The Five Skandhas

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a practice period the morning can you hear me okay
have now saturday better
because it's not the middle here
arm is it is a distorted it's better not behind it's fine we can hear you
okay
right well
come
here we are beautiful late spring day in berkeley
and we are well into our practice period a couple things i would say before i start this lecture ah one is that it's a pleasure broadcasting today from ah what was sojourn rochas office
and i've been working with maria wisden in there for the last couple months going through such as papers and looking at books a hand ah
really enjoying slowly moving into the space ha and having a place to meet with people ah privately and would i find is it's for whatever reason it is required here it's the car
it's somewhat more peaceful than being in my house
so i'm appreciating them
i'm did i posted earlier in the week ha there's a wonderful a burma spring benefit film festival that's going on ah and i'll try to find you the link for that but it's it's really remarkable and the films are great
eight and also it's is raising money for the ah the democracy movement didn't in burma and so far we've so far we've raised ah
more than twenty four thousand dollars and festivals only in open for a day so we're doing really great
okay let's take a rest

today i'd like to talk about the five scandalous and ah
open up some ways to think about it that are new
for me and hopefully new for you
the word skanda
beads aggregate war collection or heap
and what it represents or the the physical
nature of our of our bodily existence and then for mental factors such as five scandalous
and they're always changing that's the one thing that they have in common is that ha they are changing from moment to moment
and that he could both your body in the activities of your mind
hum
the five scandals are
applied from the beginning
there you find them in the first
the first sermon of the buddha speaks of the money speaks of the middle way four noble truths and dependent origination
can the notion that we have of the five scandals is that
it's what we taped to be herself
and so to investigate the five scanned as is to investigate the question
who am i
but i would say from for me and for most diverse our first encounter with this words skanda is in our daily recitation of the heart sutra
so the very first lines it says hello kitty far a bodhisattva when practicing deeply the pressure upon meta perceive that all five condos in their own being are empty and was saved from all suffering
so
hum and we'll talk a little about what that would emptiness it with that emptiness is that applies to the scandals but
what i notice is that our first encounter with the scandals is in the realm of
deviation of negating them and then a few lines later he says therefore an emptiness no form no feelings no perceptions know formations toe consciousness so there you have a list of the five skylanders form feelings percent
options formations and consciousness
but they're all negated
ha and so will the top out why that is
so as i said our investigation of the five candace is an investigation of
how could say who am i or
who do i think i am
more
how is it that i think i am me
good especially when we investigate and see that
are aspects of why i am that scene
white fixed and we want to
we have a leaning towards wanting to see that see something unchanging fixed but as we investigate is that it's always flowing like a river or stream
but it's important to reckon to recognize that
like everything else in the dharma
the five contests are not an absolute truth
they're not a concrete model or a detailed map
what they are is a tool for introspection
the and the pointed that introspection
is not some abstract philosophical approach but actually the point is so we can be free
so we can be our true self
and
has we investigate
all those ever changing aspects
we can find a way
to release herself from bondage to the self
i think that's what the implication is of the heart sutra when it says ah recognize me at all
five contests in their own been are empty and this was relieved from while suffering what what that means is the key word is on been
so there's not something essential that i can pull down to as this form ah has me
if i look at a photograph of myself from look at me my image on the screen right now so while lose his old guy you know that's not the way i think of myself internally but that's written upside from me outside now ah and it didn't look like that fifteen or twenty years ago
and it didn't look like that fifty years ago
and yet i i project some continuity
but even there that's that's really questionable my thoughts from one moment to another are not continuous
this wonderful a lecture by soda roshi that he gave in chapel hill in pink nineteen ninety seven
i think this lecture is actually in use in this upcoming book
and i just want a quote from it a little it's a lecture that he gave on the heart sutra
and he says the heart sutra goes through the five counters
therefore an emptiness no form no feelings no perceptions know formations no consciousness kinda sutra goes through the senses no eyes no ears no nose to tongue no body no mind ah he says in emptiness
there is no
qualification is no no thing that says knows noses or know our noses like i've got my nose
doesn't look like
carol's knows
ah it it probably has it has generally the same function but it looks different ah it's probably in a different state of congestion who knows how knows but the nose
he's only knows
because it has a location on my face
you know ah
you know it's not like a picasso painting with the nose will be over here you our noses generally in the same place
ah
so
we will from the
that the nose is an object ah if it's also it's an oregon did smells but right now i'm looking at it and you can look at your nose very closely had the reason
that you can
see her nose is because you have an i
because you have an organ that's called the i
