Dhamma lesson (15)
Five aggregates and the five aggregates of clinging
There are five aggregates.
Knowledge of all 5 aggregates is very helpful for you to practice vipassana meditation even if you do not read or know all of the Abhidhamma or Visuddhimagga. You can get knowledge of 5 aggregates which are impermanent, suffering and non self and Four Noble truths by studying from right books or getting enough information from right teachers.
Five aggregates (khanda)
1-matter or form or materiality aggregate (matter)
2- feeling aggregate (mind)
3- perception aggregate (mind)
4- volitional formations aggregates (mind)
5- conciousness aggregate (mind)
In brief, five aggregates mean mind ( Nama in Pali) and matter ( rupa in Pali).
When there are objects of clinging, they are called aggregates of clinging, aggregates subject to clinging, or aggregate objects of clinging.
the five aggregates of clinging (upada nak khanda)
1- the materiality aggregate of clinging (rupupada nak khanda)
2- the feeling aggregate of clinging (vedanupada nak khanda)
3- the perception aggregate of clinging( sannupada nak khanda)
4- the volitional formations aggregates of clinging (sankharupada nak khada)
5-the conciousness aggregate of clinging (vinnya nupada nak khanda)
what are the difference
What are the difference between “ aggregates” and aggregates of clinging”?
The Buddha states " whatever kind of materiality there is , whether past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior , far or near- this is called material aggregate and they are connected with taints and subject to clinging- this is called the materiality aggregate of clinging" .
Again same method of definition applies to the other four aggregates.
Here, all components of the five aggregates that enter into range of the four types of clinging (see below) are called aggregate of clinging.
This includes the entire aggregate of materiality and the four mental aggregates of the mundane plane.
The four mental aggregates of the supramundane plane are not aggregates of clinging because they entirely transcend the range of clinging; that is, they cannot become objects of greed or wrong views.
When we say aggregates of clinging, we mean only mundane aggregates. But when we say aggregates, the supermundane aggregates are also included.
There are four clingings:
1) clinging to sense pleasures, (kamu padanam)
2) clinging to wrong views (ditthu padanam)
3) clinging to rites and ceremonies(silabbatu padanam)
4) clinging to a doctrine of self (attavadu padanam)
Both mundane and supermundane aggregates are impermanent.
With every experience – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking- there are always the 5 aggregates. If you do not watch them, if we do not apply mindfulness to them we will always cling to them either by strong craving or by wrong view. And because they are objects that can be clung to , we usually cling to them if we are not mindful.
When there is clinging, it does not stop there. Suppose you are attached to something and then you want to possess it. Motivated by that desire, you will try to possess it and will do something to acquire it. You may steal it, take it by force from somebody or even commit murder, just to get what you want. So motivated by clinging, you take up actions.
Sometimes what we cling to is unwholesome and sometimes it may be wholesome. When there is clinging, there is action. When there is action,there will be reaction, there is the result of that action in the form of rebirth in the future life. Whether clinging to wholesome or unwholesome, since they are kammas, they have the potential to give results in the future and we will get the results of those actions in the future. With rebirth there is aging , disease, death and all sufferings. So duration of our samsara is prolonged if we are not vigilant, if we do not apply mindfulness to what we experience at the present moment.
We don’t need to look in books to find the five aggregates. You can find all five aggregates in our own experience- seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking.
The Buddha gave us ways to use mindfulness for our own benefit as well as the benefit of others. By using mindfulness or vipassana meditation, the true nature of things, the secret of mind and matter can be discovered. Having more concentration, you can penetrate the nature of things, can progress from one stage to another until you reach enlightenment.
no cost, It's yours
No cost. It's yours
To practice mindfulness, it does not cost anything. It is yours, it comes with you and you can practice vipassana insight meditation any time, any where, all the time throughout your life.
Please do not say as “ I am busy”. “ I don’t have time” . If you want to practice, you always have time for that.
Be mindful of the object rising at the present momet.
In order not to cling to these five aggregates, we must watch them while they are present. Otherwise we will always cling to them.We can not observe them when they are past. Though we may be able to recall some past experiences, it will never appear as vividly as it appeared during what was at its present moment.
Practicing Meditation means “Be mindful of the object arising at the Present Moment”
However while you are being mindful of your breaths or the movements of the abdomen, there are times when you can actually see the exact present moment if your are noting the touch of air in and out in your breath or the movement of the abdomen coincide exactly.
But when you are being mindful to your thought, by the time you are noting them, they are already in the past.
We speak frequently about the present moment. Actually, the present should be understood as a present duration, not an exact present moment. This is because when we are mindful of the objects, it is no longer present. In less time , perhaps , than with the blink of an eye, it has already become the past.
But in the context of vipassana meditation, we regard them as being present. We usually say as “ be mindful of the present” or “ be in the present moment”.
When you practice vipassana meditation, it is essential that you try to be mindful of the object that is prominent and evident at the present moment. Let your mindfulness be precise in going concurrently with the objects. Take the object which is the most prominent at the very present time.
