Sunday, June 7, 2020
Understanding the Five Aggregates (video)
Cliff Wallshein (Won Bup Shin), WonBuddhism Manhattan, 3/26/16; Eds., Wisdom Quarterly
Understanding the Five Aggregates (skandhas)
WBM member shares his understanding of the Five Aggregates: The Buddha turned his mind inward and realized that all he and we could ever know about the world was what we could be conscious of.
This holds true even today, for no matter how powerful the instruments we create, they are ultimately just extensions and/or augmentations of our existing senses.
It's only the last 100 years that the West broke the mind into two parts, the conscious and unconscious. There's that which is experiential yet unknown, and there's information that is potentially available to be known to our “field of consciousness.”
The Buddha observed that for there to be consciousness, there has to be consciousness of something. He pointed out that there are only two basic objects of which we can be conscious.
There are physical objects in the physical world, which is the consciousness of the senses -- the stimulus of nerves of the corresponding sense organs, and contact with mental objects. And there are thoughts, ideas, memories, visualizations, creations, desires, and so on arising in the mind.
The body is considered the source of the physical sense organs. It is called rupa (Pali “form”). And the mind is the source of mental objects or nama (Pali “name”). Together these are known as the six sense bases.
These are the building blocks from which we create our reality, and this is where our sense of “self” arises.
This misconception, assuming that consciousness is a “self,” is called ignorance (Pali avijja). In Buddhism, ignorance (delusion, illusion, wrong view) is considered the root of all suffering.