Oct. 9, 2022

The Five Aggregates of Being - by Ajahn Brahm

The Five Aggregates of Being - by Ajahn Brahm

The five aggregates (khandas) are empty, and so is a self or being. There is no self, nothing to cling to, and there is freedom is knowing this. Impermanence, emptiness, is the basis for Buddhist understanding. Perception is the process of organizing...

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
iHeartRadio podcast player badge
PlayerFM podcast player badge

The five aggregates (khandas) are empty, and so is a self or being. There is no self, nothing to cling to, and there is freedom is knowing this. Impermanence, emptiness, is the basis for Buddhist understanding. Perception is the process of organizing and understanding experiences. It's based on past experience, and it's constantly changing. Our perceptions are arbitrary and can change based on what we experience. However, our goals, aspirations, and views can also be based on our perceptions. When we understand consciousness to mean that the mind is active, everything in the world has to have the five characteristics of change. 

This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 28th January 1994. It has now been remastered but the quality is still a bit scratchy. But the content is classic Ajahn Brahm and will be of interest to his many fans.

These talks by Ajahn Brahm have been recorded and made available for free distribution by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. You can support the Buddhist Society of Western Australia by pledging your support via their Patreon page.




 So I was talking to the person behind the IV, and they said that it would be very good to talk about something a bit deeper, but try to make it also intelligible and useful for those who come here for the first time, or they've only just started coming here. A hard thing to do to talk about some of the deeper aspects of Buddhism, but still related towards 1s the daily life of someone who's just come in here. But I'm going to try and do so. The subject of this evening's talk is a part of Buddhism which we call the five candidates, or the five aggregates. 1s This is a framework which was used by the Buddha and was used by monks ever since in Theravada Buddhism to describe my core reality, the cosmos, life and everything in it, to sum up the whole of existence in five categories, so that it's helpful to analyze the nature of reality. And indeed, the Buddha often called his teachings a way of analysis as well as practice. One analyzes existence and then from the result of one's analysis, one's understanding, if you like, it gives one a framework to work with, to work with our life and our experience in this framework. 2s In order to give some marvelous and very interesting results. And I'm going to talk about these five, Candace, and also talk about how the Buddha wants people to use them and the results which come from using them. I'll give a little clue. The result from using this particular framework in one's life is detachment. There's a sense of emptiness, a sense of complete letting go, of nonattachment to everything in the world outside and inside. But let's go back to the beginning, what these five Khandas are. This was a way that would split up the world inside and outside, if you like. The first of the Khandas or these groups of existence was matter, including space and time, in which matter lives, if you like. This is a whole of the outside world, people, things, the air, the planets, space and time as well, the whole thing, if you like. The world outside. That, in brief, was the first group or the first candidate. Kind of just means like a group of collection of things. It's not saying this is one thing, but in this category, in this box, you can put everything which is outside of your mind. 2s And the other four categories was concerning the inside world, the mind. And it always struck me from the very beginning when I first heard this category, the only one category, one little box was for the outside world and the four categories for the mind. And it really showed from the very beginning that in the Buddhist teachings, the major emphasis 80%, if you like, for fit, was concerned with the inner world of the mind. That's where the action was really happening, was the implication here. The outside world was interesting, but inside was the marvelous place. And I just remembered it in my experience before I was a monk. I studied the medical physics before I became a monk. And that really was a very deep and profound investigation into the world of matter, space and time. It was investigating the first candidate, the first group, and it was very interesting and very profound results. Anyone has listened to any of these TV documentaries about whether it's quantum theory or chaos or relativity theory and got maybe not a full understanding, but at least a sense of what these top scientists saying these days about what matter really is? 2s It really starts to challenge one's assumptions, isn't it? I know one of the assumptions I first had was that everything was solid. I was sitting on this chair here, and I never expected to fall through the floor or fall through the earth. But when one studies science, studies physics, one sees that most of what we call the solid earth is completely empty. It's 99.9% nothing little atoms, the electrons and protons and all these other particles which make up what we think is solid matter occupy only a minuscule part of space. 1s Most of this earth is completely empty. Most of you are empty 3s emptiness. Not only is it empty, but it's a continual change as well. Nothing is stable in what they call that the subatomic world. Particles are forever changing, changing their form, changing their shape. It colliding and coming into contact with one another for a short while and forming atoms and molecules and whatever cells. And then they change again and disappear. 1s The cells in your body continually change. Seven years. Then you changed every cell in your body. I was reading it was one organ. I forget. I think it's the pancreas or something, which it sells change every few days. You get a complete new paint every few days. In a sense, 3s there's so much change going on in the material world, and that's what one really sees. One really investigates matter, change, instability, emptiness. 