Which aggregates does clinging belong to?

Is it belong to perception (sanna) or is it also belong to consciousness ?
Also, is desire (tanha) also perception?

I think clinging and craving would be included in the sankharas aggregate.
Vinnana, sanna and vedana are described as conjoined in the suttas, and together they seem to represent the “initial experience” of sense objects. All subsequent mental activity, including craving and clinging, would be included in the sankharas aggregate.
Note that tanha arises in dependence upon vedana in DO.


Clinging doesn’t belong to an aggregate. It belongs to the 3 poisons. You can’t really say that it’s a single aggregate. Instead it’s how the aggregates are used.

When there is improper attention (ayoniso manasikara) at the point of contact, then the aggregates are misused and suffering arises.

When there is proper attention (yoniso manasikara) at the point of contact, then clinging is averted to a degree, depending on far along a person is on the path.

It’s called the 5 clinging aggregates because there is the 3 poisons, but once the 3 poisons are gone then it’s just the 5 aggregates.

SN 22.48 shows the difference between the 5 aggregates and the 5 clinging aggregates, and the key difference is “are accompanied with mental fermentation” (asava).

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I think the three poisons, lobha, dosa and moha are listed as part of 52 cetasika. They belong to the 14 immoral ones together with: ditthi, mana, issa, macchariya, kukkucca, ahirika, anottappa, uddhacca, thina, middha, vicikiccha.

Those 52 cetasika’s, i belief, are explained as sankhara-khandha, and vice versa.

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Good point about the distinction between aggregates and clinging aggregates, but I think the asavas are also part of the sankharas aggregate.
As I understand it, the aggregates are an inclusive model of human experience, equivalent to “The All” of the Sabba Sutta. So the sankharas aggregate is assumed to include any phenomena not “contained” in the other four aggregates.

I quite like this passage. It relates to Thito’s points.

“But ma’am, is that grasping the exact same thing as the five grasping aggregates? Or is grasping one thing and the five grasping aggregates another?”
“Taññeva nu kho, ayye, upādānaṁ te pañcupādānakkhandhā udāhu aññatra pañcahupādānakkhandhehi upādānan”ti?

“That grasping is not the exact same thing as the five grasping aggregates. Nor is grasping one thing and the five grasping aggregates another.
“Na kho, āvuso visākha, taññeva upādānaṁ te pañcupādānakkhandhā, nāpi aññatra pañcahupādānakkhandhehi upādānaṁ.
The desire and greed for the five grasping aggregates is the grasping there.”
Yo kho, āvuso visākha, pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu chandarāgo taṁ tattha upādānan”ti.


This is one of those pick your sources issues. Traditional Theravadans would follow @Green 's abhidhamma definition, Early Buddhists wouldn’t as Sankhara in the suttas is defined as body, mental, and speech volitional activity and not “52 cetasikas”.

So like most interpretation issues, you can’t mix and match your sources otherwise you’ll have conflicting beliefs.

I’m not aware of any sutta source that claims that the 3 poisons are within sankhara, only that they are “bound up” and “flow out” from ignorance and the taints, and unless continuously challenged with proper attention and sati-sampajanna 24/7 they will result in unwholesome Sankhara, Kamma and Vipaka, and thus bhava and dukkha.

From my understanding one can challenge the 3 poisons at any point between nama-rupa, sixfold sense media, and contact.

Suppose a deft butcher or their apprentice was to kill a cow and carve it with a sharp meat cleaver. Without damaging the flesh inside or the hide outside, they’d cut, carve, sever, and slice through the connecting tendons, sinews, and ligaments, and then peel off the outer hide. Then they’d wrap that cow up in that very same hide and say: ‘This cow is joined to its hide just like before.’ Would they be speaking rightly?”

“No, sir. Why is that? Because even if they wrap that cow up in that very same hide and say: ‘This cow is joined to its hide just like before,’ still that cow is not joined to that hide.”

“I’ve made up this simile to make a point. And this is the point. ‘The inner flesh’ is a term for the six interior sense fields. ‘The outer hide’ is a term for the six exterior sense fields. ‘The connecting tendons, sinews, and ligaments’ is a term for greed and relishing. ‘A sharp meat cleaver’ is a term for noble wisdom. And it is that noble wisdom which cuts, carves, severs, and slices the connecting corruption, fetter, and bond.

  • mn 146

The 3 poisons and defilements resulting in grasping/clinging stick between the inner 6fold sense media (5 aggregates/nama-rupa) and the outer 6fold sense media (sense object) at the point of contact.

In some suttas, the sankharas aggregate is described in a more general way as fabrications.
See for example SN22.79:

So it rests on the translation of “sankharas” in various contexts, and is a matter of interpretation.
Note that the sankharas aggregate isn’t necessarily defined in the same way as the sankharas nidana.

I don’t think that there’s two different “sankharas” an aggregate Sankhara and a nidana sankhara, it’s just that sutta you referenced that defines it differently and that sutta is a known suspicious sutta for other things that is often brought up as it defines consciousness as taste and perception as sights.

Here’s another sutta that defines sankhara differently as well, and in this sutta it also defines perception as including tastes and not just visual like the sutta you referenced Sattatthana Sutta: Seven Bases

My thoughts exactly! :pray:

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II have seen that tanha is not listed as a cetasika and upadana also not. But lobha, dosa and moha, the three unwholesome roots are.

A Dutch site says that tanha in ethical sense refers to greed, passion. But in psychological and buddhist perspective it refers to the sticking or adhering of the mind to mental objects. Sticking to what we hear feel, sense, think etc.

Some say tanha refers to the first moment mind sticks to what it sees, hears, smells, thinks etc. We do not regulate this. It is not the initiative of an ego or I to stick or adhere to objects. This first moment of attachment is not a conscious decision nor an intended act. It is said that tanha is unvoluntary and it goes very quick. I think this is true.

Upadana is said to be an intensified tanha or attachment. This is a more intended phase of attachment. One feeds the initial adhering to an object by thoughts, ideas, plans, etc. The feeding of tanha, i.e. the upadana phase, can be tackled by satipatthana, not tanha. We do not have to intensify initial attachment, we can let it go if we see mind has become sticked to some visual, smell, idea, odour etc. But we cannot decide to not stick or adhere to an object. Liberation is not per decision.

I have seen it explained this way with example: One travels by train and many visuals arise and cease. There is no tanha. The mind does not get sticked to a certain visual. They just come and gone. But then one sees a nice large house and a certain nice pleasant sentiment (samphassa je vedana) arises in the mind regarding that house. One likes the picture and the pleasant sentiment and tanha arises. Mind sticks to that visual image. That is the tanha phase . This is not a conscious decision.

While our mind is adhered to that visual of the house we start forming ideas about living there, owning that house etc. That is the feeding phase of initial attachment (tanha) and is upadana. This is a more conscious and voluntary phase. Buddha compares this upadana phase in the upadana sutta with throwing more wood/fuel on the fire. We feed the initital attachment. Then the initial attachment grows, upadana. This becomes our existence for a moment (bhava). One is born in this world of imagination. This ends at a moment. But of it was a strong attachment a kamma seed is produced. Some day that kamma seed may come to mind again and motivate one to work hard to once own that house.