The 5 Aggregates (not part of the 7 sets series!)

The 5 Aggregates are not part of the 7 sets, so I’m not including them in the 7 sets series here on TiltedCandle.  But I won’t come back around to Buddhism for awhile, so, I’m sneaking them in here, so they’ll stand next to the 7 sets series, like a book on the bookshelf.

The 5 Aggregates, or Skandhas, aren’t really necessary in the 7 Sets, because they’re a philosophical scheme and all the sets in the 7 Sets are action-based.

The 5 Aggregates are implied in the 7 Sets by the 4 Frames of Reference.  The 4 Frames of Reference are basically Aggregates 2-5, given in terms of right effort.  “Matter” is omitted, since you can’t think with it.

The 5 Aggregates are:

  1. Form, or Matter
  2. Sensation and Feeling
  3. Perception, Cognition, and Discrimination.  Emotions go here, since they are based on the idea of discriminating between what is and what ought to be.
  4. Impulses, Volition.
  5. Consciousness

I drew you a little picture to show how this works. Consciousness arises out of the contact between consciousness and matter.  Note that when Buddhists talk about “form” they mean “matter,” which is structurally different from Western philosophy.  When Plato talks about “form,” he means a kind of intelligence inherent in nature — when we see something beautiful, Plato says it’s because our souls have contacted the form of beauty by seeing it in the beautiful object of perception.  Not so here. More


The 4 Frames of Reference (part of the 7 Sets series!)

cachemash #90: vipassanā

cachemash #90: vipassanā (Photo credit: eaubscene)

The 4 Frames of Reference are contexts toward which you direct your attention. (7 Sets indexYou just kind of zone out and focus on them. This is like a master painter contemplating his canvas and his paints. He may contemplate the colors of his paints, their texture, and so forth.

In your case you work backwards, unpainting your painting until you are contemplating the canvas, and then further until you are contemplating your not-even-the-canvas: Somehow considering the mental medium that will carry the form of the picture in the witnessing of it.

Again, you have perhaps looked at a computer or TV screen up close, seeing then the individual pixels and the pixellated fabric of the image. You might then become absorbed in the nature of the pixellated fabric itself. Or you might listen with an ear to the sounds you are hearing, the forms of the sounds, and the possibility of those forms.

Your thought itself has structure, and you can consider that structure. Beginning to pay attention to the right things is the 4 Frames of Reference set. More

Pointing-Out Instruction — How the Buddha would ZAP people (7 sets series)

Consider the Buddha’s introductory remark:

Harmoniously, cordially, without dispute,
train yourselves in these qualities
that I have pointed out to you,

having known them directly

What does it mean, “having known them directly?”

“Pointing out instruction” means drawing the student’s attention to the qualities of his own consciousness that unfold into enlightenment.  The Buddha’s notion was that everyone is a flashlight with gunk smeared on the lens.  Get rid of the gunk and you find enlightenment. More


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