2s This is actually what the Buddha was talking about. So when we look at matter in this particular respect, can I really hold on to this? Attached to it? 1s It's like attaching to something which is always slipping away from you, and you're never going to be able to hold it. It's like trying to catch the wind or trying to 3s hold the air. 1s These things are just impossible to grab onto because they're always moving, always changing. And the problem is that because the person doesn't really understand and accept. 1s The impermanence of matter, 1s that we accumulate matter, we hold matter, we get attached to matter. Which is all very well, but what happens when the world of matter starts to disintegrate? What happens when the car you own starts to get rusty and the fellow is sort of trade it in? I want it right away. Past it's fine. No, it's my car. When it comes attached to it, when parts of our bodies start to fall off and get rusty, 1s when our friends, the people we love, start to disappear because of impermanence, they're matter. We're made up of matter. And it has to end. It has to pass away. It has to disintegrate. This is the law of matter. Continual change coming together for a short time and then fading away. Even this very Earth, we think, is going to last a long time. The future of this Earth is anyone who knows a little bit about out astronomy is concerned is that the sun is going to expand. 2s It's going to expand and get hotter and hotter and hotter. I don't know. Today the day temperature. Maybe it's already happening. 2s The sun is going to expand and it's going to get so huge, it's going to completely swallow up the orbit of merchandise. And by this time, the earth is going to be completely vaporized. The whole of Earth, with all its history, mankind, women, kind, and all of our cultures, is just going to end up with smoke drifting across the vast emptiness of the universe. What a wonderful floor. 1s Is it really worth bothering washing the dishes? After all, it 2s disappeared by itself. 2s Now, what it actually does to you when you see just how fast things are changing, it gives a sense of detachment, but not a sense of irresponsible detachment. It gives a sense that this is only going to be here for a while. It's I'm going to look after it when it goes. I know this is nature. 1s Nothing has gone wrong, no one's made a mistake. The problem is that one we don't look after things because we think they're always going to be there. My wife, my husband is always going to be there. This kid is always going to be there. Life is always going to be like this, 1s tend to be here. 2s I always like to this is actually a charity, not my assembly. A car or a glass is fragile. If I drop this, it's going to break. Maybe not on this carpet, but if it's on concrete, it will break and shatter. I will not be able to use it anymore because it is fragile, because it is impermanent. I have to be careful. I want to use this. It's good for keeping water in giving me a drink. It's because things are fragile, because of impermanence. That's why we care. That's why we are careful. It's only when we 1s don't understand impermanence, the change in the material world that we become. 2s People living together just in the world, with relationships. If you really understood that your time together is limited with a particular number of years or months, you're going to be with that person. It makes every moment valuable. Every moment is quality time. 1s This may be the last day or the last year, it doesn't matter, but it's going to be the last decade. You're going to have to get the last three decades. It's going to go. Whilst one understands in permanence, one puts more effort and care into one's relationships, into the teams one possesses for the time being, into life. So this is just with matter. I don't want to go too much into matter at the moment, because I want to go into the other four candles, which are just a bit more interesting. The world of matter, once we analyze it and see it very carefully, impermanent, empty, and it means that we have to use it carefully, let it go when it starts out to disappear. The world of the mind is extremely similar. It also is completely changing and empty. But before we can understand this, we have to analyze it, because what we really mean by mind, actually we've used this word quite often in the talk, but they really is to be a bit more 1s detail given. So we have something to really work with when we talk about buying. 1s The way the Buddha talked about mine, he split it into four categories. This is the last four of the five. Candace. The first category, which he called was something I have to use the Buddhist party word, but I'll try and get this for this or explanations for this. The first of these candidates was called raiding. That usually called feeling. Now, what it is is the first mental impression which comes up 1s when the sensory apparatus of the body starts to work. 1s When one sees an object, when one hears a sound or smells an odor, tastes a saver, 1s touches an object 2s the first impression which comes up, which the mind gives, is categorizing. It in one of three categories pleasant, unpleasant or unequal. Sure. 1s Happy? Unhappy or somewhere in between. It's just like I just noticed the other day. The other night I was talking to the Michael visiting from England who was here last week. He went back this afternoon. I was talking with him in his hat and he was leaving against the pillow and suddenly went out. An insect had just bitten him. 1s And then he said, what was that? 2s In the conscious experience of the mind the first sensation which comes up with either an hour this is nice. Before we even perceive it before we understand what actually caused that pain or that flexibility before we start thinking about it. And was that as a redback spider? Am I going to die? Should I go to hospital? I go into that part of the five candidates which is very interesting in the moment but the first thing which comes up is just a general feeling of pain or sensation painful feeling or pleasant feeling or neutral. And it's an interesting think factor of the mind because this is. 3s Beyond our control. So to speak once you have a body and mind. The sensory apparatus one has to have sensations which are painful present or in between even if one is fully enlightened as an alaha. One still feels pain 1s if one gets bitten by tarantula. One still feels pain nobody used to say