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 [This version: 10 April 1995]
 By Ven Thubten Pende
 This following teaching was given at Institute Vajra Yogini in
 France by Ven Thubten Pende, who is one of the most foremost
 scholars of Tibetan Buddhism. He is an American monk ordained for
 almost two decades. He is the head teacher at Nalanda Monastery
 in France.
 Transcribed by Ven Tony Beaumont at Nalanda
 Copyright (c) 1994 of Thubten Pende and the Foundation for the
 Preservation of Mahayana Tradition. Any distribution without
 permission is prohibited by law.
 The Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)
 is an international network of Buddhist centers and activities
 dedicated to the transmission of Mahayana Buddhism as a practiced
 and living tradition. The FPMT was founded in 1975 by Lama
 Thubten Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. It is composed of
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 healing centers, all functioning as a means to benefit others.
 Teachings, such as the above presented, are given at many of
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 By Ven Thubten Pende
  This is the first of four lectures taking place this weekend,
 and the subject of this weekend's talk is the five aggregates.
 There is a relationship with us, that's simply because we want to
 be happy and we don't want to suffer. I heard the words of a song
 recently which said "I don't mind dying it's living that scares
  All of us know the difficulties of life and we're trying somehow
 to minimize those. If what the Buddha said is true and this life
 is followed by another life and another and another and another
 then the problems are multiplied. Fortunately there was not only
 bad news from the Buddha, but he also found a way of escaping
 from this suffering, and that is the main reason why we are here.
 So the Buddha found that all of suffering is derived from a
 mistake in cognition and that the actual antidote to that mistake
 is the cultivation of a certain wisdom, and that wisdom is known
 as the wisdom realizing selflessness, and it is this teaching on
 selflessness that mainly distinguishes the Buddha's philosophy
 from all other world philosophies. Selflessness is referring to a
 quality which all things possess and this quality is an absence;
 it is an absence of an illusion we have mistakenly projected on
 all things.
  So all of the teachings of the Buddha are either directly or
 indirectly trying to lead the student to discover what that
 absence is. Teachings that are speaking directly about this
 subject, fall into the category of the perfection of wisdom
 scriptures, and in those scriptures we find such statements like"
 the five aggregates are empty of self". It is our task to find
 out what that means, so we have to first of all begin by finding
 out what the five aggregates are.
  In general the five aggregates are a way of classifying the body
 and the mind. The two main constituents that make up any person
 are the body and the mind. Rather than merely saying the body and
 mind the Buddha mentioned five classifications, and when he was
 teaching this he was using handfuls of grain to say there is this
 aggregate and this aggregate and this aggregate, five all
 together. The Sanskrit word is skanda, and what it means is a
 pile, as in a heap or pile of rice, and those five are the
 aggregate of form, feeling, recognition, compositional factors
 and consciousness.
  The first three of these he mentioned in particular, because of
 their relationship with desire. In addition to mentioning that
 the source of all our sufferings is in a misknowledge of reality,
 at other times the Buddha said that the source of all of our
 problems is desire. However we should know that he was not
 referring to all desire. For instance the desire to be happy is
 not a source of problems. The desire to escape one's problems is
 also not the source of suffering. So he was referring to a
 specific type of desire, and that being a desire whose object
 appears as the source of happiness when in fact it is not. So it
 is a desire with respect to or, a desire towards an
 hallucination, and the means of eliminating that desire is by
 discovering that the object is an hallucination.
  So what are the types of objects that this negative desire
 arises towards?
  Well, one is bodies, our own and others. It's not uncommon that
 a body can appear in an exaggerated way, causing it to seem as if
 it is the source of happiness, and not only the body but also all
 the objects of our senses. So in order to discover the actuality
 of the objects of the senses then the Buddha taught, or The
 Buddha mentioned the aggregate of FORM.
  Then desire arises for those things that feel good. In fact the
 desire that motivates most people arises from pleasant
 experiences, such as with the thought "This feels good therefore
 I want to never be parted from it." What a common thought! Where
 the mistake arises is in this expression "never being parted from
 it", especially if this object is something impermanent, and that
 there is no way that the contact can be preserved for- ever.
 Consequently the desire is setting oneself up for disappointment.
 Therefore in order to explore such feelings the Buddha mentioned
 the second aggregate the aggregate of FEELING.
  Another object to which people become attached with desire are
 ideas. The disputes that scholars get into can get very heated,
 because these scholars become attached to their ideas and
 discriminations, regarding their own as superior and other's
 ideas as inferior, causing them to desire for their idea to be
 recognized as the supreme. This fuels the actions of speech and
 so forth that make the various disputes that one gets and can
 come to such extremes as causing closed mindedness, losing the
 ability to openly examine other's ideas. In order to explore such
 discriminations or ideation the Buddha mentioned the aggregate of
  There are many other functions and emotions of the mind, so he
 heaped all of those in the classification known as COMPOSITIONAL
 FACTORS. In some texts the compositional factor aggregate is
 called VOLITION, and volition is one of the functions of the mind
 that is contained within that class. This is an example of giving
 the name of a member of the group to the whole group. VOLlTION
 was chosen rather than any of the others because of it's
 importance, and this is because desire for instance can only
 bring about experience once it is put into action, and the way it
 is put into action is through volition. For instance one can have
 the desire to possess something, but it is only when one
 generates the actual will to get it that the action follows and
 such volition or will is what is known as karma. The word karma
 is used colloquially to refer to the experiences that occur to
 people. Technically those experiences are known as the results of
 karma, and technically karma is referring to the action which is
 the cause of such experiences. Karma then is referring to
 volition or will, as well as the actions of body and speech
 motivated by such will, and once you have set the action in
 motion then you're bound to the result, like the turning of a
 wheel. So as this is something important to analyze and come to
 know the Buddha mentioned this aggregate of compositional
  The last aggregate is the aggregate of CONSCIOUSNESS and this is
 referring to the six consciousnesses, visual, auditory,
 olfactory, gustatory, tactile and mental, which are the main
 means we come to know the various objects that compose reality.
 So this also is very important to investigate.
  So that was a brief presentation of the five aggregates.
  In the doctrine of selflessness there's said to be two types.
 The selflessness of person and the selflessness of phenomena, and
 the person is said to be the I that is designated in dependence
 upon any of the aggregates such as in the expression "I am
 sitting here." That I is a person which is being designated in
 dependence upon the form aggregate, because it is being
 designated in dependence upon the body which is included in the
 FORM aggregate. Without the body you wouldn't be able to have the
 thought "I am sitting here." The great Indian master Nagarjuna
 who elucidated The Buddha's teaching on selflessness said that
 the misconception of the self of a person arises by depending
 upon the misconception of the self of phenomena. By phenomena
 there he meant the five aggregates, and for example because of
 mistaking the way in which the five aggregates exist, such as the
 body, mistaking the way in which it exists then we mistake the
 way the I exists which is dependent upon those aggregates. By
 mistaking the way the I exists one mistakes the way others exist,
 and by mistaking the way others exist then such perverse thoughts
 as clinging and ill will arise. Due to the arisal of such
 emotional addictions there comes volition, the acting out of
 those emotions, and due to such action one is bound to experience
 the result, which creates a cycle or vicious circle of death and
 rebirth, over and over again.
  Nagarjuna mentioned that, in his book " The Precious Garland Of
 Advice To The King." In there he tried to clarify what the
 mistake of self of person is, and what the mistake of self of
 phenomena is, in order to generate the wisdom of selflessness of
 person and phenomena in order to put an end to this vicious
 circle of existence.
  So studying such a book has benefits, but in order to make sense
 of Nagarjuna's arguments you have to have some appreciation of
 the world view that he held. For instance when Nagarjuna was
 describing phenomena he did so in terms of the four elements;
 earth water, fire and air. Such a presentation has not been
 employed in Western education for a long time! Now, if you're
 looking for elements you look in the Periodic Table which has
 dozens of elements, which requires having a certain love of
 chemistry to penetrate. So the presentation of things in terms of
 four elements seems simplistic in comparison with the Periodic
  But on it's own it has it's own elegance and if you understand
 it then you'll be able to understand the arguments set forth in
 the Buddhist classics such as the " Precious Garland".
