Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:28 pm

Hi Spiny,

Spiny said:-"...but isn't it the sankhara aggregate where the constructing goes on, as the name suggests? ...."

That is an important issue. My understanding is that all aggregates are sankhara's.

This is stated by Walpola Rahula in his "What the Buddha taught" page 57:

"The term sankhara denotes the five aggregates, ...." (see note 2).

Also, since contact is in the fourth aggregate (sankhara's), then if that ceases then feeling, perception and volition must also cease.

But what is required is to demonstrate this from sutta citations, I will try to find something.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:53 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi mike,

"Bhikkhus, the arising, continuation, production, and manifestation of form is the arising of suffering, the continuation of disease, the manifestation of aging-and-death. The arising of feeling .......
The arising of perception .........The arising of volitional formations .....The arising of consciousness ....
The cessation, subsiding, and passing away of form ...... of consciousness is the cessation of suffering, the subsiding of disease, the passing away of aging-and-death." [BB, TCDB, SN 22.30 - Arising.]

Please explain how you understand this sutta.

Regards, Vincent.

I'm not sure I'm getting my point across very well. I'm not suggesting that various things and experience don't arise, I'm simply suggesting that the classification of them as aggregates is a classification, not an indication that the aggregates are "things".

:anjali:
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:17 am

Hi Mike,

So, for you, 'aggregates' just means a fivefold classification, not the things which are being classified?

So any talk of 'the cessation of the five aggregates' makes no sense?

Instead, I should speak of the permanent cessation of form, feeling, perception, volitional formations and consciousness.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:49 am

Yes, there is cessation. Sometimes it is described in terms of aggregates, sometimes the sense bases. These are probably not the best examples, but they are what I can come up with quickly.
Without directly knowing and fully understanding the eye, without developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering. Without directly knowing and fully understanding forms … eye-consciousness … eye-contact … and whatever feeling arises with eye-contact as condition … without developing dispassion towards it and abandoning it, one is incapable of destroying suffering.
http://suttacentral.net/en/sn35.26

So long as I did not directly know as they really are the five aggregates subject to clinging in four phases, I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with its devas, Mara, and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when I directly knew all this as it really is, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with … its devas and humans.

“And how, bhikkhus, are there four phases? I directly knew form, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation. I directly knew feeling … perception … volitional formations … consciousness, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation.
http://suttacentral.net/en/sn22.56

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation joy? The joy that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: That is called renunciation joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:anjali:
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:23 am

vinasp wrote:This is stated by Walpola Rahula in his "What the Buddha taught" page 57:
"The term sankhara denotes the five aggregates, ...." (see note 2).
Also, since contact is in the fourth aggregate (sankhara's), then if that ceases then feeling, perception and volition must also cease.


It's tricky.

"Sankhara" has several levels of meaning in the suttas, and in the general sense refers to anything which is conditioned - as in "sabbe sankhara anicca". But sankhara as an aggregate is more specific.

In the suttas "contact" is described as the meeting of sense-organ, sense-object and sense-consciousness, which sounds like a basic function of mind.

It might be worth starting a separate thread to discuss what the sankhara aggregate represents, how it functions and how it relates to the other aggregates.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:03 am

Spiny: "sense-organ, sense-object and sense-consciousness"


If the translation is "sense-object" then I would agree that it is a mental object. If the translation is "sensed object" then it may be an exterior object, which has been sensed by one of the sense-organs, one of which is the brain, the organ from which mind arises. :coffee:

The problem is that all that arises in mind is all that with which we truly come in contact. So, you are right, if we use only our senses, then all we can ever truly experience is contact no matter how an object is sensed. Even as scientific Instruments, such as scanners, meters and gauges are useful, all they give us is a comparison for the purpose of validation and verification. Yet, all the instruments really provide us with is not truly direct experience :shrug: . We still have to "read" and "interpret" the results they provide. The same with photographic and audio equipment. The main advantage is the increase in velocity, capacity, and range, domain, wave-length, frequency, and amplitude of what can be detected beyond our own personal sense doors. :buddha1:

Now, all we need is for someone to invent a "pain detector" that could be used during birth and we could answer the question in your OP. :cry:
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby vinasp » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:41 pm

Hi Spiny,

On sankhara's I found this passage:

"And why, bhikkhus, do you call them volitional formations? (sankhara)
'They construct the conditioned,' bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations. And what is the conditioned that they construct?
They construct conditioned form as form, they construct conditioned feeling
as feeling, they construct conditioned perception as perception, they construct
conditioned volitional formations as volitional formations, they construct
conditioned consciousness as consciousness. 'They construct the conditioned,'
bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations."
[BB, TCDB, part of SN 22.79]

This is not easy to understand.

