Discernment challenge 😎

Again this will reveal the nature of the eye-element and the nature of the attempts at the appropriation of the eye-element.

I am pleased that you can tell the difference. :slightly_smiling_face:

I see what you mean.
The omni_perception_ is in some sense,not a wrong description of perception in general.
Also, the need to represent this in images(angels etc) may be an attempt to describe it and to ‘capture’ the insight, but that trying to ‘capture’ it will inevitably lead to views about it i.e its God, i have a transcendent soul, the world is eternal etc etc

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IMO it is what is described in the second frame of satipatthana ( MN10), basically knowing what feelings are present at any one time: “They meditate observing feelings as liable to originate, as liable to vanish, and as liable to both originate and vanish. Or mindfulness is established that feelings exist, to the extent necessary for knowledge and mindfulness.”

Sure, though without full equanimity there will inevitably be some craving or aversion involved. Awareness of craving and aversion is part of the third fame of satipatthana ( states of mind ). This relates to DO where craving ( tanha ) arises in dependence upon feeling ( vedana ).

Yes, there is a directness and immediacy about tactile sensation - possibly why mindfulness of the body is stressed in the EBTs?

I think this might be because we consider the body to be mine, as differing from sights and sounds.

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Eventually anattā will be realised I’d suspect.

So Venerable would you recommend doing this as contemplation, drilling continuously?

It arises and ceases by itself as is not me or mine.

This kind of contemplation is very helpful for me, as reading the Suttas on there own isn’t enough for understanding, I need to know what these Dhammas are in my experience as the the Suttas are so general.

Bhante, I’d be very happy if you had the time to write up your experience of, and nature of the 5 Aggregates as you did for the eye.
Best Wishes

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Indeed, doing this only a few times will not make a difference.
Of course, there is only so much you can say about ‘feeling’, but the point is to be able to discern it sufficiently enough, through initially describing it and ‘learning how to let feeling feel’, and then when it is ‘discernable’ to let it be (although its just like it always was), persisting in the background.
There is always a feeling, so if you discern it correctly, you cannot forget about it, you cannot forget about that significant background. Thus mindfulness becomes effortless.
Keep trying until one simply cannot give in to or be fooled by the feeling-pressure-effect anymore. That can then verify if you are in fact headed in the right direction.

It will because it is the way it is, its not something that you have to create. It becomes apparent.

And one just needs to learn to let that significance endure; or allow that sign of ‘not mine’ to sink in, so to speak.

Yes, the instructions need to be applied.
Restraint being an obvious instruction or guarding the doors /apertures of the senses.
By not giving into the pressure of the senses, your situation, your world begins to become apparent here and now, one becomes truly alive, so to speak…a great way to cure depression actually.

Well I accept the challenge, and I will try it a bit later.

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Before I begin and before you read my description, I suggest you write down your own description first, so as not to be influenced by mine.
The point is not to get the right answers but to be able to get the right base(yoniso manasikara) established, so that the right answers(parato ca ghosa) will become apparent (sanditthiko).

There are two conditions for the arising of right view:
“Dve kho, āvuso, paccayā sammādiṭṭhiyā uppādāya—
the words of another and knowledge of the ground by which attention is .
parato ca ghoso, yoniso ca manasikāro." MN43

It is said “Five aggregates, five aggregates”, what is " five aggregates?

There are five aggregates which constitute the entirety of my experience and so I will refer to them as ‘THIS’ meaning the ‘five-aggregates’ as one thing.
THIS is a thing, my whole experience. It is a general thing.
It is my whole situation, not the particular parts within.

I see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think. I feel. I intend. I am typing. There is movement. There is stillness. There is attention…all of that is encompassed by THIS, the situation as a whole.

Those particular things within THIS, I will refer to as this.
I can’t call it that because that would leave ‘me’ out.
I am included in the term this. I am also a particular part encompassed by THIS.

THIS I cannot perceive directly, even as I think THIS…that is a thought about THIS which is a part of this.
I can only know THIS as a kind of significance of this.
this points to THIS.
Wherever I look I whatever I think, that is all within the situation as a whole.
The knowledge of THIS, is in a way, a higher knowledge, literally higher. It is not something I can pay attention to. It is behind attention while I attend to this typing.
It is the behind my thinking as I think about this description.
I can only know it indirectly on account of this.

The source of my attention cannot be attended to but I can know it indirectly while I am attending.