it's like two barbs in the world which are keeping on pricking us. Causing us suffering. Causing us unhappiness 1s one barbie like this general feeling of having a body. Having sensations like in some sensations which are painful. Some pleasant you can't do anything about that 2s if enlightened being put his finger in the fire. How? 2s But the other barb or like the thing which is tricking us all the time is what we do with that afterwards saying why did this happen to me? It was your fault over there why do you buy that fire? Why do you tell me to do this? This sinking which goes on afterwards and that's like someone used to say that's like double duke, double pay ordinary duke pain you can't do much about and it's actually quite tolerable it doesn't last. 2s Feeling sensation doesn't matter. You actually put your finger on in the fire, it hurts, but you know it's not going to be there forever. The pain eventually disappears. And actually just the physics of the body or the anatomy of the physiology of the body, that's what I was thinking before. Now, there are certain chemicals which get secreted afterwards. If the pain is too much, then the pain disappears or comes for a while, then disappears and comes maybe again afterwards, but eventually it disappears. Now, adjunct favorite saying whenever I used to visit you in hospital, I said this year before, some people may not have heard it used to visit you when you are sick, in hospital with typhoid fever, feeling really awful, like a used tea bag. 7s Soggy and sort of lycra. And he'll come in and say to you and said, Never mind. He said, it's either going to get better or you're going to die. 2s Thanks for that. 1s But in the end, I mean, that's extremely powerful teaching. The pain or the discomfort you feel is not going to last. The nature of the human body is it's either going to get worse or you're going to pass away. So it's going to end, the pain is going to disappear or you're going to get better and it's going to disappear one way or another. This weight in there, this feeling sensation, major perceptions just like a pendulum, it swings backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. If it swings to one side, it cannot stay there very long. It's got to swing back again. That's why those people in very difficult situations, prisons or concentration camps, they may go through extreme pain, but even in that painful situation, they have a lot of pleasure as well, a lot of happiness. It's strange and it's weird if one doesn't understand the way of the mind. Wherever one lives, one always has to have bow. 2s Happiness 1s and pain. One cannot get out of that one as one cannot get out of that. It means one stops a lot of struggling in this world. 1s One doesn't actually struggle to get rid of the physical pain, troubles, to get rid of what we call that the second barb that makes double duke or double suffering, which is the reaction to it. 2s But just to put a little bit more on this, to stay this feeling, you do notice that the painful part of life is like condition. It comes, it arises from the happy part of life, and a happy part of life comes from a painful part of life. The sin I like to give here, which brought this home to me very strongly, was many years ago at Perth Airport. There were some Baha refugees coming from the refugee camp in Pakistan. They had been through enormous amount of trauma. The Baha'i's were being persecuted by the revolutionary government in Iran, the ayatollahs fundamentalist Islamic government, and they've lost many friends. Many of their relatives were killed, tortured. They left holiday and they fled with nothing, not knowing where they might end up. 2s What would you feel if you had to do that? Lost your husband's, wives, relatives and lost your home and lost any chance of ever going back. OK, so these people had to leave. When they got to the airport, to Australia, to freedom, to some friends who've been there before, as soon as they walk through the gate, there they were, jumping up and down, waving their hands, clapping, and their euphoria started to spread to their friends waiting for them, and also to everyone else in the airport, including me. I was clapping, jumping up and down. And so I wonder, what am I doing? I'm not behind a Buddhist. I don't even know these people 1s going on here. And I realized that, why are they so happy? It's one of those happiest moments in life. But other people are happy and they're jumping up and down, and you are too. Why? I always like to ask why, where it happens to come from? They were happy because of all the pain they've been through. Without that pain, that experience that would have had happens. 5s Happiness is a relief from pain is a relief from happiness. The two go together hand in hand. Look at that. When one is sick, 1s you have a very bad sickness. And then, alas, it's overcome when the fever dies down. I remember this time he had fevers in Thailand. It was typical or something else. When he got better, he felt so happy and so well and so fit and so energetic and lasted for a day or two. 1s Why is it yours so happy when you get over sickness is because of the pain and discomfort when you're sick. 1s Prisoners, I know once they get released out of prisoners, one of the happiest days of their life, that first day out, 2s where did that happiness come from? From all those months or years they spent inside. Now, for a few days, being outside is normal again. This is a relativity of happiness and pain waiting. It's good to notice, because sometimes one could think well, why am I happy anymore? 2s Another one here. Is that falling in love before? In love, we're so happy. And after a few years where's it going? Why don't I feel like this to you before? 1s Why are you happy? Because you just met someone wonderful and that happiness was because you never knew them before. 1s Once you know them before and you only have a few years, happiness disappears. This is natural. This is wavener. Okay? Having dealt with how waiver is just like a pendulum. It goes one way and it has to go the other way. When one knows it goes both ways, one can accept it. It's inevitable. You have painful feelings and pleasant feelings. What does what a normal person do with these? The next of these five candles, a third of them is perception. It's like just when this man got bitten or had his pain first of all out his next perception which rose in his mind was I'd. 2s Once we have sensory experience, then we time analyze it quite naturally. We have to, to be able to live in this world. We perceive it. We put it into a category depending upon our past experience. 