Are khandhas (aggregates/heaps/bundles) classifications or things?

Recent discussion of the khandhas made me wonder about how I understand them.

I’ve always (at least since I learned about them) thought of the khandhas as ways of classifying experience and that any particular experience generally involves all or most of the khandas. Though Ven Nyanatiloka’s comment below is couched in Abhidhammic terms, I don’t think the statement relies on the concept of mind moments.

Some writers on Buddhism who have not understood that the five khandha are just classificatory groupings, have conceived them as compact entities ‘heaps’, ‘bundles’, while actually, as stated above, the groups never exist as such, i.e. they never occur in a simultaneous totality of all their constituents. Also those single constituents of a group which are present in any given body-and-mind process, are of an evanescent nature, and so also their varying combinations. Feeling, perception and mental constructions are only different aspects and functions of a single unit of consciousness. They are to consciousness what redness, softness, sweetness, etc. are to an apple and have as little separate existence as those qualities.

So, are the khandas “things”? Does thinking of them as things distort our view of the suttas?

For example, when we see

The passing away, perishing, disintegration, demise, mortality, death, decease, breaking up of the bundles (khandhas), and laying down of the corpse of the various sentient beings in the various orders of sentient beings.

should we understand this as “breaking up of things (khandas)”, or “breaking up of (stuff that can be classified in terms of khandas)”?

One of the questions sometimes raised is whether an arahant “has khandhas”. If khandhas are merely a way of classifying experience, such questions seem to become irrelevant.

Not sure if I’m being clear here, but I think it may important to guard against unnecessary “thingizing”…


Good points, and the Pali has this ambiguity about it. It’s actually referring to the “sets” or “classes” of things.

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If this was the case then wouldn’t each individual subjectively classify experience differently; wouldn’t each individual would be like ‘God’ or ‘Brahma’, creating their own subjective world via Brahmanistic nama-rupa (‘naming-forms’)?

As suspected, to me, the above quote sounds like making consciousness the centre of the universe (“apple”) as though consciousness is ‘God’, ‘Brahma’ or ‘Atman’.

My reading of the suttas finds feeling, perception and mental constructions are different ‘objects’ of consciousness rather than ‘aspects’ of consciousness.

The suttas (MN 18, MN 148, etc) state mind, mind-consciousness & mind-objects together form sense contact (‘passa’) rather than different ‘consciousnesses’.

No. Khandhas are void of self (sunnata). For example, is there any ‘self’ in a finger or eye-ball? Khandhas in themselves reflect emptiness (sunnata). Seeing a khandha as ‘khandha’ is the same as seeing ‘emptiness’ (‘sunnata’). Thus MN 10 states, for example: “…mindfulness that ‘There is a body’ is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance…”. Seeing/regarding the body as ‘body’ is good enough. There is no need to see the body as many parts (despite this also being beneficial). Ultimately, viewing the whole body as ‘body’ is preferable to seeing parts as ‘my parts’.

Breaking-up a khandha still brings khandha. For example, a finger or eye-ball than falls off the physical body is still a khandha.

In my opinion, the sutta extract you quote should be understand as: “passing away, perishing, disintegration, demise, mortality, death, decease, breaking up of me or self”. The key term here is ‘beings’ or ‘satta’. Sutta such as SN 23.2 & SN 5.10 appear to give an impression or make a case that the term ‘beings’ (‘satta’) simply refers to a ‘view’ or ‘mental formation’ of ‘self’ (rather than a psycho-biological organism).

SN 22.85 clearly states the end of life of an arahant is simply the ending of the khandhas thus, based on SN 22.85, an arahant has khandhas (but is not defined or classified by those khandhas).

The Lord Buddha surely explained Nibbana-with-residue is the destruction of craving. It follows an obsession with destroying “thingizing” appears to not be the path. Destroying “thingizing” probably will only lead to temporary states of ‘nothingness’ (which the Buddha-To-Be rejected prior to his enlightenment). That said, ‘nothing’ is also a ‘thing’, namely, ‘no-thing’, which has ‘thingyness’.

