Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

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Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby Paul_M » Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:54 am

Looking at the order of the skandhas:

form > sensation > perception > mental formations > consciousness

it seems to me that sensation (of things being pleasant or unpleasant) is too soon in the order of how things are percieved, and should be between perception and mental formations. This way, an object is first recognised and then judged as being pleasant or unpleasant. But it seems this isn't how it's presented in the Buddhist view.

Why are they not in this order? Do we really judge something as pleasant or unpleasant before recognising it? :shrug:
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby santa100 » Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:59 pm

If your're a visual person, the following schematic and sample "event sequence" might be helpful..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:PancaKhandha
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby Paul_M » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:08 pm

Yes, that is useful - although it's not clear if it's showing that the three kinds of mental factors arise simultaneously, or if sensation causes perception which cauese mental formations.
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby daverupa » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:18 pm

I don't think the aggregates are in a sequential order, they're simply in a list. For the sort of sequencing you seem interested in (though not necessarily as an objectively temporal sequence), nothing beats paticcasamuppada.
    "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: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby Paul_M » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:36 pm

daverupa wrote:I don't think the aggregates are in a sequential order, they're simply in a list.


No, I don't think that they are in a list looking over it as presented in that Wiki document. The notion of having all three mental formations going on at the same time (and indeed working on themselves, too) is very interesting.

You learn something every day... :coffee:
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby santa100 » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:48 pm

According to the schematic, since Feeling, Perception, and Formation are grouped together into the Mental Factors group, they arise as a group after the Contact "spark" from Form meets Consciousness. The MilindaPanha seems to confirm this:

The King: “Where there is mind-consciousness, Nàgasena, is
there always contact and feeling?”
The Venerable: “Yes, where there is mind-consciousness there is
contact and feeling. And also perception, intention, initial
application and sustained application.”

It's also possible that they could happen in a sequential manner, but so rapid that is difficult to notice unless one has reached those higher stages of meditation. I haven't reached those stages and so won't be able to tell anything for certain... :smile:
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:45 pm

It's not meant to be a sequential order. Just a list, arrangement, grouping, aggregates. Together they constitute a person, somebody, a "personality".
MN44 wrote:"There are these five clinging-aggregates, friend Visakha: form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling as a clinging-aggregate, perception as a clinging-aggregate, fabrications as a clinging-aggregate, consciousness as a clinging-aggregate. These five clinging-aggregates are the self-identification described by the Blessed One."


best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby Zom » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:41 pm

From MN 43:

"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: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby Travis » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:09 pm

While I wouldn't argue as to whether the aggregates are sequential or not, there is a certain logic to the sequence (moving from gross physical to subtle mental qualities). In this way feeling is taken as an affective aspect of experience while perception is a cognitive aspect, so the sequence does make sense. It may be that understanding feeling as a conscious or deliberated judgement as opposed to more of fundamental non-intellectual reaction may be causing some confusion.

Metta,
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby manas » Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:14 pm

I speculate that the order in which they are presented might be for practical reasons, ie going from gross (easy to reflect on) to subtle (more difficult to reflect on). Rupa is really obvious and directly observable. Feelings pleasant, painful or neutral are just one step more subtle, in that they don't have 'substance' like our body appears to have, but seem to be being experienced by the body. Perception is fleeting indeed, and volitional formations...got to be pretty quick to catch them, too. Finally consciousness, which is the hardest to witness (as a discrete element) in my experience.

I've had some interesting experiences by asking the question when the mind is calm (having placed my awareness into my physical form), 'is form permanent or impermanent? if impermanent, is it conducive to ease or to stress (eg, when it breaks up)?...since it is impermanent and stressful (if clung to when breaking up), is it thus fitting to be called 'my self'?

...then taking up a pleasant or unpleasant feeling I am having, diving into it, and asking the same questions...and so on for the rest of the khandhas (how do you observe consciousness, though? :thinking: ) I'm just a beginner in this, so all of this is just my personal musing here...an expert will be able to clarify and / or correct what I have said...

:namaste:
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Re: Why are the aggregates in the order that they're in?

Postby MattJ » Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:48 pm

I was taught that it was in the order of arising.

First, there is a form. Immediately, we like, dislike, or neither like nor dislike the form. This is mixed in with the perception. These drive the various reactions. All of this gives rise to a continuous sense of self.

Of course, in practice, they don't arise in such a way.

Ultimately, it is more up to you whether it matters or not.
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