contemplating the aggregates

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby alan... » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:17 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Alan...,

As an alternative to "think on these things", perhaps you could see it as "perceive as [instructed by the sutta]..."

The sutta advises that it is such ~ perceive experience in accordance with the Dhamma the sutta teaches.

Metta,
Retro. :)


i think this is a good point. i mentioned this somewhere before, the idea that one can watch the aggregates forever without knowing the dhamma with no progress, but once one knows the dhamma the mind puts it together without verbalization. whereas learning the dhamma and then pondering on it intellectually is not the same thing. like if you don't know about impermanence and just practice mindfulness you won't progress but if you know about it then you are subconsciously looking for it but not intellectualizing about it. or at least i think that's what you're saying.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby alan... » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:19 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
@ Alan, I'd recommend just listening to the whole series to get the full picture that Goldstein presents.


to bad each is an hour long. i really like this guy but i barely have time to do anything. although perhaps i should start playing dharma talks while i do housework or something... then i could hear them all!
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby alan... » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Good stuff here. This is not just theoretical; rather, the khandhas are talked about in terms of actual practice by a highly experienced and learned medutation teacher.


i need to make time for this.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby SamKR » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:31 am

While observing vedana and vinnana I find it useful to contemplate the following subtle thing: this feeling (noun) is feeling (verb), not I; this hearing (vinnana) is hearing, not I. When this perception (that 'this is feeling') happens smoothly, this is the presence of mere understanding and mere awareness with detachment and non-clinging as stated in Satipatthana Sutta. Please correct if I'm wrong. Thanks.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:37 am

alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Good stuff here. This is not just theoretical; rather, the khandhas are talked about in terms of actual practice by a highly experienced and learned medutation teacher.


i need to make time for this.
Time is always a problem, but quite frankly, the Dhamma takes time and takes work. Find the time to listen to te first talk. If it speaks to you, then you'll will find the time for therest, if not move on to something else.
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: contemplating the aggregates

Postby SamKR » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:47 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Good stuff here. This is not just theoretical; rather, the khandhas are talked about in terms of actual practice by a highly experienced and learned medutation teacher.


i need to make time for this.
Time is always a problem, but quite frankly, the Dhamma takes time and takes work. Find the time to listen to te first talk. If it speaks to you, then you'll will find the time for therest, if not move on to something else.

Listening right now. :)
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:49 am

SamKR wrote:While observing vedana and vinnana I find it useful to contemplate the following subtle thing: this feeling (noun) is feeling (verb), not I; this hearing (vinnana) is hearing, not I. When this perception (that 'this is feeling') happens smoothly, this is the presence of mere understanding and mere awareness with detachment and non-clinging as stated in Satipatthana Sutta. Please correct if I'm wrong. Thanks.
Eventually as your mindfulness and concentration become deeper and sharper, you can drop the conceptual contemplation.
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: contemplating the aggregates

Postby SamKR » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:07 am

tiltbillings wrote:
SamKR wrote:While observing vedana and vinnana I find it useful to contemplate the following subtle thing: this feeling (noun) is feeling (verb), not I; this hearing (vinnana) is hearing, not I. When this perception (that 'this is feeling') happens smoothly, this is the presence of mere understanding and mere awareness with detachment and non-clinging as stated in Satipatthana Sutta. Please correct if I'm wrong. Thanks.
Eventually as your mindfulness and concentration become deeper and sharper, you can drop the conceptual contemplation.

Yes, true. Such contemplation may then become redundant after the shift in mode of perception (to "such"), I guess.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:48 am

SamKR wrote:Yes, true. Such contemplation may then become redundant after the shift in mode of perception (to "such"), I guess.
It is something with which you can experiement.
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: contemplating the aggregates

Postby SamKR » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:16 am

alan... wrote:perhaps a clear definition is in order?

form: the physical objects that are seen and known by the mind? the actual act of cognizing physical objects? the body?

During the process of seeing: There are no objects being seen (they are not within the range of All) but there are forms (rupa), eye and eye-consciousness.
So, in the process of seeing there's just seeing; no objects being seen, and no seer. Seeing is seeing during the process of seeing!