  It is not necessary to read such classics in order to gain the
 wisdom realizing selflessness. For instance one can do it by
 relying on the words of a master who has the correct
 understanding of selflessness and can present it in contemporary
 terms, but there is a benefit in being able to appreciate the
 presentations in those classic texts which is that such texts are
 the scriptural authorities that masters have been relying upon
 for generations and thus if your understanding, if you can see
 that your understanding is supported by those classic texts
 you'll have that much more confidence in your understanding. It's
 always nice to know what the contemporary masters are relying
 upon to get their understanding. This helps a lot to avoid
 cultism, because such knowledge is not the personal property of
 anybody and if you discover that such knowledge can be generated
 by the study of a timeless wisdom then you know it is not the
 sole property of one individual whom you have to please in order
 to get drops.
  So are you following me so far? Okay.
  So now we begin the detailed presentation of the five
 aggregates. The first is the FORM AGGREGATE. It consists of
 eleven items.
  Q: What is the difference between volition and mental
  A : I'll give a quick answer now and later there'll be more
 details. So mental consciousness is included in the fifth
 aggregate and volition is included in forth aggregate, and
 volition is a function you find in all consciousnesses. Mental
 consciousness has the function of volition, so you should see
 mental consciousness as something that is merely knowing it's
 object whereas volition is a way in which that mental
 consciousness relates to that object or functions with respect to
 that object. More information comes later.
  I mentioned there were eleven divisions of form and I should say
 that the source that I'm taking most of this information from is
 the book " Meditation On Emptiness" by Professor Jeffrey Hopkins.
 So if you're being frustrated by not being able to take notes as
 fast as I am speaking you'll find all the information in that
  So we have the eye sense organ, lets not use the word organ lets
 use the word power, or eye sense faculty, or eye power or eye
 faculty whatever you choose. Choose one of them rather than all
 of them, it takes too long.
  Eye faculty, Ear faculty, Nose faculty, Tongue faculty, Body
 faculty. That's five so far. Then there's visual form, sound,
 smell, taste, tactile objects and the eleventh one is form for
 the mental consciousness.
  So then with respect to those first five what's meant by
  Well if it's a form it's made up of particles. So we can say
 atomically constructed. That's what we mean by form here and the
 faculty here is a form that enables consciousness to have access
 to it's respective objects. For example the eye faculty enables
 visual consciousness to function within the field of visual form
 or visual objects, and the ear faculty allows the auditory
 consciousness to function within the field of sound. You have to
 distinguish between the eye faculty and the eye ball in which the
 eye faculty is found. Similarly with the ear faculty and the
 fleshy ear and so forth. These faculties are composed of
 particles and are subtle, subtle in that not just anybody can see
 them. Whether or not they can be seen by machinery I don't know.
 The texts say that clever persons with certain types of super
 knowledge can see these forms and thus certain shapes have been
 attributed to them. Such as the eye faculty is shaped like the
 bud of a ? plant. Whatever that is. The ear faculty is shaped
 like the knot of a birch tree. I'm mentioning this just to say
 that these faculties have been seen by somebody who thought that
 they could be distinguished by their shapes. They didn't stop
 with the mere designation of a name. The nose faculty is shaped
 like two hollow needles at the root of the nose. Then the tongue
 faculty is shaped like many half moons the diameter of the tip of
 a hair, each one is the diameter of the tip of a hair and are
 found in the middle of the tongue. The body faculty is shaped
 like skin or hide pervading the body.
  Such faculties then have the function of enabling their
 respective consciousnesses to access their respective objects.
 What consciousnesses ? The five sense consciousnesses.
  Somebody might have remembered that I mentioned there were six
 consciousnesses in the consciousness aggregate. Therefore someone
 might wonder does that consciousness have a faculty? Does that
 mental consciousness have a faculty? It does, because it has to
 have that which enables it to access it's object. These faculties
 are necessary conditions for the arising of consciousness, and
 the faculty is known as the dominate condition, because of giving
 that consciousness power with respect to it's object, causing
 that consciousness to operate only in that one field rather than
 another field. For example due to the eye faculty visual
 consciousness can only see visual objects it cannot see sounds.
 So mental consciousness also has a mental faculty that functions
 as it's dominate condition, but unlike the five sense
 consciousnesses the mental faculty is not form. That is unlike
 those five faculties I've mentioned being form, the mental
 faculty is not composed of particles.
  I hope I'm not going too slow for some of you, but as there is
 so much information here it would be better to go home with
 something, rather than only remembering a blur of sound.
  So that mental faculty is a previous moment of consciousness
 such as a visual consciousness that enables the mental
 consciousness to access visual objects. So therefore that visual
 consciousness would be considered a mental faculty and dominate
 condition for the arising of the mental consciousness perceiving
 visual objects. All kinds of interesting things to discuss arise
 from such a presentation but there isn't enough time
  Okay so we have here in the case of the visual faculty the
 function that enables consciousness to access visual objects, All
 kinds of interesting things to discuss arise from such a
 presentation but there isn't enough time.
  Okay so we have here in the case of the visual faculty the
 function that enables visual consciousness to access visual
 objects. So what are the visual forms that are the objects of
 visual consciousness? There are two main types: shapes and
 colors: white, blue, red and yellow; these are said to be the
 color of the four elements. Air is white, water is blue, fire is
 red and earth is yellow. There is another presentation of eight
 secondary colors. It's a bit bizarre though, such as the color of
 cloud, the color of smoke, the color of mist, the color of
 illumination, the color of darkness, the color of shadow and the
 color of sunlight.
  These two lists of divisions of color are obviously not
 exhaustive. So these are the color visual objects. Then there are
 shapes of which you have different kinds, such as long shapes
 short shapes, such as a long board or a deep well. Then there's
 high and low, there's a shape known as square but it can refer to
 any polygon. That's also an example of the name of a part given
 to the whole. So although it's called square shaped it can refer
 to the shape of a dice, it can also refer to the shape of
 rectangular boxes and so forth. Then there's the round shape
 which can refer to anything egg-shaped and can also refer to the
 so called flat circle. There's the level shape, like the shape of
 the surface of this floor. Then there can be the non level shape,
 such as the shape of a ploughed field that is irregular.
  Shapes and colors is what visual conscious sees. The question
 arises :
  Can you see that vase there ?
  And of course one would say "Yes"
  But technically speaking what the visual consciousness is seeing
 is just the shape and color of the vase, and the vase is not a
 shape or a color. So because one has come to associate a vase
 with such a shape then the visual consciousness can immediately
 give rise to the thought thinking vase. This cognition thinking
 vase that employs the word vase and thus is being done with a
 conceptual consciousness is called "seeing a vase', simply
 because of the close relationship between the seeing of the color
 and the shape of the vase and that conception thinking vase that
 arises as a result of it.
  So this is an example of giving the name of a cause to the
 result. The cause being the visual consciousness and the result
 being a mental consciousness that is a conception. If this sounds
 very mechanical and concrete it is. It is based upon the
 Sautantrika view of Buddhist tenet. They have a very concrete
 view of the world. It's very logical and categorical. They like
 to keep their categories straight without mixing, and as we all
 know nothing is that clear. But just as a person interested in
 particle physics and quantum mechanics must first pass through
 Newtonian physics to get there, likewise it's very useful for us
 to see the world from the Sautantrika point of view before we get
 into bizarre explanations of the higher schools of Buddhist
 thought such as the Prasangika. Just as quantum mechanics arose
 because when you explore the view of Newton and his mechanics,
 you discover on extremely tiny things, and also on vast distances
 in other words, on the very limits of that view, there are some
 problems. Likewise when you explore the limits of the Sautantrika
 view you see the need to jump to a higher view. I use the example
 of physics as if I knew something about it, but it was one of my
 worst subjects actually.
