All compounded phenomena are suffering??

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All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Sacha G » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:44 pm

Hi everybody
Something has been getting me think for some time: the fact that the Buddha says : "all compounded phenomena are Suffering", but "in brief the 5 clinging-aggregates are suffering".
Actually it would be OK if the five clinging aggregates = compounded phenomena.
Unfortunately, "compounded phenomena" is larger, since it includes the aggregates not subject to clinging. :broke:
So what to think of that?
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:39 pm

And which are "the aggregates not subject to clinging"?
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Sacha G » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:53 pm

Hi Stefan
As Bhikkhu Bodhi declares:
The only aggregates classed as
anasava and anupadaniya (untainted and not subject to clinging) are
the four mental aggregates occurring on the cognitive occasions of
the four supramundane paths and fruits...

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Stephen K » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:04 pm

That's interesting.... Could you provide the source? Maybe we can see the context in which he says this, or perhaps any further elaborations he is making.

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby pt1 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:52 pm

Sacha G wrote:Hi everybody
Something has been getting me think for some time: the fact that the Buddha says : "all compounded phenomena are Suffering", but "in brief the 5 clinging-aggregates are suffering".
Actually it would be OK if the five clinging aggregates = compounded phenomena.
Unfortunately, "compounded phenomena" is larger, since it includes the aggregates not subject to clinging. :broke:
So what to think of that?

Hi, I think a possible explanation could be that one of the ways abdhidhamma classifies consciousness is according to the sphere/plane of its arising - sense sphere, fine-material, immaterial and supramundane. Then, if we consider Bhikkhu Bodi's explanation that aggregates which are not subject to clinging arise during the four paths and fruits, we can also say that:

1. paths and fruits are supramundane instances
2. during these instances the object of consciousness and mental factors is nibbana
3. nibbana is not compunded

Considering all this together, we can then say that the consciousness and mental factors (so the four mental aggregates Bhikkhu Bodhi mentions) which take nibbana as object are classed as supramundane. As supramundane, they are not subject to clinging, Bhikkhu Bodhi says. Now, Nibbana, which is the object of consciousness at these instances, is not compounded. And finally, since nibbana as a dhamma doesn't have dukkha for its general characteristic (nor anicca), but only anatta, then, at these instances when nibbana is the object of consciousness, there can be no experience of dukkha characteristic, even though the four mental aggregates which arise at the time (to take nibbana as the object) are compounded.

Anyway, that's as far as I get this topic at the moment. I suspect there's a proper explanation somewhere, but I don't have time to look now. Maybe you can explore this deeper and go through the posts on dsg I suggested in the other thread of yours on clinging aggregates.

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Sacha G » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:19 pm

Hi
Thanx for your replies.
I think we can understand why some aspects of the mental aggregates of an ariya are not suffering. The question would be: why the buddha declared "all compounded phenomena are suffering". He should've said: "all compounded phenomena which are mundane (or subject to clinging, or with taints) are suffering".
By the way, this is precisely the way the sarvastivada rephrased the second characteristic.
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Kenshou » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:33 pm

All sankhara are dukkha because they are anicca. "Suffering" may not be a very good translation, "unsatisfactory" might be more accurate. All compounded things are unsatisfactory, prone to (bringing us) dis-ease, because of the fact that they are impermanent.
Last edited by Kenshou on Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Moth » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:29 pm

Kenshou wrote:All sankhara are dukkha because they are anicca. "Suffering" may not be a very good translation, "unsatisfactory" might be more accurate. All compounded things are unsatisfactory, prone to dis-ease, because of the fact that they are impermanent.


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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby pt1 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:46 am

Sacha G wrote:Hi
Thanx for your replies.
I think we can understand why some aspects of the mental aggregates of an ariya are not suffering. The question would be: why the buddha declared "all compounded phenomena are suffering". He should've said: "all compounded phenomena which are mundane (or subject to clinging, or with taints) are suffering".
By the way, this is precisely the way the sarvastivada rephrased the second characteristic.
:buddha1:

Hi, in my understanding, we have to be very careful how we approach the suttas – was the Buddha speaking in terms of a theory/philosophy, or was he speaking in terms of direct experience of insight?