What I attend to is in front, the foreground.
That foreground is this.
The foreground indicates the background.
If I imagine " if that foreground was not here", I can’t now imagine how I could know of THIS background.
I can’t even now imagine THIS background without _this_foreground.
They seem inseparable but not joined.
When there is the background, there is the foreground.
When there is the foreground, there is the background.
“With THIS, this is”

The THIS is there unmoving, but it IS just there. It’s beginning I cannot remember. It has manifested and as such, it is manifested. It endures.
It is more apparent to me now, not like before I started typing I could say that, its apparentness is increasing while it endures.

THIS is manifested and this is manifested.
I cannot imagine one without the other.
I cannot grasp that background, its beyond my grasp.

Where are perceptions? In front
Where is attention? Behind perceptions pointing forwards
Where are intentions? All around perceptions , directing attention. (There are infinite possibilities, but only a few get attended to)
Where is feeling? Behind perceptions, behind attention, behind intentions, undirected, not pointing anywhere
Where is form/rupa? Unperceivable, unattendable, further behind or even below/beyond this. Inconceivable.

All that this is there within THIS.
The THIS is undeniable. It IS even if I don’t want it to be. It is even if I want more of it. It is indifferent to me or this
It has manifested, which indicates the opposite of what it is.
It indicates the ‘possibility of non-manifestation’.
The sign of ‘possibility of non- manifestation’ has manifested on account of the manifested.
THIS indicates its negative i.e its possibility of cessation, NOT-THIS.

I think I will stop there and leave you with the following sutta:

“Bhikkhus, do you see: ‘THIS has manifested’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, do you see: ‘Its manifestation occurs with that this as nutriment’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, do you see: ‘With the(possibility of)cessation of that this nutriment, what has manifested is subject to the (possibility of )cessation’?”—“Yes, venerable sir

Bhikkhus, does doubt arise when one is uncertain thus: ‘Has THIS manifested’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, does doubt arise when one is uncertain thus: ‘Does its manifestation occur with that this as nutriment’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, does doubt arise when one is uncertain thus: ‘With the possibility of cessation of that this nutriment, is what has manifested subject to possibility of cessation’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”

“Bhikkhus, is doubt abandoned in one who sees as it actually is with right understanding thus: ‘THIS has manifested’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, is doubt abandoned in one who sees as it actually is with right understanding thus: ‘Its manifestation occurs with that this as nutriment’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, is doubt abandoned in one who sees as it actually is with right understanding thus: ‘With the (possibility of)cessation of that this nutriment, what has manifested is subject to possibility of cessation’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”

“Bhikkhus, are you thus free from doubt here: ‘This has manifested’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, are you thus free from doubt here: ‘Its manifestation occurs with that this as nutriment’?” —“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, are you thus free from doubt here: ‘With the possibility of cessation of that this nutriment, what has manifested is subject to cessation’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”

“Bhikkhus, has it been seen well by you as it actually is with right understanding thus: ‘This has manifested’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, has it been seen well by you as it actually is with right understanding thus: ‘Its manifestation occurs with that this as nutriment’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, has it been seen well by you as it actually is with right understanding thus: ‘With the possibility of cessation of that this nutriment, what has manifested is subject to possibility of cessation’?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”

“Bhikkhus, purified and bright as this view is, if you adhere to it, cherish it, treasure it, and treat it as a possession, would you then understand that the Dhamma has been taught as similar to a raft, being for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of acquiring?”—“No, venerable sir.”—“Bhikkhus, purified and bright as this view is, if you do not adhere to it, cherish it, treasure it, and treat it as a possession, would you then understand that the Dhamma has been taught as similar to a raft, being for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of acquisition?”—“Yes, venerable sir.”

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Here goes…
5 Aggregates- I noticed as I was writing this all the Aggregates are working together constantly, their nature is to ‘experience’

Consciousness- The nature of my consciousness is to experience, and it will experience whether i say so or not, it is the ultimate background and becomes particular when my senses are contacted.

Form- For me, form is the hardness of the steering wheel I am feeling, the heat of my body sitting in this seat, the cool breath coming into my body, and the horrible tasting saliva in my mouth from not eating all day. My senses are also form, and their nature is to search out sense pleasures, I can’t stop them doing that as long as I have this body, but I practice restraint of them as the sense objects contact me.

Perception- Right now I perceive things based on the eye, the shape of a black car in front of me, my perceptions based on the ear are of traffic passing by, close, then off into the distance. My overall general background perception is one of ‘my experience’.

Feeling- The presently arisen feeling/mood in my current experience is one of mildly unpleasant. I have this feeling right now which is filling my whole experience from a background point of view. My level of craving for sensuality increasing as this feeling persists. It appears as a background cloud, and I have no power of when it comes or goes, it is not under my control.

