Nov. 21, 2022

Who Am I? | Ajahn Brahm

Who Am I? | Ajahn Brahm

The five aggregates is a Buddhist teaching on the nature of mind which points out that there is nothing substantial to consciousness or our self-view. Understanding this is key to freedom. In this talk, I'm going to talk about the five aggregates: bo...

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The five aggregates is a Buddhist teaching on the nature of mind which points out that there is nothing substantial to consciousness or our self-view. Understanding this is key to freedom. In this talk, I'm going to talk about the five aggregates: body, mind, feeling, perception, and mental formations. When you realize that you are not your body, things start to get simple. As far as worrying about your appearance, old age, sickness, and death, these things don't matter because you know you are not this body. You're just a mind. The six senses are beauty and ugliness, pleasure and pain, praise and blame, nice sounds and rotten sounds, and mind happiness and mind suffering. These are all inseparable, and you cannot have just one without the other.


This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 27th April 2001. It has now been remastered and will be of interest to his many fans.

You can find the transcription and other related information on the Ajahn Brahm Podcast website.

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 can begin this evenings talk  can everybody hear me okay in the background can you hear me? Peter hi OK for this evening's talk I'm going to explain who you are  no matter what you are so if you already if you always wanted to know this very important question who am I? Listen carefully. You might find out if somebody asked me today, this evening, just a few minutes before I came into here. Can I give a talk on the five aggregates? This is how the Buddha explained what you are.  Not sure of what you think you are, not what you hope you are. This is actually what you are. So in the dumb of Buddhism, analyzing, looking through powerful meditation over and over and over deep mindfulness to find out what is this thing we call me. You these people sitting here.  And the way the Lord Buddha looked at this, he looked very carefully and saw that it's basically, first of all into two parts the body and the mind. And that mind party also split it up into four parts. The other of the four aggregates, four groups which comprise of mind. And the reason why it was split in these ways was because it is aspects of one thing which, when you pointed out makes a lot of sense of what we take ourselves to be,  what we think we are. So the five aggregates actually the teaching of the five aggregates start to really illuminate this human problem of what am I? The body and the mind? So often in our contemporary culture, the Western scientific culture, that we just think of just a body, just a body, just a body never even contemplating the existence of the mind. One of the reasons why is because the scientists always start to ask where is the mind?  And because they think you can't point to the mind, they think it doesn't exist.  The way I counter such an argument, I ask people, like, all you hear now, are you content? Put your hands up if you're content right now. To be honest,  I love unhappy people in here,  okay? Those people who put their hands up with their content. Can you please point to where your contents is it in your nose? Is it in your ears? Is it in your legs?  The point being here is that contentment is you know you're content,  but can you really locate it in your body? Can you locate it in space?  There's many things like this, which I call, like, objects in the territory of the mind. Contentment is one one of them. Happiness. Next time you're really happy, see if you can point to that in your body.  Now, what actually is happy? Is it your brain which is happy for those people who are thinking that the mind and the brain are the same? No, it's stupid, isn't it? It's not. Your brain is happy. You can't do anything in your brain. Where is that happiness? Where is sadness? Where is guilt? What actually feels guilty? Does it your toes feel guilty? Is it your hand feels guilty because you punch somebody? Or is it your mouth feels guilty because you said something you really should have said?  But guilt is these are all things in the territory of the mind. So this is a little exercise. If anyone asks you, I don't believe in the mind. And you ask them, Where is that belief? You point to that belief. When they come, point to it and say, oh, that's just imaginary belief. It doesn't exist.  What you're doing here is you're showing there is more to this world than what you can point to. This is a whole world of the mind. In that world of the mind, the Buddhist split it up into four things.  Those four things are veidena. This is a quality of all sensory experience which is pleasurable or painful. I'll go into each one of these in turn. This is just the introduction. Wagener called it feeling. But I'm not talking about emotional feeling. I'm talking about the feeling of pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness. No nice food, rotten food, nice thoughts, no depressed thoughts. The quality of pleasure and pain with each sensory experience. The next of these four mind aggregates is perception. This is what the mind does to pick out the important characteristics of an experience.  And I'm going to be talking a lot about how that is completely untrustworthy. And then you've got the fourth aggregate. Like the mental formations, this includes especially thinking all of your thoughts which come up and especially that which is created by the thoughts. No guilt, fear, anger, desire. And lastly, consciousness itself. This screen upon which all these sensory experiences are played out. Those are the four mental aggregates. Feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. And together with the body, that's what you are.  But let's look more deep about this. We take ourselves to be first of all, we start with this body because still many people think they are their body and they're attached to their body. And if you get married, you get attached to two bodies. Once you have kids, you get attached to 3456 depending on on how many you have. More attachment, more problem.  