If he was speaking in terms of theory, then - if all compounded phenomena are suffering, and all clinging-aggregates are suffering, then all compounded phenomena should be equal to clinging aggregates. This is basic logic of the sort if a=b and b=c, then a=c. So, then what you (and apparently Sarvastivada) propose is right – the Buddha should have said that all mundane aggregates are suffering, if we’re to make sense of what Bhikkhu Bodhi is saying regarding supramundane aggregates.

However, if the Buddha was speaking in terms of direct experience of insight, then the whole picture is different. Recall that all compounded dhammas are said to have the three general characteristics of dukkha, anicca and anatta. Nibbana, being uncompounded only has the anatta characteristic, but no dukkha, and no anicca. Thus, imo, when the Buddha says “all compounded dhammas are suffering”, that to me means that the Buddha is speaking about an instance in which one of the compounded dhammas is the object of consciousness – and thus, wisdom which arises in that instance with the consciousness can experience the dukkha characteristic of that compounded dhamma which is the object. If however, the object of consciousness is nibbana, nibbana is not compounded, so then wisdom, which arises with that consciousness, cannot experience nibbana’s dukkha characteristic, because nibbana doesn’t have it. Hence, the (supramundane) aggregates, which arise at the time to take nibbana as the object (and there can be only one object of consciousness at the time), do not experience dukkha at that instance, because they can’t experience dukkha characteristic of some other dhamma at the same time while nibbana is the object.

So, when considered that way, there’s no contradiction between what the Buddha is saying in the sutta and what Bhikkhu Bodhi is saying regarding the supramundane aggregates.

But anyway, this is just my understanding and I haven’t explored this subject nearly deeply enough, so ideally, if you want to get the classical Theravada perspective (which is why I assume you are posting your question in this sub-forum), the usual procedure is to read the sutta, and then try to see what the old Mahavihara commentary (atthakatha) and sub-commentary (tika) are saying about the sutta. But since these are generally not translated in English yet, then you look for the explanation in Visuddhimagga, or in notes/essays by the modern translators (like Bhikkhu Bodhi) who consulted the commentaries when they were translating. Finally, if you can’t find any of that, then you look for explanations by modern teachers/people who actually studied what the old commentaries are saying. In that sense I can’t guarantee that what I’m saying about the sutta above is correct from the classical Theravada perspective, because I’ve been studying only for a short time.

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Sacha G » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:46 am

Hi Pt1
Thank you for your answer.
Sorry but I'm not sure to get your point. Do you mean that the Buddha was saying "all MUNDANE compounded phenomena are Suffering"?
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby seanpdx » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:40 pm

pt1 wrote:If he was speaking in terms of theory, then - if all compounded phenomena are suffering, and all clinging-aggregates are suffering, then all compounded phenomena should be equal to clinging aggregates. This is basic logic of the sort if a=b and b=c, then a=c. So, then what you (and apparently Sarvastivada) propose is right – the Buddha should have said that all mundane aggregates are suffering, if we’re to make sense of what Bhikkhu Bodhi is saying regarding supramundane aggregates.


Ummm... no.

If all compounded phenomena (A) are suffering (C); and
All clinging-aggregates (B) are suffering (C); then
All compounded phenomena (A) are clinging aggregates (B)?

If (a=c) and (b=c) then (a=b) doesn't follow. Might want to re-think that logic. ;)
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby andre9999 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:54 pm

pt1 wrote:If he was speaking in terms of theory, then - if all compounded phenomena are suffering, and all clinging-aggregates are suffering, then all compounded phenomena should be equal to clinging aggregates. This is basic logic of the sort if a=b and b=c, then a=c. So, then what you (and apparently Sarvastivada) propose is right – the Buddha should have said that all mundane aggregates are suffering, if we’re to make sense of what Bhikkhu Bodhi is saying regarding supramundane aggregates.


