Khandhas and Senses

Posted: 05/12/2015 by zandtao in Insight, Meditation
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I have been guilty of flights of fancy for most of my life. The power of my experiences has placed an emphasis on those experiences, this is good, but has encouraged me to rate those experiences as religious (OK) but in a non-human realm. This has been a mistake. I have not touched God.

Having said that, my enemy, intellect, has gained control of the truth, and is trying to negate those experiences. This is far worse because that negation places emphasis on intellect and moves people away from experience. Those experiences are so important because they are the most defining aspect of human experience and if their value is to be reduced by intellect then the robots take over. At present I am in a discussion in which the word analysis comes up repeatedly, what is analysis? I suspect it means any kind of thinking anyone wants it to mean rather than a methodical approach based in reason.

In science early analytical methods have been rejected. When the atom is examined it cannot be broken into constituent parts, and we end up with the almost irrational complexity involving probabilities. Early on in this realisation books by Gary Zukav and Fritjof Capra pointed out many holes in their arguments, I presume science thinks the newer complexities have filled in these holes. I doubt it but cannot prove this. A scientific method that has proven fallible in science is being applied to religion.

On experience all people do not have the same experience, and I contend nor are they intended to. Life is the sum of all consciousnesses, and not all people experience consciousness the same way. In life’s journey we share experiences, we listen to others’ experiences and then form a collective consciousness based on this summative process. All experiences do not fit into our filter, we have to accept another’s experience as being valid. Reason is particularly guilty of filtering out all that is not reason. At the same time, when reason is applied outside its remit, its function, it negates experience there – basically if reason cannot experience it is not valid. Amusing I have just done definitions and reason and insight are mutually exclusive.

Different peoples’ experiences can be a warning to others, and the major warning I throw out is against the ego of reason or intellect. “Intellect – the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract or academic matters.” It is this ego that made me hit bottom, and come out the other side. How? I was an arrogant maths student with limited awareness. My life was a focus on maths and drink – very limited. This worked at university – just, but when I started work all that was academic was questioned; I was not important – worse I was actually a failure at work. I had invested in the self that was academia and that was proving to be insubstantial. Drink became more and more important, and I hit bottom. After hitting bottom everything was not rosy but I had started on my Path. Erroneously I had seen this Path as being something “unmanifest” but it was not – it was consciousness. My ego was not blocking consciousness, that is Path which is now path. The paths of all people are part of their consciousness. Throughout life self gets in the way of that consciousness blocking it one way or another but not attaching to self is just consciousness coming through.

This is khandhas:-

• Rupa – body
• Vedana – feelings
• Sanna – perception
• Sankhara – thought
• Vinnana – consciousness

Previously I had not addressed the importance of vinnana. Because of the power of the experiences I had always sought the personal or self in them. These experiences are rightly powerful but not to be attached to.

What is a jhana? I have avoided this word because I had an ambivalence to jhanas and a perceived jhana competition:-

“jhána: ‘absorption’ (meditation) refers chiefly to the four meditative absorptions of the fine-material sphere (rúpa-jjhána or rúpávacara-jjhána; s. avacara). They are achieved through the attainment of full (or attainment -, or ecstatic) concentration (appaná, s. samádhi), during which there is a complete, though temporary, suspension of fivefold sense-activity and of the 5 hindrances (s. nívarana). The state of consciousness, however, is one of full alertness and lucidity. This high degree of concentration is generally developed by the practice of one of the 40 subjects of tranquillity meditation (samatha-kammatthána; s. bhávaná). Often also the 4 immaterial spheres (arúpáyatana) are called absorptions of the immaterial sphere (arúpa-jjhána orarúpávacara-jjhána). The stereotype text, often met with in the Suttas, runs as follows:

(1) “Detached from sensual objects, o monks, detached from unwholesome consciousness, attached with thought-conception (vitakka) and discursive thinking (vicára), born of detachment (vivekaja) and filled with rapture (píti) and joy (sukha) he enters the first absorption.

(2) “After the subsiding of thought-conception and discursive thinking, and by gaining inner tranquillity and oneness of mind, he enters into a state free from thought-conception and discursive thinking, the second absorption, which is born of concentration (samádhi), and filled with rapture (píti) and joy (sukha).

(3) “After the fading away of rapture he dwells in equanimity, mindful, clearly conscious; and he experiences in his person that feeling of which the Noble Ones say, ‘Happy lives the man of equanimity and attentive mind’; thus he enters the 3rd absorption.

