Understanding The Five Aggregates

This talk continues a review of the contemplations found in the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, namely the Five Aggregates.  An overview of the interactions between Form, Feeling, Perception, Mind Conditioning Factors and Consciousness is provided, relating the aggregates to the other Foundations of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse, using several quotes from Analayo’s “Satipatthana–The Direct Path To Realization”.  Also included is a brief review of the next contemplation, the Six Sense Bases, as these are represented by the Form aggregate.  Because this contemplation provides a key insight into the concept of Dependent Origination, several subsequent Dharma talks will provide a review of the Mind Conditioning Factors, numbering 52 in the commentaries, and called Cetasikas, because of the key function these factors provide in Dependent Origination.  After reviewing the cetaskikas the Dependent Origination concept will then be considered.  The Cetasikas and Dependent Origination are not described in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse, but understanding how they operate is a key component in the process of Awakening.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Understanding The Five Aggregates

An important book that analyses the Five Aggregates entitled “The Five Aggregates–Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology”  by Matthieu Boisvert can be downloaded in .pdf format here:  The-Five-Aggregates-Understanding-Theravada-Psychology-Soteriology  (Soterilogy is the study of salvation).

Next week’s talk will focus on beginning a review of the Cetasikas with the “Universal Mind Conditioners”, which function in every moment of consciousness.

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Understanding NamaRupa

NamaRupa is an important concept in Buddhist psychology.  Nama represents the conditioning functions of the mind as Rupa, the experiencing of sensations is transformed into meaningful self-state organizations.  NamaRupa is another way to describe the Five Aggregates, that is, form (sensations, that is, Rupa), feelings, perceptions, mind conditioners and consciousness (These four represent the various categories of Nama).  During the talk, the importance of being mindfully aware of these different functions in order to not mistakenly believe that mental phenomena are inherently accurate representations of the objective world.  This awareness, when clearly established through the Seven Awakening Factors, (mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy/persistent Right Effort, joyful engagement, tranquility, stability of focus and equanimity/internal balance), leads to Awakening.  Peter emphasized that on a mundane level, the ability to discern the difference between what is sensed and how the mind makes meaning regarding the sensation is a core skill for cognitive therapy, a frequent and reliable way to promote mental health.

Here are the notes prepared for this presentation:  Understanding NamaRupa

Next week’s talk will involve a guest speaker, Andy Quinn, who will facilitate a discussion of the important place women occupy in contemporary Western Buddhism as practitioners, teachers and authors.  During next week, Peter and other community members will be on the yearly one week retreat, which will be discussed during the following regular Wednesday night meeting.

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Self State Liberation

During this talk, Peter reviewed last week’s topic, “The Selfing Story” and added to the concept of the Five Aggregates the additional concept of paticca sammuppada, typically translated as “dependent origination”.   He substituted the term “contingent provisional emergence” as a more contemporary rendering of the concept.  This revised meaning conveys the importance of recognizing that momentary experiences of “selfing” are holistic and non-linear, very complex and dynamically changing.  The value of mindfulness of feelings as feelings, not as an enduring self, was emphasized.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk: SELF STATE LIBERATION  Additionally, here are the notes for a previous discussion of paticca sammuppada:  Contingent Provisional Emergence

Next week’s discussion will be led by Daniel Logan.  Here is a brief synopsis of his topic:  “Many practitioners find it difficult to let go of the doubts and fears that arise during sitting or in the course of their greater practice. The Buddha himself struggled with fear on the eve of his liberation. He acknowledges his experience of fear in an excerpt from sutta MN 36: “Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?’ I thought: ‘I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities.” The Buddha’s own words give hope to those of us who may not yet have found perfect ease and contentment on the cushion or off. This dharma dialogue will present a more hopeful antidote to heavy and afflictive states by focusing on the role of joy and contentment in one’s practice. It will be an interactive exploration and will include brief written exercises and structured dialogues with fellow yogis.”

Sankhara the Self Maker

During this dhamma dialogue, Peter completed the exploration of the Five Aggregates, describing the function of sankhara, translated as the mind fabricator, the process of fabricating, and that which is fabricated.  This concept is related to the paticcasamuppada, usually translated as dependent origination, which will be the next topic explored.  This recording is accompanied by the notes prepared for the presentation.