Is 'clinging' to the Aggregates a sufficient condition for Self-view?

I find it strange what kind of ideas are expressed here, even by Sylvester who I noticed to be well knowledgeable in the dhamma.

This discussion is simply losing ourselves in words, it does not have too much to do with how conceit and self view work in reality. It’s a primitive mathematical, syllogism style calculation done on statements from the suttas that does not fit with how things work in reality.

Of course there will still be conceit in a stream enterer that does not posses self view. Conceit is only eliminated at arahantship. Clinging to the aggregates will of course happen, even if he does not consider them to be self. He might have clinging to alcohol, to woman, to different perceptions, etc. etc. etc.

When one clings, he can only cling to one of the 5 aggregates. Once-returners have partially reduced craving. Non-returners also have craving but or smaller things. It is only at arahantship that craving is completely removed.

That’s interesting. I had never thought of it that way.

I think you have to discern between taking up a view (a conscious, volitional act) and having a notion deeply built in the mental processes out of habit. If ending self-view entailed not being able to have the notion ‘I am’, then ven. Khemaka would already be an arahant.

If think for a better thought experiment, you’d rather have to compare having the view ‘sugary items are bad for me’ with the visceral desire for sugary items in spite of having such a view. Because your example leaves out the role of visceral attachment.

I agree, but there is a difference between a view and a notion/concept. You may not have the view (as a conscious, voluntary mental activity) but still use the concept out of habit (involuntarily).

I agree

He clings to the 5 aggregates, same as a stream enterer clings to the five aggregates, and yet he does not regard them as “this I am”.

To understand this better, there is a sutta where Buddha is asked if an arahant spends all the time in some nibbanic state, or something of that sort. Buddha answers that imagine a person with no limbs cause they were cut. Would he constantly be aware of that ? No, he will not be, but if he is to think about it, he would know that he has no limbs anymore. In the same way, an arahant will know when he contemplate that the 5 strings of craving have been cut and are no more.

If a stream enterer/once-returner/non-returner were to ask weather they still have clinging and conceit present in them, they would answer yes, despite the fact that if they think about the aggregates and ask weather they are self, they do not consider them like that.

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Yes, I missed that attachment link. What I should say is that if you ended that view, then if you by any chance pick up that view again, you will no longer be able to hold it and will quickly drop it.

You seems to have overlooked the rather helpful chunk of other suttas in SN 22 that deal with this regarding. But first, let’s just take a simple approach to SN 22.8. SN 22.7 is simpler, since the agitation is couched in more familiar terms -

And how, bhikkhus, is there agitation through clinging? Here, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling, who is not a seer of the noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who is not a seer of superior persons and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form. That form of his changes and alters. With the change and alteration of form, his consciousness becomes preoccupied with the change of form. Agitation and a constellation of mental states born of preoccupation with the change of form remain obsessing his mind. Because his mind is obsessed, he is frightened, distressed, and anxious, and through clinging he becomes agitated.

If your objection is that the verb “he appropriates” (upādiyati) is not found, why would the sutta not just speak of “Agitation through having regarded”? The fact is, everywhere else in SN 22, the verb samanupassati and the noun samanupassana are simply synonyms for “appropriates” and “appropriation”. Where do we see this? A small sample -

Idha bhikkhave, assutavā puthujjano ariyānaṃ adassāvī ariyadhammassa akovido ariyadhamme avinīto, sappurisānaṃ adassāvī sap¬purisa¬dhammassa akovido sap¬purisa¬dhamme avinīto rūpaṃ attato samanupassati. Yā kho pana sā, bhikkhave, samanupassanā saṅkhāro so. So pana saṅkhāro kiṃnidāno kiṃsamudayo kiṃjātiko kiṃpabhavo? Avijjā¬samphas¬sa¬jena, bhikkhave, vedayitena phuṭṭhassa assutavato puthujjanassa uppannā taṇhā; tatojo so saṅkhāro.

Here, bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling, who is not a seer of the noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who is not a seer of superior persons and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards form as self. That regarding, bhikkhus, is a formation. That formation—what is its source, what is its origin, from what is it born and produced? When the uninstructed worldling is contacted by a feeling born of ignorance-contact, craving arises: thence that formation is born.
SN 22.81.

In the standard Dependant Origination sequence, what else arises from craving, but clinging/appropriation?

See also SN 22.85, where both verbs are used.

As for SN 22.89, another sutta lays out the distinction between Clinging to the Aggregates and the conceit “I am”. See SN 22.47.



I think part of the clarity I’m pursuing here is to try to understand what people mean when one says “A Stream Winner clings to the 5 Aggregates”.

The trick here is to recognise that the verb “regards” is a synonym for “clings”/“appropriates”. In the context of the disappearance of the variety of Self-views afflicting a Worldling, the Stream Winner is not afflicted as such on account of the fact the she does not regard the Aggregates as self or belonging to self.

“Clinging to the Aggregates” in the suttas has a very specific meaning when it is used in the context of the disappearance of the various Self-views, namely clinging means clinging/appropriating consciousness etc as self. I’m just not sure what the other contributors in this thread mean when they speak of “clinging to the Aggregates”.

