Summarizing the Aggregate of Suffering (Dukkha Khandha)
Will you all please collect your mind together and focus within yourself.
Listen to this teaching and bring and examine it within so as to see Dhamma
there. You won't realize Dhamma from just the outside sounds, for that would
be just a memorizing or an intellectual understanding, whereas understanding
the truth in oneself is seeing Dhamma with wisdom. Therefore, now centre on
yourself. Focus to see from the gross and blatant to the subtle and refined:
Be aware of your breathing. Every one of us must breathe in and out.
Be aware of your present sitting posture. How are your hands and feet placed? How is your overall posture?
Examine the whole of your body: up from the soles of the feet, down from the hair on your head, all encased by skin.
Analyse it into the elements of earth, water, fire, wind and space. Reflect on extracting each element from the body until only the space element remains. Then consider how before conception this body was just the space element, and how finally it returns to emptiness.
Now, recombine those elements together into your complete body which has feelings of pleasure, pain and neither-pleasure-nor-pain; and which is the resort of the mind.
Those feelings stimulate the mind. For example, if there is a pleasant feeling then 'liking' is fabricated; if it is a painful feeling then 'disliking' is made up; and with a neutral feeling the mind is caught deep in 'attachment', which is a condition of delusion.
Go further in to another level, to that condition of mind which 'likes', 'dislikes' and 'attaches' to the myriad things. Be aware of the present state of your mind: Now.
By penetrating this far you will be able to distinguish the composition of the mind. The mind is one part, while 'liking', 'detesting' and 'delusion' make up another. They are combined and entwined together and it is these admixtures to the mind which are the hindrances that block any progress in wholesomeness and higher virtue.
Even though you may have steadily centred your mind following these instructions, those admixtures in the mind will always be waiting to draw the mind out again. You must therefore be ready for this by placing mindfulness where the distracting agents enter --i.e. by way of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and the mind (mano). It is the mind which holds and retains so many issues and concerns, and so it needs extra-special watching. However, do not go in and forcibly suppress it, for that only gives rise to fatigue, over-strain and irritability. Therefore, allow the mind to follow its wishes, but carefully note how it goes out. What is it that comes and ties-in to haul the mind out again? Being quick enough to catch all of this gives one the whole picture: All these issues and affairs enter by way of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or else through the mind itself. The mind's restless, fretful thinking proliferates on every side and so it cannot be centred in one-pointedness.
Do not use any force. Simply watch and note --but make sure you know in time and can keep up with events. The mind will then become pacified by itself and calm down. This is because the mind is the 'element-of-knowing,' with intelligence an intrinsic part. When the opportunity for self-knowing arrives, then such knowledge will be born without any programming being necessary, for the essence is already there.
This arising of self-knowledge is accompanied by an even firmer mindfulness, with the mind itself now fully capable of investigating and distinguishing its own condition. It will know the components of the mind and the entry of all the admixtures. This steady centring of the mind until it is able to investigate the phenomena within oneself displays the mind's ability to distinguish, the truth inside, and it is this which is the Factor of Enlightenment.
Now, consider the source teaching of the Lord Buddha which is the 'Truth of Suffering'. One firstly 'reads' with the intellect, memorizing following the Lord Buddha's Teaching. He presented for our attention the Truth of Suffering:
"Birth is suffering, old age and death are suffering. Suffering has this nature and follows these conditions." He then continued,
"Sorrow is suffering, lamentation, bodily illness and its acceptance into the mind are suffering, mental distress and despair are suffering."
"Association with all unwelcome, unloved things is suffering; separation from all beloved things is suffering;" and, "Nonfulfillment of one's desires is suffering."
After giving one's intellectual attention to these Teachings of the Lord Buddha, now reflect, 'Hasn't every one of us already encountered this suffering?'. "Birth is suffering, old age is suffering": One might not know that birth is suffering and if one isn't yet old then old age will still be unknown. But as it steadily approaches and the body becomes more and more decrepit, then one may understand. "Death is suffering": however, as you haven't yet died you can't know it. Even so, you are still afraid and do not wish to die. As far as 'sorrow and lamentation etc.,' are concerned, you will all have encountered them to some extent and can therefore variously appreciate their anguish. Bodily and mental dis-ease can also be recognized as suffering. As you have not encountered the truth of every type of suffering-- especially that of birth, old age and death-- you will need to reflect and investigate first so as to understand exactly why they are suffering.
This state of suffering follows the natural conditions and the course of the five aggregates are: corporeality aggregate (rupa-khandha) which is this bodily-group (rupa-kaya); feeling aggregate which is pleasure, pain and, an intermediate, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling; perception aggregate which variously recollects and perceives; mental-formations aggregate being the thought processing; consciousness aggregate which is the knowing of seeing a form or hearing a sound (etc.). Rupa is rupa, but feeling, perception, mental-formations and consciousness are called 'nama' which is the condition of the mind inclining-out to know. This 'knowing' of the seeing a form or hearing a sound is firstly consciousness, (then) the experience of pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain is feeling, the recollecting is perception and the processing thoughts are mental-formations. In short, we can call all of this rupa-nama or nama-rupa.