When we talk about the aggregates, it means when you've just got yourself like a mum, you just only got five aggregates to be worried about. When you've got sort of a wife or you've got ten aggregates, then 15 and 20 it's even worse. They keep on going up by five every time.  So if you actually look at these things we have to see what exactly this thing we take as a body, what actually is it?  So often it creates a lot of suffering and misery and confusion. When we don't understand the nature of this thing we call a physical body. It's one of the reasons why I'm getting into some secrets. Here what monks like to do. Sometimes people ask me as a monk, what do you like doing? Where do you go? There's man to take we go see Autopsies.  We were very weird suddenly.  No, I really do. This is because there you actually see a body taken apart. You see what a body truly is.  Young girls, young men, old men, old ladies in Asian countries. For a monk, that's appropriate. And unfortunately, that some of labelers too, if they ask permission properly, can also go and see autopsies. Not for some weird thrill, but in order to understand the nature of this body of ours I want to see a couple of autopsies. You see sort of bodies taken apart or this idea of somebody being beautiful or someone being ugly about gender, male and female, about race, asian or European or Eskimo or whatever. I mean, all that sort complete disappears when you see a body. Because opening up, maybe on the outside there different colors or different genes opening up. Looks pretty much the same for everybody.  And all this idea of beauty and ugliness. I'm pretty sure if I actually got out, say, the liver, let's say, like L McPherson and the liver of sort of Margaret Thatcher or whatever else it is, you see, they wouldn't say, oh, that's really beautiful liver, because it's a McPherson. And this one is just really this old lady who used to be a terrible politician in England. You won't be able to notice the difference of it. So this thing about summer is really beautiful because it's true, isn't it? When you have the glossy magazines, you never actually see the liver of Albert Fearson.  I hope I don't get sued by Albert fearson's company. But all you actually see is actually the  face, isn't it? And we take that to be the body. That's why somebody pointed out a long time ago that when we actually talk about the body, this first of the cannabis, what do we really identify with? The person's face.  That's why in your passports, where you got the picture up in your passport,  Not your liver.  Isn't that  you? This is much your face as you and your face is an organ would be wonderful. This is my liver. I'm sure after a while that people skilled in looking at livers. Another difference we know which livers which are that shoe.  So why is it that we attach to just the outer skin of the body? And it creates a lot of problems when we attach to people's bodies?  Because you'll be falling in love with them. Why did you fall in love with  you? You actually fall in love with a person or with their body. A lot of people, they fall in love with persons body. You're very, very beautiful. Very, very strong and handsome. Isn't that so? Otherwise, why is it the young same men marry young women? Young women want to marry old people. 8s At all. They live their life and they got a lot of wisdom, they got a lot of kindness, usually. So if you really go for  someone's character, surely you know you want to see someone who has lived in the world as wise rather than these young people who don't know what they're doing in life. They're not really skilled in the way they're using their mouse and the way they speak to each other because they haven't learned yet. But we're not really interested in marrying a sort of a mind. We're really interested in marrying a body, aren't we? So in which someone looks nice and doesn't smell.  You see, I'll be honest, aren't I? That's why you're laughing. Because what I'm saying is not being rude. It's actually true. As I was telling you, a trait here about Ajan Shah. He's a great teacher. He's my teacher in Thailand. Dead now. Great, great teacher. And one of his stories and I always remember this because I was actually in the car at the time when it happened, he was sitting in the front with the driver and there was three of us in the back seat. There was this monk who was quite sensational. Excellent time. So he's he was a translator, he was an American mut as a single American novice and myself. And so in this car, that gentle suddenly turned around to this novice monk, this young American. He said, you're thinking about your girlfriend, aren't you?  AJUDGE had read his mind, and he was so shocked. He said, yeah, I was. He felt, you know, he's going to be kicked out of the car or something because Mike's aunt's supposed to think about their ex girlfriends. So I said, look, never mind. We can help you, so how can you help me? He said, look, next time you write to you, your girlfriend in America, so ask her to send something of hers back to you so you can be reminded of her. Then you won't feel so lonely, you won't feel so sad.  And this young American monk, young novice, he said, Is that allowable for monk to do that?  Like they get a locket of her hair or like a picture or a little bit of a favorite dress or whatever. Is it allowable to have something of hers to keep? I'm a monk now. I said no. Yes, allowable it's allowable. And he said, this is what you should do. And then when the translator bank finished laughing  and got himself together, he explained what James Shaw asked him to do. He said, Next time you write to your girlfriend in America, send a little bottle about this big and ask for some of her feces.  Whenever you're thinking about her, just open up the bottle.  Smell your loved one.  That's part of it, isn't it?  You know what happens when you fall in love? I love everything about you, my dear. Do you really?  Even when you squeeze, you squeezy.  Now, we don't like to think like that, do we?  