  Sound is defined as the object of auditory consciousness, and
 there's different ways of dividing it.
  One way is sound that arises from elements conjoined with
 consciousness and sound arising from elements not conjoined with
  The sound that arises from elements conjoined with consciousness
 would be the sounds made by a human being. Amongst sounds made by
 a human being there's two types, articulate sounds and non
 articulate sounds. Articulate sounds are sounds that denote a
 meaning such as words, and of articulate sounds there's two types
 pleasant and unpleasant. A pleasant articulate sound might be
 good poetry, an unpleasant articulate sound might be criticism.
  The non articulate sounds don't denote any meaning in
 particular, and there are two types; pleasant and unpleasant.
  A pleasant one might be the snapping of fingers, an unpleasant
 one might be the sound of a hand slapping a face.
  Then amongst sounds arising from elements not conjoined with
 consciousness there are two types; articulate and non articulate.
 The definition is the same as before, one denotes a meaning and
 the other doesn't. Of the articulate there are two types pleasant
 and unpleasant. What might be a pleasant one that's an articulate
 sound? There's the legendary dharma drum in the heavens. The
 beating of it produces dharma discourses. An unpleasant
 articulate sound, now I'm going to merely guess here. Decide
 yourself whether I'm right or wrong, and that would be an echo
 that is criticizing you. An echo's coming from a cliff, that's a
 sound arising from elements not conjoined with consciousness. So
 I think it possesses the definition. Then the non articulate
 sounds, pleasant and unpleasant. A pleasant one would be the
 sound of a well played musical instrument, and the unpleasant one
 would be the sound of a not well played musical instrument. I
 used to be in an orchestra once and to hear a person just
 learning to play the violin was just painful? Of course when they
 get good it's a different story but in the beginning........ So
 that's sounds.
  Then the next is odors. These are defined as objects perceived
 by the olfactory consciousness. There's different divisions, such
 as fragrant odors and unfragrant odors. This refers to something
 that smells nice and something that doesn't smell nice, and of
 these there are two divisions.
  Those that are equal and those that are unequal. An equal odor
 whether it is fragrant or unfragrant would be one that is equal
 with everything else, it doesn't dominate. Whereas the unequal
 one in the case of a fragrant odor would be a perfume that
 dominates everything else when you enter a room. In the case of
 the unfragrant dominate odor, an example would be the smell of
  So we have all these different divisions; products of the Indian
 mentality, in particular Indian scholars, who sat down and tried
 to figure out everything that could be known and then put in it's
 proper category. So if you sat down to analyze odors it's not
 just a question of odors; it's a question of fragrant odors,
 unfragrant odors, subtle odors, strong odors etc.
  Then we come to tastes, an object of special fondness in this
 country. There are six types; and by the way taste is defined as
 the object of gustatory consciousness. Sweet and sour, hot and
 salty, bitter and astringent. What's that spice from Solu Khumbu?
 Erma! Astringent would be the flavor of erma. Actually erma is
 said to have all the flavors. The astringent somehow dries your
 tongue, shrivels it up.
  So these different objects including the tastes are made up of
 the four elements. For example the sweet taste arises from a
 preponderance of the earth and the water element, sour from fire
 and earth, salt flavor from water and fire, hot from fire and
 wind, bitter from water and wind and astringency from earth and
  We then come to tactile objects which are the objects perceived
 by the tactile consciousness. There are two groups: the elements
 and the tangible objects that are arisen from the elements. The
 elements are as mentioned before earth, water, fire and wind.
 Earth is hard and obstructive; water is wet and cohesive; fire is
 hot and burning; air is light and moving, and the thing is you
 never have one of the elements without another one. The smallest
 particles are said to be made out of eight things. They're made
 out of the four elements, and they are made out of the visual
 object, olfactory, the gustatory and tactile. There's no auditory
 particle because sound is not something which can produce a
 continuum of itself as the other one's can. So the particles that
 make up all forms are when you get down to the smallest particles
 are particles made up of these eight components, but those
 particles will have a dominance of one element over another. So
 therefore when you see a fire it doesn't mean that there is no
 water element there. It is only that the fire element is
 dominating at that time. For example a fire's ability to support
 a piece of paper or a leaf. For instance if you throw a piece of
 paper or a leaf in a fire it doesn't immediately float down, it's
 held. That ability is the function of the earth element part of
 fire. Also the way that all the tongues of the flames of the fire
 can all merge together, that's the water element of the fire. The
 fact that the fire can move is the air element part of the fire,
 and of course the fire is something that you can see, touch and
 so forth. Even though fire is defined in terms of the tactile
 consciousness, it is still something that you can see, so that is
 something that is included in those other components of fire.
  Now how might water contain those other elements? A body of
 water, how might that contain all the elements ? For instance
 water can support a ship, that's it's earth element, and if you
 put a plant in water eventually it will decay and that's it's
 fire element. Water will flow down hill and that's it's air
  Wind's earth element can support all kinds of objects, such as
 leaves, and when the wind blows, your clothes will dry, that's
 it's fire element. The wind of a tornado moves together, that's
 it's water element.
  When you take two stones, certain stones and hit them together
 you get a spark, that's the fire element in earth and the fact
 that all the parts of a board hold together, the cells don't
 disintegrate but hold together, that is the water element of
 Earth. Things like trees can move, that's the wind element or air
 element. I didn't mean walking! they move when they grow.
  So like that whenever you have the one element you have the
 other elements, you may find that one of the elements dominates
 the other ones. There's other tangible objects too, besides the
 elements; such as smooth, rough, heavy, light, cold, hunger,
 thirst and they are said to arise from the four elements.
  Smoothness arises from a dominance of fire and water, roughness
 from earth and water, heavy from earth and water, light from fire
 and wind, cold from water and wind, hunger from wind or a
 dominance of wind, and thirst from a dominance of fire. These
 particles can be seen and their color is depending on which
 element is dominating, and the shapes depend upon the arrangement
 of the color particles.
  So then what about these forms for a mental consciousness?
  These are forms that are objects only for a mental
 consciousness. One is called form arising from aggregation or
 collection. The small particles that make up gross objects that
 we can see and hear and so forth can't be seen by the senses,
 however our mental consciousness can know of such particles. For
 instance I don't think anybody has seen an electron, but we know
 about them don't we? So those would be form for a mental
 consciousness and in particular this one form arising from
  Another one is called space form, this one is difficult to
 appear to my mind, but it is similar to the space that appears to
 a visual consciousness. For instance there is a space that
 appears to our visual consciousness such as the gap between
 ourselves and some object across the room, and that gap is
 something that is changeable. It can change color for instance,
 it can get dark, it can get smog colored, in a city for instance,
 or it can be clear. So this is something that is a changeable
 phenomena and can be seen with the eyes, and likewise, when one
 is using only the mental consciousness you can see space. Such as
 when you shut your eyes and you imagine something far away. Then
 aren't you cognizant of the space between you and that object far
 away as in the distance? So that one is not appearing to your
 visual consciousness that's appearing to your mental
 consciousness, that is the space form included as the object of
 mental consciousness and one should distinguish such space from
 what is known as permanent space. A permanent space is a negation
 of obstruction to extension. For example there is a space that we
 can see in the middle of this room, and somebody might wonder is
 there enough space to pass through, and you look there and you
 look at the size of that person say, and you see that there is no
 obstruction there that should prevent the person passing. That
 absence of obstruction is known as a permanent space. It is
 called permanent not because it will last forever, but rather
 because it is not a thing that changes from moment to moment. It
 is not some dynamic energy, it is a mere absence of obstruction,
 therefore it is called permanent.
  There's nothing permanent about the five aggregates! The five
 aggregates are said to include all impermanent phenomena. But
 there are other than impermanent phenomena, such as permanent
  Then another type of form contained in the form for a mental
 consciousness would be the form arising from a promise. For
 example when a person takes a vow, it is said a subtle form
 arises, which certain people with super knowledge can see. I
 often wonder what my form created from taking vows looks like
 after twenty years. Maybe like a very holey rag!