The origination of this nama-rupa is birth, its continuing growth and mutability is old age and its final end is when it breaks up in death. One can therefore reduce this birth-old age-death to arising and extinguishing: At first there is arising and finally there is disappearing. This is the natural course of things.
Since the natural course of things is like this, the Lord Buddha described it as suffering. This can also be understood to mean that nothing can permanently exist: that everything from its arising until its extinguishing must transform and change. This period of transformation between birth and the end is 'ageing'. This, then, is the real truth of suffering, the true state of things which every one of us alive now with nama-rupa must encounter. The ordinary worldling (puthujjana) grasps and holds to the nama-rupa as 'me-and-mine' and 'self' and so takes over the inevitable suffering of nama-rupa into his own mind. This is how sorrow and bewailing rise as suffering in one's mind.
The Lord Buddha therefore summarized all suffering into terms of the five aggregates, or one can say the nama-rupa. However, if one can release the grasping and holding of nama-rupa, then one no longer suffers along with birth, old age, death, nor is one involved in nama-rupa with its inevitable pain. Nama-rupa then just continues on alone, according to its nature. This is the experience of all the Noble Ones (Ariya).
However, the ordinary worldling grasps the nama-rupa to himself and thereby contrives his own suffering and sorrow. We ourselves are the ones who process our suffering because our minds are combined with grasping. We contrive our own sorrow, our own lamentation and bemoaning and admit into our mind the course of bodily pain. The mind itself is what processes mental distress and despair.
It is this very processing and contriving that we call the 'mental-formations' which arise through the assembling of consciousness, feeling and perception. One can therefore see that the mind's inclining-out as nama is the instigator of suffering and the sole source of mental suffering for the mind. As nama must combine with rupa, the nature of suffering is found right here in the nama-rupa. This means it must be impermanent --arising and finally ceasing. It is both the nature of mental suffering and the processor of suffering for the mind. This is why the Lord Buddha summarized all suffering as being nama-rupa, or the five aggregates.
However, to actually process suffering this nama-rupa must also be combined with a grasping as 'me-and-mine'. Set yourself to see the Truth of Suffering following the Lord Buddha's Teaching by sorting out each chapter and verse and then gather them all together again in this nama-rupa or five aggregates. Bring them together in this body and in the mind's inclining-out to receive and process suffering.
By seeing and understanding the truth of this, you will gain knowledge of the Truth of Suffering of the Lord Buddha. Your previous intellectual understanding will then steadily develop into wisdom and you will realize that this Truth is not anything to fear and hate but something which needs to be comprehended and which will then bring one happiness and tranquillity. One's understanding will then be equal to the source of suffering so that one will no longer be deceived into admitting suffering into oneself. By not processing Suffering will then no longer be contrived and so will subside. This will bring happiness and peace.
9th October 2504 B.E. (1961)
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The Section on the Origin of Suffering (Samudaya)
I will now present a Dhamma teaching concerning the 'Section on the Origination
of Suffering' (Samudaya) explaining the cause of suffering. Will you all incline
your minds inwards and focus in the present. What is the state there? In what
direction is it thinking? Fix your mindfulness so that it can keep up and catch
what the mind is taking issue with.
The mind goes out thinking towards forms by way of the eyes, towards sounds through the ears, towards odours through the nose, towards tastes through the tongue, and towards tangible objects through the body. It also thinks about previous involvements with sights and sounds (etc.). However, the mind doesn't just incline-out to know, but also grasps and holds on to those objects.
This condition of inclining or voyaging-out to seize hold of sights and sounds is craving (tanha) and grasping (upadana). Craving can also be understood, in a general way, as the struggling and excitation of desires in the mind. But a more subtle investigation reveals the outward-voyaging of the mind to grasp and seize-hold.
Craving and grasping are therefore coupled together. When a sight or sound impinges on the visual and auditory organs, and flows on towards the mind, the mind inclines-out to receive it. However, if grasping is not involved, there is just plain nama and no craving. But if it should then incline-out and grasp hold of another object then this is craving. One can distinguish the excitation and reaching-out of the mind as 'craving', while the actual seizing-hold and clinging-to an object is 'grasping'. When only the single term 'craving' is used though, one should understand this as also covering grasping.
This grasping-hold of an object, clamping it into the mind without releasing it to pass through, can include a wish for that object. If the object is agreeable and pleasing, then one will want possession and mastery of it. But if it is disagreeable, one will then want to get rid of it. However, as one is still grasping hold of it --even though one doesn't like it-- one can't release and be free of it. The Lord Buddha therefore divided these properties into three: sensual craving (kama-tanha), craving for existence (bhava-tanha) and the craving for non-existence (vibhava-tanha).
Sensual craving is love and desire for an object. A craving for existence somewhere or other, can be reduced to a wanting of mastery or possession over that object of sensual desire. The craving for nonexistence is the desire to be rid of this or that state, really meaning whatever state one does not like.
These three types of craving also include grasping which holds the object in the mind without letting go. Likeable and dislikeable objects are both seized hold of and so 'liking' and 'disliking' regularly arise in the mind. Both liking and disliking cause restlessness and agitation. Why is this? It is just because you still seize hold of the likeable and dislikeable.