But that's part of every human being, isn't it? But the thing is, when we look at the body, we only look at the things we like to see, not the things we don't like to see.  And this is like the  delusion which creates problems in our life. That's why we only look at especially the face or the shape of the body. That's why people get very upset when they start getting and I agree, when things start to SAG.  And you know what you have to do to try and keep yourself looking beautiful. Just how much torture you have to go through into these gyms and all this and eating nice, good food rather than the food you really like. Why are you doing that? Is it really to keep healthy, just to keep yourself looking? What you think is attractive? When we have attachment to the body, it creates so much suffering. And if we really think we are the body, that's what we take ourselves to be. It creates huge suffering because we're so concerned about our appearances, what we look like,  that's suffering. So it's marvelous that you do not care at all what you look like. Be like a monk, shave all your hair off and you don't have to worry about hairstyles. You don't have to have expensive hair. How much does a hairdresser cost these days?  Fortune. It's much cheaper. Razor blade only cost a couple of cents and you can reuse it many times it's. You don't have to pay out with combs and brushes and all those sorts of things. When you only have a simple pair of robes like this, you don't have to worry about fashion. As I said, this robe is not the sash. This is Buddha  brand hands.  What we're saying here is when you realize you're not your body, things start to get very simple. As far as worrying about your appearance, how you look. Secondly, about old age, you're not so worried about getting old because you know this body is not yours. This is a native of a body. To get old,  you're not afraid.  When I was younger and in Thailand, that strange thing happened to me because people used to ask me how old my mother was, and I had to say, actually, I don't know, she won't tell me.  Really crazy, isn't it, when people don't say what they're in ages and then say, well, because what happens in the west, like ladies, they always take about five or ten years off their age, maybe sort of 50. But they say they're well, just over 40. They're not really lying because 50 is over 40. But what I mean, just over is just matter of debate. But they would take off. But in Thailand, that people would actually add a few years onto their age.  And so people were only 40. They say, well, maybe just a little bit under 50.  It was very strange to hear that, because people got more respect the older they were,  and they look forward to getting old. It was fun to get old. They weren't afraid of getting old.  They always had a place in the village when they were old. When it came to the time when they were working in the fields, it is rural Thailand. When the harvest was on, every ablebodied person had to go out into the fields to work. There would be school holidays so the kids could go out and help their parents.  It was only the very young and the very old couldn't work. So it's old people, when it came to sort of rice plants, harvest, I had a wonderful time. They had their little kids to look after. Little kids had their grandparents look after. They enjoyed each other's company immensely. They were important part of the village economy as a babysitters during harvest time, because no one else could be spared.  They really had a marvelous time. So no one was afraid of getting old,  unfortunately, in our society, so that we don't respect the old and that's a huge  problem for us, makes us afraid of old age. And also it means that we we don't accept old age in our body. You get some people who keep on having those jobs, face jobs, this job, that job. They're really a big job, a massive jobs. Why do they do that? Because they're attached to their body. So first of all, in the five candidates, we say we aren't our body.  When you can actually let go of the body, don't worry about beauty or old age or even sickness or even death. This is just a body. That's all. We all know inside of us that one day this body, we're have to let it go.  We all know that death happens, but we never think it's going to happen to me or someone who's close to me.  But with contemplating on this body and realizing this is just a body, it's just made up of flesh and bones and blood and stuff like that. There's nothing magical about it, there's nothing sacred about this. It's just a body that's all in one can very easily let it go and let other people's body go as well. If you look upon this body just like a car, like a vehicle, you try and make use of this vehicle, look after this vehicle, service this vehicle, give it good fuel and it will last you a long time. But when it's time to go and the vehicle is finished with, then you can let this vehicle go. And what happens? You get another vehicle. That's why in Buddhism we have this thing we call the insurance policy.  The insurance policy because we've got a vehicle you gotta good insurance policy. It means if your vehicle crashes or it gets stolen, then you get all the money back. In fact, if you've got a very good insurance policy, you get even a better vehicle back than what you started with.  If you got a very very poor insurance policy, it means the vehicle you've had now, the next one will be a really old bomb. Or even a bicycle, even a skateboard, who knows? In this simply, your insurance policy is called karma.  So if you pay your insurance by making lots and lots of good karma, it means when this body dies, the next one will be even better. If you haven't made much good karma in this life and this body dies, your insurance payments haven't been paid up, it means your next body is going to be an old bomb.  That's the insurance policy. This is just the body. So understanding you are not the body, that's one of the first things people who have outofthebodied experiences the word out of the body means. They have this mind, it's consciousness which is out of the body. Looking down and seeing their body dead on the table. Every time this happens in a hospital, the person is clinically dead.  