What Experiences Experience?


The Next Buddha is Sangha

We have been reflecting on the teaching of not-self, exploring personal experience through the five aggregates—Form, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formations and Consciousness.

Form corresponds to material, or physical, factors of experience, including not only our bodies but all material objects—earth, trees, buildings, etc. and includes the five physical sense organs and their corresponding material objects: the eyes and visible objects, the ears and audible objects, etc.

Consciousness arises when a sense object comes into contact with a sense organ.  For example, when an audible object comes into contact with the ears, hearing consciousness arises. This is bare awareness, not yet personal experience. Personal experience is produced through the functioning of the other three mental factors of experience: Feeling, Perception, and Mental Formations (aka Volition).

Perception is the activity of recognition, or identification, usually based on previous experience or memory.  It is attaching a name or label to an object of experience. The function of Perception is to turn an indefinite experience into an identifiable, recognizable one—the formulation of a conception, or a definite idea, about the object. As with Feeling (pleasure, displeasure, or indifference which we spoke about last week), Perception arises subsequent to Consciousness of the object–“That’s the bell…”  then Feeling—“what a beautiful sound…”

This week, can you know Feeling, Consciousness and Perception arising and passing, ephemeral and ever changing…dynamic, not static?

Next week, we will reflect on why it is important to analyze experience in this way, guiding us on the Path to freedom.

With metta,
Gina Sharpe
Guiding Teacher