and that organ such as the i organ the object of site which is the nose and the consciousness
all come together they worked together those three so this is a
this is an dharmic
analysis of the way our senses work gives an object is an oregon and then there's a consciousness there's an eye consciousness
so hum
mateljan says
an object is not an object
an object is part of consciousness because consciousness creates the object
and and which is crawling on the book that's in front of me
does not carbonize it has a book
only human beings cognize
this book as a book
so consciousness creates objects
insurgents as the five skylanders
form feelings perceptions mental formations and consciousness or the five categories that constitute a human being or i would say it's the five categories that we think
we put together
to constitute a you will be
we call them five streams because they are always changing
certain rights they are like running streams continually transforming
as soon as we say now
it's already gone
except that we can continually say now
we're always say now
but as soon as weight as we say now it's already not now
so the scandals are in the nature of being in constant change
so i hope you just hold on first of
ultimately i want to get to where this is useful to us
want to reassure you but first how let's go through the five scandals very briefly so you have some understanding of what they are
the five scandals consist of
form
and then three functions
feelings perceptions formations and consciousness which is also a mental function ah
to my mind form and consciousness are they sort of bracket these these three mental functioning send i'll explain why but why think that way
so form is matter
for the body
and it is composed of the fork great elements
dogan when he talks about the scanned as the answers he often says the for great element in the five candace
ah so those elements of course or the earth solidity water just flowing fire which is heat and wind which is motion

so this is our body or body is the location in which all of our mental activity takes place
without a body
we're not thinking at least in the terms in the only trump said that we can imagine for ourselves
so then we come to the three mental factors
first census is feeling
ah
you could call it temptation to their sensations ah by the way the word for formed in
polly is ah rupa call you be a and the word for feelings as re-framing i'm here is v donna v d a
bear contact
ah some when you touch something
the first level of discrimination that comes with that contact is simply
pleasant unpleasant can neutral
ah nothing more elaborate than and that's just the first point of contact
pleasant unpleasant and neutral
but it moves very very quickly
to the second mental factor which we call perceptions
ah
some now
is the aggregate of
recognition or labeling
so
this conda of perception
very quickly forms a concept
or a thought and dames the experience that our contact is having
ah and so
ah
it's drawing this from we won't going to since actually dead strongest from our experience
ah we might start with a blank slate but really instantly ah the miracle of our mind or our consciousness if you will is it starts sorting and categorizing and filing or experiences so that
when we experience something like them we can draw so ha
if i put my hand on a hot stove you know it's it's unpleasant very quickly it's also it's heat
it's hot and are the same thing that's true of almost anything that we caught nice we recognize and put a label on it hot cold the shape of a tree the color dream
emotion
fear joy all of those things each labels that that go on our experience and probably
there are labels that are
mostly welsh i mostly be experience these people says as arising with words
but certainly there are pre verbal
kinds of labeling that we come to before we have the language and sir
the ah animals
our responsive to ah whatever labeling mechanism they may have that is certainly distinct probably distinct from our particular words but labeling as an activity of the mind
that's the third scanned before skanda earth is called mental formations or some scar and
takes a little longer
to emerge the first to happen very quickly we have been my experience something ah
this is called the aggregate of volitional formations
and
hi would say ha
i think of it as sort of them to story making mechanism
ha
that
is constructing operas our perceptions and is putting them into a larger context and it also includes comic activities
so all types of of mental imprints
her condition mean that are triggered by the perception of an object
includes a process that will make
devil initiate an action for a person
so those are put on climb a three mental factors
ah the fifth skanda
is
more complicated lori and i have been having ah
the sort of arguments about it it's the hardest to to categorize and what you find in buddhist philosophy is that ah they they wrestled a lot with the nature of consciousness and kept re-framing the mechanism to noise looking at it
i'm
but it's not strictly speaking that consciousness is not a single thing
it's a collection of consciousnesses that are constantly changing
i'm so those consciousness are the five cents consciousnesses ah seeing hearing touching
the case then
on my list from a busy
eyes ears nose tongue body mind anyway
those are those are the
the five senses and then you have the sense of them the mindsets which is are thinking which is also an arm and a an organ of consciousness it's an it's a sense organ as well as a synthesizing work
can i don't want to get stuck on that too much but to me unless you have consciousness and unless you have a body then you can't have those other three
mental factors

so in the

in the first sutra
the first in the damage of a terrorists sutra ah the buddha says he's in the first noble truth he says
the noble truths are suffering is this birth is suffering sickness is suffering death is suffering association with the unpleasant is suffering dissociation from the pleasant is suffering not to receive one's desires is suffering
