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Thread: The Five Skandhas

  1. #1

    The Five Skandhas

    Hello all,

    I was recently reading an explanation of the Five Aggregates (AKA Five Skandhas). This is probably the third such explanation I have tried to comprehend with little success. There is something about this concept that is preventing me from getting my head wrapped around it. Perhaps this is a bit ironic as they have to do with our perception and understanding of reality, do they not? Anyways, does anyone have a simplified rendering of this concept they would care to share, or know where I can readily find one?

    Thanks,
    Kelly

  2. #2

    Re: The Five Skandhas

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly M.
    Anyways, does anyone have a simplified rendering of this concept they would care to share, or know where I can readily find one?
    Hi Kelly,

    May I offer some context before you try to delve into the traditional interpretation of the Skandas?

    Traditional Buddhist psychology was way ahead of its time in attempting to describe how the mind creates, in the brain, a 'virtual' experience of the world and of your 'self'. Modern science, though still so incomplete, understands this process better every day: Your experience of your self and of the world is ultimately a fiction created when brain, sense organs and the 'outside world' (everything that is "out there" in the world really, whether you experience it or not) come together ... much like a movie you call "me and the world" created when the world is 'virtually' recreated inside the brain via data that is collected by the senses, passed by chemical-electrical signals to neurons, then (in processes we still barely understand) mixed with all the inner emotions, instincts and everything else the brain has learned about interpreting, organizing and responding to the world since you were a baby. The result is the inner movie you call your "experience of life". In fact, Kelly, you have never actually seen "the world" at all, only a virtual recreation inside your head of light that entered your eyes, somehow recreated and interpreted within the lobes of the brain as objects that, for example, you stick names on and find pleasing, displeasing or neutral.

    Got the picture? The computer screen you are looking at right now may or may not be "out there" in some form (philosophers have debated that for centuries too), but no matter, what you ultimately are experiencing right now is some kind of a recreated picture of a computer somewhere in your visual cortex.

    Modern science now better understands how the brain and senses recreate the movie you experience as your life, which is just the brain interpreting whatever is "out there". Traditional Buddhist psychology, however, lacked our modern understanding of how the brain, sense organs, neurons, inner emotions, etc. actually work. But, despite that, early Buddhist philosophers did an amazingly good job in cooking up a semi-fanciful system that basically came to the same result. It may be mostly the philosophers' imagination (because they lacked our modern understanding of the brain, senses, etc), but it basically was correct in its conclusions and understanding of the overall process.

    Thus, the Skandas are a rather imaginative system by which philosophers created a description of how the mind works that is not exactly (but pretty close) to how the mind works (Freud's psychoanalysis is rather similar in being now understood as an early attempt to explain human psychology by inventing such concepts as the Id., Super-Ego and the like that were just figments of Freud's imagination, but were not too bad in trying to describe how the human mind actually functions)

    Even though the Skandas did not quite describe the workings of the mind correctly according to our modern understanding, the conclusion is absolutely correct: If I take the pieces of Kelly's brain and mind away, piece by piece, Kelly disappears (as her experience of a separate self). If you have ever been with somebody with Alzheimers disease or the like, you may witness something close to what I am describing occur involuntarily and radically.

    So, what are the traditional Skandas? Like all things in traditional Buddhist Philosophy, it depends which philosopher you ask. Philosophers disagree on the details. But, basically, you have:

    1-Matter: The "stuff" (we might say atoms and molecules) that are the world (and your body) and exist without regard to whether your sentient mind is perceiving them or not.

    2-Sensations- The sensing of the matter by the sense organs. These sensations are soon interpreted as pleasant, painful or neutral (we now know that, much as primitive Buddhist psychology described, much of that judging goes on even before you perceive the sensation. For example, the brain knows pain and danger even before you more deeply or consciously perceive that you are touching a hot stove).

    3-Perceptions- Your mind perceiving, inside the brain, data from the senses. You become aware of the raw, incoming data inside your brain.

