Aggregate?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Re: Aggregate?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:32 am

retrofuturist wrote:The exact classification scheme doesn't matter but "rise" and "fall" are merely "change" relative to something. Change is relative, not absolute. Suttas like MN 109 demonstrate that the something, whatever the referrent, is itself formed (sankhata). Thus, to perceive change (rise / fall), one must have volitionally established a reference point against which to measure that delta.

Sure, but that's implicit in the conditioned existence that we experience, or how we can classify it, is conditioned. This "aggregation" and "delineation" talk seems to me to be an unnecessarily complication.
retrofuturist wrote:Just to refresh our memories, I asked you this question in order to challenge this perception...
mikenz66 wrote:Much of the discussion in this thread seems to imply that "aggregates" are little building blocks, which would, I think, be a mistake.

Rather, experience is subjective/relative, not an aggregated composite of atomic mental and physical particles. So you're right, anyone who would propose "aggregates" are little building blocks or equivalent, are misrepresenting the experience of change. I don't think anyone is doing that... I just wanted to help you dispel the perception that anyone else was trying to do that.

Well clearly the Theravada don't, so it's a complete non-issue as far as I'm concerned.

It was your interpretations in this thread that seemed to be veering dangerously in that direction, with this talk of "aggregation" and so on as if there were some blocks to aggregate.

:anjali:
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:34 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

Of course in Tilt-loka, Retro always looks bad.
Not at all.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:07 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Sylvester,

How is someone taking the stance that something has "inherent existence, independent of any observation" in any way idealist?

It seems diametrically opposed to idealism...!

In philosophy, idealism is the group of philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealism

Metta,
Retro. :)


Actually, one of the tenets of Idealism is that phenomena depend on observation. This stands in contrast to your assertion that believers in the aggregates hold "inherent existence, independent of any observation". So, yes, the quoted provision is non-Idealist. It is the antonym to the quote that I was objecting to as Idealist.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:10 am

Greetings Sylvester,

Sylvester wrote:It is the antonym to the quote that I was objecting to as Idealist.

Well that makes a lot more sense... thank you for clearing that up.

As I understand it, Idealism takes an active stance in proclaiming that reality is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. In contrast, I follow the Sabba Sutta...

"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."

... and leave it there - endeavouring to go no further.

The essential difference between that particular approach and idealism is that is there is no questioning, interest or regard surrounding the nature of reality and what it is or is not... there is only an interest in better understanding what presents itself through paticcasamuppada, whatever that may be... learning how it is fabricated (sankhata) and learning how that process of fabrication is provided nutriment in daily life so that one day I might bring it to cessation through wisdom.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Sylvester » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:38 am

Well, I'm glad we got that cleared up. All that talk about "aggregating" and becoming when appropriated led me to think that you were pursuing an Idealist angle.

I could not help but notice that your signature no longer carries Wheeler's Participatory Anthropic Principle, which is a modern form of Idealism...
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:08 pm

Leaving the realms of Buddha's teachings and Idealism as defined in philosophy for a moment: The field of physics, namely quantum mechanics now postulates that subatomic realities and behaviors of particles at the subatomic level are dependent upon observation, depending upon where we place the focus. I do not see this as different than what Buddha was saying in his description of "The All" in the following quote taken from this thread:

"Monks, I will teach you the All. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range."


But this is from the perspective of the mundane observer, not from the perspective of what is not being observed as in classical Neutonian Cosmological Physics. For example, before what is now called a planetoid, labeled Pluto, was discovered, Pluto, minus the name, existed and followed the same elliptical paths as do each of the KeIper Objects since before it was first observed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuiper_belt

All of these objects are but agglomerations of physical objects created before life arose on Earth to observe anything with inertias which allow them to condense from gasses created from Super Novas, and which still continue to agglomerate and aggregate.

I do not see this physical phenomena as the same as the aggregation process discussed in relation to what Buddha called The Khandas, which result in mundane life becoming, which I understand to be a process, the arising of a sentient being within the samsaric planes of existence.

