Contemplating the khandhas

Hi to all,

Here is a text that is often used in Sutta Pitaka:

"… a mendicant contemplates: Such is form, such is the origin of form, such is the ending of form. Such is feeling, such is the origin of feeling, such is the ending of feeling. Such is perception, such is the origin of perception, such is the ending of perception. Such are choices, such is the origin of choices, such is the ending of choices. Such is consciousness, such is the origin of consciousness, such is the ending of consciousness.’ And so they meditate observing an aspect of principles internally …(from DN22, Sujato)

I wonder, how do you understand this? What does this in a practical sense mean for you?

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My understanding is that this contemplation is carried out after coming out of deep meditation (jhana) when the mind is free of the hindrances and is maleable, wieldy and steady such that it (the mind) can be directed to contemplate the nature of the khandas. But I could be wrong so happy to be corrected :anjal:

The passage here is from the mahasatipatthana sutta, which covers the four foundations of mindfulness or the four areas of meditative practice that lead to the establishment of mindfulness. In the sutta, there are four basic areas to become aware of, examine, contemplate, compare: the body (form), feelings, the mind and dhammas/principles. The passage you’ve quoted is from the section on dhammas/principles and its describing contemplation of the Five Aggregates of Clinging.

The sutta lays out to first contemplate our body. See that it’s made up of things like skin, hair, nails, teeth, organs, flesh, bones, blood, etc. As we see our body as a merely a body, we begin to realize that we’ve always assumed that our body is a permanent thing and that it is “I” “me” and “mine.” The sutta instructs us how to pay close attention to the continuum of constantly changing feeing tones of our experience: pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, from ecstasy to agony, the “how” it feels. Then we contemplate the “what” it is: our made-up perceptions, what we think things are. Then we are to contemplate how, based upon what things feel like and what we think they are, we make up stories and beliefs and views about what we think is reality and make choices based on our proliferations. By contemplating, we see that all of this in turn leads to a deluded and painful conditioned cobbled together patchwork of who we are and the way we think things are, a consciousness we mistake as “I”, “me” and “mine.”

By contemplating these five aggregates or bundles or parts that make up a sense of self, we can see they are merely processes that we cling to and create a sense of self from.

For ‘form’ part, maybe this is relevant?

"And what is form? (Such is form) The four primary elements, and form derived from the four primary elements. This is called form. (Such is the origin of form) Form originates from food. (Such is the ending of form) When food ceases, form ceases. The practice that leads to the cessation of form is simply this noble eightfold path, that is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.”

Thanks. I have seen a sutta in which it is explained that delight in the khandha’s is the food for the arising of the khandha’s. And by non-delight they are abandoned. I think it can be understood in two ways: in a more intellectual way and in a way that one sees delight arising, and abandons it at that moment. Applying wisdom (knowlegde of the 4 noble truths)

If i am looking forward to a nice dish, nice tastes, that is the food for the arising of nice tastes, nice feelings, enjoyment, clinging. I can see that.

An important perception to develop is the perception of non-delight in the entire world.
Oeps. That is something! One must not become depressed, right?

Once the Buddha advised the bhikkhu’s to contemplate the foulness of the body and as a result bhikkhu’s became so depressed and disgusted with the body they committed suicide. Tja…I think this also shows one cannot say this or that is approprate to do without knowing somebody. It depends.

The spiritual path and advices of the Buddha are no guarentee it will work. It is not science. We must see for ourselves if something works.

I think, a person who is inclined to depression must not work with such advices of seeing no delight in the entire world etc. It will only become darker and darker for this person, till the moment he/she is so fed up he/she makes an end to it.

Thanks for the clarification. It is clear for me. Regarding the body, it is for me very hard not to value this body greatly. Oke, it is full of shit and piss, decaying, a potential nest for illnesses but that has totallty no impact upon me. I still value the bodu greatly. How can you reduce this?

Yes, nicely said. Can we even come to some decisive knowledge that we are not the khandha’s and how? If we do not really see this, in a direct manner, can we reach enlightment?

I think one needs to see this directly to awaken. The reciprocal conditioning of namarupa and vinnana and their dependence on each other are key factors in Dependent Origination. It could be argued that between them are found the 5 khandhas. For awakening, avijja must end and when that happens, the chain of Dependent Origination is broken including namarupa and vinnana.