I can see that there is no self to find in the 5 aggregates. But what about their container ?

I have a recurrent thought which troubles me : I imagine the 5 aggregates happening within a frame, which is a different one for every living creature.

There is this frame, this perspective, which is unique for any of us, starts at birth, and ends at death. The five aggregates can only be experienced through that perspective.

I can't feel what my cat is feeling when I touch it, I can only experience the aggregates appearing inside my perspective, not the one of the cat.

I don't feel like this is contradicting any buddhist view. The problem is that I don't see how one is suppose not to identify with his own perspective.

1) Where is the impermanence in this ?

2) How can identifying a self there can lead to suffering ?

3) Is there a reference about it in the suttas ?

  • Perhaps because the container itself is an aggregate (vijnana) or consciousness. – Suchness Oct 15 at 4:00
up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is the problem with mixing up ultimate reality with conventional reality. In ultimate reality, the cat does not exist. What is real is the tactile experience of the touch. That experience is an instance of the 5 aggregates arising due to causes. The experience is impermanent, unsatisfactory and non-self.

'Container' is only a concept in the mind. It doesn't exist. Sights can be sensed, sounds can be sensed, aromas can be sensed, tastes can be sensed, tactile sensations can be sensed, mental objects can be sensed. 'Container' is not something that can be sensed. So it's nothing more than a concept. It has no basis in ultimate reality. Vipassana meditation is about stop looking at the world in terms of entities and start looking at the world in terms of experiences. You cannot see the 3 characteristics in concepts.

  • "You cannot see the 3 characteristics in concepts." - Could you say some more about this? – Suchness Oct 21 at 9:06
  • @Suchness Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta are characteristics of Sanskhara(conditioned phenomena). Conditioned phenomena belong to ultimate reality. You can have an intellectual understanding of the 3 characteristics with concepts/entities. But you cannot have direct knowledge of them without going into ultimate reality. – Sankha Kulathantille Oct 21 at 10:21
  • 1
    Got that. Thanks. ;-) – Suchness Oct 21 at 10:55
  1. Just as, with an assemblage of parts, The word 'chariot' is used, So, when the aggregates are present, There's the convention 'a being.'

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bl143.html

Is government a physical object?

I imagine the 5 aggregates happening within a frame, which is a different one for every living creature.

Governments can shape "actions of the country", but in the physical sense there are no such objects like "government" or "state".

There is this frame, this perspective, which is unique for any of us, starts at birth, and ends at death. The five aggregates can only be experienced through that perspective.

Even a point of view of a government isn't so definite and unified; so "can only be experienced through that perspective" is just an idea.

I can't feel what my cat is feeling when I touch it, I can only experience the aggregates appearing inside my perspective, not the one of the cat.

Imagine a beam of sunlight coming to an otherwise dark room. Depending on the time of the day and of the time of the year, direct light falls on particular parts of the room.

All that depends on the position of the sun, and the position, the form and the size of the window, and of the glass quality etc. Suppose you experience what goes on in that room. Should you identify with the window?

I don't feel like this is contradicting any buddhist view. The problem is that I don't see how one is suppose not to identify with his own perspective.

The Buddha spoke of "his" thoughts and actions, like "I did this, I do that".

But he didn't believe that this "I" was a kind of real object.

Just like we say "government did this and that", but that is just a summary on activities of various temporary executives who happen to come together for a while.

1) Where is the impermanence in this ?

All the governments change, sooner or later, and countries cease to exist.

2) How can identifying a self there can lead to suffering ?

If we believe in "I" and "my things", we feel much fear and suffering when they are going to be lost.

Think of how much arguments and wars happen due to constructs based on such beliefs.

Stealing, robbing, murders, suicides - where do they come from?

3) Is there a reference about it in the suttas ?

Practically all the Buddha's teaching speaks about this - how processes create "self", and "self"-based processes develop suffering.

See my explanations of Twelve nidanas.

Also in the "Cittamatra school" (Only Consciousness) see the model of 8 consciousnesses, where the seventh seems to be like the window between the first six and the unlimited alaya-vijnana.

I can see that there is no self to find in the 5 aggregates. But what about their container ?

Only non-puthujjanas see that ''there is no self to find in the 5 aggregates'' and those people would not ask those questions.

Also, container of the 5 aggregates is a new term, and you do not say what that means.

1) Where is the impermanence in this ?

In the dhamma, the impermanence of a thing means the arising and ceasing of the thing. The impermanence of a thing does not mean the thing changes all the time. The impermanence of a thing stems from the thing (arisng and ceasing) being conditioned it goes like this

  • thing is conditioned
  • meaning the thing arises + arising of the thing stems from a condition + the thing can cease + the ceasing of the thing stems from a condition
  • a conditioned thing is impermanent
  • an impermanent thing is dukkha
  • a dukkha thing is anatta

2) How can identifying a self there can lead to suffering ?

3) Is there a reference about it in the suttas ?

It is stupid to base your actions on what is conditioned. And the fact that a conditioned thing has the property of being ceased by a condition is the best ''argument'' to qualify this conditioned thing of ''not self''.

  • I think I made my definition of container of the 5 aggregates pretty clear in my question, see paragraphs 2 to 4. Please ask for clarification if needed in the comments below the question. – abernard Oct 21 at 8:19
  • My question is about how the concepts of impermanence and suffering could be applicable to the concept of container of the aggregate. So this answer is too general. – abernard Oct 21 at 8:22

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