The Lord Buddha spoke 84,000 often extremely descriptive teachings; using vivid examples, similes & metaphors. It seems the Lord Buddha did not regard “thingizing” as unnecessary.

In my internet travels & adventures over countless past lives (pubbe nivesa) & reincarnations, where I took birth with myriad names & clans, I noticed certain members of certain Buddhist internet sites intent (‘namati’) on trying to eradicate “thingizing”. They, for example, believed ‘sankhara’ in D.O. means “thingizing” (rather than kaya, vaci & citta sankhara). I saw, with purified physical eye, those internet beings (satta) rise into heaven due to ‘non-thingizing’; but then fall into hell when they were required to perform acts (kamma) of ‘thingizing’.

In short, for me, this doctrine of destroying “thingizing” is unnecessary since all ‘things’ are ‘void’ (‘sunnata’) of ‘self’ or ‘void-things’ by their very own inherent nature (‘sabhava’).

In summary, for me, believing the mind phenomenologically creates the entire world is Brahmanism, as the Great Brahma is described in DN 11, etc. For me, it is OK to hold there is an objective reality (as described in AN 3.136) since the Buddhist path is non-craving , non-attachment & non-selfing rather than non-thinging. No-thinging would seem to only lead to no-thinging. But when it must be asked at lunch: “Please pass the water”, how will that be done with a mind of “no-thingizing”?

For your consideration.

With metta :deciduous_tree:

"In this way did Alara Kalama, my teacher, place me, his pupil, on the same level with himself and pay me great honor. But the thought occurred to me, ‘This Dhamma leads not to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct knowledge, to Awakening, nor to Unbinding, but only to reappearance in the dimension of nothingness.’ So, dissatisfied with that Dhamma, I left.

MN 26

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Sorry, obviously I wasn’t clear enough. My point was that some material I hear or read implies that we are constructed from khandhas. As if the khandhas are some kind of building blocks, like atoms.

But the khandhas don’t have any continuous or independent existence. At the time of some particular experience there is form, feeling, etc, which comes and goes. The parts don’t exist as separate entities.

Your post was perfectly clear to me. You have absolutely nothing to apologize to me for. As I previously posted, for countless myriad births (jati) I have wandered, reading on DW the idiosyncratic doctrine you are espousing.

What is this “we” being referred to? “Life” is khandhas rather than the “self” or “we”. When life (materiality & mentality) functions, the khandhas function. To have this discussion & communication, together, two sets of khandhas must be functioning.

In summary (samkhittena), if the khandhas were not tangible salient building blocks, in the 1st noble truth, the Buddha would have said: “Samkhittena bahu-upadana-dhatu-dukkha”, namely, “grasping the many elements (atoms) is dukkha”.

This appears to be “overreaching” into Mahayana Nāgārjunaism, which is not refuge & faith (saddha) in Pali Buddhism. I personally have not read the word “entity”, as you have used it, in Pali Buddhism. Pali Buddhism uses the word “satta” or “being”, as follows:

Why now do you assume ‘a being’?
Mara, have you grasped a view?
This is a heap of sheer constructions:
Here no being is found.

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word ‘chariot’ is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There’s the convention ‘a being.’

It’s only suffering that comes to be,
Suffering that stands and falls away.
Nothing but suffering comes to be [when the view of ‘being’ comes to be],
Nothing but suffering ceases [when the view of ‘being’ ceases].

SN 5.10

At least ordinarily, an “entity” is a “self” rather than a “thing”. A rock, cloud, computer, finger or eye-ball is not an “entity” or “self” from the perspective of Buddha-Dhamma. A feeling, perception or moment of consciousness is not an “entity”.

I can only recommend to return to the basics, which are:

  1. Suffering is summarised (samkhittena) as grasping (upadana) at the five aggregates, which arises (samudhaya) due to craving (tanha) leading to new becoming (1st & 2nd noble truths).