The transitive property of equality doesn't apply here at all. Both of these things are subsets of suffering, not equal to suffering.
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby pt1 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 3:09 am

seanpdx wrote:
pt1 wrote:If he was speaking in terms of theory, then - if all compounded phenomena are suffering, and all clinging-aggregates are suffering, then all compounded phenomena should be equal to clinging aggregates. This is basic logic of the sort if a=b and b=c, then a=c. So, then what you (and apparently Sarvastivada) propose is right – the Buddha should have said that all mundane aggregates are suffering, if we’re to make sense of what Bhikkhu Bodhi is saying regarding supramundane aggregates.


Ummm... no.

If all compounded phenomena (A) are suffering (C); and
All clinging-aggregates (B) are suffering (C); then
All compounded phenomena (A) are clinging aggregates (B)?

If (a=c) and (b=c) then (a=b) doesn't follow. Might want to re-think that logic. ;)


Thanks, you caught me mixing up my b's and c's :)

andrer9999 wrote:The transitive property of equality doesn't apply here at all. Both of these things are subsets of suffering, not equal to suffering.


I guess I agree, in the sense that logic is probably not the best way to approach the issue in the first place. I mean, suffering is said to be a characteristic of conditioned dhammas, just like anatta and anicca are too - so, a matter of insight, not of theories and logic.

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby pt1 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:05 am

Sacha G wrote:Hi Pt1
Thank you for your answer.
Sorry but I'm not sure to get your point. Do you mean that the Buddha was saying "all MUNDANE compounded phenomena are Suffering"?
:geek:

Hi, I guess I'm saying - let's forget about theory, sets and subsets for a second and consider an instance of experience. In that instance, just like any other instance in life, there will be a certain state of consciousness accompanied by certain mental factors. There will also at this time be one object of consciousness. If that object is a conditioned dhamma, and the consciousness is accompanied by wisdom and mindfulness (among other mental factors), then, at that instance, wisdom will understand the dukkha characteristic of the object of consciousness (a conditioned dhamma). In that sense, "all compounded phenomena are suffering" is spot on in experential terms, because whenever a conditioned dhamma is the object of consciousness - wisdom can understatand the dukkha characteristic of that dhamma.

In an instance when the object of consciousness is nibbana, and wisdom and mindfulness (among other mental factors) accompany that state of conscisouness, then, at that instance wisdom will not be able to understand the dukkha characteristic of nibbana, because nibbana doesn't have it. So, in experiential terms, Bhikkhu Bodhi's conclusion seems right as well.

I understand the confusion though - if consciousness and mental factors are arising to take nibbana as the object, are these consciousness and mental factors not still conditioned? And as conditioned, do they not also have the dukkha characteristic, even if we classify them as supramundane? In theory, we can answer – yes, they are still conditioned and they therefore must have the dukkha characteristic. But this we can say only in theory after the fact – so, after the instance of direct experience of nibbana has passed. So, I feel this distinction between mundane and supramundane classification of aggregates only makes sense when its purpose is taken in the sense to draw attention to (and hopefully encourage) a direct experience of insight.

Anyway, perhaps better check what the texts are saying instead of listening to me. I had a glance at chapter XIV of Visuddhimagga – there are several instances there that discuss the distinction between aggregates and clinging-aggregates, particularly paragraphs 214,215. This post also has a few relevant quotes from the abhidhamma and related commentaries:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastu ... sage/49992

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Sylvester » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:15 am

Or we could opt for Ven Analayo's suggestion to translate the term "panca upadanakhandha" as "5 Aggregates Affected by Clinging", instead of the "5 Clinging Aggregates".

This seems to be a sounder concept, given how the Culavedalla Sutta, MN 44 treats upadana and the upadanakhandha -

...that clinging is neither the same as these 5 aggregates affected by clinging nor is clinging something apart from the 5 aggregates affected by clinging. It is the desire and lust in regard to the 5 aggregates affected by clinging that is the clinging there.


