Sunday, January 8, 2012

The five aggregates: A "SELF" generating entity

Figure 1: The five aggregates

Figure 2:The five aggregates are arranged according to the sequence they are generated as shown in the mind works model (figure 3). The usual order in which the five aggregates are described in the literature is form, feeling, perception, mental formation (fabrication) and consciousness (figure 1).

"And why do you call them 'fabrications'? Because they fabricate fabricated things, thus they are called 'fabrications.' What do they fabricate as a fabricated thing? For the sake of form-ness, they fabricate form* as a fabricated thing. For the sake of feeling-ness, they fabricate feeling* as a fabricated thing. For the sake of perception-hood, they fabricate perception* as a fabricated thing. For the sake of fabrication-hood, they fabricate fabrication* as a fabricated thing. For the sake of consciousness-hood, they fabricate consciousness* as a fabricated thing. Because they fabricate fabricated things, they are called fabrications."
- "Khajjaniya Sutta: Chewed Up" (SN 22.79), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 29 June 2010, . Retrieved on 2 January 2012.
* The five aggregates

Here "sankara" (of the five aggregates) are translated as fabrications. In the Figure 1 & 2 above it is translated as mental formations. These are mainly "cetana" or intentions that consist of thoughts. The thoughts are responsible for regeneration maintenance of our current form (body). These thoughts direct us to maintain the form by feeding it with nutrients. Therefore mental formations or sankara have the ability to fabricate the form. The mental formations also can fabricate or regenerate more consciousness (mind-consciousness), feeling, perceptions and more mental formations (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: The basic mind works model

Not only in the present life, mental formations or thoughts are responsible for generation of future form in the rebirth process.

The six senses in the form generate consciousness dependent on the sense base (eye, ear...) and give rise to contact (Figure 3). The sequence of events that happen from here on are discussed in detail in the mind works model. This will give rise to further perception, feeling and in tun more thoughts (mental formations) in our present life as discussed before.

These thoughts (intentions) become our kamma for the next birth. The last thought will determine the rebirth-consciousness that will link with the next name-and-form and this is explained in the post on last thought and rebirth.

The main message in this post is mental formation is the key player in reconstructing or fabricating, form, feeling, perception, (more)mental formations and consciousness as a self perpetuating cycle. This process not only influence this life but also the next life.

A person or a being is basically a process or a "SELF" generating entity (please see the post on the anatomy of a being) of Rupa Dhamma (form/six senses) generating Nama Dhamma (feeling, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness or perceptions, feeling, mental formations, contact, attention as described in elsewhere). There is only clinging to a distorted perception of "SELF." There is no "person" or "SELF" in control. These Nama Dhammas constantly arise and pass away. The form that consists of the four elements (solid, liquid, heat, gas) will arise and pass away too just as the Nama Dhamma. This change in form or its existence is perceived by the mind (as a perception) and therefore this can be basically seen as a Nama Dhamma (please see the post on "The five aggregates: They are all activities of the mind)". Seeing this clearly as it happens in the present moment is the work of insight.

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