  So these forms do not just arise when one is making virtuous
 promises either. In dependence upon a butcher's physical and
 verbal actions in killing animals and the selling of their flesh
 also such a form can arise.
  Maybe this may have some relationship with what are known as
  Then there are imaginary forms such as the elephants of a dream.
 It's a form but not really, because it's not actually made out of
 particles, physical particles, so that's why it's called an
 imaginary form and it just appears to a mental consciousness.
  Then there's the forms of one with meditative power, and this
 would be a form that some person with a special power can
 generate which others can see. There's different types here;
 there's the type that only lasts as long as the meditator is
 concentrating and then there's the type that can remain even when
 the meditator is doing something else.
  Okay so that deals with the form aggregate.
  Let's take a break.
  Talk two
  So I'd like to begin this afternoon with any questions that came
 from this mornings lecture.
  There was a lot of information, so long as it's not a question
 like could you repeat what you said this morning I would be happy
 to answer. Was it clear?
  Q: This morning Pende said that the first three of the
 aggregates were linked to desire. Why is the forth one Volition,
 not linked to desire?
  A: The fourth one is explained mainly on the basis of volition
 as I mentioned and I said that volition is the same thing as
 karma, but in fact you can't say that all volition is karma, only
 the volition that is under the control of ignorance is known as
 karma. And thus as negative desire is a product of ignorance then
 the volition which is controlled by desire is certainly this
 phenomena known as karma.
  There is a way of course, a way of relating the fourth aggregate
 with desire, but it is not entirely necessary, in that The Buddha
 when he was explaining the five aggregates, he did so in such a
 way as to point out how a person who has acquired the five
 aggregates is bound to cyclic existence. A person is bound in
 cyclic existence by both the mental addictions and karma. Okay..
 So for instance we can say that volition is controlled by desire
 thus when we investigate volition it is important to see how that
 is the case, and wherever the volition goes that's where the six
 consciousnesses go, because that's the specific function of
 volition, that is to take the consciousness to it's respective
 object. Another question?
  Q: What do you mean by volition?
  A: Okay, that's coming up. We could even say it's the same thing
 as will power, or intention.
  Q: Why isn't the auditory object, sound, included in the same
 way that other sensory objects are?
  A: The answer given before was that sound doesn't produce a
 continuum of itself, but that was insufficient.
  So here sound is understood as something that arises from for
 instance hitting one object against another, but if those objects
 don't come in to contact there is no sound produced, so in the
 case of this one foundation particle, which is composed of eight
 parts sound isn't included in there because that object is not
 making a sound. That is, there is no separate particle in
 addition to those eight, that you could say is sound, but if two
 of those particles collided then it is possible that a sound
 could be produced.
  Q: So if there is nothing which can produce the sound, it's the
 same for the other objects like tactile objects or olfactory
 objects, so if I don't see something, if there is not an object,
 a visual object I cannot see it, if there is not a taste object I
 cannot taste it.
  A: Here, it's not that there is nothing that produces the sound,
 sound is produced. For instance when a particle strikes the ear
 drum then sound is produced. Now the types of particles that are
 moving through space that will strike the ear drum we call sound
 waves. Now in this system it is thought that these foundation
 particles as they move can bring about sound, but there is no
 particular particle which is sound, whereas there is a particular
 particle that is a visual form, and there is a particular
 particle that is an odor and so forth. Those particles are said
 to be evolution, to be developments of the four elements. A
 visual particle and so forth are somehow made up of the four
 elements, and so you can take some object and touch it, and the
 reason why you can touch it, is because of it's tactile object
 quality, or you can taste it and so forth, but when you listen,
 the sound that you might hear is not due to a particle of sound,
 but rather to the movement of all these other particles.
  That's the best I can do.
  Q: How can it be that good desires don't give birth in cyclic
  A: So this mental factor of volition I said is called karma in
 the case of being under the control of ignorance. In cases where
 we read that in order to become liberated we have to cease karma,
 it does not mean that we have to bring to an end all instances of
 this mental factor of volition. It means we have to bring to an
 end the dominance or the control of volition by these mental
 addictions, so volition having the basic function of taking the
 mind to it's object whatever it is, is also operating in the mind
 of a Buddha, because without volition the mind would not be able
 to make contact with any object. Thus The Buddha would not know
 things, and The Buddha would not have a compassion which
 perceives sentient beings. So volition is a necessary function of
 consciousness. If you want to know something, if it's not
 particularly easy for your mind to know an object, then you have
 to have the wish to do so. That wish can be desire, we can call
 it aspiration, and that motivates that will to do it, to discover
 that object. Then of course all the actions following that
 hopefully will bring you to the object that you want to
 experience, and some objects are worth experiencing and others
 are not. When this wish, aspiration, or positive desire is
 brought about by a wisdom consciousness of clear intelligence
 then it is not going to get us in trouble. In particular if it is
 brought about by a wisdom consciousness that perceives reality,
 then it won't cause the type of volitional activity that brings
 about the uncontrolled death and rebirth known as cyclic
  So it is interesting to contemplate existence without any desire
 at all. Why would you do anything if you had no desire
  The only types of actions that would happen would be actions
 like falling down. But of course if you had no desire whatsoever
 you would never have stood up. Now because of such observations
 there are those who thought that the path to liberation was the
 end of all desire, and thus engaged in the practice of total
 inactivity, which they sought to achieve by stopping their mind
 from generating any desire. In the process of doing that they
 discovered it takes some time to stop the mind from generating
 desire. If they pursued this practice of total inactivity they
 might starve to death before they reached the mental state of no
 desire, then there had to be some desire employed to get up and
 get food and stuff, and that type of activity was not seen as
 activity that was leading to bondage but was leading to
 liberation. So now the interesting question then becomes what is
 it that they are going to do to stop the mind of desire? For
 instance if there is no desire whatsoever, which is the same as
 saying no aspiration then what would the liberation that this
 person is seeking look like? Would it be some kind of a state of
 utter non-existence? Because if there is no movement taking place
 at all then it would be just that. Perhaps our idea of this type
 of liberation is based upon our experience of deep sleep. That
 state that we have no direct experience of but we infer from our
 memory of when we lost consciousness and when we regained it
 again this is not a perfected state, this is not the experience
 of Buddha. A Buddha is quite active, benefiting sentient beings.
 For instance a Buddha has to want to benefit sentient beings, so
 we have to cultivate that now as practitioners. So this is the
 problem of trying to distinguish between the negative desire and
 the positive desire, and it often happens that we refer to
 negative desires as positive desires. It would be much easier if
 we could just sort of block out all desire whatsoever, and say
 it's all negative. But would that be nearly as attractive as the
 ultimate goal? Such an ultimate goal is the plan of most
 materialists. They are betting that after death there is nothing.
 They can achieve that without even meditating one minute, it's
 just going to arise naturally when the breath stops. Of course
 it's interesting that there is nothing that we know that is like
 that. It seems like everything always remains something, such as
 in theory of the conservation of energy, no energy is ever lost
 it just transforms into something else. But that belief of the
 materialist is just like any dogmatic belief. There's no evidence
 for it, nobody has ever come back from the state of nothingness
 to say how it was.
  Okay any more questions. No. Then I have a question.
  If it's a color is it necessarily an object of the visual
 consciousness ?
  A: There are for instance the very small particles, they have a
 color but the visual consciousness can't perceive those, they're
 objects of mental consciousness. Now the objects of mental
 consciousness are called phenomena, visual objects, sounds,
 smells and so forth are also phenomena aren't they ?
  So does that mean that the objects of the mental consciousness
 are the same as the objects of the other five consciousnesses?
  The answer to that is that the phenomena which are the objects
 of the mental consciousness is referring to all the other objects
 that aren't included as objects of the first five sense
 consciousness's, such as the color of the very small particle, or
 even the very small particle itself etc., other consciousness's
 and so forth
  Q: Can a mental consciousness perceive a visual form, a gross
 visual form not just the subtle?