And they're still around,  they still know, they can still see. And there's been so many incidents of that, and maybe you have had an experience of that, that you know it's real, it happens. So it should show you that you are in the body, if it exists without the body. And that means that you can let this body go and it's time to die. This whole vehicle, this old car, leave it alone, that someone else look after it. And you can just carry on according to the stream of consciousness, the mind. And when somebody else dies, you don't have to worry that's just the body has gone. You don't have to worry, oh, the person has gone. The person is not the body. Surely that should be obvious.  But the other four candidates are all about the mind. And because people don't understand what this mind is very much, it's beautiful teaching about the  four aspects of the mind, the four aggregates of the mind. And the first is vader. And the reason why it's one of the first is because this is one of the most prominent features of the mind, which causes  probably the biggest problem for human beings seeking for pleasure, trying to get rid of pain.  Now, when you start to look at this aspect of the mind and it's true pleasure and pain is not imagined  and it's a problem, isn't it? We want pleasure. We want to get rid of pain. We want as much pleasure as we possibly can. We spend normal this amount of our individual resources and our society's resources trying to get as much pleasure as possible and trying to get rid of as much pain as possible. By pleasure and pain, I don't mean physical pleasure and physical pain. I mean with all the other senses as well. In Buddhism, six senses if we're talking about sight, pleasure and pain is beauty and ugliness. Not just with human beings, but with art, with seeing flowers or seeing weeds, seeing sort of a mess or seeing everything nice and tidy. This is like the pleasurable sights and the painful sights sounds. Seeing beautiful music or rotten sounds of crows,  crowing or frogs, croaking or whatever else is a rotten sound. As far as your concern, praise and blame, when people say nice things about you or say rotten things about you all these nice sounds and rotten sounds that's the pleasure and pain. With regard to sound, with smells, we all know there's a fragrance smells and when somebody pongs, there's a nice smell. And it's not just with people, it's with things in the world.  Know that there was once somebody brought here some flowers for the altar. And it's the first time I actually saw this flower, because when I came in to the actual left it just in the kitchen over there. When I came in, I saw that somebody stepped in some dog poo. I could really smell this oval smell. And I looked at all the shoes and couldn't find any dog pour on the shoes. I looked on the carpet and couldn't see anything on there. So I followed my nose. Smelling, smelling, smelling. And my nose came to this flower. And it was one of these flowers in West Australia, which actually they don't give a fragrance smell. They give this rotten smell of dog poo. Because I don't know if you've seen this before, it's amazing. Flowers look so beautiful, so fragrance. But actually, it smells like, terrible because it uses that smell to attract flies rather than bees, because that's how it's pollinated.  Even the most beautiful things can smell.  And.  That's like the pleasure and pain with smell and taste, the nice food and rotten food which you have to take down again with the body, the pleasure and pain is very  easy to understand. The pleasure and the pain of the mind, the joy and the depression, the happiness and the pain inside  those are the six senses and the aspect of those senses which is pleasure and pain. And the point is, when you explain things like this it should become pretty obvious to each one of you that you cannot get beauty without iPads. You cannot get praise without blame. You cannot get a nice smell without a rotten smell to compare it with. You cannot get just beautiful tasting food without rotten tasting food. You cannot get pleasure in the body without pain. You cannot get happiness in the mind without suffering. These go together as a pair.  Inseparable.  That's what 1 see, that's a rotten smell and a rotten sight.  So the point is that no matter what you get, you have to get these two as a pair. That's why that sometimes you start to this is an important consequence of that. Because we try and get just happiness, just beauty. Just what we like to hear. We try and find a part that already says nice things to us. You can't have that. That's why Jun Charles said it's looking for the tortoise with a mustache. You'll never find it. But people promise that. They promise if you keep going to church and keep giving your donation to go to heaven.  This is why that when I started to about this. I started contemplating how can you have just happiness?  It's impossible. Imagine what it would be like in heaven. According to the heaven which I was taught when I was going to Christian schools, everyone wears white.  The only music you ever hear is heart music.  I don't like heart music. I like electric guitars when I was young  and everyone looks the same, and the only food you ever get is Ambroseier.  Imagine Ambrose for breakfast, dinner and lunch. Not just on Sundays. Monday to Tuesday, wednesday, Thursday, week in, week out, year in centuries. After a few million years, you'll be sick of the teeth of ambrosia.  That's why there's a story this fellow up in heaven, and he'd had Ambroseia for so long, had a heart music, all these people wearing the same old white clothes. He had a vision of hell. Instead of ambrosia, they had really nice food. Down there. You have McDonald's if you want. You could have Chinese if you want. You can have whatever you want down in hell. And instead of having these white gowns, the people really nicely dressed in so, the fashionable clothes. And it really look nice colors, nice shapes.  