So, what happens when the desire and lust have evaporated? Is an arahant's aggregates something affected by clinging? Again MN 44 looks at this but reformulating the First Noble Truth of Suffering where the panca upadanakhandha are called "identity" (sakkaya). The implication to be drawn is that sakkaya = dukkha.

No need to wait until arahanta; the 20 sakkayaditthis are in fact given up as one of the 3 Fetters upon Stream Entry, even if "clinging" could persist even in Non-Returners.

But that still leaves the problem of the anupadana khandha, which remain as "compounded" dhammas. What sort of suffering persists when clinging and identity have all ceased in an Arahant? Does a Stream Winner still have a sakkaya, when he has passed beyond all the sakkayaditthis?
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby pt1 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:44 am

Sylvester wrote:But that still leaves the problem of the anupadana khandha, which remain as "compounded" dhammas. What sort of suffering persists when clinging and identity have all ceased in an Arahant?

Interesting. Though, if an arahat has a conditioned dhamma as an object of consciousness, would the wisdom mental factor that arises at the time not be able to tell the dukkha characteristic of the object (conditioned dhamma)? Or its anatta characteristic for that matter? Importantly though, there'd be no clinging arising in respect of the object of consciousness either way.

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:30 am

'compounded' (sankata) or 'fabricated' refers to anything which arises and passes away. That is anything which is impermanent. Nibbana is the only thing which is 'un-compounded' (asankata).

Furthermore everything in existence falls into one of the five aggregates (or should I say can be classified under one..). Anything which is impermanent, is unsatisfactory and in turn is not self -so this includes all of the five aggregates.

There are no satisfactory aggregates.

The idea of vinnana of a nibbanic moment is debatable and IMO just wrong on many levels!

The idea that Nibbana can be commented upon (as anatta etc) except in the negative (no sun, no moon etc) is also just word play and playing with logic (which doesnt imply the Truth) IMO.

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Sacha G » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:53 pm

Hi Matheesha
you wrote
There are no satisfactory aggregates.

Then why distinguish between aggregates and "clinging aggregates" and say "clinging aggregates are dukkha"?
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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:17 am

Sacha G wrote:Hi Matheesha
you wrote
There are no satisfactory aggregates.

Then why distinguish between aggregates and "clinging aggregates" and say "clinging aggregates are dukkha"?
:coffee:


SN 22.59 PTS: S iii 66 CDB i 901
Pañcavaggi Sutta: Five Brethren
(aka: Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic)
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1993–2011
Alternate translations: Ñanamoli | Mendis
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:

"Form, monks, is not self. If form were the self, this form would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible [to say] with regard to form, 'Let this form be thus. Let this form not be thus.' But precisely because form is not self, form lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible [to say] with regard to form, 'Let this form be thus. Let this form not be thus.'

"Feeling is not self...

"Perception is not self...

"[Mental] fabrications are not self...

"Consciousness is not self. If consciousness were the self, this consciousness would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible [to say] with regard to consciousness, 'Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.' But precisely because consciousness is not self, consciousness lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible [to say] with regard to consciousness, 'Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.'

"What do you think, monks — Is form constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."

"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

"Stressful, lord."

"And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, lord."

"...Is feeling constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."...

"...Is perception constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."...

"...Are fabrications constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."...

"What do you think, monks — Is consciousness constant or inconstant?"

"Inconstant, lord."

"And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?"

"Stressful, lord."

"And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?"

"No, lord."

"Thus, monks, any form whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every form is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"Any feeling whatsoever...

"Any perception whatsoever...

"Any fabrications whatsoever...

"Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.'

"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.
With Metta

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Re: All compounded phenomena are suffering??

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:36 am

rowyourboat wrote:
SN 22.59 PTS: S iii 66 CDB i 901
Pañcavaggi Sutta: Five Brethren
(aka: Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic)
translated from the Pali byThanissaro Bhikkhu

"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.


In this section the well-instructed disciple is described as becoming disenchanted and dispassionate with the aggregates, then fully released. Doesn't this suggest a cessation of clinging to the aggregates? In other words dukkha arises with clinging to the aggregates and ceases with the cessation of that clinging?

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