In the previous thread that gave birth to this new thread, I was at pains to define the antecedent P as -

Perhaps it is the laxness with which one has defined the premise P that has led to this poorly characterised issue.

Hi friend @Sylvester

It’s simple! If asked, most people will answer that they believe they and others are “selves”, stable, fixed persons, with body, mind, thoughts, feelings, memories, and cognitions, emanating from them and belonging to them. This is sakkayaditthi and for your convenience let’s call it “clinging to a view or belief in selfhood”. Or let’s call it clinging type 1, which is a saņyujana prohibiting sotapatti or steam entry. As you will agree, this is a clinging on the level of concept, ideas, or belief; a ‘perspective’, thus, “ditthi”.

Now there’s another clinging, type 2, it is the original condition of any born sentient being (and very much the cause of rebirth), of emotional rather than merely conceptual nature, which makes it far more difficult to transcend than ditthi. It consists in relating to the khanda with tanha, craving what’s pleasurable and comforting and hating what’s painful and discomforting. As mentioned by other friends here, this type of clinging to the experience of khanda is reduced gradually in a successful practitioner but does not cease until arahattaphala. Naturally progress in attenuating this kind of existential clinging is conditioned by abandoning sakkayaditthi in the first place, but contrary to what you say, it is not guaranteed thereby.

So two clingings:

  1. Conceptual belief in selfhood.
  2. Emotional reactionariness to the khanda.

Dear Bhante

I agree with the typology of clinging and reaction which you propose. The emotional reactivity would of course be the anusaya “I am” conceit (since the original classification of anusayas is typically on the basis that they anuseti their respective hedonic triggers). The conceptual belief in selfhood would just be appropriation, be it Aggregates, elements or Bases.

My difficulty is in trying to find a sutta which actually classifies the anusaya “I am” as a form of clinging. I think it’s a nomenclature that has been imposed on the texts, but which I cannot seem to locate within the texts themselves.

So, may I take it as Bhante’s position that a Stream Winner can never appropriate any of the 5 Aggregates as Self? That was actually the content of the P premise that was debated in the previous thread. Things became confusing when there was not much consistent usage of what P meant.

Whether it is mentioned so specifically or not in the sutta, everything unwholesome is certainly born of clinging!

Dhammarakkhita does not have any positions! So I don’t know exactly about this. But I guess it’s possible that a sotapanna may self-unconsciously retain a trace of self beliefs, due to the profound force of habit, or also due to the lingering confusion about Dhamma. Sakkayaditthi however is not that, it is a firm and non negotiable belief in the actual existence of self. And that is irreconcilable with a sotapanna.


Thank you this, Bhante.

This I agree. I would also agree with your point about intuitive fitness and malleability from your other thread.

However, in the case of the conceit “I am”, I am of the view that such pathway to malleability is closed. It cannot be a form of clinging.

When it is said in SN 22.89 that the conceit “I am” is an anusaya, I take this sutta as showing the place of “I am” in Dependant Origination -

At Savatthī. “Bhikkhus, what one intends, and what one plans, and whatever one has a tendency towards: this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis there is a support for the establishing of consciousness. When consciousness is established and has come to growth, there is the production of future renewed existence. When there is the production of future renewed existence, future birth, aging-and-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

“If, bhikkhus, one does not intend, and one does not plan, but one still has a tendency towards something, this becomes a basis for the maintenance of consciousness. When there is a basis, there is a support for the establishing of consciousness…. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.
SN 12.38

This is describing an anusaya anuseti-ing in the link between volitions and consciousness. Since rebirth is only the outcome when one abhisaṅkharoti through greed, hatred or ignorance, it should be clear that the conceit “I am” is a form of craving, rather than a form of clinging.

Between the craving “I am” and rebirth, there must surely be appropriation and its sequel Existence. What would be interesting would be whether it is possible for the specific type of appropriation of the Aggregates as Self can again recur in a Stream Winner. Which brings us back to SN 12.20 - why is it impossible for the Stream Winner never be agitated? Is it possible to have Self-views and still not be agitated? Is it possible to appropriate the Aggregates as self, and still not have Self-views?

I will cover the impossiblity of these 2 latter scenarios later using the 2nd and 3rd Noble Realities. But even without that analysis, it should be apparent that if this type of Appropriation here is not a sufficient condition for Self-view in a Stream Winner, it should also not be a sufficient condition for Existence and rebirth.

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I think you and I think about Dhamma in very different ways. But, friend @Sylvester, wishing you the great fruits of Dhamma which ever way you take. :smiley:

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It takes a really long time to observe people, to get to know their character and motivations. There’s this cognitive bias, an evolutionary survival skill, a shortcut almost everyone takes (to their great detriment): we assume if someone is highly educated, intelligent, communicates in an eloquent manner, they must also be an expert in many areas where they express their opinion (in matters outside their area of expertise) so eloquently. Intellectual honesty and integrity matters, so buyer beware.

Collectively, genuine experts have a moral duty to expose fraudulence, even though it may be time consuming and frustrating to do so. So thanks to the genuine experts who invest their time and energy to help make this community a worthwhile destination.