Instead of like heart music, had nice rock bands, they had big classical orchestras, whatever you want down there. So he sort of got so upset, he went up to one of the angels, said, look, this is not right. I worked very hard, I sacrificed a lot to get into Heaven. Now we get his ambrosia and heart music. Sure, you can't have a few rock bands up here. Kari has some nice food and have angels and wear some nice clothes, ripen the place up a bit. And the angel said, no, it's tradition. Heaven has always been like this. You can't change it. It's been like this hundreds of thousands of years. They said, Why don't you change it? It's supposed to be my eternal reward. But whatever he said, the angel just said no, unfortunate tradition. But he said, look, if you like it so well down there, why didn't you go down to hell? You can have as much rock music as you want. He said. Right, OK. So went down to Hill. Soon as he got down there, these big, terrible, ugly, fearsome demons took hold of him and put him in this big vow of boiling oil. And they started poking with his forks like you see in the pictures. He said, hey, what are you doing this for? Where's the rock music? Whereas all the pretty girls that are nice clothes and where's all this nice food?  The demons or the devil says that that's just an advertising campaign. 10s But the point is, if you did go to heaven,  can there be just pleasure without any pain?  If you look in your life,  why was something so painful?  Because something pleasurable has been taken away from you.  Why is something so pleasurable? Because a lot of pain has suddenly gone  in our society. What's happiness? So the happiest day of a person's life when you get married why is that? Because of all the suffering of trying to find a partner.  It's true, isn't it?  It's hard finding a partner in this world. We finally got one. Alas, that's finished. What about some of the other happiest days of your life? Like Friday? Why is Friday a happy day?  Because all the work, you know, it's painful going to work. That's why I just finished a retreat last week. I was teaching a nine day retreat in North Perth. And always at the end of a tree, everyone smiling  because all the pain they went through for the previous nine days.  But someone said they were very sad when the retreat ended. Why was that? Because all the happiness they had and now it was ending. This is what happiness and pain really are. Whenever I get sick, I never feel as healthy in my life as just after I've got sick and I've got better again.  See? The need to know sickness to appreciate health.  The need for pleasure to no pain. The need for pain to no pleasure. Don't you understand how these two things work together? They are inseparable.  There is no pain without pleasure. There's no pleasure without pain. There is no beauty without ugliness.  There's no Ugliness without beauty.  There's no delicious food without terrible tasting food to make you appreciate it.  When you really see deeply into this, you realize that this is just waited, now  feeling. And we're deluding to think we can control this, that we can escape from pain and sickness and disappointment and only have pleasure and happiness. Ha ha ha.  Hands up anyone here who's never been sick.  And here anyone who's never been disappointed.  Hands up. Here anyone who's never seen Ugliness. Hands up anyone who's never been blamed and criticized.  Okay case proof movement.  That part of the world which is painful. That part of the world is pleasure. Pleasurable. They move together.  And the reason why the Buddha pointed this out as one of the aggregates is because to misunderstanding this, we expect that somehow, somewhere in this world, we just have pleasure. Pressure. Pressure. Beauty. Beauty. Beauty. Nice sound. Nice sound. Nice sound. Nice thoughts. Nice thoughts. Nice thoughts. Thinking that the other half we can get rid of. No way.  When we realize we can't control pleasure and pain, then that's what we call the end of craving. We let go and realize that pain is a fair amount of pain. We have a fair amount of pressure as well. Par for the course. So whenever you're in pain, you realize it's not going to last. It will end. Whenever you have pleasure, you know it's not going to last. It's not going to end. Whenever you have disappointment, you know it's going to end. And you can have happiness again. When you have happiness, that's good. Way to  isn't that true?  This is not a theory. Isn't that according to your experience so far in life? Isn't that according to everyone else's experience,  to be honest to your experience?  Second to third of these are aggregates of the mind. This is a pleasure and pain thing which I just finished with is also a great source of delusion. It's called perception. Perception is when we look at what we're experiencing and only see what we want to see. We see only what's important to us. If we're in a bad mood, we see only the bad things which tend to encourage depression. That's why it's so hard. Like when people come up and they're depressed, they've got problems to try and sort of get them out of that. Because everything they say, everything they think is looking to support  sort of their depression. If they're angry, they're looking to support their anger. They're looking for more evidence to justify their moods.  So what perception does. It bends the truth. It selects  what you want to hear, what you want to see. You had arguments in the house about who said what.  You said that. No, I didn't. Yes, you did. No, you didn't. Yes, you did. Why does that happen? Is it that someone is crazy?  The reason is because whenever something is said,  one person only hears half of it and the other one only hears half of what they say.  You don't see the full story. This is my perception. It picks out aspects I mentioned earlier a few weeks ago, which is a very beautiful experiment which was done recently. It exploded with the doors. Remember that experiment? On a campus in the US somewhere. This experimenter went up to a student and said where's the way to the selector theater? And just after they asked the question, these two workmen went right between the two of them with a big door. So for maybe 5 seconds they couldn't see each other once the door went past. And then the question continued. Question? I said now, where is the lecture theater? And the little students said oh, it's over there somewhere.  