Also posted on Spiny's new 'sankhara aggregate' thread.

Regards, Vincent.
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:42 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:I still haven't seen a coherent explanation of why birth, aging and death are consistently described as physical events in the suttas if they are not relevant, if the teaching is actually about a purely "non-physical" process.


Well, have a look at SN 12.2. There, we can read:

"Now what is aging and death? Whatever ...weakening of the faculties of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called aging.

Whatever ...break up of the aggregates, casting off of the body, interruption in the life faculty of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called death.

"And what is birth? Whatever birth, ...appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] media of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.


Birth is surely a physical process, but what dependent origination is trying to do is describe how human beings are, rather than what they are or what they go through - these last would be to make the mistake of considering there to be some agent transferring through the process being discussed, which was Sati's mistake.

Rather, the point seems to be to show that greed for becoming (form, formless, or sensual) will only ever lead to the same sort of problems with dukkha as now (this is to undercut the claim that abiding for lengthy periods in the ancestor lands, or as an immortal, are both actually desireable, which the prevailing cultural narrative had set up - along with sensuality generally - as worthwhile pursuits). Noting this context is very important to understanding things like this.

---

The point, as I understand things, is to see the process and what drives it and what its consequences are, not to analyze the links piecemeal.
    "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 is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:34 am

Spiny Norman wrote:I still don't think you've provided clear sutta support for the idea that there are 2 sets of aggregates, one clinging and one non-clinging.


I had another look at SN22.48, but it's not clear whether this passage is describing 2 discreet sets of aggregates ( one clinging and one non-clinging ) or the 2 possible states /modes in which the aggregates can function ( subject to clinging and not subject to clinging ).
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby santa100 » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:49 pm

And Ven. Bodhi's SN 22.48 comment which doesn't say they're 2 discreet sets:
This sutta is quoted and discussed at Vism 477-78 (Ppn 14:214-15), in relation to the difference between the aggregates and the aggregates subject to clinging. The key terms distinguishing the pañc’ upadanakkhandha from the pañcakkhandha are sasava upadaniya, “with taints and subject to clinging.” The pañc’ upadanakkhandha are included within the pañcakkhandha, for all members of the former set must also be members of the latter set. However, the fact that a distinction is drawn between them implies that there are khandha which are anasava anupadaniya, “untainted and not subject to clinging.” On first consideration it would seem that the “bare aggregates” are those of the arahant, who has eliminated the asava and upadana. However, in the Abhidhamma all rupa is classified as sasava and upadaniya, and so too the resultant (vipaka) and functional (kiriya) mental aggregates of the arahant (see Dhs §§1103, 1219). The only aggregates classed as anasava and anupadaniya are the four mental aggregates occurring on the cognitive occasions of the four supramundane paths and fruits (see Dhs §§1104, 1220). The reason for this is that sasava and upadaniya do not mean “accompanied by taints and by clinging,” but “capable of being taken as the objects of the taints and of clinging,” and the arahant’s mundane aggregates can be taken as objects of the taints and clinging by others (see As 347). For a detailed study of this problem, see Bodhi, “Aggregates and Clinging Aggregates.”
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Re: Why is birth included in descriptions of dukkha?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:57 am

santa100 wrote:And Ven. Bodhi's SN 22.48 comment which doesn't say they're 2 discreet sets:
This sutta is quoted and discussed at Vism 477-78 (Ppn 14:214-15), in relation to the difference between the aggregates and the aggregates subject to clinging. The key terms distinguishing the pañc’ upadanakkhandha from the pañcakkhandha are sasava upadaniya, “with taints and subject to clinging.” The pañc’ upadanakkhandha are included within the pañcakkhandha, for all members of the former set must also be members of the latter set. However, the fact that a distinction is drawn between them implies that there are khandha which are anasava anupadaniya, “untainted and not subject to clinging.” On first consideration it would seem that the “bare aggregates” are those of the arahant, who has eliminated the asava and upadana. However, in the Abhidhamma all rupa is classified as sasava and upadaniya, and so too the resultant (vipaka) and functional (kiriya) mental aggregates of the arahant (see Dhs §§1103, 1219). The only aggregates classed as anasava and anupadaniya are the four mental aggregates occurring on the cognitive occasions of the four supramundane paths and fruits (see Dhs §§1104, 1220). The reason for this is that sasava and upadaniya do not mean “accompanied by taints and by clinging,” but “capable of being taken as the objects of the taints and of clinging,” and the arahant’s mundane aggregates can be taken as objects of the taints and clinging by others (see As 347). For a detailed study of this problem, see Bodhi, “Aggregates and Clinging Aggregates.”


Thanks. Yes, I did see that, but it was a bit technical for me. ;)
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