Determinations- My intention is driving me to type these words on my tablet screen, and as I become more aware of my intentions i see there are a number of them determining each other constantly, ‘faster I type the quicker I will get home from work’, ‘no, slow down and get this right’.

I may have mixed a lot up and some may not make sense. I’ve got a long way to go, but at least I’m making a start!


I will ask you some questions in regards to those descriptions that you gave, not to get right answers but to keep your thinking ‘concrete’, or to keep your thinking to be concerned with the ‘thing’ which you are actually experiencing; so that you learn the difference between abstract thinking and concrete thinking, so that you can think rightly without being distracted into your thoughts, divorcing yourself from the thing you are describing. ( which you might already be doing of course)

Abstract thinking is not wrong but if one approaches the Dhamma like this, one will remain unaffected by the meaning of the Dhamma and instead will be solely a scholar with great concepts and ideas or a scientist with great theories and conclusions.
Those ideas are necessary to a degree, but there needs to be concrete thinking so to be able to see and know what those ideas MEAN, to know what those teachings mean or point to in your present experiential reality.
For example, it is said, ’ all sankharas are anicca’, so I could look up the meaning of those words and then sutta references and think ‘about’ those concepts, abstractly divorced from ‘direct’ discernment of those actual things which the concepts are in regards to. Of course, as you can see, I need to know first ABOUT the words, so dictionaries and sutta referencing is important, but then I need to know or discern what the words are REFERRING to.
This is why the description rather than explanation is important.
I can think about a feeling, but that is not the feeling.
The feeling is not a thinking, its a feeling.
I cannot stop thinking, but I can think without abstract, distracted thinking(vicikiccha)and without losing the discernment of the feeling.
Thinking (vitakka-vicara ) which is not divorced from the actual thing that I am presently thinking i.e yoniso manasikara.

puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhikkhu dhamme kaṅkhati vicikicchati nādhimuccati na sampasīdati … pe … evamassāyaṃ dutiyo cetokhilo appahīno hoti.__Furthermore, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is uncertain about, thinks abstractly about, does not become settled on, does not become clear about the Dhamma… in this way there is this second mental barrenness which is not abandoned."

“paṭhamaṃ kho, āvuso, jhānaṃ pañcaṅgavippahīnaṃ, pañcaṅgasamannāgataṃ. idhāvuso, paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa bhikkhuno kāmacchando pahīno hoti, byāpādo pahīno hoti, thīnamiddhaṃ pahīnaṃ hoti, uddhaccakukkuccaṃ pahīnaṃ hoti, vicikicchā pahīnā hoti; vitakko ca vattati, vicāro ca pīti ca sukhañca cittekaggatā ca. paṭhamaṃ kho, āvuso, jhānaṃ evaṃ pañcaṅgavippahīnaṃ pañcaṅgasamannāgatan”ti. Friend, the first jhāna, with five things abandoned, is endowed with five things. Here, friend, the desire for sensual pleasures is abandoned by a bhikkhu who has entered upon the first jhāna, ill-will is abandoned, rigidity-&-sluggishness is abandoned, over-excitement-&-misconduct is abandoned, abstract thinking is abandoned. Thinking goes on, and pondering, and joy, and pleasure, and the unification of mind. In this way, friend, the first jhāna, with five things abandoned, is endowed with five things."

Usually one tries to attend a feeling but this is not possible because ‘feeling’ is in the background, and so one needs to discern that background while attending the foreground(thinking).
Thinking thinks, feeling feels.

“_kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sampajāno hoti? idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno viditā vedanā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti. viditā vitakkā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti. viditā saññā uppajjanti, viditā upaṭṭhahanti, viditā abbhatthaṃ gacchanti. evaṃ kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sampajāno hoti.
And how, bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu aware? Here, bhikkhus, it is known by a bhikkhu that feelings arise, it is known that they are present, it is known that they disappear. It is known that thoughts arise, it is known that they are present, it is known that they disappear. It is known that perceptions arise, it is known that they are present, it is known that they disappear. In this way, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is aware. _"

My questions to you then are:
1 - How does consciousness become particular when your senses are contacted?
Is consciousness one thing?


Which one is form, is it the senses or the perceptions? Or is it both?

3- Can you perceive your feeling?

Things are already mixed up, and seeing the ‘mix up’ is, in fact, a giant leap.
How long does it take to untangle a tangle?

It seems that you are unsure about the word sankhara because you used the word ‘determination’ in relation to intention. Which is not wrong, because intention does determine action, but also, action determines intention. ??