  2. Suffering ends when that very same craving (tanha) ends (3rd noble truth).

  3. The five aggregates are impermanent, unsatisfactory (unable to bring lasting happiness) & not-self (2nd sermon).

There is really no Buddha-Dhamma outside of the first two sermons (shown by the production of five arahants). All of the other teachings (D.O., sunnata, etc) are merely extensions, additions, etc, to the core principles found in the first two sermons.

As I previously posted, to see the five aggregates as the ‘five aggregates’ is good enough because that in itself is the seeing of emptiness (sunnata). At least for a taste of Nibbana-with-residue (i.e., stream-entry), what is to be abandoned is ‘selfing’ rather than ‘thingying’.

:ram: :hibiscus::four_leaf_clover::penguin::koala:

Ok, thanks for your thoughts, but as far as I can see they have little relevance to the point I was trying to make. Be well.

While I agree it’s the grasping that’s the main problem, I think the aggregates themselves are also suffering. At least Bhikkhu Bodhi translates it like this in the Buddha’s first sermon (SN 56.11):

In his second sermon (SN 22.59), the Buddha even says:

I know that what he’s really pointing to is the non-self aspect, but it also makes it quite clear that because of their impermanent nature, the aggregates themselves are also suffering. So perhaps it isn’t right to say that suffering is summarised as grasping at the five aggregates.

If khandhas are merely a way of classifying experience, what is experienced could be classified in other ways. ‘Rupa’ could be classifed as ‘sanna’, ‘vinnana’ could be classified as ‘vedana’, etc.

But, in reality, I cannot eat vedana, sanna, sankhara & vinnana for breakfast. Instead, I must eat rupa (material food) for breakfast.

…the body — endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother & father, nourished with rice & porridge…

All the best. :deciduous_tree:

Obviously, I am not in full agreement with Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translations here. Other translators, do not translate the same as Bhikkhu Bodhi. I think SN 22.1 is a sutta I thinks covers this matter.

Whilst I am not asserting I am right or wrong in my translation (since it at least works for me personally), in my opinion, you are grasping at words or translations as ‘truth’.

Kind regards

Well, let’s leave Bhikkhu Bodhi out of it then:

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To me, ‘dukkha’ here means ‘unsatisfactory’ (‘cannot bring happiness’). Didn’t you read my original post? Alternate translation to Bhikkhu Bodhi here: (N.K.G. Mendis) (Acharya Buddharakkhita)

I reiterate. What you are arguing is only your personal opinion. It is an error to believe you or I are speaking on behalf of the Lord Buddha.

Kind regards :deciduous_tree:

But I don’t even know your name…would it be wise of me to take your word over Bhikkhu Bodhi’s? (it’s a rhetorical question)

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You are treating Bhikkhu Bodhi as the Buddha. This is very wrong. There are monks who translate & explain these things differently. However, this is still not the relevant issue. The Dhamma states it is to be verified by each person for themself.

That said, to answer your question directly: 'Yes, I think it would be very wise of you to take my word over Bhikkhu Bodhi’s". My name is not relevant.

Anyway, time for me to go. I have more important things to do. :palm_tree:

Oh. Read SN 22.1

I think that a discussion about the ultimate ontological status of khandhas is irrelevant for the spiritual practice. The central problem of the Dhamma, the problem of suffering, and the ennumeration of khandhas as its extension, is only relevant for us as long as it refers to our experience, since the existence is not given to us in any other form. Trying to overcome the intrinsically ‘subjective’ nature of experience and translate phenomena into allegedly ‘objective’ terms is bound to fail, as this way a large chunk of what dukkha really means, its gyst, will be lost in translation. In other words, if khandhas can be regarded as something being experienced, it is enough for our practice.

Besides, considering the doctrine of anatta, it does make little sense to differentiate between experience as ‘subjective’ reality and facts (or, to use a more Wittgensteinean term, ‘Sachverhalte’) as ‘objective’ reality. Since there is no ‘I’, there is no such thing as subjectivity or objectivity. Our experience is as much a part of the reality as the atoms.