in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering in other words or sometimes translate the five clinging scandalous
ah okay as kanda
our suffering
and what i there's some ambiguity at least to my mind about what that means the five claiming scandalous harm
i think of the scandals as
they claim to us
we grasp for them and their nature ah is sticky
it's like they have some some adhesive
on their on their surface and when we touch them we gonna get stuck like on you know like ah
the have used to see people get tangled up and fly paper in cartoons
ha
and so
when we stick to them
where that's when we're in the process of how framing those clinging scandals as me
can we suffer
but one thing that i was that i came across in my studying is
course candace are not clingy
what we do not claim to us congress and that's
that's where we can practice
ha
there isn't one thing sensory as an example of skanda claiming
sleeves this body is mine
where i exist within one this body than as one's body ages becomes ill approaches death one will likely experience longing for use or health or eternal life will tread aging and sickness and death and will spend much time and energy lost in fears fantasies and feud
oil activities
so in the new tires this kind of activity is likened to shooting oneself with a second arrow
the first arrow is the physical phenomenon which is play a bodily manifestation related to aging or illness and you outside
okay that's being shot went now that's being wounded that's that's not a good thing but the second air at all
is the mental anguish
that we spend on
the fact that we've been shot on the yearning for
the circumstance of somehow been on shot
and so we wound ourselves again

the question that come to is how do we practice with the five gandhi's how are they useful to us
can i i i do find it very useful harm
first of all again without going to do a lot of detail i've often felt that they map onto the wheel of of conditioned car rising ha the hand
that's been confirmed in singapore a been reading so you're a one thing leads to another
you can lead to another intuition
or it can go the other way and lead to another elaboration
so here
thinking about breaking the chain of this contest wherever possible
so
sensations are present or feelings representations are unavoidable they happen
ha
perhaps if you are buddha you can intervene right at that point and not create
ah perceptions or mental formations and it gets really hard
hum
if we didn't break the chain their ten were free from
the process of creating a self
the next place of course is to break the chain after the third scanner
have we labeled something
hum
can we break the chain they are just say okay this is it hot remove my hand from the stove
ha
or anything else since this goes for for for emotional issues as well
if we can do that
that's awesome really good
third point
where we can intervene
he is
in the skanda of mental formations
so
can i intervene and and it's it's easier here because
it's easier to see i am making up stories about this
and i've experienced this the right arm couple months ago
i was helping to people than another community that we're having a conflict
and the nature the conflict is he gone on for while hensel they both had
pretty elaborate stories
about the other
can also elaborate stories about
what they
how they categorize the experience that they were there were having
and
i thought it was really interesting to note that
at least initially they report in
the realm of their story
and a believing their story and have not seen at a story
see it as a ah an accurate interpretation of what had happened
and so
take what we had to do was to lead back from her story
at least need back from the story to the
realm of the perception to just how did this feat
not necessarily what this other person may have done with new thinking here she may have done to you but how how did this field to you and to do that for both people
but i really in my
thinking about it i
pretty much thought about the scandals
so want to come back to this question of
two kinds of scandalous
there's just the five skylanders
which are hey
can i say a diagram of the way our mental had devotees usually work in this body
that doesn't necessarily imply
a fixed self
and then there's the five gleaming qantas
same candace
this is very much like what i was talking about last week when we talked about the different versions of the of the three marks of existence
so one version traditional version as i said was com
two months er impermanence non-self and suffering
and a mahayana version is impermanence non-self
and nevada
so you can say this is a parallel process
ha and wanted things that in what i was reading that said well even odds and bodhisattvas so long as you have a body you have five contests
but if you have
purified more if you've clarified your practice than those five condos they don't if they're clinging qantas then it's the three marks that are gonna lead to
suffering
if they are scott as that are taken just as the natural operation of mind that doesn't imply
oneself then
they can lead to freedom
and one way that i do this
can i think in and you can do this is
with any experience
that
may come to mind
particularly if it's it's minister as a charger and unpleasant or a pleasant of a pleasurable or not legible charge
i try to work it backwards
i tried to turn that unfolding the scanned is backwards like ah ok here's the story i'm telling about it
and
just to say how does this
what's what's the
in what's the feeling and here i'm using a western notion of feeling not not the bear feeling ah but what label
what label fits this experience ah before i make up a story about it

and i guess i would couple that with
in this story making machinery ha
i don't know what the other person is thinking
you know if i look at jerry i don't know what jerry's thinking
but i bet that she has she has her own story and our stories good they could intertwine they could clash ah is just a story by