Do you think that a baby or a young child who never expose to any religion ever think and believe that he/she is a self, stable, fixed person, with body, mind, thoughts,…?

Do you think that atheists believe in a permanent, fixed, stable self?

There are people who made big mistakes, have tremendous remorse and always want to be different persons or even want to be non existence. Some of them even changed their names, try to erase all the past and never want to refer to their old “selves” or even try to kill themselves. Do you think they believe that they and others are “selves”, permanent, stable, fixed persons? If so, why do they want to change or kill themselves?

I never recall that I believe in a permanent, stable self, fixed person with body, mind, feelings, memories, cognition… I always know that I will someday die. I understand that I am changing everyday. I can see clearly that I am not the same person as I was when I was 2 year old in both body and mind. I can see clearly the changing in my feelings. Sometimes I am happy, sometimes I am sad. Am I free from sakkayaditthi ?

Many people who do not believe in atman (stable, fixed persons). If you tell them that there is a self, they will fight with you to death. Are they free from sakkayaditthi?

A monk can take a place to live without ever thinking that it is “my place or it is me”. He took that place for other purposes (practices…)

I am no expert in pali. Indeed “clinging” is generally used when dealing with clinging to views. Or we have the explanations about why do certain views exist, and how it is because of clinging to consciousness or form or etc. But, in general, when we hear about clinging, we think of it as a synonim to craving. And I think there are suttas where it is used this way, though I don’t know. In any case, probably all people here generally understand clinging as a synonim for craving.

Or, if it is not seen this way, it is seen as a synonim for attachment. For example one has craving for a car, then he buys it, then develops clinging for the car and he will feel bad if something happens to it. This is the way attachment is meant in DO and why it is based on craving. I there would be no craving, there would be no clinging.

I am no expert in pali, so maybe you can tell me if this “clinging” that you are reffering to is the same as the one described in DO. If it is, then there is no special meaning to it, meaning that you attributed to it in this topic.

I wouldn’t say so. craving and clinging are two separate things in dependent origination. Also, clinging is connected to the first noble truth of dukkha and craving to the second noble truth of origin of dukkha.

Would agree with this, on the other hand

No, a baby or a child below age 2 does not have self view. Also the huge majority of animals do not have self view. There is actually a sutta where some young monks won a debate and told the Buddha about it. Buddha was surprised that their opponents did not bring up the “simile of the baby” that you just used right now, and scolded the young monks for not knowing how to debate, since they won the debate only cause their opponents were even worse.

The answer is that, while there is no such thing as self view in a baby, there is the seed or the development of self view in that baby.

As for atheist, they all believe in a self. They believe there is a self that will be destroyed at death and will never appear again. They do not believe that there never was a self to begin with.

I never recall that I believe in a permanent, stable self, fixed person with body, mind, feelings, memories, cognition… I always know that I will someday die. I understand that I am changing everyday. I can see clearly that I am not the same person as I was when I was 2 year old in both body and mind. I can see clearly the changing in my feelings. Sometimes I am happy, sometimes I am sad. Am I free from sakkayaditthi ?

Who will get reborn ? Is this consciousness of yours the thing that will get reborn ?


If a baby has no self view, is he/she a stream-enter?

Edit#1: May be I better ask: "If there is no such thing as self view in a baby then can we say that a baby is free from sakkayaditthi? Or if one is free from sakkayadithhi can one (re)develops sakkayadithhi?

It depends on who do you ask this question. If you ask an ordinary person, he/she will answer that “I am”. If you ask a stream enter or above, he/she will tell you that your question is invalid question.

Edit#2: If you ask a person who clings to self doctrine then he/she may tell you that it is the “self” that is reborn. If you ask a person who clings to no self doctrine then he/she may tell you that it is that (stream of) consciousness which is reborn…

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That’s true, but is this “taking” the sort of appropriation of the Aggregates as self handled by the suttas?

I think it probably comes under sense restraint, where “taking” as “mine” might perhaps be directed to the external bases as part of abhij­jhā (covetousness) manifesting.

If, on the other hand, this taking of a dwelling is equivalent to appropriation of the Bases as self, then it appears it has to be given up as well for Stream Entry - SN 35.121. Personally, I don’t think the defilement of taking one’s kuṭī as “mine” is of type of clinging discussed in SN 22. It’s probably just plain avarice. A non-avaricious monk does not necessarily imply Stream Entry.

I think MN 64 may provide the answers you seek. It asks how in an infant who does not have the notion of sakkāya (ie the 5 Aggregates), could sakkāyadiṭṭhi arise? The sutta then proposes that sakkā­ya­diṭṭhā­nusaya (the latent tendency to views on the 5 Aggregates) does indeed anuseti.

For sakkāyadiṭṭhi to arise, there must be craving as cause and condition, there must be clinging to self as cause and condition. I believe the anusayas are what eventually cause the manifold cravings to mature into clingings of various sorts. Rebirth may give you a clean slate, except from the anusayas and past kammas. I’m just not sure if our old beliefs from a past life can survive rebirth in a verbalisable form. But craving can propel one through many births - AN 3.34.