    4-Mental Formations- Now your brain does all the complex processing, interpreting, organizing, reacting and responding to the data. You give it names, think about it, form opinions, likes and dislikes, moral judgments, have emotional reactions, formulate responses, and actions. etc. You do all the stuff that your brain (and any animal brain, though humans do more of it) does in interpreting, thinking about and acting in the world.

    5-Consciousness is that extra thing that makes you alive. You are not merely a computer processing data (or a simple insect brain), but are self-aware, alive. The closest example I can give you, perhaps, is a new born baby that at first, cannot interpret the sense data beyond basic sensations like "pain" "pleasure" "hungry". Only gradually does it develop a more complex interpretation of the world, for example," this is my hand, this is my foot" (baby's actually have to discover this), "they are part of "me", the crib is not "me"" etc. A complex world view starts to develop and, only then, does the baby become "self-aware" and conscious of itself as itself (it probably was not self aware until that time, and was just raw experiencing. Now, the baby is aware that it is "me").

    The above is just a rough description. Why is this important?

    Well, simple answer is that if life is just a "virtual reality" movie in your brain, we can change the content of the movie. So many of the things you take as real (your "problems" "likes' dislikes" for one example) are just the story line in your movie. In Buddhism, we learn to look beyond the surface reality and perceive how we create that reality like a dream. You are living on a kind of Holodeck (for you Star Trek fans) inside your brain, and you have a great degree of power to choose the story you want.

    One of the things we remove is the separation that your brain creates between your self and the world (the baby only discovers this after banging its hand a few painful times on the crib, discovering that its hand and the crib are not one). Buddhism reverses the process. All is one again. Traditional Buddhist psychology, including the Skandas, were an attempt to explain the mechanism for this process of reversal.

    Did that help?

    Gassho, Jundo (Just a virtual name you brain has come to pin upon some raw light data flowing off the screen into your eyes right now)

  3. #3

  4. #4
    That helps very much, though I think I will read it over a couple more times so that I can conceptualize it. Thank you Jundo!

    Gassho,
    KElly

  5. #5
    Hi Kelly,

    I too for some time tried to understand the Five Aggregates. It seemed that I could not intellectually grasp them. :cry:

    I came to understand that the Five Aggregates are not meant to be a model of Buddhist reality. Instead they are a meant to help one touch reality, and that only comes about through direct experience.

    I sat down and tried to find the Five Aggregates in my direct experience. :?:

    Form I understood to mean all matter, being solids, liquids and gases, the things you can see as having form. This I understood as the world, my flesh and bones.

    Feeling I understood as all of my raw senses, this is pure sensation, there is no impression of pleasure and pain, it is the first instant of a sensation before perception takes place.

    Perception I understood as the moment of distinction, it is the moment when pure sensation is recognized as some thing, it is then that the object becomes identified with pleasure or pain.

    Mental formations are everything that arises in your mind, all the thoughts, emotions, opinions, judgements, self talk, etc.. All of the Five Aggregates are mental formations, they are simply the movement of the mind, this can be directly experienced in time.

    Consciousness is that very subtle feeling of self, it is the self reflective nature of the mind. There is a point in Zazen when you are coming out of Zazen and consciousness turns on, it is at that point that you realize that the self reflective nature of the mind was absent, it is here that we realize self-lessness, we can not classify what we directly experienced as existence or non-existence. We may only say that there was a complete cessation of winds, Nirvana.

    The whole idea is to move through the Five Aggregates letting go of each and every one of them.

    It basically means we let go of Form, we let go of Feeling, we let go of Perception, we let go of mental formations, and we let go of consciousness and we end up sitting in Zazen, actualizing enlightenment. Then we can understand from Zazen down through the Five Aggregates, that the Five Aggregates are empty, they have no independent self existence, they are just the dynamic nature of the mind. It is only when we reach this level of understanding that we transcend both Nirvana and Samsara, the many and the one.

    This allows us to let go of our suffering and rest in our essential nature, we become free from the bondage of the Five Aggregates, we can use the Five Aggregates in a practical way but we are not bound by them.