Last but not least, of course khandhas don’t have any independent existence (or ‘sabhava’), they are all sankharas, conditioned things! For a khandha of feeling being conjoined with perception and consciousness is just part of its quality of being conditioned. This may sound a bit far-reaching, but as far as I understand the Suttas (and I am very much open to changing my views on that), nothing but Nibbana (whatever it is supposed to be) has an independent existence. That’s one of the reasons I am having issued with ‘dhammaa’ being translated as ‘things’. My own very preliminary translation is something along the lines of ‘principles’, a rendering bound to be false but still in my opinion more adequate than ‘things’.


[quote=“Vstakan, post:14, topic:3230”]
I think that a discussion about the ultimate ontological status of khandhas is irrelevant for the spiritual practice.[/quote]
If that was the case, why would the teachings continually refer to the aggregates, such as in the 2nd sermon, about how each aggregates has three-characteristics. Is not those three characteristics the ultimate ontological status of khandhas plus khandhas themselves are the ultimate ontological status of a human life? If the question is asked: “What is a human life comprised of?”, is not the general Buddhist answer the five aggregates?

[quote=“Vstakan, post:14, topic:3230”]
Besides, considering the doctrine of anatta[/quote]
Is not universal ‘anatta’ the ultimate ontological status of everything, namely, things exist without any intrinsic ego or self?

If there was no “I”, why do the teaching repeatedly advise to abandon the “I”?

Also, that all arahants have exactly the same realisation about the nature of things, must not this indicate there is objectivity?

Does ‘sabhava’ actually mean what you are inferring it means? Personally, I do not know much about the term.

However, from when I once heard a teacher often mention the term ‘sabhava’ (but never explain it), my impression is that teacher was referring to inherent characteristics & features of nature itself.

For example, SN 22.79 states:

And why do you call it ‘form’? Because it is afflicted…

And why do you call it ‘feeling’? Because it feels…

And why do you call it ‘perception’? Because it perceives…

And why do you call them ‘fabrications’? Because it fabricates fabrications…

And why do you call it ‘consciousness’? Because it cognizes…

AN 3.136 states:

Monks, whether or not there is the arising of Tathagatas, this property stands—this steadfastness of the Dhamma, this orderliness of the Dhamma: All processes are inconstant…etc

The single word ‘dharma’ has so many meanings dependent on context, such as ‘things’, ‘truth’, law’, ‘reality’, ‘practises’, ‘duty’, etc. Its root & basic meaning is ‘that which supports’. Therefore ‘things’, such as food, oxygen, etc, are examples of things that ‘support’ human life.

I mentioned previously on this thread that this discussion is sounding very ‘Mahayana’ or ‘Nargajuna’. There are many issues with this, namely: (i) reducing aggregates into smaller & smaller components is not something that occurs in meditation; atoms are not observed in meditation; what is observed in meditation is aggregates; and (ii) things exist regardless of their being named. There is something that is named as ‘consciousness’. When eyes are open, some ‘thing’ operates to see the world; when the eyes are closed, this ‘thing’ ceases to operate to see the world. It does not matter if this thing or substance is not named a ‘thing’, ‘consciousness’ or a ‘cat’, it is still a ‘sabhava thing’ that operates or has existence (however temporarily) according to its unique nature. Whenever consciousness operates, it will always operate to cognize. It will not operate to digest, walk or talk.

Anyway, that is how I ponder these matters.

In short, my answer to the question is khandhas (aggregates/heaps/bundles) are ‘things’ rather than ‘classifications’ since when breathing, vedana, consciousness, etc, are experienced there is much more going on than just ‘classification’ or Brahmanistic ‘naming’ of ‘forms’.

For example, when the mind stops classifying ‘rapture’ in jhana, does the rapture disappear? When the mind stops classifying ‘breathing’, does life end from oxygen deprivation?


The questions is then how you define ‘life’. It is possible both in experiential and ontological terms. The ontological definition is, however, of little relvance for the spiritual practice - while still totally possible. For all intents and purposes, dealing with the khandhas in experiential context is more than enough.