  A: Yes it can, I mentioned an example of it how a visual
 consciousness perceiving a blue color can be a cause for a mental
  What do I mean by a gross object?
  Does that mean something that's disgusting?
  No not in this context. Although sometimes that's what I mean by
 gross, but in this context a gross object means an object that's
 composed of many particles, such as a table. It's made up of many
 particles, and the basic particle that forms a table is that
 eight fold particle. Then you can think that the hardness of this
 table comes from the earth element, and that the wood all sticks
 together this comes from the water element. If you rub this wood
 with another piece of wood theoretically fire will come this
 comes from the fire element, and there must be some movement
 there otherwise I don't think you'd get a nail to go in the wood,
 and that's the air element. You can see the table and that's due
 to the visual particles. I think you could even taste the table
 due to the taste particles and so forth.
  Now if visual form, sound, and smell and so forth, if these are
 all made up of particles which are themselves developments of the
 four elements why are the four elements contained as tactile
 objects ? Why aren't they included amongst visual objects or
 odors or something like that?
  This is because it is through tactile consciousness that we
 mainly know those elements.
  Earth is known through it's hardness and hardness is known
 through tactile consciousness. Water is known through wetness and
 that is perceived by tactile consciousness. Fire is known by it's
 being hot and that's perceived by tactile consciousness, Air by
 it's lightness and that's experienced by tactile consciousness.
 So without tactile consciousness there would be no way to know
 those elements. So that's why they are included as objects of the
 tactile consciousness.
  So if you keep those questions and answers in mind you should be
 able to pass the test on Sunday afternoon. I'm only joking.
  Now we leave the form aggregate behind and deal with the four
 aggregates that are included in mind.
  First of all what I mean by mind is that which is clear and
 knowing. Clear describes it's reality being formless. Buddhism
 asserts then, that mind is not made of form, it is not composed
 of physical particles, therefore it can not be reduced to
 electromagnetic energy. So therefore it is not the brain, it's
 not neurons and it's not the electrical energy passing through
 those neurons, nor is it a mere name referring to those objects.
  There is one theory that mind is merely an Epi phenomena, which
 is just a name but it is referring to, for example, according to
 this way of seeing a chair could be called an epi phenomena
 because what a chair in fact is, is the legs the seat and the
 back and that's what a chair is. But we talk about a chair as if
 it were a gestalt, something greater than the sum of it's parts,
 something other than the sum of it's parts. Likewise, when we are
 talking about mind these people would say that all we're really
 talking about is these electro- chemical responses going on in
 the body, but they run into some trouble philosophically with
 that position, because when we are talking about mind, we are not
 talking about the body We are not talking about the electro-
 chemical responses going on in the body. Those materialist
 reductionists would like to eliminate the language of the mind
 from all language. They would just like to eliminate it, but they
 can't, so they would like to say that type of language is in
 itself meaningless, it has it's own internal consistency, but
 what's really going on that accounts for experience and so forth
 is the electro-chemical reactions in the body. When you press
 some body who adheres to this philosophy for some observable
 evidence that they base their philosophy on, they would give
 examples of cases where through injecting certain chemicals in
 the brain, or removing certain parts of the brain and so forth
 you can bring about these different experiences like making a cat
 fear a mouse, a mouse being so brave that it will attack a cat.
 Or by brain damage you can eliminate memories of whole parts of
 one's life, or through the electrical stimulation of different
 parts of the brain you can cause such things as gustatory
 consciousness to arise, or various memories to occur.
  So a person who adheres to the non physical nature of the mind
 will say that such events are merely describing the relationship
 between the body and the mind, but not the identity of body and
 mind, that through stimulating a physical organ then a mental
 experience can take place. Such a relationship is already
 asserted by Buddhism. For instance, as I said there are five
 physical faculties upon which the five sense consciousnesses
 depend. If those faculties are damaged in any way then the
 consciousnesses will be affected, but they are also quick to
 point out it's not only that the body affects the mind but the
 mind can affect the body. For example by visualizing certain
 channels in the body and concentrating on certain visualized
 points in those channels you can change the temperature of the
 body radically. Of course that's an extraordinary example but
 there are many ordinary ones. For instance the reason why we came
 here was not necessarily a physical itch, but rather there were
 reasons in our mind for coming here. While there are certain
 mental diseases that are treated successfully with chemicals,
 there are many mental disorders that are best treated by using
 the mind itself. For example if you desire a BMW., say 240 Turbo
 drive, black, tinted black windows with a lot of trunk space. If
 you desire that, but you do not have the money to pay for it,
 then the best solution is not to take Prozac or some other
 chemical agent, but rather it's to contemplate the difficulties
 you would experience being in debt for the rest of your life, how
 that would last longer than the life of the car, how having that
 car will not solve all of your problems, that there'll still be
 you driving it, alone, hungry, looking for some place to drive to
 and running out of gas.
  So thinking like that can replace this image of that car being
 the most important thing in the world, and although it may not
 replace that desire it can work on it slowly. Whereas the
 chemicals may deal with that desire by causing some euphoric
 state where you may think you don't need anything any more, or it
 may cause a dullness in the mind where you couldn't bother
 yourself to generate such desires, but when you come off the
 chemical those desires once again arise, so at best they can be
 seen to be temporary solutions, and everybody recognizes that the
 best solution would be a mental solution such as an insight that
 sees the reality of the situation.
  That insight is gained through a thinking process. It's not
 gained by taking pills, or by a well balanced diet, with
 exercise. So that in itself shows the difference between the mind
 and the body. You can have a person who physically is very
 healthy, but mentally is a mess. Likewise somebody who is
 mentally very clear, friendly, soft etc. but physically is a
  Those are kinds of examples that illustrate the difference in
 nature between the mind and the body, and there's many others.
 Some of the more dramatic examples you find in the experiments
 that take place in parapsychology, which are phenomena that can't
 be explained by any physical laws, nor can their existence be
 denied, but you shouldn't take my word for it, this is something
 you have to study for yourself. For some people this is very
 obvious for others it's just a belief but it's not something that
 is supported by any conviction, in particular a conviction that's
 based on sound reasoning or direct observation, consequently that
 belief could be easily shaken, or at the back of the mind there
 might be a subtle hope that at the time of death every thing
 ceases, and one won't have to worry about all that bad karma one
 has been accumulating. For while the mind is clear, ( meaning
 formless), it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It exists because it
 has the function of cognition. It apprehends objects, an
 apprehension which is known as knowing, or cognizing and it is
 dynamic, it is energetic, it is not a physical energy, but it is
 non the less functioning obviously. So why not apply the law of
 conservation of energy to it. There's no reason why it should
 suddenly stop while all other physical energies keep going in one
 way or another. Well you can make anything sound reasonable, just
 because something sounds reasonable that doesn't mean that's the
 way it is. Yet there are examples of people who seem to confirm
 the existence of this continuum of mental energy, such as the
 children who remember former lives, and whose reports are
 corroborated by authoritative researchers.
  Anybody ever heard of a great philosopher and mathematician
 named Pascal? "Pascal's Wager". Have you ever heard of Pascal's-
 wager ? You're going to. For the benefit of those who haven't
 heard of it, I think he was French, he said that if you prepare
 for the next life and there isn't a next life then you'll have no
 regrets because you won't be around. If you don't prepare for a
 next life and there is a next life you'll have big regrets. So
 there's nothing to lose by preparing for the next life and
 everything to gain!
  So what I mean by mind then is what is clear and knowing. You
 know what knowing is right, the opposite of not knowing is
 knowing. Do you know the exact population of France this moment?
