Continuing our conversation from last week, the notion of the insubstantiality of what we call self is unique to the Buddha’s teaching. Under investigation, the components of what we call “self” are distinct and constantly changing. It is impossible to point to a solid unchanging entity. It’s not to believe that you don’t exist—rather, to understand the constant flux of existence. It is this possibility of change that we entertain every time we meditate.
The Buddha said that the 5 Aggregates are like a magic show. We’re entranced by the show put on by them as long as we don’t understand the “trick” of the show. Wisdom depends on coming out of that entrancement.
To separate the aspects of the magic show, the Buddha discussed 2 categories within these 5 aggregates: nama and rupa. Nama literally means name (or mind) and rupa means form or body. The 4 components to nama or mind are feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness.
RUPA: interactions of matter—e.g., a bell (matter) produces sound—when sound strikes the ear (also matter), CONSCIOUSNESS receives the sound and hearing arises. Consciousness is sentient brightness knowing experience that holds, receives or gathers matter at the sense doors. Once consciousness receives, FEELING (interpreted as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) arises—so quickly, we fail to register consciousness and feeling separately, believing them to be unitary. PERCEPTION co-arises, recognizing and interpreting the sound, identifies it based on memory and concepts, not bare sense experience. MENTAL FORMATIONS follow generated by mind—mental states and factors arise—thoughts, images, joy, sadness, opinions.
This week, can you see how the Aggregates are present in moments of experience?