i would be curious to know what she is experiencing i'm curious new thing i don't discount stories stories are fantastic we are story making animals and this is not something that we want to get rid of this is
something we take great pleasure in
i think however that
it's really important you should we should take pleasures and stories
at the same time we should be able to see through them
we should be free to see through them
just you know enjoy the story but don't feel that it's the truth there's no absolute truth in
in dharma
ha
pegasus and discuss with the home
glassman first first entered always to two garages or principal teaching which is
beginner's mind
really mind that doesn't know
the beginner's mind the mind does it not knowing is the mind before
we've locked down on her story
so as soon as we walked down on the story which is what happens in the in the conjunction of the fourth and fifth skanda then
we are shaping the world worked attempting in vain to shape the world in our image
and
we know that won't work
but somehow secretly be think it will
you know and often secretly we think
if everybody just thought like me
since would work really well
it's probably not true
so i think on
that's where i want to open up for ah for questions and discussion ah and i i really hate to say i really enjoyed studying the scandalous this week as a they open themselves up to me in a way that ah
it just i hadn't entered them for many years and i see them as as part of the of the buddhist two kids that we that we have no in also in the context of
the other things we've been learning ah during this practice period so i'm gonna go back to blake i believe was gonna call on people and hob floor is open for what
oh i want to say again as i said last week hum
he could be concise in your comments or questions
try to ask a question or comment is not out of bounds ah but be concise and think about ah keep in mind the people who might not so easily speak
as as you might give them some space so let's take let's take a minute and then hard to to breathe and settle ourselves and let our question rise and then blake or corn so twisted
just a minute about a it

good sanga please raise your digital hand arm and as i call on you just take a pause until i have time to
co highlight you i am that i invite staff to unmute herself and ask a question
thank you by comparing hassan boring really enjoying your talk could you say more about the fifth scandal consciousness please
what do you want to know
that's a good question okay so consciousness ah i'm going to try to be brief
climate justice is both an organ and a function
ah and this is where it got divided out in the yoga charter school actually it could divided out into several pieces but you have
the organ
is just the mind that thanks
and so that creative you know it's say that creating objects like a dream is an object idea ideas an object the thought is an object so those are in the same way that me seeing you are your your little box with the yellow around it is up
is coming to me via my consciousness so same thing your your mind has a function like back but it also has the integrative function of pulling all this information together and he end up
making it miraculously making it ah so that it all works together so that we have a larger idea that is integrating
you know right now it's integrating what i see what i hear ah what i feel on my skin and you know there's also some part of my brain that is that is the hub spewing words where did those come from where you know how
what said the the brain is is doing this incredible coordinating function so that's also so consciousness is very hard to to get your head around and also ah it's almost impossible i mean yes i think it's a big question in in
buddhist philosophy but
can you see it you can you see your awareness or in the instant that you think you see it have you turned it into an object and you're no longer you know you're you're now not using it but if you're not seeing it for you using it
it's it's really complex
what we we can't really see our thoughts
so thoughts are
but we can hear our thoughts in our heads we can talk about our thoughts so how do we let go of the acknowledging and let go letting go of consciousness
well i not wait to worry about letting go consciousness we have to let go of our is is the product of consciousness the stories that we tell and we don't have to let go of all of them it's the ideas not to make oneself blank
the idea is to
ah you know follow our vow to liberate or being so conferences congresses the it's pretty good thing i think
but the consciousness what we but we try to see through is the story of i
the story of me that's what we're looking that's what we try to notice when that's coming up because
in to ourself and that is the big problem that we haven't his world is we think that it's a difference between you and me
and if we're all part of one thing then that's a really different way to look at it but as soon as a separate myself then ah all kinds of other
hazards emerge
pauline i invite you to unmute yourself and ask a question
when it goes on
i was wondering if he could say something about the as gutters and the practices asset into it certainly seems to me that i'm one of the things we get his as and his practice and breaking that early chain from forms to feelings perceptions and also perhaps the later story making as i how it is for you
yeah i mean the practice of observed gray by around it
what
we continued his yes there is a bot i hadn't needed somebody container osan please on
the actor says and is is letting go of this idea of herself as as it arises moment by moment should incessantly does we don't have punitive lean towards it towards me he wrote psycho okay there
i am again over we are i meant to be sitting upright breathing so i'll just return to that and ah you know if an interesting story comes up
i just think
okay there's twenty three and there's trying through other hours in the day and it was really interesting story that it'll come back and i'll take some time to think about it but that's not what my intention is now so it's constantly