    I feel that this is expressed very nicely in many Zen sayings;

    "Before enlightenment chopping wood and carrying water, after enlightenment chopping wood and carrying water"

    " Before enlightenment mountains were mountains, during enlightenment mountains ceased to be mountains, and after enlightenment mountains are just mountains."


    I hope that I was of some help and have not have lead you too far astray.

    Thank you for your time.
    Nick

  6. #6
    Excellent example virtual reality object Jundo! Thank you! ()

  7. #7
    Hi Nickolas,

    Thank you for this. May I ask a few questions to clarify things?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickolas Beumer
    Consciousness is that very subtle feeling of self, it is the self reflective nature ofthe mind. There is a point in Zazen when you are coming out of Zazen and consciousness turns on, it is at that point that you realize that the self reflective nature of the mind was absent, it is here that we realize self-lessness, we can not classify what we directly experienced as existence or non-existence. We may onlysay that there was a complete cessation of winds, Nirvana.

    Do you feel that you are actually experiencing a "complete turning off" of consciousness during Zazen? What do you mean by "consciousness turns on" when you are coming out of Zazen? Can you describe the sensation (or lack thereof) a bit more? Do you actually experience this in your Practice, or are you speaking from what you believe you should be experiencing as "Nirvana" based on, for example, descriptions you have read? Before I discuss this point more with you, I want to clarify what you mean.

    Also, "winds" is a very special choice of word often seen in relation to the traditional view of the "Chi" or inner forces in Yoga or Tantra. How are you using that word? For example, here is a description as you might find in Tantric writings ...

    The winds are distinguished in several different ways in Nga-wang-bel-den’s description of the stages
    of Highest Yoga Tantra. In one scheme, winds are enumerated as five: (1) the vitalizing wind, which
    causes inhalation, exhalation, and so forth; (2) the pervasive wind, which makes possible the movement of the limbs, and so forth; (3) the upward- moving wind, which is involved in speech, swallowing, and so forth; (4) the downward-voiding wind, which is responsible for defecation, urination, the emission of semen, and so forth; and (5) the fire-dwell- ing wind, which is responsible for
    digestion, and so forth ...In another scheme, winds are distinguished into basic winds and secondary winds; the basic winds are the five winds just mentioned, and the secondary winds are the five parts of the vitalizing wind which are associated with the five senses. (Thus, the secondary winds are actually included within the basic winds.)

    [G]aining control over the winds means to be able to restrain the senses by preventing the winds they depend on from going out of the “doors” (the eyes, ears, and so forth) of the senses. However, in Highest Yoga Tantra, the aim is not merely to prevent the winds from going outside, but actually to draw them into the body and then into the central channel by the power of meditation. When the winds are caused to enter the central channel, they are held there, moved around, and drawn into various places where they “dissolve” (cease). The dissolution or cessation of winds concomitantly causes the cessation of the types of minds that rely upon them. Thus, as the coarser winds cease, so do the coarser types of minds, leaving only subtle winds and minds. The remaining subtle mind (mounted on the remaining subtle wind) is then used to cognize emptiness.
    I am not a big fan of Chi (ki), energies, Chakra, winds and the like. I consider them traditional, pre-scientific guesses and fanciful imaginings about how the body and mind work from an age when people had much less understanding of how the body actually is put together. So, I want to clarify your meaning before we discuss it more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickolas Beumer
    The whole idea is to move through the Five Aggregates letting go of each and every one of them.

    It basically means we let go of Form, we let go of Feeling, we let go of Perception, we let go of mental formations, and we let go of consciousness and we end up sitting in Zazen, actualizing enlightenment. Then we can understand from Zazen down through the Five Aggregates, that the Five Aggregates are empty, they have no independent self existence, they are just the dynamic nature of the mind. It is only when we reach this level of understanding that we transcend both Nirvana and Samsara, the many and the one.

