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I have been inquiring about the teachings including translations of scriptures with regards to 'Awareness that knows' here, here , here..

Specifically, in reference to the explanations given by most of the forest tradition, Ajahn's from Thailand and Translations by "Thanissaro Bhikkhu" who is also from the same tradition and has translated the bulk of pali cannon...

It seems to me that the illustrations given by the forest tradition have a somewhat distinctive view about this, for example, In this talk Ajan Amaro said Liberation is possible because of the transcendent quality of awareness beyond the Five Skandhas.

He said ...That which knows the five Skandhas is not intrinsically tied to the Five Skandhas. that which knows is not part of the five Skandhas / i.e. the five aggregates or heaps: form (or material image, impression) (rupa), sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana), perceptions (samjna), mental activity or formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vijnana).

Could you please expound or explain further, how is this Awareness lokuttara and beyond the Skandhas?

Many thanks

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There is no awareness beyond the khandhas.

There is no such thing as the "Thai Forest Tradition" having a uniform set of teachings. The "Thai Forest Tradition" is just a variety of different jungle gurus who made up their own versions of Buddhism.

Ajahn Amaro has wrong view when he said: "that which knows the khandhas is not part of the khandhas".

SN 22.48 refers to two types of five khandhas. Five khandhas without clinging and five khandhas with clinging.

SN 22.85 describes the end of the life of a Buddha as the ending of the five khandhas. Therefore, there are pure undefiled liberated khandhas.

SN22.85:13.1: If, friend Yamaka, they were to ask you: ‘Friend Yamaka, when a bhikkhu is an arahant, one whose taints are destroyed, what happens to him with the breakup of the body, after death?’—being asked thus, what would you answer?” “If they were to ask me this, friend, I would answer thus: ‘Friends, form is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away. Feeling … Perception … Volitional formations … Consciousness is impermanent; what is impermanent is suffering; what is suffering has ceased and passed away.’ Being asked thus, friend, I would answer in such a way.” “Good, good, friend Yamaka!

"Lokuttara" means "beyond the world"; which means the mind not attached to the khandhas. SN 20.7 says "lokuttara" is "sunnata" ("emptiness"), which means "empty of self & anything pertaining/belonging to self". It is the mind that does not regard aggregates as "self". "The mind" is also a khandha. A khandha does not attach to the khandhas.

For example, the Buddha called liberation "cetovimutti" or "cittavimutti" (MN 30). Or Dhammapada 154 says the mind "citta" of the Buddha attained the unconditioned. "Citta" ("mind-heart") originates from nama-rupa (SN 47.42) therefore is part of the khandhas.

Or MN 43 says wisdom & consciousness are cojoined. Wisdom is required for liberation. SN 22.53 describes liberation in terms of freed consciousness. Consciousness is a khandha.

The Buddha never said liberation is possible because of the transcendent quality of awareness beyond the Five Skandhas. The Buddha did not even use the word "awareness", which is too broad or vague to correlate with a specific Pali world.

The Buddha said liberation was possible because the element of Nibbana exists (Ud 8.3). Nibbana is not the khandhas but is a sense object (ayatana; Ud 8.1) known by the khandhas.

  • There is no such thing as the "Thai Forest Tradition" having a uniform set of teachings. The "Thai Forest Tradition" is just a label, empty of any substantial nature. "Thai Forest Tradition" is an empty abstraction. Just like every other dharma. – Andrei Volkov Dec 17 '19 at 17:36
  • Andrei, I strongly believe DD definitely used conventional language here and referred to common ways of thinking & behaving of a lineage (which consists of people) that thinks & acts in a particular way. – Val Dec 19 '19 at 7:10
  • I cannot claim to know, but to me this answer seems quite wrong. It confuses me that a Buddhist would think this. Do we not all agree that the 'I Am' of awareness is fundamental and beyond the skandhas? And if Nibbana is a sense-object then it seems a rather trivial thing. I must admit this answer confuses me considerably. – PeterJ Dec 19 '19 at 11:16
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You must understand the purpose of the five skandhas, there are 31 planes and 4 realms, the plane that we exist at present needs to have 5 skandhas. To liberate you need to un-condition your habits using your mind and only in a Human condition that is possible because it is only through a human mind our habits can be un-conditioned, and those habits are induced from our past and present existences, only the human brain is able to help to deprogram or delete the mental factors that usually creates the cause for the next existence, and this is possible by doing meditation mainly 'Sati Pattana'. Meditation is mind development through observation or you can say it is to remove all your defilements. This cannot be done in any other existence. Therefore Transcending qualities of awareness (these new habits) can be created ( ie the cause) within this existence towards liberation.

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I think the answer is Yes. The first part of your question includes the answer: Liberation is possible. This is a fact. But there will be a unique specific set of causes and conditions for each sentient being to realize this.

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