 Nothing comes to mind does it. That's not knowing, there's not an
 apprehension of an object, such as an appearance that can be seen
 by the eyes and so forth. Do you know the human population of
 your house? Suddenly something comes to mind, so that's knowing
  The mental factors are mind that function to perceive the
 qualities of the object and respond in various ways to the
 features of the object. Main minds and mental factors are related
 by being one substance, that is for any main mind there are
 mental factors which are of the same substance of that main mind,
 or we could say that mind in general, this thing which is clear
 and knowing has various functions one of those functions is
 called main mind and the other functions are called mental
 factors. So if we take any moment of mind that moment's knowing
 of the object or the entity of the object is called main mind,
 and that moment of mind's knowing the various features that make
 up that object is called mental factors.
  This two fold division of mind into main mind and mental factors
 is likened to a community. Within the community there is a
 director whose job is to know what's happening in general in the
 community, and also in that community there would be a cook whose
 job it is to take care of the preparation of the food. So the
 director has to know something about what's going on in the
 kitchen but he doesn't have to know everything, that's the job of
 the cook. That's an example I heard a long time ago when I first
 studied this stuff. It's a little bit illuminating but not much.
 Rather I prefer the explanation that if you have a moment of mind
 then it's different functions are being divided into main mind
 and mental factors, so while you can distinguish main minds from
 mental factors or one mental factor from another in the way of
 distinguishing one function from another function they're still
 all functions of the same moment of mind. For instance. ......
  That main mind and it's attendant mental factors, have five
 similarities to them. The first is that they have the same object
 of observation, for example take the visual main mind and it's
 attendant mental factors that are perceiving blue color. The blue
 color is the object of observation so the visual main mind and
 it's attendant mental factors are all taking as their object of
 observation the blue color.
  The second similarity is similar aspect, the aspect means when a
 mind perceives an object then an aspect or an image of that
 object appears in that consciousness, such as when an object is
 placed in front of a mirror an image of that object appears in
 that mirror, in the case of the example that image is called a
 reflection, in the case of consciousness that image is called an
 aspect. It is said for instance if you take a piece of clear
 crystal like one of those nice pieces that are cut with different
 facets around them and it's clear, if you put that on some nice
 blue clothe then that crystal will appear to be blue in color.
 Likewise when a consciousness is perceiving it's object it takes
 on the aspect of that object, this is not to say that when we are
 perceiving objects all we are perceiving is aspects in the mind,
 we are perceiving those objects.
  So the main mind and it's attendant mental factors have the same
 aspect, they also occur simultaneously, therefore they do not
 have a cause and affect relationship. A main mind and it's
 attendant mental factors will have the same faculty as it's
 dominant condition. For example a main visual consciousness and
 it's attendant mental factors both have the eye faculty as their
 dominant condition.
  They are also said to be of similar substance, for example the
 feeling mental factor that would be an attendant of a visual
 consciousness would not be found in some other consciousness.
  The reason for mentioning those five similarities is to just get
 away from the idea that main minds and mental factors can be
 operating independently of each other at different times, they're
 all of the same substance.
  There are six main minds from visual to mental main minds and
 those are what constitute the CONSCIOUSNESS aggregate, the fifth
 of the five aggregates. The mental factors are what compose the
 second third and forth aggregate.
  How are we doing ?
  I know there's exhaustion, but so far are you following me?
  Q: Can you repeat the five please?
  A: Object of observation, Aspect, Time or duration, (the
 duration is simultaneous), dominant condition, similar substance.
  There are fifty one mental factors, I hope you have a lot of ink
 in your pens, actually there's a lot more than that but fifty one
 were mentioned to just give you an idea of these various
 functions in the mind. And these functions were identified
 principally from the perspective of what brings happiness and
 what brings suffering, and then from the perspective of someone
 in a meditative tradition. So from another perspective you may be
 able to find many other mental factors, and even from the
 perspective of this tradition there are other mental factors
 beside the list of fifty one.
  Those fifty one mental factors fall into five categories.
  The first is known as the omnipresent mental factors. The second
 is the object ascertaining mental factors, then the virtuous
 mental factors, then the next is the root afflictions, the next
 are the secondary afflictions and the last is the variable mental
 factors. So there was five plus one.
  There are five omnipresent mental factors according to either,
 the Abhidharmakosha or Abhidharmasamuccaya. The Abhidharmakosha
 has a different list of five similarities. What I'm saying is
 that the presentation I'm giving here is based upon certain
 texts. Not all authoritative Buddhist scholars have the same
 presentation. For instance the fifty one mental factors mentioned
 by Asanga in his text Abhidharmasamuccaya. His younger brother
 Vasubandhu wrote a text Abhidharmakosha, and in that text he only
 mentioned forty eight mental factors. If I remember correctly one
 text has a group of five similarities between main minds and
 mental factors that's different from the other ones, and one text
 says there's five omnipresent mental factors and the other one
 says there's ten.
  Lord Buddha is the one who gave the monks vows, he's the source
 of the monk's vows, there are a number of different traditions
 that have arisen over the years of such vows. For instance the
 tradition of the discipline that exists in Tibet is known as the
  In Thailand the tradition is known as the Theravadan tradition .
 In the Mulasarvastivadan tradition there are 253 vows for a fully
 ordained monk, whereas in the Theravadan tradition there are 227.
 So it seems like the Tibetans have more vows. So where did they
 get them from if it was all based on The Buddha? Well in fact all
 of those are contained in 227 of the Theravadan tradition. They
 just have a different way of enumerating them. So like that you
 have these different scholars that have different ways of
 enumerating these things, so we can't say the differences
 indicate that one is right and the other is wrong, they usually
 have their reasons for their own system.
  Omnipresent means that with every moment of mind there are these
 five omnipresent mental factors operating, therefore one can know
 implicitly that every moment of mind does not necessarily have
 all 51 mental factors operating, but it will have these five
 omnipresent ones.
  There's feeling. When you hear the name don't immediately assume
 you know what it means because we employ names that already have
 common usage in our respective languages but they have specific
 definitions in this context. Here the definition of feeling is a
 mental factor which is the nature of experience, individually
 experiencing the fruition of virtuous and non virtuous actions.
 All will become clear shortly.
  It's objects are pleasure, pain and that which is neither
 pleasure or pain. So feeling is the mental factor that
 experiences pleasure, pain, and neutral experiences. Pleasure is
 that which when it ceases you want to meet it again. Pain is that
 experience when it arises you want to separate from it, and the
 neutral experience is one that when it arises you neither want to
 separate from it nor to meet it again. Experiences arise from
 previous actions that we have undertaken. It is the virtuous
 actions that produce pleasure and the non virtuous that produce
 pain, in fact the words virtuous and non virtuous are used merely
 because one produces pleasure and the other produces pain. What
 we want is pleasure or happiness, an action that brings that is
 called virtuous it's not because it was declared virtuous by an
 omnipotent being, it's just another word for good because it gets
 us what we want, whereas the non virtuous action produces pain.
  So this emphasizes then that our experiences of pleasure and
 pain do not come without causes, nor are their causes some
 unrelated entity. It's not that our pain or happiness is
 something that is bestowed upon us by some deity, rather they
 come from our former actions, so therefore we ourselves are the
 creators of our future experience, and the person who was in our
 previous continuum was the creator of our present experiences.
  There is no need to visit a clairvoyant and pay a lot of money
 to know what you were in your former lifetime and to know what
 you're going to be in your next lifetime. Look at your present
 experience and you'll know what kind of person you were in the
 past, look at your present activity and you'll know what kind of
 experience you'll have in the future. It's chilling!
  So, the knowledge, the certain knowledge that virtuous action
 brings happiness and non virtuous action brings suffering is
 highly esteemed, having that certainty is something which is
 highly esteemed. It's praised as the basis of all auspicious
 doctrines and it's called the correct view of all Buddhists.
 Buddhists vary in what they call the correct view of reality, but
 they all agree that virtuous actions bring happiness. Buddhists
 disagree about what they regard as the correct view of reality,
 reality is one of those subtle things and because it's so subtle
 The Buddha gave very different accounts to the different
 disciples who came to hear him and consequently you have
 different philosophical schools, but they all agree that virtue
 brings happiness and non virtue brings suffering. A happy life,
 at the end of which one could say, "Not bad, it could have been
 worse", is created by a virtuous action. The experiences that
 occur during the life, good or bad, are also created by actions,
 virtuous or non virtuous. We can develop conviction in this, but
 it is very difficult to know exactly what all those actions were
  Okay so let's stop there today. Let's just sit quietly for a few
 minutes, give it a chance to all sink in.