    This allows us to let go of our suffering and rest in our essential nature, we become free from the bondage of the Five Aggregates, we can use the Five Aggregates in a practical way but we are not bound by them.
    Please just throw the Five Aggregates in the trash bin, especially as a description of Zazen. Just sit and quiet your mind without worrying about the mechanism. That is especially true when it concerns some traditional description of the mechanism that, I think, is useless for what we do. This type of semi-fanciful description is almost as useless as saying that we are "channeling our winds into the central channel".

    JUST SIT!!!

    The "just sitting" Shikantaza Zazen which I teach is not mechanical in its process. We just sit, dropping likes and dislikes, goals, wishes to change circumstances, thoughts of this and that, thoughts of self and other ... and we do it all at once. We just do it, much like we just ride a bike without worrying how the bike and muscles work. Just pick up your feet and ride, and leave the mechanism to bike designers and physiologists.

    Got the point? Peddle the bike, enjoy the ride ... do not worry about the physics that causes the chain to rotate the gears.

    Soto practice does not "move through" the aggregates, it is not a mechanical or step by step process, doing one then moving on to the next. I say this because some forms of meditation do that kind of step-by-step, but our style does not. We just sit, dropping this and that and the other, with no objective.

    Let me make this simple: Let us suppose that one "mental aggregate" that is a cause of suffering for you is fear by your "self" of its ultimate "death". In "just sitting", we simply drop the dichotomy of life/death and self/other. Each is real, but is also seen as empty at the same time, merely by stopping to think about such things. The fear evaporates as it has nothing to attach to. Problem solved when we stop thinking about the problem. No need to do more. Death exists (we are all going to die) but death does not exist (is empty) when we simply drop the idea "life/death" from mind.

    So, again, no need to think about the mechanism as much as JUST SIT and BE QUIET!

    The Heart Sutra states ...

    "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form,
    form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form.
    The same is true with feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness."


    Love, hate, peace, war, disease, sickness, life, death, hot, cold, up, down, cars, boats, houses, rivers and trees ... all exist in this world (I mean, one of those cars is parked in front of my house).

    Love, hate, peace, war, disease, sickness, life, death, hot, cold, up, down, cars, boats, houses, rivers and trees ... all do not exist when there is no sentient mind to name them and give them reality in one's inner "Holodeck". Our Zazen is a dropping of those things from mind, even as they exist.

    So, Just Sit and to hell with the "Winds" and all the rest.

    I do not think I explained this well today, but I hope my point has gotten across.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8
    Jundo wrote:
    all do not exist when there is no sentient mind to name them and give them reality in one's inner "Holodeck".
    et tu Jundo? I thought I was the only Star Trek nerd here . . .

    Bill

  9. #9
    Vulcans used meditation to help control their emotions.

  10. #10
    Hi Jundo,

    Jundo wrote:
    Do you feel that you are actually experiencing a "complete turning off" of consciousness during Zazen? What do you mean by "consciousness turns on" when you are coming out of Zazen? Can you describe the sensation (or lack thereof) a bit more? Do you actually experience this in your Practice, or are you speaking from what you believe you should be experiencing as "Nirvana" based on, for example, descriptions you have read? Before I discuss this point more with you, I want to clarify what you mean.

    When I sit Zazen there comes a moment when there is no presence of mind or body. My mind is not in my body and my mind is not in my thoughts. I am also not sitting there feeling like a subjective self. There is simply pure existence without any subject/object duality. It is not a state of unconsciousness, instead one might say it is pure consciousness. I believe this to be the fundamental ground of mind. When the self reflective nature of consciousness arises I can recognize that "mind", during "no mind" I do not recognize it, there is only being. When something does arise its nature is no different from that "no mind" and it simply ceases to be.

    I used the term Nirvana as a set up, and yes in its traditional expression it refers to the stilling of prana which means the stilling of the mind. I wanted to convey later on in my reply that in these moments of pure being, when nothing arises and when one rests in pure consciousness, that "ground" is the very same as what arises as the Five Aggregates.



