DN11, Five Aggregates, Vinanna Anidassana

To my understanding, these questions about wholesome/unwholesome and rebirth/kamma are considered much less “ultimate nature of reality” than such things like “viññāṇa anidassana” or “Nibbāna”.

I am not sure about you but for me, I consider those Scenario 1,2,3,4 that we have gone through are models to help understanding our ideas. However, ideas are plenty and only the most useful ideas can stay. Therefore, I consider those questions as a test to see how well these ideas can be useful to us and to abandon unuseful ones.

So, in that perspective, those questions are really essential and can not be ignored. If they are ignored, that means there is a serious drawback/hole in the idea. If that drawback/hole can not be fixed/patched then that idea should be replaced by a better idea which at least passes the test.

I hope that I have conveyed to you and you also confirmed that I have fairly understood what you meant by “viññāṇa anidassana”/“undefiled mind” or “Nibbāna” through the analogy of Scenario 4. However, as explained above, due to the above limitation of ignoring essential questions about wholesome/unwholesome and rebirth/kamma, I can not accept these ideas.

Instead, as I said from beginning, I propose Scenario 2 as a better candidate. You are welcome to do similar tests toward Scenario 2 by asking essential questions and I will try to answer you. Of course, even if I manage to answer all of your essential questions, in the end, you will still be the one to decide which Scenario to rely on for your own spiritual journey.

Another possibility is: You can just conclude this discussion here and simply know for yourself that there are limitations of your ideas and there are other ideas (which can be better and be supported by suttas) that you today simply chose not to explore further.

Human consciousness is understood through the trimodalities of mind, body and awareness unto which the five aggregates fit into.

Mind: thinking, feeling, reasoning, perceiving, abstracting, sensing.
Body: vehicle, apparatus, vehicle, chariot, sensor.
Awareness: animating charge, life force.

These three form the basis of human consciousness (aliveness). The 5 aggregates are provisional and are by that in which a human being apprehends the world.

Due to contact of feeling (of being alive and sensory data), perception (what is seen) and the actuality of consciousness one gives rise to mental formations. The 5 aggregates are an aspect of human experience and it is up to the individual to untangle themselves from the unhelpful products of each. At the same time, the 5 aggregates are also the basis for wisdom to develop

Cessation in my view is the cessation of the causes of suffering. I leave it at that and do not go on to reference cessation as this idea of ‘permanent dissolution’. I stop at conditionality.

OK. I agree with that. Further more, I would like to make the following observation: worldly people engage with sense objects because of ignorance while Arahats do not because ignorance has ceased.

**Phassa: **[cp. Ved. sparsa, of sp.r.s: see phusati] contact, touch (as sense or sense-impression, for which usually phoṭṭhabbaṅ). It is the fundamental fact in a sense impression, and consists of a combination of the sense, the object, and perception, - Pali Text Society Dictionary

We know that for the Arahat there are just these Five Aggregates. Any past, present, or future life consists of nothing but these Five Aggregates (the five faciulties of the mind) (SN22.48). If the dictionary (and my understanding) is correct then phassa is a combination of the sense organ (form faculty) + the object (form faculty) + perception faculty.

I think the following describes a distinct difference between worldly experience and that of the Arahat:

“Where there is passion, delight, & craving for the nutriment of contact, consciousness lands there and increases…Where there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging, & death, together, I tell you, with sorrow, affliction, & despair." …
“So too, bhikkhus, if there is no lust for the nutriment edible food … for the nutriment contact … for the nutriment mental volition … for the nutriment consciousness … consciousness does not become established there and come to growth. Where consciousness does not become established and come to growth … I say that is without sorrow, anguish, and despair.” - SN12.64

Does phassa continue to exist for the Arahat? My understanding is no - because with the cessation of ignorance, phassa has broken up into it’s underlying components that are found under the five aggregates (which are now described as scattered and abandoned). It is not just that consciousness doesn’t land there but that it ceases to exist. Does that mean that an Arahat doesn’t have a sense of touch, sight, etc. - no.