As long as you are mindful of the object at the present moment, you are doing the right thing- you are practicing meditation.
Keep mindfulness always.
Pay attention to all the senses coming through the six sense doors as much as you can and as long as you can. The best is to keep mindfulness always.
Start practice mindfulness in your daily activities if you can not practice sitting meditation or can not go to retreat classes. When you practice in this way, keeping it up everyday, it will become a habit. If you always keep mindulness, the mindfulness will gain momentum and will gain concentration and will begin to see objects clearly. You will begin to see the nature of objects and also their arising and disappearing. If you have chance to practice meditation in retreat classes or somewhere else seriously with no talking, noble silence, you can get into it more easily.
Whatever you experienced through six sense doors, just watch and make mental note of them , keep being mindful of the object at the present moment and let it go away by themselves.
Keep your mind free from any worries, anxieties and any expectation.Don’t let your mind wander by using your own effort.
When you can practice sitting meditation you close your eyes. So you can avoid distraction and can concentrate more on conciousness arising and disappearing. But your mind will be distracted more at the beginning. You can not sit and practice all day, so you should train your mind to be able to practice while walking, standing and doing all daily activities. Just to keep note of them at the very present moment.
In the beginning of mindfulness, you will miss being mindful. But do not feel guilty.Try to be mindful of as many of the activities as you can and slowly you can be mindful more and more and distracted by other objects less and less.
What to be mindful( see detail in lesson 36)
Try to be mindful of whatever you are doing at the moment- walking, sitting, bathing, cleaning, looking at a flower so on. You can do this at any time and in any place.
The object may be the home object or other objects.
Mindfulness of other objects is important as much as mindfulness of the home object. Objects may be different at different moments. But the important fact is to be mindful always to this object or to that object.
You can note the home object of meditation – either the breath ( breathing in and out ) or you can note the movement of abdomen (rising and falling.)
Other objects are
Seeing - seeing mind or seeing conciousness
Hearing- hearing mind or hearing conciousness
Smelling- smelling mind or smellig conciousness
Tasting- tasting mind or tasting conciousness
Touching- touching mind or touchig conciousness
Thinking- thinking mind or thinking conciousness
When you are in sitting meditation or meditating in lying down position – you can be mindful to home objects. If other objects become prominent at the present moment, make a mental note of them and go back to the home object again.
For example- While you are noting breathing in and out, you hear a noice, make a mental note as “hearing, hearing” until that noice disappears and then go back to concentrate on the breathing again.
When you are doing activities-you can pay attention to any other object that becomes prominent at the present moment. ( when you are driving, aware as you are driving, when you are walking , make notes as walking, when you are eating, pay attention as eating, when you are drinking, make note as drinking etc:)
What will happen
At the begining
When you practice Vipassana, in the beginning your mind will be wandering a lot and by using effort to be mindful for certain period of time, mindfulness will become your habit or your mind will wander less and concentration will build up. So in the begining , you try to develop concentration in order to make the mind steady, still, and free from mental hindrances.
When mind is free from mental hinderances, concentration comes. Through concentration, you begin to see things clearly, you begin to see them seperately. You begin to see two things occurring at the same time as a pair,the action and its conciousness .
Example -the in- breath and mindfulness of in- breath and the out - breath and mindfulness of out-breath.
nature of things are impermanence, suffering , non self
You will see conditionality. Because of the breath, there is mindfulness of breath. Because of the intention to move, there is moving and so on. Then you will see objects arise and disappear without any doubt. That means you really see the impermanent nature of things. Then you come to understanding suffering nature of things as continuous oppression by arising and disappearing . Then you see things arising and disappearing separately and continuously leaving no unifying core in them. Moreover, you can not tell them to stop, you can not tell them not to arise and not to disappear. There is no way you can have control over it. So here you see non self nature of things.
The Three characteristics.( impermanence, suffering, non-soul)
Once you see these three characteristics for yourself and come to this firm understanding, it becomes your very own property and your very own knowledge.
If you are angry at something or someone, try to be mindful as " angry feeling, angry feeling". The degree of suffering , angry feeling , will become immediately less and less and you feel better soon. Instead, if you think more and more about the cause of anger, you will be angry more and more and turn up as violent ( mind induced physical action), verbal dispute or abuse ( mind induced verbal action) and so on.
to gain vipassana knowledge by using vipassana eyes and mind
By vipassana meditation, you keep mental notes of whatever comes up in your mind at the present moment and be aware of their imperminence, suffering and non-self. When you gain real vipassana knowledge, you will see the moment to moment impermanence of mind and matter.Nothing else.
When you really understand vipassana knowledge or gain wisdom, you can experience three characteristics of phenomenal existence ( impermancence, suffering , non-self ) and it can lead to dispassion toward the five aggregates and fading away of mental defilements and even attain the enlightenment as stream enterer, once returner, never return and ahrahat.