The process of illusion of seen and seer are closely related: There is an illusion that there are real objects having essence (self) of their own while in fact these objects (which are actually aggregates of physical units) are mere concepts. Similarly there is an illusion that there is an essence (self) in the five-aggregates while in fact self is just a concept.

feelings: painful, pleasant and neutral feelings?

Yes.

perception: not sure about this one, many different definitions out there. i believe it's the defining of what an object is by the mind. can someone elaborate?

Perception does the evaluation of pure sensory input so that feeling becomes pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

mental formations: volitional thought, the "doer" of the mind.

Yes, including the store of all conditioning and tendencies from the past.

consciousness: the knower of the mind?

Not the knower but the knowing. There are six consciousness: Eye-consciousness, Ear-consciousness, Nose-consciousness, Tongue-consciousness, Body-consciousness, Mind-consciousness

from another viewpoint, isn't it all in consciousness? like consciousness is a jar and all the other things are it's contents?

Not contents but they can arise together.

These aggregates all have these properties:
1. They arise due to some causes and conditions. When this is, that is.
2. So they change (cease) when causes and conditions change (cease). When this is not, that is not.
3. They (five as a whole, or individual aggregate) are discrete or discontinuous temporally (ie., impermanent) as well as "spatially"
4. Therefore, they do not have any core or essence of their own. They are core-less temporally as well as "spatially".
5. Ignorance and sankhara lead to the perception that they are continuous in time (giving rise to sense of permanence) and continuous in "space" (giving rise to sense of single essence or core). So there is the origination of sense of self, and therefore clinging.

(This is my understanding. Please feel free to correct me.)
Last edited by SamKR on Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:59 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby Dmytro » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:28 am

Hi Alan,

alan... wrote:can this be done in sitting meditation? how does one contemplate each aggregate? in particular consciousness?


The most detailed instructions are given in Chachakka sutta.
For some aggregates not covered there, see the references to the Conditioned Arising diagram.

Though this can be done without samadhi, full development of insight requires the development of samadhi.

Best wishes, Dmytro
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:08 pm

Greetings Alan...,
alan... wrote:i mentioned this somewhere before, the idea that one can watch the aggregates forever without knowing the dhamma with no progress, but once one knows the dhamma the mind puts it together without verbalization. whereas learning the dhamma and then pondering on it intellectually is not the same thing. like if you don't know about impermanence and just practice mindfulness you won't progress but if you know about it then you are subconsciously looking for it but not intellectualizing about it. or at least i think that's what you're saying.

Yes, pretty much.

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


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:13 pm

alan... wrote:
i think this is a good point. i mentioned this somewhere before, the idea that one can watch the aggregates forever without knowing the dhamma with no progress,
It depends upon what you mean by "watching the aggregates."
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: contemplating the aggregates

Postby Kamran » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:41 am

One practice that Joseph Goldstein mentions in his Sattipathana talks that I find fun and skillful is to pause for a split second when you are about to do something and you can sense that "about to" moment - that's intention, or the mental formation aggregate.

I like to try and see the 5 aggregates (mental processes) at the 6 sense doors. For example, if noting "thinking, thinking" at the mind door I could contemplate the aggregates as follows:

1. Physical/form - brain.
2. Feelings - was the thought pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
3. Perception - recognized it as a thought about something I had experienced (family, work, etc.).
4. Mental Formation - the intention or action to make the thought arise (its very helpful to me note intention)
5. Conciousness/Citta - was aware of and observed the thought.

I have found the 5 aggregates very helpful for understanding my meditation experience. For instance, by focusing on the breath you make the conciousness process the foreground process, and the thinking process becomes a background process. When a thought arises while you are watching the breath it really does seem like a separate process generated the thought. The conciousness process is reliable; the other mental processes not so much :)
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:48 am

Toothache:
1. There is form, i.e. the tooth as matter/hardness.
2. There is a painful feeling.
3. There is a sight-, touch-, pain- perception of the tooth.
4. There is by the way of volitional reactions: resentment at pain, fear of possible consequences, greed for physical well-being, etc.
5. There is consciousness, -- an awareness of all this.
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: contemplating the aggregates

Postby alan... » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:08 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Good stuff here. This is not just theoretical; rather, the khandhas are talked about in terms of actual practice by a highly experienced and learned medutation teacher.