Perhaps this sounds absurd to you. But such is my understanding.

Yes, so this seems to be at the core of our different views. I suspect you have seen my response to Ceisiwr on this topic.

Perhaps what we could try is for me to present you with what I see are more problematic suttas (in my view based on how I understand your model of DO) such that I can understand your view better. I imagine the people that came up with it were intelligent, capable people and they must have some understanding of these but from my understanding of your view they don’t seem to fit. And these issues may be why we seem to be talking (writing) past each other.

InSN35.82 contact is defined as part of The World (loka) If contact is part of the world then seems like DO is part of the world also?

“‘The world, the world [loka],’ it is said. In what respect does the word ‘world’ apply?”

“Insofar as it disintegrates [lujjati], monk, it is called the ‘world.’ Now what disintegrates? … Eye-contact disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on eye-contact—experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain—that too disintegrates. …repeats for ear, nose, tongue, body, tactile sensations …disintegrate…-SN35.82

What I don’t understand is how the Arahat can be above the world and in it at the same time:

“Bhikkhus, just as a blue, red, or white lotus is born in the water and grows up in the water, but having risen up above the water, it stands unsullied by the water, so too the Tathagata was born in the world and grew up in the world, but having overcome the world, he dwells unsullied by the world.” - SN22.94

Nor do I understand how the Arahat knows the cessation of the world “within this fathom long body” while at the same time experiencing contact and whatever other factors of DO that - from what I understand you to be saying - are still operating in said world.

I tell you that there is no making an end of suffering & stress without reaching the end of the cosmos. Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos -AN4.45

So how are these suttas - understood with respect to the 3-life model of DO?

Perhaps I misunderstood what you were asking.

Here is what I thought you were asking:
Is there only one undefiled mind or are there multiple undefiled minds?
Are there multiple rooms or is it the same room?

This is what I thought you were asking and thus my answer. The reason being that my essay and comments are dealing with the EBT’s and to the best of my knowledge the questions that I thought you were asking are outside of that context. Maybe by placing the questions within the context of suffering and the end of suffering might help me to understand.

There is contact, feeling, the six senses for the Arahant because whilst he is now free from ignorance, he wasn’t in the past. With the arising of ignorance …

Awakening doesn’t undo the past.

Some thoughts about this:

For example, an awareness of a specific taste arises, a specific taste-vinnana.

Suppose now there is totally no lust at all, no delight, no attraction, no liking towards it, no mentallity at all. That taste vinnana does not establish and grow on that kind of attention. It just arises and ceases again. This is, i believe its non growth and non-establishment. Because things that just come and go do not establish.

A vinnana that establishes and grows is a nourished vinnana. It is nourished with wrong attention. This ‘establishing and growth’ of vinnana is, i feel, just a way to express what attachment or involvement means. Involvement means things establish and grow in the mind. What causes involvement? The subconscious patterns called anusaya’s. Involvement due to views, desire and conceit. Involvement is no choice. Oke, one can be mindful and become quickly aware that there is involvement and let go but one cannot prevent that involvement happens. But gradually one can cause changes in the subconscious choices the mind makes.

The established and grown vinnana is never a mere sense vinnana. Impossible. It is called kamma-vinnana. It is loaded vinnana, loaded with the information of the subconscious patterns. It more then a mere sensing.

Not nourished sense vinnana’s just come and go. It can be said that they do not establish or land anymore.

Cerrtain contacts end when vinnana’s do not establish anymore. For example, contacting the mental delight if one likes a taste or the dark feeling if one does dislike a taste.

Sense Contact is explained like this: "Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises.
The meeting of the three is contact" (MN18, Bodhi))

So, any sensing implies this kind of sense contact. But this contact inherent to any sensing is not the same as involvement or the establising and growth of vinnana.

Yes, i also feel this is really important stuff, this establising and no establishing of vinnana.