True. In this case the doctrine was applied to a particular object, namely human beings.

Because we think there is an I. We think there are ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ things in the sense of ‘relating to my self only in a very intimate sense’ and ‘relating to others / everything’. If there is ultimately no self, there is no true subjectivity. In that case, the word ‘objectivity’ becomes a little bit awkward, because everything becomes an object, but well, if you want you can use it. To describe the knowledge of arahants, or rather the relationship between its propositional contents and observed facts, you can use oppositions like ‘factivity - non-factivity’ or ‘truth - falsehood’.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article. Here’s a link to a more expansive discussion of the term. It’s not quite ‘independent existence’, that’s correct (I didn’t really want to provide long explanations in a relatively short commentary :slight_smile:) but in my view it is still pretty difficult to regard as ‘being a result of previous conditions’ as Peter Harvey put it, because otherwise it would be pretty hard to qualify it as ‘own-being’ and regard it as the essence of a perceived phenomenon ‘in and of itself’. As is discusses in the second article, essence is not quite equal to the nature. Still, with enough bending and stretching, just as any other term, I think its meaning may be changed according to the sankhara nature of the experienced world. Even more importantly, the Buddha Himself never speaks of sabhava in the Nikayas, but makes quite an extensive use of the term ‘sankhara’.

Nagarjuna was a clever dude, I am honestly flattered by your comparison. :slight_smile:

Think about the mental khandhas such as feeling, perception and consciousness. Think about it, if the feeling cannot be separated from perception and consciousness and even cannot be though of as separated from them, it’s not really an atom-like element of experience but rather its dimension. The mind is pseudo-3D just like space. If you think the Abhidhamma is correct in the mind moment theory, then okay, your position is sound and dhammas are ultimately ‘things’. If you don’t think it is correct, then you are having a whole lot of problems with mental dhammas being ‘things’. You can’t even equate them with phenomena because your mental picture of a table certainly doesn’t consist of three different phenomena or three different things while it does consist of at least three different dhammas. In other words, mental dhamma blend seamlessly in your mind, while the sub-atomic particles liek electrons or quarks don’t do this in the physical Universe. So, a dhamma in a specifically philosophical context is something that can be qualified as a thing, a phenomenon, a quale, a primitive building block of a phenomenon, a fact of awareness, in short, something much more basic and substance-less and less solid and ‘independent’ than a ‘thing’. If you think of it, even Nibbana is not a thing but is most likely a dhamma. It doesn’t mean dhammas aren’t real, it rather means that ‘that which supports’ should be rendered with an English word suggesting something subtler than a thing, something that may be sankhara, i.e. conditioned, and at the same time liberated as Nibbana. ‘Principle’ is probably not a very good starting point, but it is a starting point.

Moreover, translating khandhas as aggregates, heaps or bundles is in my opinion not the best way to render this term in English, since its basic meaning in Pali is ‘torso, tree trunk’. In that case, ‘sets’ or ‘classes’ is a much more appropriate translation

Finally, it wasn’t my point to say that the khandhas don’t exist outside of our minds or our experience. My point was that first, our experience is part of ‘objective’ or factual reality and thus if khandhas are part of it they are part of the reality, second everything we encounter in our practice is only our experience, so everything outside of it is not hugely relevant. You will not be liberated by believing in khandhas as existing outside of the experience. You can be liberated, however, by examining the khandhas in your experience (a very loose description of the path to liberation here). If that is so, why bother pondering about the ultimate ontological status of everything and not just practice using the experiential concept of khandhas?

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I doubt there can be agreement when the above statement is made the core principle of a doctrine. That there is an objective reality comprised of conditioned phenomena (idappaccayatā ) & three characteristics (tri-lakkhana) is the totality of relevance for spiritual practice. The mind does not phenomenologically create enlightenment. As Dogen said: " To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things". The Pali suttas state about phenomena revealing their nature (‘sabhava’) to the meditator:

When things become manifest
To the ardent meditating brahman,
All his doubts then vanish since he understands
Each thing along with its cause.