If so, what else am I missing in light of this thread? If not, where am I wrong in my conclusions? And/or, what am I not understanding correctly in either case? :jawdrop:
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby vinasp » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:10 pm

Hi tilt,

vinasp: " ... And what is it that he extinguishes and does not kindle? ..."

tilt: "But what does the mean? Does it mean that the arahant does not feel, have perceptions, etc?"

I do not claim to understand passages such as these, but here are my thoughts.

FORM: The form which is said to be 'extinguished' is obviously not actual form.
My best guess, at present, is that it means 'conceived form ' [whatever that is.]

FEELING: In MN 59.16 the Buddha speaks of the pleasure of the
state called 'cessation of perception and feeling'. His explanation is that he
speaks of pleasure 'not only with reference to pleasant feeling.'

If it is possible for there to be pleasure which is not pleasant feeling then
vedana does not cover all happy states and is not used in the same way that we
use feeling in English. When defined in this way it is possible for the arahant
to no longer have any "feelings"(vedana).

PERCEPTION: In MN 1 perception is only mentioned in relation to the worldling.
Whether it can be completely absent will depend on what it is and how it is
defined. Could it be that perception is never used of the Tathagata or an
Arahant? Something to consider:

a) From MN 18.4 " ... in such a way that perceptions no more underlie that
brahmin who abides detached from sensual pleasures, without perplexity,
shorn of worry, free from craving for any kind of being."

One possible explanation is that the tathagata's state of mind is without any
"object". The aggregate of form is a mass of form objects. When these have all
ceased, then there is no form and no object. When there is no object, then there
is nothing to have any feelings about. Also, there is nothing about which one
could have any perception. When there is no object there is nothing to have
any volition in regard to. And when there is no object then there is no knowing
of an object (consciousness).

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:33 pm

retrofuturist wrote:... and leave it there - endeavouring to go no further.

The essential difference between that particular approach and idealism is that is there is no questioning, interest or regard surrounding the nature of reality and what it is or is not... there is only an interest in better understanding what presents itself through paticcasamuppada, whatever that may be... learning how it is fabricated (sankhata) and learning how that process of fabrication is provided nutriment in daily life so that one day I might bring it to cessation through wisdom.

Metta,
Retro. :)

This idea would best be described as phenomenalism.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:17 pm

Greetings LY,

Yes... yes it would. Well said.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:48 am

Mikenz66: Much of the discussion in this thread seems to imply that "aggregates" are little building blocks, which would, I think, be a mistak

The rest of that section on the khandhas you link to is fine,Very nice, except for that one unfortunate sentence quoted above.
What does the venerable mean by " consciouness" , is he referring to vinnana khandha or some idea that supposedly encompases all namas that arise at the same time.
While it is true that vedana khandha and the other nama khandhas arise at the same time and associated together with vinnana khandha it is confusing to say they are an aspect and function of vinnana .


Yes. Found this during this morning's reading:Vinnana - The Cycle Ceases - Rebirth

The cessation of suffering is known and experienced only by the one who is becoming a noble one. The Noble Path or the sublime path of holy life reaches its fruition at this point. The cessation occurs both inwards and outwards. It is as if the power generator was turned off and all electricity in the system is gone. The inward cessation involves the termination of greed, hatred and delusion. There is nothing to generate electric current and heat, because the source is gone. Even though the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body and the mind are still there, they stop functioning at that moment. The eyes exist, but since there is no vinnana (consciousness) there is no sight. The ears exist, but since there is no vinnana the ears cannot hear. The nose exists, but since there is no vinnana the nose cannot smell. The tongue exists, but since there is no vinnana the tongue cannot taste. The body exists, but since there is no vinnana the body cannot feel any tactile sensation. The mind exists, but since there is no vinnana the mind cannot perceive happiness, suffering or any emotion.

This is nirodha, the complete cessation of all inward and outward sufferings at their causes. Form, feeling, memory, mental formation and consciousness comprising the Five Aggregates are all gone. There is nothing in the Five Aggregates since the consciousness which controls all others has been cut off by nirodha. Form exists as merely form with no feeling, memory or any perception. Sankhara that used to associate things cannot do so now. Vinhana which perceives things now stops doing so. As a consequence of the non-functioning of vinnana, the actions of the other aggregates (form, feeling, memory and mental formation) and the sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body) also stop. In short the mind stops working. It is like a system of machines connected by a single belt. The whole system stops working when the prime mover is turned off. The 'prime mover" is ignorance. When nirodha extinguishes ignorance, the cycle of births stops. The ultimate wisdom cuts it off and destroys ignorance completely. There is no way to recover, it is as if the fuel and the fire were removed and so there was no more heat. Lust, hatred and delusion, like heat, are gone as the 'fuel'(ignorance) and the 'fire' (wheel of births) are completely destroyed. The 'water" of nirodha extinguishes the "fire." Where can 'heat'(suffering) come from then?