    Jundo wrote:
    Please just throw the Five Aggregates in the trash bin, especially as a description of Zazen. Just sit and quiet your mind without worrying about the mechanism.


    I do not use the Five Aggregates as a model nor do I move through them when I sit. I did want to express that if one where to look deeply into the Five Aggregates one would end up in Zazen. The point though not expressed in words was that if we end up in Zazen, why not simply sit Zazen. I feel that it is a mistake to get too caught up in models and maps of what might be happening, no matter if they are traditional or modern they can easily trap one in an endless web of delusion. That is why in sharing my understanding of the Five Aggregates I acknowledged that such things have the power to lead one astray.

    I feel that you expressed the practice of Soto Zen clearly, it is just sitting without grasping at what arises. It needs no support and no intellectual understanding for it to work.

    Thank you for clarifying the practice of Soto Zen.
    Nick

  11. #11
    Hi again Nick,

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickolas Beumer

    When I sit Zazen there comes a moment when there is no presence of mind or body. My mind is not in my body and my mind is not in my thoughts. I am also not sitting there feeling like a subjective self. There is simply pure existence without any subject/object duality. It is not a state of unconsciousness, instead one might say it is pure consciousness. I believe this to be the fundamental ground of mind. When the self reflective nature of consciousness arises I can recognize that "mind", during "no mind" I do not recognize it, there is only being. When something does arise its nature is no different from that "no mind" and it simply ceases to be.
    Okay, if it feels right to you, keep on with that lovely place. See the sights, buy a postcard, get a souvenir.

    The one thing I would caution is not to get caught there, or even to need to experience that timeless scenery all the time or even most times. "Nice place to visit, wouldn't want to live there" and all that. Sometimes we get caught up on our vacations and don't want to return to real life (though, don't get me wrong, we all need the weekends and quiet Sundays to give the weekly grind perspectice!). You write ...


    I believe this to be the fundamental ground of mind.


    You know, I just wrote something on this very point! I really like what I just wrote. COULD I ASK EVERYBODY TO LOOK AT THIS THING I JUST WROTE, and the little discussion by John and Paige right before it. It is on this very topic. Please and thank you.

    viewtopic.php?p=4043#4043

    Gassho, Jundo the Travel Agent

  12. #12
    Hi Jundo,

    I do not mistake moments of stillness for "mind", I find no distinction between stillness or movement. I will say that it was easier for me to find "mind" in the stillness at first. I experience that "mind" regardless of sitting Zazen, cooking dinner or doing the dishes.

    I find there is no distinction between mask and "mind", the mask seems to become less transparent the more I grasp it and invest in it. But the nice thing is that the mask never becomes solid, and yet at one time the mask was all too solid, it was very concrete. I do not find that I have to wear any particular mask now, if one arises I need not put it on, I may choose which masks I put on.

    I would define stillness as Nirvana and the mask as Samsara, I would then say that "mind" transcends Nirvana and Samsara being the essence of both.

    Jundo as you are the teacher, would you please tell me if I am wrong and if so would you please clearly define what you would have me do to wake up from my delusion?


    Thank you
    Nick

  13. #13
    Hi Nick,

    Would you like to do a video conference with me, one on one? I would like to see your eyes and hear your voice as you describe what you describe. We can discuss this privately while I can see you.

    Your words are very formal in writing. That is a question for me. Maybe it is just your way of speaking and manner, but I want to see the heartfelt conviction in this. I'm not from Nebraska (like you), but I am from the "Show Me" state next door.

    Are you now, as you seem to say, experiencing this each and every time you sit? Hmmm. Do you say that you can turn this on and off at will, for example?

    How do you know it is "mind" you experience, and not some other sensation you are just calling "mind"?

    Remind me with whom and where you studied before.