Thankyou Venerable.
To answer the questions:

  1. It seems that I have a ‘perception’ of consciousness being one, and then going out to the respective sense objects when contacted, instead of discerning consciousness directly.
    Consciousness is behind the perceptions and cannot be seen directly, but it must be there for me to be able to cognise. It must be with the objects already as soon as there is contact.
    If the Aggregates are the background, then the senses (Eye, ear, nose, etc) and their objects are the particulars in the foreground?
  1. Me saying ‘hardness’, ‘Eye, ear, nose, etc’ is explaining by perception, form is the senses in the foreground, it seems I cannot access form directly, but can point towards it with perceptions, although that is not the ‘form’ itself. We cannot ‘form’ a form, we can only ‘perceive, feel or cognise’ what we assume to be the form, whereas in fact we are ‘perceiving a perception, feeling a feeling, cognising a cognisant’.
    Form then comes before perception? Feeling comes before perception, consciousness before, determinations before. Me saying ‘comes before’ is meant from my experiential point of view. So I can only ‘perceive’ form, is that right Bhante?
  1. No, perceptions perceive, feelings feel. A correct perception can point towards a ‘feeling’, but it is not the ‘feeling’ itself. Feelings come before perception.

I thought that intentions are determinations, and that they are also determined. Same with actions, they are determined, and are determinations. Determined actions will create habits, which determine future intentions. I will read up on this.

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This is what’s called the ‘ghana sanna’- seeing nama Rupa and vinnana, compounded.

Once you get a feel for this way of thinking i.e ‘concrete’ thinking, thinking about something while that something is discerned/known (abhijanati) peripherally. (Vipassana and samadhi, ‘composed in right contemplation’)
Not just abstract thinking which is divorced from the presently arisen thing that you are thinking about; then you can pretty much set sail on your own, of course being familiar with the suttas can help keep you attending to the things that matter. But really if you discern feeling, craving will be revealed and then one needs to abandon it ( the actual phenomenon of craving). And you will know if you are doing it right or wrong because you will see the direct correlation between craving and possibility to suffer.

“You have a perception of consciousness being one.”
Now just try and be more accurate in your description i.e what is exactly is meant by perception of consciousness?
If the aggregates are in the background? Maybe they are not?

In the suttas, the Buddha describes the aggregates in a particular order, that order is structural.
Form, feeling, perception, determinations, consciousness.
Where are you in this structure? Try to describe where you are in relation to these things…

Well, I could answer that, but it’s better if you press forward with your descriptions and try to see if that makes sense.

Once you read, then try to see it, describe it to yourself.
Determinations are determining this determined determination (this being my experience here).

What is determining this here your experience of 'feeling, perceiving, attending, intending’?
What determines that which determines this here your experience of ‘feeling, perceiving, attending, intending’?

This way of thinking is what can be called ‘opanayika’, because it brings one into or ‘close’ to being able to know the structural principle of paticcasamupada (with THIS, this is) and when that principle is understood/ sammapanna, then this way of thinking based on that understanding of the principle leads one on to the uprooting of ignorance, greed and hate.

Thanks for the descriptions DCM.


When the birds sing the sutta disappears.
When the sutta is heard the birds disappear.
Simply attending, the birds and sutta appear.


I have a mental picture of consciousness which is bubble like, it then seems to split out to each sense when the sense is contacted.
Well, contact, feeling, perception, form are included in namarupa so can be particular with consciousness in the background, determining them.

I don’t know, there seems to be a lot of ME’s, which is nonsensical, as I seem to be any of the aggregates, whichever is particular and prominent in my experience. It’s the sense of self, which is dependent on the aggregates, which means it cannot be some independent, permanent self.



Hi Mat, I haven’t come across the term ‘ghana’ before, could you elaborate more please? Thanks.

I see you are describing certain aspects of attention.
When the bird’s song is heard, that is were your attention is placed, and the sound of the sutta, which is happening at the same time as the birds, is no longer attended to.
And so you can switch from one attended thing to another.
However, if one were to attend to one thing, the birds, then suttasound(if it is present) do not disappear(you might be using this word poetically?), the suttasound is still heard by the ear in the background even though you might be attending the birds in particular.
It is still heard by the ear, and you can know this because there is an option for you to attend the suttasound again.

Sounds are happening and the ear is operating, that sense door is open and I cannot close it, for even if I blocked the ear, I hear silence, the absence of sound but still the ear is operating.