Phra Acariya Thoon Khippapanno


http://www.knowbuddhism.info/2009/03/vi ... birth.html
Also of interest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vij%C3%B1%C4%81na
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-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby daverupa » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:02 pm

Now, my understanding is that nibbana is the cessation of upadana, not the cessation of khanda - that'd be parinibbana.

So I am confused by the description "stop functioning" in the quote, above. The Venerable seems to equate khanda with dukkha, such that the cessation of one is the cessation of the other. But we know that clinging is the fetter, delight is the fetter, not the aggregate, yes?

Is this related to the idea that perception-feeling-cessation is a requisite stop on the way to nibbana? Or something else?
    "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: Aggregate?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:56 pm

daverupa wrote:Now, my understanding is that nibbana is the cessation of upadana, not the cessation of khanda - that'd be parinibbana.
So I am confused by the description "stop functioning" in the quote, above. The Venerable seems to equate khanda with dukkha, such that the cessation of one is the cessation of the other. But we know that clinging is the fetter, delight is the fetter, not the aggregate, yes?
Is this related to the idea that perception-feeling-cessation is a requisite stop on the way to nibbana? Or something else?


I'm guessing that the Venerable is discussing parinibbana above, but it's not really clear.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Nyana » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:02 pm

daverupa wrote:Now, my understanding is that nibbana is the cessation of upadana, not the cessation of khanda - that'd be parinibbana.

So I am confused by the description "stop functioning" in the quote, above. The Venerable seems to equate khanda with dukkha, such that the cessation of one is the cessation of the other. But we know that clinging is the fetter, delight is the fetter, not the aggregate, yes?

Yeah, this kind of mistaken view that the realization of the third noble truth requires the temporary cessation of the mind is not uncommon in Theravāda circles these days. But in fact, the classical Theravāda ācariyas never accepted this notion.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby vinasp » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:20 pm

Hi everyone,

"Good, good, bhikkhu! These three feelings have been spoken of by me: pleasant
feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. These three
feelings have been spoken of by me. And I have also said: 'Whatever is felt is
included in suffering.' That has been stated by me with reference to the
impermanence of formations. That has been stated by me with reference to
formations being subject to destruction ... to formations being subject to
vanishing ... to formations being subject to fading away ... to formations being
subject to cessation ... to formations being subject to change."

[Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 1271, part of SN 36.11]

So, even pleasant feeling is suffering. And the only way that suffering can end
is through the complete and permanent cessation of all three feelings.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:30 pm

Ñāṇa: "Yeah, this kind of mistaken view that the realization of the third noble truth requires the temporary cessation of the mind is not uncommon in Theravāda circles these days. But in fact, the classical Theravāda ācariyas never accepted this notion."

Thank you, Ven., but which "mind" are we referencing and in which context?

Overlapping Pali terms for mind
According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the post-canonical Pali commentary uses the three terms viññāṇa, mano and citta as synonyms for the mind sense base (mana-ayatana); however, in the Sutta Pitaka, these three terms are generally contextualized differently:
Viññāṇa refers to awareness through a specific internal sense base, that is, through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind. Thus, there are six sense-specific types of Viññāṇa. It is also the basis for personal continuity within and across lives.
Manas refers to mental "actions" (kamma), as opposed to those actions that are physical or verbal. It is also the sixth internal sense base (ayatana), that is, the "mind base," cognizing mental sensa (dhammā) as well as sensory information from the physical sense bases.
Citta includes the formation of thought, emotion and volition; this is thus the subject of Buddhist mental development (bhava), the mechanism for release.[36]
The citta is called "luminous" in A.I.8-10.[37]

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vij%C3%B1%C4%81na
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But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Nyana » Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:16 pm

Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Ñāṇa: "Yeah, this kind of mistaken view that the realization of the third noble truth requires the temporary cessation of the mind is not uncommon in Theravāda circles these days. But in fact, the classical Theravāda ācariyas never accepted this notion."