It isn't that the mind only inclines-out towards a single object, for in fact they are many. Whatever object appears by way of the eye or ear (etc.), the mind runs-out to seize hold of it. It's always like this, with craving continually in action in the mind without ever calming down. The Lord Buddha therefore taught that it is always craving towards a new condition. We may now crave for a certain visual form (etc.) but on seeing a new object, the desire for that will make us discard the old object. This rejection and new grasping continues on and on without ceasing. The new object is also seized as 'a possession over which one has mastery' and this is constantly repeated, moving on from object to object. This discarding of the old object can also be subsumed under 'craving for nonexistence' which is that struggling to get rid of the present condition. When an object has run its course and gone then the mind struggles again to take in a new one.
If one could remain with a single object then craving would stop in the old without moving forward to a new object. But this craving has no end. It continually creeps forward having to discard its old object in the grasping of the new. When this is the case, even though craving's characteristics are divided into three, they all go together as one. Craving never ceases its inching forward through the myriad objects. It therefore has the property of always reaching-out for the new and novel. Continually. On-and-on, engrossed and attached to the objects and always preoccupied with wanting more and more. It is never satiated.
Examine your mind and watch out for craving as it projects-out to receive objects. You may be able to catch this condition of mind, but in the beginning you won't be quick enough. Even so, it's still good to try to follow behind until the mind is swift and agile enough to catch up with itself.
To catch the mind as it reaches-out to grasp, set your mindfulness on the six sense-channel pairs (the internal and external ayatana): The eye and the form it sees are one pair; the ear (sota) and the sound it hears are a pair; the nose and the odour it smells are one pair; the tongue and its taste are a pair; the body and its tangible object are a pair; and the mind and the issue it thinks upon are a pair. This doesn't mean that you must focus on them all simultaneously, but be ready to fix upon any object as it makes contact. If it should be a visual form then set your mindfulness on the eye and on that form; if it is a sound then focus on the sound and the ear (and so on).
Now then, let's try this: allow your mind to go out, being very watchful and aware as it gradually exits. You will then find consciousness as the knowing of seeing a form or the knowing of hearing a sound. This 'seeing' and 'hearing' is consciousness and you will find a similar situation when you focus on any of the other sense base pairs.
Focus on contact. What is it you see or hear? You see a sight; you hear a sound. And for that form to be successfully seen the form and 'seeing' must come together as contact. A sound and hearing --and the other sense bases likewise-- must contact before a sound or smell (etc.) are successfully experienced.
Next focus on feeling. If the object that comes into contact is agreeable, then pleasant feeling arises; if it is disagreeable then painful feeling arises; and if it is a neutral or indifferent object, then neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling arises.
Focus on perception which recollects and perceives following the feeling.
Focus on volition (sancetana) or the intentionality of the mind which follows on from perception. When there is perception arising from pleasure, then one's mind sets itself towards that pleasure. Similarly it intends towards pain when perception is based in suffering, and towards neither-pain-nor-pleasure when the perception is like that.
At this point you should have come upon craving as the mind inclines and reaches-out to grasp an object. Whatever way the mind chooses and intends, so it runs out and grasps in that direction. If it sets off towards a perception following on from pleasant feeling, then sensual craving will arise. If it is towards existence, then craving for existence will arise, and if it's towards a perceived painful feeling, there will be craving for nonexistence, which is the wanting to rid oneself of that painful state. When the mind intends towards a perceived intermediate feeling, then any one of these types of craving may arise. This is the seeing of the mind's inclining-out with craving to grasp an object.
Focus on applied-and-sustained thought (vitakka-vicara), which is reflection or discursive thought, and you will see that these have fallen under the power of craving.
By following this sequence you will appreciate that it all starts with the eye and form or ear and sound (etc.) when the mind gradually, step by step, inclines-out to seize and hold. This, then, is craving, and applied-and-sustained thought must follow under its power.
One can now say that this state of craving directly depends on nama-rupa. The eyes and form, ears and sound (etc.) are corporeality while the mind residing with it and inclining-out to receive objects is mentality. But this is not a normal, plain nama, for instead of letting go the object is seized hold of. Whether the object is liked or disliked it is still grasped hold of, and this is what forms craving. This craving arises dependant on rupa and nama and nowhere else. It can be reckoned a nama-dhamma because it is a concocting agent like the mental-formations.
Why does the mind concoct and contrive in this way? Because there are still underlying defilements known as cankers (asava) in the inclining-out mind. This is the latent proclivity (anusaya) of craving lying there resident in the mind. Normally it does not show its face and remains as if not there, but should a provoking or alluring object make contact then that latent tendency bursts out to take the object which fits in with it. Set yourself to see this.
When you can focus on this without lapse, then the latent tendencies won't have any chance to break out, and the alluring object won't be able to provoke or 'seed'. The latent defilements will then be weakened as the 'seed' has not invigorated. With such mindfulness set, vigilant and alert, it will be able steadily to uproot and destroy that part of the mind which is latent-defilement.