As phenomena grow clear
to the brahman — ardent, in jhāna —
his doubts all vanish
when he discerns
a phenomenon with its cause.

Ud 1.1

Wiki is not the Buddha. Wiki is written by a person like you or me. Buddhadasa was the foremost teacher of emptiness (sunnata) in Thailand, at time probably the only teacher of emptiness, yet he used the term ‘sabhava-dhamma’ to refer to nature (nature being the totality of the universe which includes the laws of nature/dhamma-niyama within it). He had no issues with the term. I can only suggest you increase your scope of reference rather than continuing to fall back on Western philosophy & Western scholars. The Buddha never spoke of many things in the Nikayas that you would probably make a case for.

To me, the belief Nagarjuna was clever (as cause) means the resultant belief (as effect) that the Lord Buddha was an imperfect teacher & made omissions in the Nikayas. To me, Nagarjuna got things wrong, such as the illogical idea that because conditioned things exhibit sunnata then sunnata equates to conditionality (idappaccayatā). This is akin to asserting all dogs are animals therefore all animals are dogs. Nibbana is sunnata but not conditioned. This very fact demonstrates Nagarjuna seemed to be not as clever as you believe (unless you now want to argue like the Mahayana often do that Nibbana is not sunnata or Nibbana is conditioned).

The suttas do not encourage ‘thinking’ about the khandhas. In the 1st noble truth & elsewhere, it is said the khandhas are to ‘comprehended’ with insight.

Discernment & consciousness, friend: Of these qualities that are conjoined, not disjoined, discernment is to be developed, consciousness is to be fully comprehended.

MN 43

[quote=“Vstakan, post:16, topic:3230”]
Think about it, if the feeling cannot be separated from perception and consciousness and even cannot be though of as separated from them…[/quote]
But they can be separated. While there are feelings of ‘equanimity’ in higher jhanas, when rapture ceases or pain ceases, these feelings are separated from consciousness.

Just as Nargajuna asserted all dogs are animals thus all animals are dogs, you appear to be arguing all feelings require consciousness to arise & be known therefore all consciousness is inseparable from all feelings.

In gradual meditation, breath/rupa becomes the dominant of consciousness. Then when breath calms, breath is no longer discerned in jhana & pleasurable feeling becomes the dominant object. When pleasurable feelings calm, citta becomes the dominant object. While feelings of equanimity many remain, then impermanence becomes the dominant object. Not all rupa, feelings, perceptions & consciousness are inseparable.

There is no “we”. There is no “our” experience. All that occurs in attainment meditation is the khandhas have an encounter with/experience of the khandhas. As Dogen said: ‘The self is forgotten & the mind is enlightened by the myriad things’.

For me, Buddhist vipassana meditation is not “phenomenology” (from Greek phainómenon “that which appears” and lógos “study”), i.e., the study of the structures of experience & consciousness. Buddhist meditation is not about “appearances”. “Appearances” (‘pātubhāvo’ in SN 12.2) are delusions. Buddhist meditation goes beyond the study & experience of only consciousness and is the study of the ‘inherent’ (i…e, ‘ontological’; ‘sabhava’) previously undiscerned characteristics of all phenomena; of each aggregate; which are independent of consciousness in their impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & non-selfhood.

There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clung-to-aggregates: ‘Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.’ AN 4.41; MN 122

Kind regards :deciduous_tree:

Hi everyone, just a gentle, general reminder about our Guidelines. In particular, please remember this section: Be agreeable, especially when you disagree.

Here’s a lovely excerpt:

Remember “the advice of the Araṇavibhaṅga Sutta [MN 139]: criticize ideas, not people.”

And another:

Instead, consider first the things that should be reflected on before criticizing another (from MN 21 Kakacūpama Sutta, and Vinaya Kd 19.5.2):

“I will speak at a right time, not at a wrong time; I will speak about what is true, not about what is not true; I will speak with gentleness, not with harshness; I will speak about what is meaningful, not about what is not meaningful; I will speak with a mind of loving-kindness, not with inner hatred.”