  So while listening to the subject, it's important to listen in
 such a way that the teaching becomes in itself an antidote to the
 causes of our problems. Among the numerous causes of problems we
 can say there's two types: external and internal. The external
 causes of our problems are all familiar to us, such as bad
 weather, obnoxious people, all of these kinds of things that we
 hear complaints about every day, we read about in the papers and
 see on TV. and so forth. And if happiness was dependent on the
 elimination of these outer causes of problems then the whole task
 would be hopeless, because there's no definite guarantee that any
 external condition will not become a cause of problems. For
 instance our best friends, they can turn against us, a beautiful
 home can become a prison, a tropical beach can become boring, a
 holiday can become a death sentence. There's nothing to trust in
 the external circumstances.
  Then there are the internal causes of problems. These internal
 causes of problems such as anger, clinging, and so forth,
 jealousy, these sorts of minds. So long as we have such
 disturbing uncontrolled states of mind, then there's going to be
 misery, but if such uncontrolled disturbing states of mind are
 eliminated then even poor external conditions can be easily
 tolerated. It's like the story of how shoes were invented in
 China. There was an emperor who was raised in the plush
 environment of his palace, and he decided to go outside one day
 into his kingdom to see what it was like, he was not wearing any
 shoes and while walking he stepped on something sharp. He'd never
 experienced such pain before and it made him very angry. When he
 returned to the palace he summoned all his ministers, and he
 declared that they should cover his whole kingdom in leather,
 thinking that by so doing he would be able to go for a walk
 without stepping on something sharp. The ministers realized that
 this was hopelessly impractical and at the very least would cause
 bankruptcy for the whole empire. One particularly bright minister
 had a good idea, he thought why not just cover the emperor's feet
 with leather, it will accomplish the same purpose and be much
 cheaper. The emperor accepted this idea and thus shoes were
 invented. The moral of this story is that if one tames ones own
 inner mind then no matter what external circumstances one might
 meet good or bad the mind remains stable and at peace. The
 question is however, is such a thing possible? Nobody wants to be
 angry but despite that we all from time to time get angry, so how
 might it be possible to eliminate anger? Similarly no one wants
 to experience a great loss and yet often it happens that people
 due to being controlled by desire give up something of great
 value for something of less value, as if they were temporarily
 insane. This is just the effect of desire. So although we only
 want to profit and never lose, still such desire can arise and
 overcome us.
  However such persons as the Buddha demonstrated that it was
 possible to eliminate these negative minds. So long as they are
 not eliminated there will not be happiness. When they are
 eliminated there will be happiness. One thing that is definitely
 true is that we all want to be happy and not to suffer, therefore
 at some time we have to pursue this path of eliminating the inner
 causes of suffering, by whatever means. So long as we avoid that
 then we will be contradicting our own inner wish. However even
 the Buddha had to admit it's not easy, and it takes a lot of
 time. For instance once He generated the spirit of Enlightenment,
 Bodhicitta it still took three countless great aeons to become a
 Buddha. I don't know how many years constitute a great aeon, I
 know that countless is the largest number in the Indian system of
 counting. It might be similar to that mythological number in
 English known as zillion which means huge, so a zillion times
 three aeons, and that was after he had developed a spontaneous
 Bodhicitta and was a real Bodhisattva. This was after He had
 spent lifetimes in pursuit of higher states of mind. Giving up
 kingdoms to meditate in solitude in the mountains, dressed in
 tree bark, internally generating a conviction in paths leading to
 liberation, conviction in karma, conviction in the existence of
 future lives, a dedication to the welfare of others, having more
 concern for others than himself. So he was already a saint before
 He became a Bodhisattva, and yet it still took an awful long time
 to become a Buddha.
  So if you feel like it's an enormous undertaking you're right,
 and if you feel like it's too much to accomplish in this lifetime
 you're also right. So generally what's done is that a person
 looks at their worst fault and tries to minimize it, and if at
 the end of the life you've had any success at all at weakening
 that thought you can be satisfied, and that's a realistic
 approach to the spiritual path. If you think that you won't be
 satisfied at the end of the life unless you've some remarkable
 attainments like clairvoyance, passing through walls, flying, or
 with the attitude that is completely disillusioned with the whole
 of cyclic existence, Bodhicitta or the correct view of reality.
 If that's what it will take to make you feel satisfied with your
 life you might be disappointed. For instance if Bodhicitta is the
 goal to achieve in this lifetime any time you desire something
 just for yourself you've failed. For instance in the lunch line,
 at the end of the lunch line there's the plate with all the fruit
 on it and they're all oranges and apples but only one banana and
 if you have the thought " I hope nobody takes that banana before
 I get there! " You've failed ! Or when you walk into the cinema
 and all the seats in the middle are taken and you get upset
 you've failed. So how miserable such an aspiration will make one.
 We shouldn't put these time limits on ourselves. Generating
 realizations is not like boiling an egg. You can be sure that
 after four minutes you've got a hard boiled egg, but it's unsure
 how many years of your practice is going to produce a
 realization. We read in the biographies of former saints of
 somebody who suddenly gains a high realization while chopping
 wood or by looking at a stone as they're walking on the road.
 This might produce the wrong view that at any moment as you go
 about your ordinary daily life a realization will dawn without
 having done anything to create it. We don't know how many
 lifetimes those saints in biographies spent practicing. You can
 be sure there were a lot. Take the great yogi Milarepa for
 instance. Before he met his guru Marpa he killed over thirty
 people, and yet in that very life he became a Buddha. That might
 generate the thought that well I haven't killed anybody so I
 should be able to become a Buddha too, easier, faster. Of course
 when you read Milarepa's biography you discover that he killed
 those thirty people by practicing black magic. He could make
 animals hallucinate. Can you stop a dog from barking just through
 the power of your mind ? He could cause hail storms. Could you
 make a cloud cover the sun for just one minute of shade? The
 master who taught Milarepa black magic regarded Milarepa as the
 best disciple he'd ever had, and then when he entrusted himself
 to Marpa, Marpa worked him harder than a mule and yet Milarepa
 never generated any contempt towards Marpa. He had some pretty
 unusual qualities that he was born with. How come he was born
 with those qualities and not me ? In a former lifetime, the life
 time before he was Milarepa he was a Kadampa Geshe, given up the
 affairs of that life, dedicated himself to studying and practice,
 had generated at least the correct intellectual view of reality.
 So even to do that he must have had some great qualities to bring
 into that lifetime, which he must have cultivated in a former
 lifetime and so on.
  So while we're listening to a talk on the dharma which is
 information that is by it's very nature stimulating the good
 qualities and opposing the bad qualities, then we should at least
 try in this occasion as much as possible to cultivate the
 antidotes to the inner sources of our problems. There's all kinds
 of things that we have probably thought we should practice, such
 as practicing using ourselves as a resource for other's
 happiness. That's not necessarily a very common aspiration but
 it's a very interesting one.
  When I was a child I used to pray all the time, not that I was a
 little angel or anything. I used to pray to get the things I
 wanted. I'd pray to get toy guns, and all those kinds of prayers
 that kids usually make, and my prayers would often take the form
 of "If I was God I would certainly give me these things."
  Well as I got older I stopped relying on such an omnipotent
 being and thought that it might be better if I became the kind of
 person who could supply others with the things that they needed
 because if you see something that's missing why trust somebody
 else to fill it? Why not do it oneself?
  So the problem is that there's just not enough help.
  There's so many problems in the world and there's just so much
 need, and if you look around you see so many people who are
 requesting help. So we could join them and be just one other
 voice in that great Sea of Plea! Or one could be trying to become
 the answer, that which fulfills those supplications, and
 increasingly make oneself a better and better resource for the
 welfare of others.