1s This is an insect bite. Because we've learned what insect bites feel like. This feels just like an insect bite. This is delicious. Because this is that feeling which we've had before, which is delicious. 1s This is red. This is yellow. This is big. This is small. This is profound. This is stupid. I like this. I despite that, these are all perceptions which arise after that first feeling comes up in the mind. One of the interesting things about perceptions is how random they are. 2s I once went into a school of small children, and in part of my talk I said, okay, hands up if you like. Roger putting. 2s And no one put the hand up? One or two people 1s I'm sorry. No, actually, the question I said was hand. If you don't like rice pudding, one or two people put their hands up. This is only like year three or four young kids. How about you don't like rice pudding? Three or four kids put their hands up. The other children looked around and they put their hands up too, like children are. And I had most of the class with their hands up. Yeah, we don't like rice pudding. Okay, put your hands down. Put your hands up. If you've ever had rice pudding, most of the class laugh because only two or three kids put their hands up. Perception is very arbitrary, 1s especially the perception of like or dislike. What do you really like? What food do you like? You always like that food. 1s What would happen if someone puts a blindfold around your eyes and they put some food in front of you and you have to just eat it, not knowing what it was? Maybe I put sort of what used to have in Thailand, maybe boiled frog. Thank you. Bye. 1s Don't you like ball frog? 1s Put your hands up if you've ever had ball frog. Got. You 2s just as safe as it used to be. Children are you? 1s How do you know if Baldwin is not? Nice 1s perception, isn't it? If you ate broad frog, you do they're? Yuck. Perception is arbitrary. We have these unreal, untruthful perceptions which arise certain stimulus. This perception comes up 1s a lot of times that perception is with our relationships. Old Joe. Blow him 2s old. 1s What a lovely mark. 3s Good perceptions, aren't they? And those perceptions are arbitrary. They come and they go, they change. And the main thing is you can't depend upon them perceptions. Sometimes you see your friends, sometimes you really like them. Sometimes you hate their guts. You can't stand them. Which one is the right perception? 2s Their eyes. They pass away. 3s So when we understand this part of the mind we call perception, we realize that we have to use it. But be very careful. You cannot depend upon perception, especially bike. And despite it, a lot of likes and dislikes. The reason why you like this or you dislike this, if you really analyze it carefully, 2s you can't really sort of justify it. Are you like one person? You don't like the other person? Why you like yourself or don't like yourself? What's your perceptions of you 1s is that really fair? 2s So these are perceptions and one has to be very careful about these. But the next part of the five candidates is again extremely interesting. Because this is what happens next. If you perceive you put in a little category, like or dislike, big, small, friendly, enemy, whatever, then we think about it. This is called the member mental formations. What we do in the next stage is sensory experience. 2s And here we can concoct great 3s reasons and justifications for being angry at someone. We can create great reasons and justifications for liking someone. We can cop out our egos. We can destroy our egos with a sense of lack of self esteem. This world of thinking 2s just goes on and on. One of these particular type of mental formation, the Buddha called like mental proliferation, 2s you take that first perception and you work on it from something very small. You build this enormous edifice. 1s This edifice is built upon feelings and perceptions which themselves aren't valid. Really. So this whole world of thought which we have of likes and dislikes, views and opinions, ideas, is that really valid too? If it's built up with something which is invalid? 2s What are your goals in life? What are your aspirations? What are your likes and dislikes? What are your fears? What makes you angry? Why do you get angry? Why do you like things, want things? This is all in the world and bent to proliferation. 3s That monk who got bitten by the insect. The feeling of the insect bites you. The perception pain. So the feeling pain, the perception of this is an insect bite proliferation. Am I going to live? Am I going to die? What's going to happen here? Was this something which is really dangerous to my health? You can think onwards and onwards, backwards and forwards, and that mental proliferation can be extremely dangerous for us. 1s I think I mentioned some time ago the case in the United Kingdom about 100 years ago, where they took a man who was condemned to death by hanging to the prison washroom. They told him the night before they changed the law and that they won't get to hang him, they're going to sit his throat. 1s They took him to the prison washroom. I can let him think about this all night for a paper bag over his head and we're the blunt end of a straight razor that would cause his throat. 3s No blood at all was a blanket. The same time one of the people in this experiment is very morbid experiment turned on one of the taps in the washroom 3s as if there was a sound of blood. The sound of blood, the feeling of the night going across. Just those perceptions were enough for him to think he had this road cut, he fell down, he died. Nothing wrong with him. 1s That is how far mental proliferation can actually physically affect us. They can kill us. We believe we're going to die. We will die 2s if we believe, I'm hopeless, I'm useless, I can't do this. There's no way you will be able to manage to do it if you have this feeling of self lack of self worth, which a lot of people do have this anger towards themselves or guilt towards themselves. This is all built up of this mental thinking that was important time after time after time. 3s One has created that one self 2s and that can really cause enormous pain and trouble. 