i need to make time for this.
Time is always a problem, but quite frankly, the Dhamma takes time and takes work. Find the time to listen to te first talk. If it speaks to you, then you'll will find the time for therest, if not move on to something else.


yeah i know. i set aside at minimum of one hour for meditation each day, every day, and i read suttas or other dhamma works for about two hours a day or more when i don't have work. i just am not big on audio stuff as it doesn't fit in well with my equipment, i have a desk top pc and sitting in front of it listening to a dhamma talk doesn't work so well for me because i have a fairly busy life and my phone won't play them :(
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby alan... » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:17 am

Kamran wrote:One practice that Joseph Goldstein mentions in his Sattipathana talks that I find fun and skillful is to pause for a split second when you are about to do something and you can sense that "about to" moment - that's intention, or the mental formation aggregate.

I like to try and see the 5 aggregates (mental processes) at the 6 sense doors. For example, if noting "thinking, thinking" at the mind door I could contemplate the aggregates as follows:

1. Physical/form - brain.
2. Feelings - was the thought pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
3. Perception - recognized it as a thought about something I had experienced (family, work, etc.).
4. Mental Formation - the intention or action to make the thought arise (its very helpful to me note intention)
5. Conciousness/Citta - was aware of and observed the thought.

I have found the 5 aggregates very helpful for understanding my meditation experience. For instance, by focusing on the breath you make the conciousness process the foreground process, and the thinking process becomes a background process. When a thought arises while you are watching the breath it really does seem like a separate process generated the thought. The conciousness process is reliable; the other mental processes not so much :)


yes that's what i was saying, consciousness is more or less constant while the others come and go. unless asleep or anesthetized, consciousness is always present. heck some dream yogis and yoga nidra people would argue that consciousness is present even in non REM sleep and under anesthesia! so since this process is always happening, mustn't the others happen within it? without consciousness one could not experience any of the other things.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby alan... » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:Toothache:
1. There is form, i.e. the tooth as matter/hardness.
2. There is a painful feeling.
3. There is a sight-, touch-, pain- perception of the tooth.
4. There is by the way of volitional reactions: resentment at pain, fear of possible consequences, greed for physical well-being, etc.
5. There is consciousness, -- an awareness of all this.[/b]


i like the first person perspective, thanks. again though it comes back to consciousness, in the end isn't consciousness the thing you're watching as it all takes place within it?
Last edited by alan... on Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: contemplating the aggregates

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:21 am

alan... wrote:
yeah i know. i set aside at minimum of one hour for meditation each day, every day, and i read suttas or other dhamma works for about two hours a day or more when i don't have work. i just am not big on audio stuff as it doesn't fit in well with my equipment, i have a desk top pc and sitting in front of it listening to a dhamma talk doesn't work so well for me because i have a fairly busy life and my phone won't play them :(
The talks I linked are quite good, but then pretty anything Goldstein does is quite good. Reading a Dhamma book or listening to a Dhamma talk, both can be somewhat meditative. Sit in chair, turn on the talk on your lap top and shut your eyes and just listen.
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: contemplating the aggregates

Postby alan... » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:25 am

tiltbillings wrote:
alan... wrote:
yeah i know. i set aside at minimum of one hour for meditation each day, every day, and i read suttas or other dhamma works for about two hours a day or more when i don't have work. i just am not big on audio stuff as it doesn't fit in well with my equipment, i have a desk top pc and sitting in front of it listening to a dhamma talk doesn't work so well for me because i have a fairly busy life and my phone won't play them :(
The talks I linked are quite good, but then pretty anything Goldstein does is quite good. Reading a Dhamma book or listening to a Dhamma talk, both can be somewhat meditative. Sit in chair, turn on the talk on your lap top and shut your eyes and just listen.


no lap top lol! i'll see what i can do though, i barely get my meditation time without a fuss and we just got a new puppy :roll: i'm only able to read so much because books are easily portable and my desk top is only in one spot.

i do appreciate them though and i want to hear them, i wish there was a transcript for them as i could read them on my phone at work or something. or do you know of an app or something that would allow me to play them on a droid? mine says flash player nine is needed but not compatible with my device.
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