“All” in the suttas refers to the eye and form, the ear and sounds, the nose and smells, the tongue and tastes, the body and the tangible, the mind and the imaginary. There is nothing there about attachment, ignorance and so on. There is no such thing in any sutta. Body and mind in this context are always literally the body born during the process of conception, subject to the presence of craving and karma. So is the mind. It seems, sir, that you are making it up as you go along. If with regard to aggregates there is the concept of “objects of grasping,” then with regard to the six spheres of senses and objects there is no such concept. Further, consciousness is conditioned by these six kinds of senses and objects. And it does not arise without their presence. When these six senses and objects are destroyed, and new ones do not arise for obvious reasons (the sage does not grasp a new body), consciousnesses no longer have the opportunity to arise. You can imagine some other kind of consciousness - a new, enlightened, seventh kind. But then it doesn’t fit into your model, where the five aggregates remain the same except that there is no more clinging.

This is all very good. But where did the addition “clinging” come from in relation to the “consciousness” link? There is no such additive, it is your personal creativity.

It is well explained in the Mahanidana Sutta that the link of consciousness is the consciousness of a new life, the consciousness of the fetus in the womb. That is, this consciousness of rebirth, the consciousness of a new life as such, is conditioned by past volitional shapers, past intentional actions of body, speech and mind, karma. The consciousness of the Buddha and any arahant is in the same way generated by past karma, volitional shapers. Accordingly, it is said that Buddha is like a lotus that grew in dirty water, came out of dirty water, but is not stained by water. It is clear that the arahant’s consciousness is not clinging. And yet, its emergence is due to the fact that the corresponding shapers were created in a past life. These shapers started the process of consciousness in the womb, and they also formed the body and mind, which continue to support the consciousness of the arahant right up to the very moment of the disintegration of the physical body and vital forces.

For clarification: actually, it’s not “mine” creativity.

If you read my whole post carefully from top to bottom, you will see that I was in the process of asking the OP. These does not represent my understanding - it instead represents the OP’s - if you read thoroughly the whole long many posts in this topic between the OP and me, you will see so.

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As I understand from your essay, you believe that the arahant is liberated not from the aggregates, but from clinging and illusion in relation to the aggregates. That is, there is no snake, there is a rope and the rope remains.
But the rope is conditional!

We know that each of the aggregates, regardless of whether there is clinging to it or not, is by nature conditioned, formed, arises and ceases. We also know that nibbana is a realm where there is no coming or going, no 4 elements, that is, kkhandha of form, no arising, no cessation, nothing formed, created, conditioned. That is, there are simply no aggregates there, whether with clinging (of an ordinary person) or without (an arahant, an arahant’s mind focused on nibbana, and the like).

We also know that the formed aggregates, whether gross or subtle (ordinary or in samadhi), low or sublime (polluted or purified, aimed at nibbana), are all of the nature of dukkha. And clinging to them is clinging to dukkha. You cling to them because you want to preserve them and conceptually create a theory that they remain in parinibbana. But it is clearly stated that Nibbana is the realm where no formations or aggregates remain. It is empty of them. And this is precisely why it is constant and reliable, since there is nothing to change there. There is nothing there to turn from happiness to misfortune.
In the realm of nibbana there is no rope.

In this sutta the Buddha is speaking about the conditioned world and here the “disintegrates” or “breaking apart”, lujjati, here appears to be a synonym for anicca. If you put anicca into the sutta, it seems clear the Buddha is pointing to the unreliability of the senses and all conditions – not to the disintegration of all these for an arahant while alive.

“In the world” can be seen as the aggregates still be ing present and active. “Above the world” can be seen as freedom from the defilements; as non-identification with the aggregates; and the knowledge that there will be no rebirth after the final death and no coming to further existence, bhava.
In other words, one is “above” perpetuating the world of samsāra. But these are not terms used in the suttas.

In the Rohitassa Sutta AN4.45 you cited, the cosmos is the “world” cited in the prior sutta – so that’s what we have to work with in this practice, yes?
With the complete cessation of the defilements the “end” of the world/cosmos is reached, no further “world” is being created by clinging, etc. – the aggregates just play out until final death without rebirth – the final and utter end of the world, attained in this very body, so to speak.
In this particular sutta, it appears that only two lives are involved: the prior one with ignorance and sankhāras that lead to the arising of the senses etc. in the current one – which will end without rebirth if full awakening is attained.