1s The last of the five candidates is also part of that. The mental world is friction. I want to mention this because this is an important part of that part of the mind which we call mental formations. As a result of what one experiences quite often one makes a mental resolve 3s it to go away or to will to keep it to will to change. This is that thing inside of us which we can call choice or will. It's an important part of the inner world. Will 2s the fourth of these five. Candace, again, is this mental formations actually that it was the box in which everything else apart from perception and feeding goes. 2s The last of these five candidates is consciousness itself. This is the umbrella. 2s The umbrella. Because every feeling is a moment of consciousness. Every perception is a moment of consciousness. Every thought in the mind is a moment of consciousness. US. Every pollution at the moment of consciousness. This is what consciousness means. 1s I cannot just be consciousness and not be doing something in the mind. One is conscious and one is feeling. One is conscious and one is perceiving. One is conscious and it's one of these mental formations happening. I didn't actually mention that in the mental formations. It's all the emotional world as well. The paint, love, 1s fear. This is all created by thinking. 2s Okay? So consciousness isn't an entity by itself. It's always associated with one of these other things. 1s So when we talk about consciousness in Buddhism, 1s it is just saying that the mind is active. 3s There is a particular phenomena happening in the mind. 2s To say there's consciousness happening and that phenomena happen in the mind is either the feeling painful, that pleasant, or in between, or it is perception of I like, I don't like, this is big, this is small, this is salty, this is sweet, 1s or it is one of these mental formations, thoughts or conditions happening inside of us. Now, having said that, the Buddha made it very clear that outside of these five categories, it's not really meaningful to talk about anything at all in the world. 1s Everything in the world has to fall into one of these five categories. 2s This is our existence. This is all we know. Anything outside of these five categories 2s doesn't really sort of make any sense. 2s If one would talk about, say, a divine being of God, then a god would just be in the world outside matter or if it's got inside. It has to be one of these categories of feeling, perception, mental formations, or the consciousness, which is the umbrella around. It has to be somewhere. Having split up 1s the world into such a refined five categories, it makes it very easy to see how everything in this world, whether it's a god or whether it's a soul, whether it's this or whether it's that, has to have the characteristics of change. 2s Every piece of materiality is in constant change. There's nothing stable in this world, 1s even like space and time change. It's a hard thing to understand that space and time can change, but just go and read someone like Steven Hawking's Brief History of Time. We'll let you know that time began what is it? Maybe 20 or 30,000 million years ago? Before that, there was no time. Actually. Doesn't make sense to say before that's. Certainly before that, before the Big Bang, there was no space. Space and time were created in that Big Bang. It's an interesting concept, isn't it? The challenges one. 1s But that's what science tells us. 4s So one sees that the materiality, all of these things are always changing. 1s All of these things are changing just with materiality. 1s It has to happen. If one really understands this and takes the analysis 1s properly and follows truth rather than one's own 1s biases, 2s instead of what one wants to believe, one follows the evidence in front of one. Not just logical evidence, but the evidence of our eyes and our minds. But one follows that evidence. Then one has to accept that there's nothing in the outside world which one can really possess. 1s It's all changing despite one. And one can try and maintain it the best. One can look after it, but in the end it's got to go. 2s One house, one car eventually has to leave. When one realizes that one looks after these things when it goes all the time, one is remembered, it's going to go. When it does go, one doesn't breathe. One doesn't get upset. One doesn't think whose fault it is. This is nature. It has to happen. When it has to happen, one comes this wonderful feeling of acceptance. Acceptance of life. Acceptance of the world. Acceptance of arising and passing away. Acceptance of birth and death. This is rife. This is the world. You can cry, you can scream, you can do all your life. You're not going to change this law of nature 2s with that acceptance is enormous. Peace also. This is life. 2s When one understands that feeling arises and passes away, changes 1s then the physical pain and the pain body and the physical pleasure in the body. 1s One accepts. This is the way shielding is. And there's no way in the world that I can just get your physical pleasure forever, never ever 1s without getting paid. 1s Or can I get just paid pain? I think the pain is always going to be here without being relieved sometime in the future. So what that does it stops one getting attached to present feelings and sensations 1s and it stops one getting 1s afraid, fearful of pain or despairing with chronic pain. 1s Eventually it will have to change. It will have to go. That understanding gives enormous power over pain and pleasure. This world we live in. Most people in this world are complete slaves for pain and pleasure. 1s They run after pleasure. They try and grab it and keep it as long as possible. May this wonderful feeling last forever. 1s I was eating a mango this morning, and you chewing that mango. What a shame that it dissolves in your mouth so quickly and people stand the throat and it's gone. I hope only you can just keep that sensation a lot. What happens if you did just keep shoving mangoes in your mouth after about five minutes? You get sick of them. 1s If you didn't get sick of them, you'll find that the taste wasn't enjoyable anymore. 1s That's why the Christians used to say that very wise in heaven. If you go to a Christian heaven once every year, they take everyone from heaven down to hell 2s just for one day, like a tour. Because 3s if they're didn't go and experience hell for one day, they would not appreciate the pleasure of heaven for the other 364 days. That's actually a very profound story. If you were just in heaven. 