By your placement of the word ‘simply attention’ i would say that you mean to describe attending to a more general phenomenon, which is ‘bird-and-sutta’, not just a more particular thing such as just ‘bird’.
You can then go even further or more general and attend to ‘sound-in-general’, and by doing so the particular sounds will be pushed in the distance, you will still hear them peripherally.
If I were to attend to that more general phenomenon or develop the recognition of it, then I can enter and remain in it while multiple sounds are there in the background.
But if I attend solely on the sound in general, I lose that peripheral awareness of the ‘distant’ particular sounds, and am lost in sound-in-general…which isn’t any use, because as soon as a particular sound which ear wants occurs in the distance, that is what will pull attention away from that more general phenomenon of hearing/sound ie I am overpowered by the ear.

However, if attention is placed on the ‘general hearing’ without losing awareness of that because of which I can even attend to the general hearing in the first place i.e particular sounds;
Then, I can developing the imperturbable, so to speak,
I am not moved or bothered by particular sounds, because I have the general hearing phenomenon developed, through this ‘special’ way of attending i.e attending to a general phenomenon while not losing sight of the particulars in the distance. (yoniso manasikara). MN106
(One is neither too far into the background or the foreground, but instead develops a peripheral awareness which keeps both in view i.e the middle way i.e right view.)

It could be done also in the other way round.
I can attend to a particular sound while not losing awareness(not attention) of that background phenomenon, ‘the-hearing-in-general’. And still, I can develop the imperturbable because no other particular sound will disturb me because this peripheral awareness connects to the larger perspective while I am attending a particular.

Either way, I am connected to the background of whatever is in the foreground of attention. The background can either be the general or particular phenomenon and likewise with the foreground. The foreground is what is being attended to, the background is what I am peripherally aware of.

If this principle is developed, one can see that one can develop/recognise an even more general phenomenon than the previous i.e the phenomenon of perception/sanna, and on account of that, be imperturbable in regards to whatever perception arises on a more particular level.

In that way, one go even higher and higher, or more general, step by step backwards, so to speak.MN111

No matter how high one gets or general one goes, it can only be done on the bases of partcular.
The general is determined by the PARTICULAR;
The particular is determined by the GENERAL.
The BACKGROUND is determined by and determines the foreground;
The foreground is determined by and determines the BACKGROUND.
Developing that ‘special’ attention (yoniso manasikara), one develops/recognises the principle( of paticcasamupada), 'with THIS, this is '…which makes one imperturbable in the most imperturbable imperturbability.


Is this the state of continual mindfulness. Would this be classified as striving, ie is it enough effort to be called constant practice if one does this continually for all 6 senses?

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A mental image is just that. You have an imgination of consciousness…which is determined by consciousness. Is consciousness the mental image?
Is consciousness one thing which then splits up? What position do you take, whereby you can say that that consciousness over there is one and then splits up?
Can you separate yourself from consciousness and analyse it from a position which does not include it?

How do you experience form? Can you experience it without perception?

You could ask the question " who am I?" or “where is the I?”
But don’t give yourself an answer. Let the question just float there.
Because you cannot find the self in the same way as you find other things.


Name and…? Or nama-……?

Its the state of right mindfulness.
For as long as that right view is done, to that extent right mindfulness is, to that extent right effort is. (One is then truly striving or actually practising)
By doing it repeatedly, it will take root and become effortless, so to speak, continual, as it were. It takes root and spreads.
The more you dwell on the right view or the more nutrients you give the root, the faster the development (the more of the other factors of the path develop, simultaneously)

Not exactly sure what you mean.
You can guard all the other senses by guarding one door, the mind, because nothing unwholesome can enter without being welcomed through that door.
Therefore it is essential to be able to discern the sign of the mind (cittanimitta)…because then the work of not doing anything unwholesome is kind of effortless. All one has to do is not do unwholesome or not open the door to the unwholesome. Just sit back relax and don’t open the door.
Of course, it will try all sorts of things to try get in…but it cannot come in unless you open the door and welcome it in. The five sense converge in the mind.

Continually striving means just this, composed/samadhi in guarding the mind. Composed in sammaditthi.

Recognising and developing the right view is the development of sammasamadhi / right composure.
Composed in the right view is right effort.


Thank you :anjal:

Because I don’t have ‘anyone’ to compare to, I wanted to know if this would be thought of as exerting enough effort. :slight_smile: I’d hate to be slacking off without being aware of it! :rofl::sleeping::grin:


Yes. And this leads to the fourth line:

Simply attending, emptiness unfolds.

Which is quite difficult, since I am easily distracted. :rofl:
Well, that’s why we practice. :meditation:

Thanks for the foreground/background description–it brings to mind the “young woman/old woman” illustration duality. One cannot see both the old woman and the young woman at the same time (i.e., contact is particular). However, with practice one can restrain contact and see just empty black and white shapes.

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