anything much at all. Action has limits. I didn't say that intentions "just arise in an uncontrollable manner". They arise, but what controls their arising is not always what I take myself to be. Other things are responsible for my intentions arising. One important thing is what I used to take myself to be, but even this is not the most important one.

Were this not the case, then my current intentions would have been intended by me, and these intentions in turn would have been intended, and so on, ad infinitum.
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby kirk5a » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:20 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
kirk5a wrote: Given the importance of kamma, I don't think it's right to view intentions as something which "just arise" in an uncontrollable manner. Volitional action just means that it IS controllable.

This gets to the heart of the difficulty. The volitions arise due to causes and conditions, which, if you observe them closely, often don't seem to be under the control of some [i]thing[/i] (in agreement with suttas such as the one I referred to above). Yet there does appear that choices are being made, and there are clear teachings that those volitional actions have consequences...

It seems that the notion of "thing" arises all the time here without anyone suggesting that there is a "thing" involved (whatever "thing" means in the first place). As for control: the movement of your fingers on the keyboard = controllable. The weather - uncontrollable. I think people are trying to make far too much philosophical hay out of SN 22.59.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:01 am

Hi Kirk,

In this case, by "thing" you can read "self".

Also, I'm not sure that something that is "volitional" as the same as "being able to make a choice".

I'm not trying to discuss this philosophically. Quite the opposite. I'm trying to talk about it experientially (which is that the sutta is about, I think).

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:11 am

Here are some previous, long, threads about choice, freewill, and so on:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=15952
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=6322

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Re: aggregates and intent

Postby SamKR » Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:32 am

Hi Kirk,

kirk5a wrote: As for control: the movement of your fingers on the keyboard = controllable. The weather - uncontrollable.

If fingers on the keyboard are controllable the weather is also controllable - none happens independently.
kirk5a wrote:I think people are trying to make far too much philosophical hay out of SN 22.59.

I don't think so.
Last edited by SamKR on Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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