1s Day after day after day you wouldn't notice the pleasure anymore you need pain to experience pleasure you need pleasure to experience pain they go together 1s so when I want to understand this whatever is pleasurable in the world one does not attach to it whatever is pain in the world one doesn't make such a big bottle about it because one knows is natural things one has the body one has to experience both of these things 1s when one understands perception as being uncertain uncertain the likes and dislikes one has the preferences one holds in life 2s in a sense follows them one will always eat the food one likes one will go and see that the friends thinks of friends you're not going to go and visit your enemies after this because you don't really trust your perceptions anymore but you know that these aren't real 1s things these perceptions these are just makes shift. 2s We'd like scaffolds for the activities of our minds. They're not real. So when one doesn't take one's preferences or reality, 1s it's possible to shift them because the one hated one can love. 1s If that preference is solid, it's real once you hate them every time you see them. Whatever you call it these days swear words that rotter. You can't use swear words up here. Rotter you can't you pound it. 1s Of course you wouldn't use those words. But when you have fixed perceptions, there's no possibility of changing. When you understand the perceptions themselves aren't real, aren't solid, aren't built of indestructible matter, then it's easier to change. You can write your enemies and you can find boiled route. Delicious. 1s Well, lovely food. Amazing the world now happen. Sections put it in prison. 2s Certain things we can't eat, certain places we can't go, certain ideas we just can't stomach because of our perceptions of them. When your perceptions are more plastic, 1s then the world is much clearer. There's all sorts of people you can go and see all sorts of people. You can talk to people before I don't want to see them, I don't want to listen to them, I don't want to hear them, I don't want to go here, I don't want to taste this, I don't experience that, I don't like that. 1s When those perceptions aren't so solid, it's as if that one is coming out of prison. 1s And when one understands even more than that, while the mental formations, the thoughts in the mind which we build up our great fears of snakes or spiders, this person in the office 1s why don't you like them? Why don't you like them? Because you thought that you don't like them. Again and again and again, so long. You built up this great edifice of anger with your thinking. 3s And it's not fair. 1s It's built out of stuff which itself is just arbitrat for your perceptions. 2s You can't really judge another human being that way. Not fairly, not if you're going to be truthful. 3s Can you judge another person? Do you really know them enough 1s to say this person is evil, this person is bad? You've just taken a few experiences. Maybe there have been many experiences, but there's many other parts of them you just haven't seen. Many other parts of their character which maybe you weren't there to see and experience. Do you know all of that person and even what you have seen? Have you really perceived it properly? Or is it just like that quote? Because I don't like that. Not really knowing what you're not liking. 1s So the judging another person is built up on his mental perceptions. Once one realizes his mental perceptions are uncertain. Is a gen Charles lovely extension of the word impermanence? 1s He said Anhar is impermanent. It's also uncertain. 2s Our thoughts are uncertain. 3s So you can't judge. You can't really know. 4s So it gives you a lot of freedom from judging other people, from judging judging ourselves, for judging life. 1s What do you think of yourself, anyway? Are you happy with yourself? You've got this feeling inside that maybe there might be something wrong with you. Everyone else is all right, but not me. I'm one of those people who are really hopeless. 2s That's just the mental proliferation in this world of mental formations. It's uncertain. Don't hang onto it. When you know this, you realize this with just a few examples of the world of mental formations. Then you know all mental formations are the same. Uncertain. The emotional world inside of us is built up out of the blocks of mental formations. You say we're angry. 1s Because we've had many angry thoughts. And that's this momentum in the mind, if you like it's a calm of previous angry thoughts we've had a few moments ago perpetuating this particular way of looking at the world. We look upon upon the world just with anger. We look upon the world with fear. And everything which comes into our consciousness, they're out to get me. 2s This emotional world is built up by mental proliferation. And that's why it is part of this world. Mental formations 2s and volition. Our choice. Why do you choose to come here this evening? 1s Why do you choose to scratch your leg right now? 1s Where does all this come from? Choice. Choice is also in this mental world. 1s This choice 1s is itself 2s conditioned. 2s You think you're in control of choice? I choose to come here. There are actually reasons why you want to come here. Causes. 3s I tell the story that some years ago I gave a talk here on a particular three years ago on a particular topic in Buddhism on a Saturday morning. The talk was still fresh in my mind. I looked in the library and saw a tape recording of the talk with exactly the same title, the same subject which I had given seven years previously on the same subject. I got out of tape recorder and I put the cassette in a tape recorder and listened to the talk I given seven years previously on the same subject and if I had any hair, stood up because I found myself saying exactly the same words 2s as I did seven years previously, word for word, the same on particular subjects in the talk. And that shocked me very deeply. I thought that evening before I chosen every word I wanted to say is in my power to say blue or red in my talk. 3s But I found out that it couldn't have been in my power because the coincidence was too much. 1s I reacted what I said seven years previously, 1s and it really made it quite clear, clear the myth of choice, 2s the mirage of choice. We think we're in control. We think we're choosing all the time. Question that 2s what we're getting through here is not just a change of the five aggregates, but the emptiness of the five aggregates, the emptiness of what we call a self or a being. 