(4) “After having given up pleasure and pain, and through the disappearance of previous joy and grief, he enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain, into the 4th absorption, which is purified by equanimity (upekkhá) and mindfulness.

(5) “Through the total overcoming of the perceptions of matter, however, and through the vanishing of sense-reactions and the non-attention to the perceptions of variety, with the idea, ‘Boundless is space’, he reaches the sphere of boundless space (ákásánañcáyatana) and abides therein.
[“By ‘perceptions of matter’ (rúpa-saññá) are meant the absorptions of the fine-material sphere, as well as those objects themselves . . . ” (Vis.M. X, 1).

“By ‘perceptions of sense-reactions’ (patigha-saññá) are meant those perceptions that have arisen due to the impact of sense-organs (eye, etc.) and the sense-objects (visible objects, etc.). They are a name for the perception of visible objects, as it is said (Jhána-Vibh . ): ‘What are here the perceptions of sense-reactions? They are the perceptions of visible objects, sounds, etc.’ – Surely, they do no longer exist even for one who has entered the 1st absorption, etc., for at such a time the five-sense consciousness is no longer functioning. Nevertheless, this is to be understood as having been said in praise of this immaterial absorption, in order to incite the striving for it” (Vis.M. X, 16).

“Perceptions of variety (ñánatta-saññá) are the perceptions that arise in various fields, or the various perceptions” (ib.). Hereby, according to Vis.M. X, 20, are meant the multiform perceptions outside the absorptions.]

(6) “Through the total overcoming of the sphere of boundless space, and with the idea ‘Boundless is consciousness’, he reaches the sphere of boundless consciousness (viññánañcáyatana) and abides therein.

(7) “Through the total overcoming of the sphere of boundless consciousness, and with the idea ‘Nothing is there’, he reaches the sphere of nothingness (ákiñcaññáyatana) and abides therein.

(8) “Through the total overcoming of the sphere of nothingness he reaches the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (nevasaññá-n’asaññáyatana) and abides therein.”

“Thus the 1st absorption is free from 5 things (i.e. the hindrances, nívarana, q.v.), and 5 things are present (i.e. the factors of absorption; jhánanga). Whenever the monk enters the 1st absorption, there have vanished sensuous desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and scruples, doubts; and there are present: thought-conception (vitakka), discursive thinking (vicára) rapture (píti), joy(sukha), and concentration (samádhi). In the 2nd absorption there are present: rapture, joy and concentration; in the 3rd: joy and concentration; in the 4th: equanimity (upekkhá) and concentration” (Vis.M. IV).

The 4 absorptions of the immaterial sphere (s. above 5-8) still belong, properly speaking, to the 4th absorption as they possess the same two constituents. The 4th fine-material absorption is also the base or starting point (pádaka-jhána, q.v.) for the attaining of the higher spiritual powers (abhiññá, q.v.).

In the Abhidhamma, generally a fivefold instead of a fourfold division of the fine-material absorptions is used: the 2nd absorption has still the constituent ‘discursive thinking’ (but without thought-conception), while the 3rd, 4th and 5th correspond to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th, respectively, of the fourfold division (s. Tab. I, 9- 13) . This fivefold division is based on sutta texts like A . VIII, 63 .
For the 8 absorptions as objects for the development of insight (vipassaná), see samatha-vipassaná. – Full details in Vis.M. IV-X.

Jhána in its widest sense (e.g. as one of the 24 conditions; s. paccaya 17), denotes any, even momentary or weak absorption of mind, when directed on a single object.”

How does one understand all this? Is there any wonder why there is so much confusion? Somewhere within all of this exists the experiences of the muse, ecstatic erratic meditation, and so on – somewhere the tingling in the air of presence. The only word that truly helps (at the moment) is absorption.

What is clear? Jhana or absorption is a faculty of mind or consciousness, my experiences are khandha and do not require self.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

  1. zandtao says:

    “And what, monks, is right concentration?

    There is the case where a monk — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & happiness born of seclusion, accompanied by thinking & examining.

    With the stilling of thinking & examining, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & happiness born of concentration, unification of awareness free from thinking & examining — internal tranquility.

    With the fading of rapture, he remains in equanimity, mindful & clearly aware, and physically sensitive of pleasure. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, ‘Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasurable abiding.’

    With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain.

    This, monks, is called right concentration.”

    Samyutta Nikaya 45.8 (

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