Only what had happened as the door was passing between them. The original questioner went along with the door and a new questioner was there. Sometimes they change even the gender. The first person was a man and it was a woman. Big person? Small person. Afro American. Then a Caucasian. And the student being asked a question didn't notice.  They didn't notice that the question had changed. Why? Because their perception only was looking at the question, not the person asking the question.  That was actually proven to be true. What we're looking for is what we see. That's why if you've got an enemy in the world,  then whenever you meet them, the reason why they remain your enemy is because you're looking for all their faults to justify your anger. As if you love someone very dearly, it doesn't matter what they do. You're looking for things to justify your love. That's why when you first fall in love with someone, you love everything about them. Even the way they pick their nose. It's so cute.  But when the anger comes in a marriage, in a relationship, when the person says, look, darling, I'm sorry about that. I really love you. What do you mean by that? What you try to get out of this, you don't trust. So you're always looking for things to justify your anger. This is perception.  You can't trust perception. It always gets you into trouble. For example, these two couple, they've been married 25 years. They were going on their second honeymoon when they first went to the honeymoon on this beach resort somewhere. And as they were walking along enjoying their memories of 25 years ago when they first got married  they found a bottle on the beach.  It was an old bottle. They fell out, uncorked it, and sure enough, the genie came out.  And the genie said, oh, thank you. I've been in this bottle for 25 years. The couple said, that's amazing, because we've been married for 25 years. Jenny said, Well, I'll give you a wish. As soon as it's two of you, I'll give you a wish each. What's your wish? And the wife said, look, we've been working hard all life being raised. Our kids would be wonderful if we had enough money just to retire.  Straight away, the Genie magic a banknote, a draft for £1 million and gave it to the lady. There you are. You enough money there to retire. Don't need to go to work again. She was so happy. They asked a man said, what's your wish? And he looks at his wife. She's 50 years of age. He said, I wish I was married to a girl 20s 30 years younger than him.  This is perception, how he could get you wrong. Jesus just perceived it wrong. He didn't really realize what the matter asked. So, perception. You base a lot of your experience on what you perceive. I felt this, I heard this. And you think you know it.  They have in Buddhism a very old story about perception of the seven blind men and the elephant. Many of you know that story. Seven blind men. One of them felt the tusk. One of them felt the truck. One of them felt the ears, the body, the legs, the tail. And they asked the blind man, what is an elephant? One who felt the up the tusk said it was a plow. The trunk said it was a snake. One felt the body, said it was like a big rock. One felt the legs, said it was a tree trunk. One felt the backside was a fly whisk the tail. That's what they perceived.  You know what happened next? It's a fascinating story because they all thought that what they perceived was the truth. That's what an elephant was. So they had an argument. No, an elephant's not like this. An elephant is like this. I can feel it. I know it. They had this big argument and fight. It just shows just how ours, arguments in the world originate. We perceive, and we believe that what we perceive is the full story.  This is where all the religions in the world come from  perceiving different parts of the elephant. All of the politics, the different parties, the different ideologies is where all the arguments in your home start from different perceptions.  Wonderful. This is actually not in the Buddhist story. Wouldn't be wonderful if those blind men actually met together. They say what elephant is like. It's got a big snake in the front with two plows on either side. There's a big rock with these two fans. That's what the ears were supposed to be, fans on the edge. And that's on a bigger rock on four tree trunks with a fly whisk at the back. That would actually be a pretty good description of an elephant  if people would only get their perceptions together, join together, instead of fight about who's got the best perception, join them all together. Wouldn't that be a wonderful world? We get far closer to the truth that way. So next time you have an argument at home, don't fight over the different views. Join those views together. Combine them, and then you get much closer to the truth and also much closer to harmony.  But the way the mind works is we keep picking out just a fraction of reality. What we want to see, what we want to hear, what we want to feel.  When we realize that the perception is unreliable, all arguments stop  the next. For the Candace or the aggregates, is what's called mental formations. Starting with thought.  We really think that we are mr. Waven was at Descartes. I think, therefore I am. What a fool.  If you stop thinking, who are you then?  And in meditation you can actually stop thinking. No thoughts whatsoever. And that silence be wonderful. If Descartes could learn meditation, it actually could refuse the whole of that philosophy. I think, therefore I am. What happens if you stop thinking? Who are you then? There is some truth in that, because we make ourselves up of our thoughts. Who do you think you are?  This is actually our identity, isn't it? Our ego. I think I'm a man. I think I'm a woman. I think I'm so old, so young. I think I'm good at this. I think I'm good at that. Be careful of all those that thinking. Because all that thinking goes one way today, it goes another way tomorrow. All that thinking again is based on your perceptions. It doesn't really ever get you anywhere, all these thoughts.  It doesn't get you to truth because all thinking leads to a contrary and it never gets to the heart of the matter. If you really want to know and be quiet and feel  when you actually look at the stars at night, the universe up in the sky, do you really need to think what those stars are?  