3s And this is a very important part of Buddhism, because having 2s analyzed the whole of life and experience into these five categories, the Buddhist said, well, if there is a self for a sell, exactly where is it found in these five categories? Is it in the material world? Hold. 2s And every 1s scientist or 2s doctor, biologist or whatever knows that there's nowhere in the brain we can actually locate a little bit of gray matter which is the soul of the self. 3s It's the soul of the self certainly is not material. 2s And if one looks at matter in theoretical physics it goes deeper and deeper. Now, what's it made of? Atoms. What atoms made of? Protons, electrons, neutrons? What are those made out of? Even more subatomic particles. What are those made out of? One goes deeper and deeper into the core of things. One finds there's nothing there. 1s This is dance of miragelike particles which suddenly appear and then you don't know where they are again. The next minute, 2s this emptiness change arising, passing away and disappearing into nothingness and then appearing again. This is the world of subatomic physics. 2s You may not understand it, but at least you can understand or accept the results which many physicists throughout the world are not. Buddhists in particular are all saying. The emptiness of the physical world, the insubstantiality of it, the changing list of it, the profound emptiness of physical world. 2s And the Buddha was not saying just the physical world, the mental world too. You look in sensations, feelings, this pleasant, painful neutral, it's always changing. Can that really be a self or soul? Some just really changing all the time. So it has to be something essential, something which doesn't change, which was there at the beginning, which was there at the end, and it was the same all the way through. 1s Anything which changes can only be attributes of a self or a soul. 2s It cannot be the essential, unchanging 1s core. Anything which is changing cannot be the core, because changing rises a pleasant feeling. And once the pleasant feeling is gone, it's gone completely, and it's painful. You cannot have a painful, unpleasant feeling in the same moment. 2s And the perceptions which arise and passes away, which one is the right one, which one is really you arise and pass away just so much that cannot be you. Your perception perception is a phenomena which 2s arises in the moment and then passes away again. I like and then next moment you're thinking of something else and dislike. It 1s the world and mental formations, 1s our emotions, they're not really you. They arise and pass away also. 2s And the volition itself. 1s Volition? Is not you the choice? Sometimes we think that this is the last abiding of the self. And me, I choose to come here 2s when you find out you didn't choose, who did choose it? It's just the result of the past, the process of consciousness. Consciousness? Is that yourself? What do we mean by consciousness? Hopefully, during this talk, you've understood that consciousness is just this arising of a mental phenomena, which is one of these three. Either a feeling of perception or one of these mental formations arises and passes away, and with it, the consciousness of that arises and passes away. If consciousness was really you, where do you go when you're unconscious? 1s It cannot be the essence of you. The Buddha uses 2s in order to show, not adjust, changeability. 2s Of everything in this world. The fact that it's moving so fast you cannot hang on to anything. But also the emptiness. 1s The emptiness being the emptiness of a me. 1s Once one sees that that has profound implications, one will resist that because the ego is very strong. I don't want to not exist. 2s There's something in here. 1s Sometimes we say that something in here is just an empty process. What do you take yourself to be? What do you take as yourself? If you really think that you exist? I have to ask you well, what is it that you think is you? 1s Ask yourself that question. What is it that you think you are? Once you've said something, you've answered that question. Ask yourself does that go in the materiality box or the feeling box or the perception box or the mental formations box or the consciousness box which has to exist with one of the others? 4s Once you put it in one of those boxes and it has to go one of those boxes, then it's changeable. 1s If it's changeable, it cannot be a using this analytical, ruthless analytical because it doesn't give any way to one's idiosyncrasies, one's preconceptions, one is the way one wants the world to be. The way the one wants the world to be in Buddhism is just not given any weight at all 2s how you want the world to be. It just doesn't count. The way the world is important. 2s Once one knows this, then one comes to the very profound conclusion that this is empty. There is no self. Once one understands that the result of that is non attachment 1s there's no eyeing me in here. There's also no mine. The body isn't mine, the feelings aren't mine, perceptions aren't mine, the mental formations aren't mine. 2s No more. The Buddhists said are the leaves and the twigs in the forest yours? If someone comes along and takes them away, do you suffer? No, said the monks. Why not? Because the leaves and the twigs that don't belong to us in the same way, monks, the materiality in the world, whether it's your bowling robes or your very own body, is not yours. Your feelings, your perceptions, your contents of the mental world, mental formations. Your consciousness. That, too. It's just like the tweaks, the lead and the promise that's not yours. Someone comes to take them away. 3s This is what we call emptiness. This is what we call freedom. Attaching to nothing in the world. Not even attaching to thoughts in the world. Not even attaching to consciousness. Consciousness comes, consciousness goes. Okay, I don't mind. 2s It's all right to be unconscious. Okay. It's all right to have thoughts and not to have thoughts. I don't take them seriously anymore. Are you a slave to your thoughts? 