    I will say this: Even if it is how you describe, we consider (in Soto Zen) such experiences and perspectives a reference point, not a big deal. They come and go, and need to go and not stay. That is why I told you to see the sights, take some snapshots, buy a postcard, get a souvenir. It is not so much that you see some state of "Pure Being", but that you know how to relax and live in this world despite what you say you saw. You have to get beyond it, make it a natural part of you (like breathing and defecating), not make too big a deal of it. That's our way. Such experiences are rather a truck stop we pull into for a cup of coffee, not the end of the ongoing journey. At least, that is my view of such things.

    But, let's do a video conference and talk about all this.

    Gassho, Jundo

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    So, what are the traditional Skandas? Like all things in traditional Buddhist Philosophy, it depends which philosopher you ask. Philosophers disagree on the details. But, basically, you have:

    1-Matter: The "stuff" (we might say atoms and molecules) that are the world (and your body) and exist without regard to whether your sentient mind is perceiving them or not.

    2-Sensations- The sensing of the matter by the sense organs. These sensations are soon interpreted as pleasant, painful or neutral (we now know that, much as primitive Buddhist psychology described, much of that judging goes on even before you perceive the sensation. For example, the brain knows pain and danger even before you more deeply or consciously perceive that you are touching a hot stove).

    3-Perceptions- Your mind perceiving, inside the brain, data from the senses. You become aware of the raw, incoming data inside your brain.

    4-Mental Formations- Now your brain does all the complex processing, interpreting, organizing, reacting and responding to the data. You give it names, think about it, form opinions, likes and dislikes, moral judgments, have emotional reactions, formulate responses, and actions. etc. You do all the stuff that your brain (and any animal brain, though humans do more of it) does in interpreting, thinking about and acting in the world.

    5-Consciousness is that extra thing that makes you alive. You are not merely a computer processing data (or a simple insect brain), but are self-aware, alive. The closest example I can give you, perhaps, is a new born baby that at first, cannot interpret the sense data beyond basic sensations like "pain" "pleasure" "hungry". Only gradually does it develop a more complex interpretation of the world, for example," this is my hand, this is my foot" (baby's actually have to discover this), "they are part of "me", the crib is not "me"" etc. A complex world view starts to develop and, only then, does the baby become "self-aware" and conscious of itself as itself (it probably was not self aware until that time, and was just raw experiencing. Now, the baby is aware that it is "me").

    The above is just a rough description.
    Well, that it may be, but it's a remarkable overview of the five skandhas for which I'm very grateful. I just spent a while trying to find something like this on the internet and, well, here it is.

    Gassho, Jundo!

  15. #15

    Re: The Five Skandhas

    Dear Jundo,

    I really liked the analogy of the holodeck (I am a big ol' nerd), but need some help understanding it.

    So, say I'm Data playing Sherlock Holmes in one of his favorite holodeck ("regular world" with the skandhas) adventures (me, in the "regular" world, at work, playing Mari in one of her favorite/not favorite adventures of really not liking Moriarty/bad customer and really liking Geordi/co-worker or good customer who is playing my "helper" Watson).

    Then I leave the holodeck/Just Sit. But what's there now? What am I doing?

    Seeing the holodeck as the holodeck, and knowing it's not real (it's a game), but also is real, because it IS there (with four walls and programs that can be run, and exactly like Barkley I spend way too much time there in my adventures rather than dealing with reality)? If I'm on "the ship" outside of the holodeck is the ship more real than the holodeck, and what's the ship?

    Knowing what the holodeck is, that's fairly easy for me to understand. What's NOT the part of the holodeck, that's not so easy for me to understand. What I'm supposed to do in the ship isn't easy for me to understand.

    Am I still Mari while in the ship/Just sitting? Or if I am thinking I'm still Mari, have I just turned the ship into yet another program/adventure, Mari watching Star Trek? Who am I in the ship/when Just Sitting? How do I know when I'm not having an adventure, either playing or watching? I'm very sorry if this makes no sense.

  16. #16

    Re: The Five Skandhas

    Quote Originally Posted by Mari
    Dear Jundo,

    I really liked the analogy of the holodeck (I am a big ol' nerd), but need some help understanding it.