Because I trained in physics, I knew about those stars and that was one of my pet subjects. Astrophysics used to go to all these lectures on astrophysics and get to know all the names of those stars and how far away, how many light years they were, what type of star they were.  And when I knew all of those labels I could never see the beauty in the heavens at night. All I could see is those labels and my knowledge. I couldn't see the beauty. So it took me many years to forget all of those labels and names and all of those ideas so I could actually see the stars as a child sees those stars.  All the thinking was stopping me. Stopping me seeing beauty, stopping me being at peace with things.  That's why human beings in our age are such compulsive thinkers that that probably is the biggest disease we have which stops us being happy. We just think too much. What happens when something goes wrong? We think. Think  when we get disappointed. Think, think, think when someone calls us an idiot. You've heard this one before. Someone calls you an idiot. They shouldn't call me an idiot. Why do they call me neither? A and if everyone is an idiot, they are an idiot. Not me.  Every time you think of that, you've called yourself an idiot another time.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if they just called you an idiot and you just forgot about it? Then you'd only be an idiot once,  but every time you think about it, you're another idiot.  It's true.  So the thinking is idiotic. Sometimes it's okay to think down again. We think far too much.  It's part of the Buddhist training in meditation to curtail this wild thinking,  which, because it hasn't been trained, is like a wild elephant who just crashes through so much happiness  and so much possible contentment and destroys so much peace in our lives.  Stop thinking, but listen more.  What happens when someone is close to you, speaks to you and wants to tell you something?  Do you really listen honestly? Or do you think, Here they go again. Can't they shut up? Don't. I know I'm busy. I can't I don't want to hear this. Think. Think. So you're not listening to what the person is telling you. You're just listening to your own thoughts.  This is why there's no communication these days.  Even this was actually in the Time magazine. I'm not quite sure what is happening here today. They did a survey about what people actually do when they're listening to a talk. In this survey, they found that 95% of people were listening to a lecture were thinking sexual fantasies. I hope you're not doing that this evening.  They're not listening. They're thinking. And when we think of these things, think, we find we get worried, we get anxious, we get angry, we get guilty. All these emotions, where do they come from? Thinking too much,  you know that.  That's why the Buddhist pointed us out. Thinking. This aggregate of thinking needs to be  looked at very, very carefully and even let go of.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able any time to find this little switch in your mind to turn off all the thinking and be quiet? That wouldn't be wonderful to do. This is what meditation is all about. Just stop thinking and be absolutely silent when you're silent you realize just how you thought far too much  and just how wonderful it is to be still, how wonderful it is just to be with someone without talking, without thinking,  but just knowing in the silence  and every thought which I've had always is not quite true. All the philosophies which you have are never quite true.  This is why there's those two types of speech outer speech, inner speech, and the best speech of all is silence. That's why the old Buddhist saying the great rivers are the ones which flow silently. The insignificant, trifling streams are the ones which make all the noise. Great minds are not thinkers. Great minds are silent.  All the wisdom of Buddhism, all the wisdom of the world does not come through thinking problems out, but through being silent and seeing clearly.  But that's an aspect of divine thinking. When we identify with that, we can't let it go. Actually, this is a problem when people meditate, why they can't get silent, why they can't stop thinking. You know why? Because you're afraid.  Afraid of silence. So much identified with thinking. It's your security blanket.  When you're not thinking, you wonder where you've gone.  It's marvelous to be silent.  So that's part of that other mental aspects and that thinking is the great creator.  Sometimes we wonder, like, who created the world? Thought created the world,  not God. Thought  happiness and pain. You thought it  your house, your career, philosophy of life. Who created that thought? Did  think about that.  The last of the candidates is called consciousness.  And consciousness is one of the deepest aspects of these aggregates. This is the last part of the mind. In this description of the aggregates you can look upon consciousness is like the screen.  And all these other things, including the body, the body, the feelings, perceptions, and the thoughts, and other mental activities based on those sorts, such as guilt or happiness or whatever. Those are the objects on the screen. That's a program on the screen. Consciousness is the television screen, and this is what's appearing on it.  The thing with consciousness, though, is because  the only time we're here, as it were, the only time we know is when there's something on the screen. Now, we take this consciousness to be me, but I am that which knows. I am the one hearing. I am the one feeling the pain in the body. I am the one seeking the thoughts.  And this is where the Buddha was very good. When it gets to this fundamental out of the mind, he says, really? Are you?  When he started looking at consciousness in depth, you can see there are actually six different types of consciousness.  To the six different senses. Seeing consciousness is very different than hearing, which is definitely very different than smelling, which is very different than tasting, which is very different than feeling, which is very different than mind consciousness. But what happens if you look very carefully in meditation? Whatever you see with your eyes, then the mind knows. Side consciousness is followed immediately afterwards by mind consciousness.  