The 3-life model of DO is a model and is applicable in some suttas, while other suttas like this one present the same basic principles. but in a different context.
Overall, 3-lives appears to apply when there is rebirth and 2 lives appears to apply for an arahant, without rebirth.

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Now that I understand this different view regarding DO I completely understand your opinion. I have no interest in engaging in debates - I don’t think it is useful to do so. If someone wants to explore a different viewpoint they can do so and if not, not.

What we ‘know’ is our own thoughts that we then grasp and feel ‘This is true’ or whatever. If you have spent lots of time with the Buddha and fully understand his own realization then you would Know. I don’t claim that kind of certainty. I think curiosity and a sense of humor are good companions to any discussion.

The rope in the analogy stands for The Five Aggregates. By definition (I point to the specific sutta in the essay) they are not influenced by the asavas - when this occurs they are referred to as The Five Clinging Aggregates. You can read the sutta - if you draw a different conclusion that’s fine.

We cannot base an interpretation on just one sutta. I emphasize that according to other suttas, in the dimension of nibbana there is nothing conditioned, arising, changing and dying. Since aggregates without clinging are conditioned, they do not remain in the dimension of nibbana, which does not agree with your interpretation in which aggregates without clinging remain.

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This is how Ven. Nanananda speaks about it:

“It is disintegrating, monk, that is why it is called ‘the world’. And what is disintegrating? The eye, monk, is disintegrating, forms are disintegrating, … It is disintegrating, monk, that is why it is called ‘the world’.”
Here the Buddha is redefining the concept of the world, punning on the verb lujjati, which means to “break up” or “disintegrate”. To bring about a radical change in outlook, in accordance with the Dhamma, the Buddha would sometimes introduce a new etymology in preference to the old. This definition of ‘the world’ is to the same effect…
In this instance, the play upon the word loka is vividly apt in that it brings out the transciency of the world. If the world by definition is regarded as transient, it cannot be conceived substantially as a unit. How then can an eternity or infinity be predicated about it? If all the so-called things in the world, listed above, are all the time disintegrating, any unitary concept of the world is fallacious. [Mind Stilled Number 20]

Are you a programmer?
The definition of your version of DO will run to the end of the program and start over as long as there is ignorance. Regardless if one awakens within it or not. There will be changes but there is effectively no break within the function:

while: (ignorance =true) do: dependentOrigination

Here dependentOrigination simply steps through the sequence from birth to death. If on exit ignorance is still present it repeats.

The alternative version that I am presenting (not by any means my own) goes like this:

Here the outer loop looks the same: if there is ignorance the loop starts running.

But within the dependentOrigination we call a subroutine called arisingAndPassing which looks like:

arisingAndPassing: every time consciousness is about to land on name-and-form it checks to see if ignorance is still present. If it no longer is then the program exits.

What happened to the one experiencing that samsaric life is undefined. The body is still there doing what it does. the 6 senses are still there doing what they do. The one that is aware of them is aware of them but released. untraceable.

Maybe that helps maybe not.

Not quite. Not sure how you came to that conclusion since the for the awakened there is no rebirth after death.
End of program, as you called it.

It obliterates it. Totally.

No, it doesn’t. You can’t undo the past.

The above directions with multiple rooms or multiple diamonds, same/different room or same/different diamond are simply suggested directions because as I told you that I don’t see how to apply Scenario 4.

I was asking:

  1. How interaction between persons can be determined wholesome and unwholesome using Scenario 4?
  2. How rebirth and kamma can be interpreted using Scenario 4?

You are supposed to understand what you meant better than I do.
Therefore, when you can’t answer above questions using Scenario 4 either, then I expect from you 1 or maybe more different and new analogies to explain. After that I will try to integrate what you said (if coherently enough) hopefully into a new Scenario 5. That’s what I suggest how to continue this discussion.

Are we still on the same page?