Why is the Buddha’s speech so persuasive? It’s because he always spoke clearly, kindly, and rationally. If you do the same, you’ll find that people will be much more open to your ideas.

With Metta.


Exactly. For example, He never spoke of the sabhava.

Sorry, ‘separated’ was a poor word choice. Better to say ‘conjoined’, i.e. while they can be separated intellectually, they always arise conjoined in the reality. Neither-pleasurable-nor-unpleasurable feelings are still feelings, they don’t stop in the fourth jhana, and of course there is some slight perception right until the fourth arupa jhana, but even then you can’t say there is not perception. This argument of mine is based on MN 44:

“Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them.”

Yes, exactly, that’s what I meant when I said there is no ‘I’. Since there is no I, there is no subjectivity, so the problem kinda becomes pointless. Anyway, right now we think there is ‘we’ and experience is ‘ours’. When we realize through practice that it is not the case, the problem of khandhas will be possibly solved. If not, it won’t really matter because we will be on our way to the Awakening.

Exactly. For example, did he speak of relinking-stream-of-consciousness or volitional formations in Dependent Origination? The same commentators who invented ‘sabhava’ possibly also invented the other things. This does not necessarily make the idea invalid.

[quote=“Vstakan, post:19, topic:3230”]
Neither-pleasurable-nor-unpleasurable feelings are still feelings, they don’t stop in the fourth jhana…[/quote]
I already made this point, with the premise that arupa jhanas are also jhanas.

[quote=“Vstakan, post:19, topic:3230”]
Sorry, ‘separated’ was a poor word choice. Better to say ‘conjoined’…[/quote]
My recollection of our previous discussion was I gained the impression you were portraying ‘consciousness’ like the ‘centre of the universe’. To me, it sounded like a psuedo-Brahma or Atman-in-disguise. You seemed to be asserting that all things are dependent upon consciousness.

But the suttas do not appear to state this. The suttas seem to state consciousness is dependent on other things (eg MN 18; MN 38; etc); dependent upon sense organs & sense objects. Or otherwise, consciousness & other things are mutually dependent (eg SN 12.67 ).

This appears to be exemplified in the cessation of perception & feeling (9th jhana), where the mind is said to become unconscious. If consciousness ceases to function here, it is because feeling & perception are totally calmed. In other words, there appears to be no luminous consciousness devoid of feeling, perception & other objects. When feeling & perception are completely calmed, it seems consciousness must also end because consciousness is dependent upon feeling, perception, formations &/or rupa for its arising (as stated in SN 22.53).

[quote=“Vstakan, post:19, topic:3230”]
Yes, exactly, that’s what I meant when I said there is no ‘I’. Since there is no I, there is no subjectivity…[/quote]
I recall saying when ignorance operates, there is the “I” therefore there is subjectivity, which causes personal disagreements, conflict, wars & suffering.

To the contrary, when there is enlightenment, it seems logical that subjectivity ceases & objectivity remains. Since all arahants must be equal in their realization, it seems logical there is objectivity (AN 3.136).

To me, the khandhas are not a problem (SN 22.48). I have never found the khandhas to be a problem in my life (apart from when one of the khandhas produces ignorance). To me, it is attachment (upadana) to the khandhas that is the problem (SN 22.48; SN 22.1). It does matter to me because attempting to eradicate the perception &/or knowing of khandhas will not lead to awakening, in my opinion. It will have similarities the type of nihilism described in MN 102 .12 (where the khandhas are substituted for ‘identity’).

For me, the sabhava nature of the khandhas is they are intrinsically void of “I” & “we”. The khandhas themselves exhibit emptiness (sunnata) by their very own sabhava nature. In short, sabhava is sunnata rather than the opposite of sunnata.

In conclusion, my answer to the question is khandhas (aggregates/heaps/bundles) are ‘things’ rather than ‘classifications’ since when breathing, vedana, consciousness, etc, are experienced there is much more going on than just ‘classification’ or Brahmanistic ‘naming’ of ‘forms’.