Whatever you hear, the mind knows.  Hearing consciousness and then mind consciousness. The same with the other body senses. Whether it's smell or taste in the body, whatever you feel, the mind knows.  That's why with each of these five senses, mind consciousness follows directly afterwards. The job of meditation in Buddhism to get you enlightened is to calm down those six senses so far. They completely disappear. So you just have mind consciousness with no sight, sound, smell, taste and no physical touch.  All body disappeared. You can't hear anything in deep meditation. Someone can shout at you. You will not be disturbed because you're way deeper than those five senses in that deep meditation when, as it were, the body had stopped. There's no sight, sound, smell, taste, or physical feelings. Those are called janice. You are still aware. What are you aware of? You're aware of mind consciousness? Mind consciousness is purified is alone. You get to know what mine consciousness is in the same way. If you want to know what gold is, you have to purify it of all of the other impurities. Get rid of those other things in there. So you just got gold and no other elements. And you know what gold is. You really want to know what's mind is? You have to get into those deep meditations, and you're face to face with mind. What you know afterwards is what mind consciousness is. And then you'll see afterwards that that which you took to be a continuous flow of conscious experience.  Which is sound and mind. Sound mind, sound mind, sound mind, sight, mind, sight, mind, feeling mind, feeling mind, smell mind, smell mind, always mind consciousness, as it were, holding the hand of these five other consciousnesses. Given the illusion of continuity of consciousness,  when you see the nature of mind consciousness, this idea of a flow of consciousness completely disappears. It's what I call adjunct rams fruit salad. Similarly,  it's like now there's an orange  and then there's a coconut  that the orange completely disappears as a deck with a coconut. Then a coconut disappears and there's an orange again. Then a coconut, then an apple and a coconut and apple and a coconut. And then the coconut disappears. And then there's a banana. The banana disappears and then another coconut again, there's coconut. There's always following.  This fruit sad means as once the orange disappears, it's completely gone. And now it's a coconut. The coconut disappears as well. These different types of consciousnesses arise and disappear in the mind, one after the other, very fast.  See oranges coming and going, completely disappearing. You know that the oranges aren't permanent, aren't essential. They're not you, they're not me. What? You see the bananas disappearing now is the banana, now it's gone. It means it's not essential, it's impermanent. It's not you won't just see the coconut of the mind  coming and going. That which knows consciousness is impermanent. It's not essential, it is not you.  Consciousness is not permanent.  That which knows is just a permanent process in the world.  It's like people sometimes in Buddhism, contemplating permanence.  They see all these things, all these experiences come and go just like seeing the programs on the television come and go. But when in your meditation you see mind, consciousness disappear it's like seeing the television in your home completely vanish in front of your eyes. Is once it's a television, and now it's completely gone. Just emptiness, just space.  Then you know that consciousness, too, is not me, not mine, not herself. Impermanent, insubstantial.  This is where the teaching of the five aggregates reaches its purpose, its goal to show you that which you take to be you which you think you are very beautifully described as the body, the feelings, the perceptions, metal formation, thoughts and consciousness itself. When you analyze that, you take it apart. You look at it very deeply. You find there's nothing substantial there.  Right forth on the ganges. The Buddhist said for the body, that feeling just like a raindrop in a puddle. Pleasure, pain, just a prop and then it's gone.  This is even Robert Burns. Pleasures are like poppies spread. You pluck the flower how the bloom is shed. Or like the snowfall in the river, white for a moment and then gone forever. That's faded in the feeling. Perception is like a mirage.  You see what you want to see, it's not what's really there. Like the blind men and the elephants, the mental formations like thoughts. It's like an onion. No real heart, but you can keep peering and peering, but there's nothing solid there.  And the consciousness they call like a magician's trick,  the trick of thinking that you are the one who knows.  These are the descriptions of the five aggregates. What you think you are because you think you are these things that you are very afraid of becoming unconsciousness, unconscious when you die very afraid of not thinking very afraid of not perceiving, not fearing, not having a body. When we're attached to things,  then we have fear.  All fear comes from letting go of something we think is very important and essential.  When you realize these things aren't important, aren't essential we can let them go easily. When we don't own anything, then we're free  more. You own your body? Do you really own your body? Is that you? Do you really own your feelings because you're in pain? Can you control them? Do you really own your perceptions? Are they true? Do you really own your thoughts? Do they get you anywhere? Do you really own your consciousness? Is that what you are  teaching? The five aggregates is to stop attachments, to see the truth,  to be enlightened and thereby to be free. So may all be free. I'm following the teachings of the five aggregates. May these five aggregates which you have now be the last five aggregates may you not take out another five aggregates in your next lifetime. Otherwise you might have to come back to the Buddhist society and listen to more talks like this many, many more times.  That's the talk of this evening the five aggregates.  Any questions?