    So, say I'm Data playing Sherlock Holmes in one of his favorite holodeck ("regular world" with the skandhas) adventures (me, in the "regular" world, at work, playing Mari in one of her favorite/not favorite adventures of really not liking Moriarty/bad customer and really liking Geordi/co-worker or good customer who is playing my "helper" Watson).

    Then I leave the holodeck/Just Sit. But what's there now? What am I doing?
    Oh, sorry, Mari ... there is a little misunderstanding here.

    Ya see, you are not Data or Jordi ... You are one of the characters on the holodeck! You know, one of those characters in the holodeck that is always surprised to find out that, in fact, he is just a holodeck character ... just made of photons and such. Those characters also know no world beyond the story in the holodeck. When the program is shut off ... so are you! :shock: (though something goes on ... the photons and holodeck computer ... which is, after all, what you were all along)!

    And you are not stepping off the holodeck ... not as Mari at least.

    But let's not stretch this analogy too far (I already have)! It is just an analogy after all. 8)

    Gassho, J


  17. #17

    Re: The Five Skandhas

    But let's not stretch this analogy too far (I already have)! It is just an analogy after all.
    I kinda got the feeling that I was getting too wrapped up in it once I realized I was totally confusing myself with my own questions! :lol:

    Thank you for the clarification about being one of the characters.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: The Five Skandhas

    I also love the Trek.

    All this hologram talk has got me remembering a book I read called, The Holographic Universe, by a guy named Michael Talbot. The second half of it may be a bit too New Age-y for some people here, but I really like the first half where all the science of holograms is described, showing how the way we perceive the world around us is much like a hologram. Also, our brains are holographic in the sense that our memories are not localized in the actual flesh of the brain. A study is described in the book in which a man would cut apart the brains of rats and then put the brains back in, rearranged. The rats were still able to retain their memories and were still able to make their way through mazes, though with slight problems in motor skills.

  19. #19

    Re: The Five Skandhas

    Oh this was an interesting conversation. Don’t have to worry about skandas anymore. Zen students are the best actors. O time to go- - beam me up scotty![liveustream][/liveustream]

  20. #20

    Re: The Five Skandhas

    I am tickled that it is a conversation we started in 2007, in the first months of this place, and just picked up from there. 8)

    Gassho, J

  21. #21
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: The Five Skandhas

    A really interesting thread...

    ...just to add to the 'holographic paradigm' (and other paradoxes....Ken Wilber)...at a conference on Friday concerning trauma and attachment disorders in children, the science is pointing to the brain maladapting to normalise experiences in neglect and abuse suffered even within the womb. The fact that our whole life experience is created without needing our conscious input and that our own bodies (brain as organ) can in effect such physical changes I think is a link that is now having enormous repercussions in culture and health.

    ..The amount of patient, compassionate re-education at a conscious level that teachers and therapists have to dedicate to healing such traumas if indeed they ever do is ten-fold to the length of the original period of neglect/abuse. The early the trauma the more hard-wired in the behaviour patterns the longer the therapeutic response required..that is if the trauma is recognised early enough.

    Our Buddhist understanding of how our constructed worlds emerge is becoming so important in many fields and for so many people, particularly children who are usually written off at an early age..

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: The Five Skandhas

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    May I offer some context before you try to delve into the traditional interpretation of the Skandas?
    Thank you, Jundo. I really needed a little explanation like this.

  23. #23
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: The Five Skandhas

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly M.
    Hello all,

    I was recently reading an explanation of the Five Aggregates (AKA Five Skandhas). This is probably the third such explanation I have tried to comprehend with little success. There is something about this concept that is preventing me from getting my head wrapped around it. Perhaps this is a bit ironic as they have to do with our perception and understanding of reality, do they not? Anyways, does anyone have a simplified rendering of this concept they would care to share, or know where I can readily find one?

    Thanks,
    Kelly
    You may find some benefit in exploring the Western philosophical concept, attributed to Sellars, called the 'myth of the given'.

    Chet

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