Thank you, Ven.,

I'm not a "Ven.," Ron.

Ron-The-Elder wrote:but which "mind" are we referencing and in which context?

In the case of an arahant attaining the noble path & fruition, it doesn't matter which mind model we use to represent the congitive series, the sixth consciousness is always present in these instances.

For the commentarial version of the path and fruition cognitive series, see The Path of Purification, Chapter 22, pp. 701-707 (PDF edition).

For an overview of the same, see The Seven Stages of Purification and the Insight Knowledges, p. 137.

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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:15 am

vinasp wrote: So, even pleasant feeling is suffering. And the only way that suffering can end
is through the complete and permanent cessation of all three feelings..


Do you mean the permanent cessation of vedana? Doesn't that only happen at pari-nibbana?
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby reflection » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:24 am

daverupa wrote:Now, my understanding is that nibbana is the cessation of upadana, not the cessation of khanda - that'd be parinibbana.

So I am confused by the description "stop functioning" in the quote, above. The Venerable seems to equate khanda with dukkha, such that the cessation of one is the cessation of the other. But we know that clinging is the fetter, delight is the fetter, not the aggregate, yes?

Is this related to the idea that perception-feeling-cessation is a requisite stop on the way to nibbana? Or something else?

There is permanent and temporary cessation of the aggregates. The permanent is the parinibbana, the impermanent is seeing nibbana. This is the 'rise and fall' of the aggregates. And yes, clinging is the fetter, but the aggregates are the dukkha. So to understand what is not dukkha is to see beyond the aggregates.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:48 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Ron-The-Elder wrote:
Ñāṇa: "Yeah, this kind of mistaken view that the realization of the third noble truth requires the temporary cessation of the mind is not uncommon in Theravāda circles these days. But in fact, the classical Theravāda ācariyas never accepted this notion."

Thank you, Ven.,

I'm not a "Ven.," Ron.

Ron-The-Elder wrote:but which "mind" are we referencing and in which context?

In the case of an arahant attaining the noble path & fruition, it doesn't matter which mind model we use to represent the congitive series, the sixth consciousness is always present in these instances.

For the commentarial version of the path and fruition cognitive series, see The Path of Purification, Chapter 22, pp. 701-707 (PDF edition).

For an overview of the same, see The Seven Stages of Purification and the Insight Knowledges, p. 137.

:buddha1:


"Ñāṇa": Sorry, I was just going by the previous quote. I will always think of you and Tilt as being Venerables" ex-robes" and "bowl". In any event, thank you for the excellent references. I promise to use them fully and to good effect. :anjali: Ron
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: Aggregate?

Postby vinasp » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:50 am

Hi reflection,

Quote: "Do you mean the permanent cessation of vedana? Doesn't that only happen at pari-nibbana?"

Yes. But pari-nibbana has two meanings. It refers to the complete cessation of the
five aggregates, but there are two ways to understand the five aggregates.

1. Form is ones actual body, feeling, perception, volitional-formations and
consciousness are also these actual things. When understood in this way the
five aggregates can only cease at death.

2. The five aggregates are all fabricated mental-objects. The "form" objects
are representations of things known through the five senses. The "feeling"
objects are representations of feelings, and so forth for the other three.

These mental-objects can all cease at any time, so there is no need to wait
until one's death. This cessation is called pari-nibbana. It results in the
state called nibbana without residue.

"And what is it that he neither extinguishes nor kindles, but abides having
extinguished? He neither extinguishes nor kindles form, but abides having
extinguished it. He neither extinguishes nor kindles feeling ... perception ...
volitional-formations ... consciousness, but abides having extinguished it."

[Bhikkhu Bodhi, Connected Discourses, page 918, part of SN 22.79]

Note that when the "form" objects cease, actual feeling, perception, volition,
and consciousness, in relation to these objects, also cease. Another type of
consciousness takes over, this is the "object-less" consciousness.

Regards, Vincent.
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