setting aside and returning
just returning to that
no point returning to that breast and posture and starting over again with the and not judging oneself
hassan there's a question about how to deal with the story
i might you speak a bit more to how it lands in the body to lock down in a story instead of fully inhabiting a story and how to connect with the associated pain of disconnecting as for example in psychology
cool quote on quote this association or freeze response right well
i think it's good to come back to
what it was saying about this not being the absolute truth and that ha
certain circumstances in our lives call for
other kinds of intervention
ah zazen may not be the proper intervention ah you know
we've been discussing within live instead of traveling around the perimeter of car issues of trauma for for a while i mean some we've been talking about it here in
in in other places in the saga and
those are you know this gets to a much more
a much deeper
level of psychological or even buddhist psychological analysis and ah
some seeds are planted really deep and they really strong and we have to have we may need other modes of addressing them so it's not so simple was same you can just
unreal that story
where you can do that great where where the bird feels like there's
ah a place is really that's stopped for you and may be understandably so then are we need other kinds of intervention and we really we need we need to do that work ourselves but we also need up
from friends teachers healers ah right i take an educated pretty seriously ah i don't think it it may not be enough for someone in that circumstance is just to say okay to return to my breath and posture
ah
if you could do that fine
but if that's not working do not judge yourself for that work
so i don't know i don't know they can go much further than that ah here anyway
marybeth lamb i invite you to meet yourself and ask a question or a common
i'm kind of piggy backing off of pauline's question
i'm wondering when do we look deeply at these condors if during zazen mainly were saying oh i'm in one of these i'm going back to my breath
do you work and i'm saying yes and what i would say is ah you are distinguishing
between zazen and the rest of your life
dawson
flows through our whole life
it's not that our whole life is sitting in his cross legged posture
but doesn't mind where the mind of practice has all kinds of elements in it that are suitable to particular moments one of the factors of enlightenment is investigation
there's time for investigate you need to see the whole picture
but the whole picture is grounded in zazen what size and does i think is
it calculates
our capacity to include everything
and that means i think
as you going through your day whereas you're sitting in your easy chair
you might investigate your stories and that's part of the process of the larger manifestation of size in mind
okay thinking is time for everything
randy
randy i invite you to and yourself a nice and fashion or charlie
there was to it's a blade
but also on our i went to you are
the certain many times where the story that i asked him
how to change their story and he always said the same thing shine a light on it and that's what you call investigation i get your
i also would like to offer the fact that art can change our perception think about kurosawa the seven samurai the same story tall from the perspective of three different people for different people actually ah
so i told her what to say had russia moon isn't it
is a rush of as and oh yes you're absolutely right i was thinking about arrows earlier so
i confuse them but anyway yeah i'm
what can i say i really liked the whole idea of art
of and we should be about francis bacon why what about francis bacon
do you like him not so much up
i don't either but it's but it's but the work is brilliant
i can admire something that i don't necessarily like
but that's okay let's not get tangled in it
so let's bring home the bacon
and africa and thirty screwed up he fell in love how violent jihad in okay i got one you talking about the knows i couldn't help but thinking about durante he said the nose knows that eno as a k n o w s
ha na sala
but when i was in japan the first time was it
a challenging experience whenever i went out in public
kids would gather around me and point at my nose and laugh
a
okay enough for that
mark kappa thorn i invite you to on yourself and ask a question
but don't like you a contemporary vocabulary of aggregates might be a sensing body a feeling heart and a thinking mind you think we could substitute the content of the aggregates or is that these five specific ones that you wanna share value of
i'm no i can well i think it makes sense ah my
again
none of these that this is not a direct model or map
ah and i think what you're suggesting ah makes sense that it it sounds like it works for you my point where my but i'm trying to do in this practice period is ah convey were trying to convey some of the
the teachings in language that ah that we have that we've inherited then it's up to us to re-frame and reinterpret you know i see this
working in the you buy a chaplaincy program ah
they're quite a number of of systems that are nod to the orthodox or to shampoo these systems that are extremely useful to people ah that i understand as as re-framing and but also they're not just re-framing there
they're also folding in ah some of the insights of
western psychology western philosophy that are not in any way in contradiction to to what i read in the traditional teachings i just this is this is my way my way and is the same thing with music i'm sort of a neo traditionalist ah i really like low
learning what
the tradition says and then finding a way
to make it my own to make it authentic not to make it be ah
you know an invocation or copying so i'm you know that's fine with me but what you're saying and i and i
i do that i'm not doing it today but i do it another realms and and if we all do
thank you
well maybe this is time