1s A tyrant thinking in a commentator inside? If you want freedom, don't believe your thoughts. Don't even believe that one. 3s And the result of analyzing the five candidates in this way gives rise to non attachment that non attached to one is freedom. That freedom is just like a bird who carries nothing with it when it flies from one place to another as a Buddhist simile of someone who's liberated someone who's not carrying anything in the world not carrying materiality, 2s not carrying feelings, perceptions, mental formations or consciousness. And I think that's a good sign that my time is up. 4s Talk this evening about five candidates. Obviously it's such a huge subject that embraces the whole of the world 1s and impromptu little talk. Are there any questions about what I've been saying 1s or comments? 3s Yes, John, 3s that's one of the interesting questions. If there's no sir. What passes from one lifetime another? It's exactly the same process which passes from one moment to the next. 3s Is the answer there is. You're always changing. Now your body is in constant flux. The cells which are disappearing and new cells being created and being born. Feelings are rising and passing away. Perceptions arising, passing away. Mental contents are rising and passing away. Consciousness is arising, passing away. What is going over from one moment to the next? Now 2s what is going over is this momentum of process, something which you can call Karma. Karma is like the force, the push, the oomph 1s which is connecting one moment of consciousness with the next. 2s It's like the action of the distance. 1s Karma phenomena 2s karma. Sometimes people think there must be a messenger carrying Karma. 2s From one moment to the next, like a postman, like karma. Some act which you've done in the past and it's like putting in a letter and a postman carries it to some time in the future. There must be some sort of thing going across. The reality is that thinking there has to be something going across is just 1s poor imagination. It shows a positive one's imagination. It has to be something going across rather than, I think, arising, passing away completely. 1s But the calm of that giving rise to something new in the next moment and passing away. This is happening in every moment right now. And this is why I can see the truth of rebirth and understand what goes over from one birth to the next by looking at what goes over from one moment to the next. Now, 3s what connects this moment to the next moment? 4s Sometimes that people think one has a body to have the other. Candace. 3s But anyone who's had an out of the body experience knows that the mind can exist without form, without a body. Even when doctors look at your body and there's no 3s heart, no pulse, and there's no record on the EEG either, no brain waves at all, the brain is physically dead. There's been a couple of people here who've had this experience going to hospital. The brain is completely dead. They've been in deep meditation. Then they come out afterwards, just walk out of the hospital a couple of hours of April, 1s which really shows quite clearly that little medicine really knows about the mind and its interaction with the body. The mind can exist apart from the body, this physical body. And that's why people without the body experiences are still completely conscious. They still have feelings, perceptions and mental formations going on. They still sometimes have fear, sometimes have peace bliss, sometimes good feelings, sometimes bad feelings. They have the experience of seeing, hearing, just almost complete perception of what's going on. You may have had those experiences yourself. You certainly will have heard about others who have had those experiences. And there's been so many from all sorts of different religions and races that someone must be really sort stupid to deny that as a real experience in this world. 2s So the evidence for it is just too strong. One has to accept out of the body experiences actually do occur. When does that one knows that the mind can exist without the body. That mind though, is just the process. When the body dies, the process of mind continues, just like the process of mind continues now. And that's why for many people when they die, they don't realize they're dead because the process of mind continues just as it does in normal life. 3s And there's not a great change in the mental world which will tell them that something has happened, that they're dead. 1s And so it's just an example of how the mind can continue and how what is continuing is not a solo self. It is just this empty process which we call the five canvas. One moment of experience arising and passing away and giving arise for the next moment experience which arises and passed away in this term. 3s It's a hard one to accept because we don't talk about it very much. And it goes against 2s a lot of what we've been thinking in the past, just as much as the revelations in theoretical physics which tell us that time began 1s two or 300,000 million years ago goes against what we think is common sense. 2s When they say that the space was created at the Big Bang, can you really accept that 1s challenge or common sense? 2s I think most people accept that as true even though they find it hard to understand. Perhaps this is the same when I say that the mind is empty, materiality is empty, and all that goes across is an empty process. That might be hard to understand, but please don't think because you don't understand it, it's not the truth. 3s That's actually what they would have thought. 2s I'll leave that with you because if you really do understand that on the first stage of enlightenment, that's upon and that's really getting there. 3s Anyhow, thank you very much for listening today to the five candidates. It is a difficult subject. Hopefully I've made it interesting for those who have been coming for a long time and having a few more angles on what these five candidates are and what they mean and especially how they're used for a meditator and what the implications of their use are. And hopefully that I've tried to keep it down to earth with some examples, enough so that those who come for the first time can at least get something talk. But we don't always talk about high matters here on a Friday night. Sometimes we talk about ordinary, how to live one day life and get by sort of talks. So next time I come here, I'd have to give one of those. So thank you very much.