  Well a thought might arise that the needs or demands of others
 are endless and it might seem quite a daunting task to become
 something that can respond effectively. Well The Buddha is pretty
 incredible, but that's how one becomes a Buddha so a person who
 has dedicated themselves to become a Buddha for the sake of all
 beings has a great appreciation of his or her capability. So if
 one's having the attitude, "Oh I couldn't do that." then one is
 far from generating the thought of becoming Enlightened. So even
 if it's just using the past Buddhas as a reason one can just
 think well I can become a Buddha because they did, because once
 upon a time they were just like me and if they can develop such
 perfect qualities then I can too. When I was a teenager I was
 involved in sports. It was my path to liberation from studies and
 I remember before we would actually play an opposing team our
 coach used to give us a pep talk, encouragement. There was one
 team we were going to play against, they were a lot bigger than
 us, and in American football it matters if they're bigger than
 you. I remember something that he said to encourage us, he said "
 You can beat these guys, they're no different from you they put
 their pants on one leg at a time just like you." The Buddhas were
 at one time just like ourselves, they'd get completely carried
 away by their delusion just like we do. They'd be only concerned
 with the happiness of this life just like us, but despite all
 that they were able to achieve such an exulted accomplishment, so
 we can do the same thing. The very teachings we have at our
 disposal are the same teachings that they rely on, as far as the
 explanations and techniques that are available, nothing is
 missing. It's not as if there was once a certain type of
 technique to achieve Enlightenment and now there's not.
  End side 1 tape 3
  In fact there may be more techniques available now than there
 were in the past, so from the outside everything is there. Now
 all we have to do from our side is generate the determination and
 keep it. It's not easy, but so long as we don't generate such a
 determined attitude, or if we let go of our determination then
 we're only undermining our wish to be happy and be free from
  Okay so yesterday we finished with FEELING, the mental factor of
 feeling. We went through the form aggregate of which there were 5
 physical sense powers mentioned. There were the objects of the
 five sense consciousnesses and there was the form which is the
 object of mental consciousness. So we went into detail yesterday
 of what all those eleven things were.
  The second aggregate is that of Feeling, which is the experience
 of the maturation of karma of which there are three types,
 pleasure, pain and neutral feelings and there are some other
 divisions of feeling, for instance there is the feeling which is
 the base of attachment, and this is a feeling that accompanies
 attachment to the attributes or qualities of the desire realm.
  The desire realm is one of three realms. These are called desire
 realm, form realm and formless realm. Here we should understand
 realm as a state of mind. So the desire realm is a state of mind
 in which there is desire for the pleasant objects of the senses.
 So we know what the objects of the senses are, I mentioned those
 yesterday. Visual forms, sounds, odors etc. and amongst pleasant
 and unpleasant giving rise pleasurable feeling and painful
 feeling. So the desire realm is the state of mind that regards
 such pleasurable feelings as the best. So as long as one is
 regarding such objects in high esteem then one is a person in the
 desire realm.
  Form and formless realms refer to states of mind that have lost
 such esteem for the objects of the senses. I shouldn't say lost
 it, they've transcended it by seeing the shortcomings of such
 experiences and seeing the superior qualities of the experiences
 of meditation. The form realm gets it's name from the objects of
 meditation having form. The formless realm mentality is said to
 be higher than the form realm, it has transcended the mentality
 of the form realm by seeing the shortcomings of such a mentality
 and seeing the superior qualities of the formless realm.
  So as there is one feeling which is called the base of
 attachment, accompanying the attachment to the attributes of the
 desire realm there is another feeling which is the base of
 deliverance, and this is a feeling that accompanies the mentality
 of the form and formless realm, that being the feeling which is
 the base of deliverance. So the feeling that is the base of
 attachment is pleasant feeling, pleasurable feeling with respect
 to objects of the senses and this causes the clinging attachment
 to arise. Such a pleasurable feeling is viewed unrealistically as
 true happiness. It is not true happiness. One reason why it is
 not true happiness is because it can't last, but because it is
 seen as true happiness the mind grasps onto it and will not let
 it go and will do anything to keep in touch with it. This is the
 major obstacle for the human being, of all the various faults
 this is the main one. In a thanka known as "the Wheel of Life"
 --that last one hanging up there, it is often painted with a
 Buddha in each of the five or six realms of cyclic existence and
 each of those Buddhas is carrying something that represents the
 antidote to the main suffering of the respective realm, and the
 Buddha in the human realm is carrying the staff and the bowl of a
 monk whereas in the hungry ghost realm he's carrying water and
 food. That is because the hungry ghosts suffer from hunger and
 thirst mainly, and for the humans it's because humans suffer from
 desire. That's not such a gross generalization because if you
 eliminate the conditions of war and illness and poverty, those
 extremes of human suffering that you find in the world, then you
 see so many human beings that are destroyed by their desire.
 Sometimes marriages fail because of desire for somebody other
 than the partner, because of adultery, and that may result in one
 or both of the people who are married falling from the level of
 status in the society that they were in. Or politicians who were
 honored in society, well how about supreme court judges, high
 court judges who are honored in society, but because of their
 sexual misconduct then there's a big scandal and they fall from
 their position. Teachers who have sexual relations with students
 and then lose their position as teachers and so on. And these are
 all people who have plenty of food, clothing and shelter and
 medicine and all that stuff.
  So it's like all those people who are trying to end war where
 they are, just like at Sarajevo in Bosnia Hercegovina. Well once
 they eliminate the war then they can look forward to suffering
 like every one else. Right now they're suffering in a gross way,
 but then comes the suffering of the uncontrolled desire, where
 there's always something missing. So this is something that we
 all try to transcend and generally the main way in which we do
 that is by weighing the disadvantages against whatever benefit
 we'd get if we followed the desire. If the disadvantages are
 really horrendous and the advantage of following the desire is
 very small, then it's much easier to give up that desire.
 Unfortunately it's not always that clear, and so consequently
 it's difficult to give up the desire and it stays, and then one
 just has to endure it. So there arises the thought "I wonder if
 there is a state of mind free of such desire, where it just
 doesn't arise and one could just cruise through this life like
 the wind. You touch things but leave them as they are not
 carrying them with you just free".
  There's a Zen story. Two Zen monks a master and his disciple
 come up to a river, it's an old story you may have heard it
 before. There's a beautiful woman who's trying to cross the river
 but she needs help. So the master picks her up and carries her
 across the river. According to the discipline he shouldn't be
 touching a woman and this is what the disciple was thinking, so
 on the other side of the river the master and disciple carried on
 their journey but after sometime the disciple couldn't hold
 himself back anymore and he said to the master
  " How could you pick up that woman?" and the master said
  " The important thing is to put her down when the river was
 crossed, which I did, you on the other hand are still carrying
  So can you imagine being free of desire? How free you would be!
 You could enjoy anything but put it down with no second thoughts
 and I'm not talking about the attitude of a cad, I don't know
 what you'd call it. I'm not talking about the attitude of
 somebody who has love affairs and then just disposes of them like
 that, one night stands. I'm not talking about that. There's
 nothing high about that, that's somebody who's really possessed
 by desire, they can't get satisfaction. I'm talking about
 something quite different. Freedom from desire exists, you get it
 when you enter the form realm, when you generate this form realm
 mentality, the desire for the objects of the senses doesn't arise
 any more.
  To generate a form realm mentality requires a cultivation of
 concentration, the type of concentration where you can stay
 single pointedly on an object for hours. It generates it's own
 kind of mental and physical ecstasy, which eclipses the pleasure
 of the desire realm. Unfortunately it's not very easy to
 cultivate. Well at least it's nice to know it's possible, but
 because it's not so very easy, there's very few people who have
 that freedom from desire and consequently even those people who
 make it their profession of being desireless have a hard time.
 That's when we here of all the scandals in religious orders.
 Their main way of controlling desire is just like everybody
 else's. The only advantage that they may have is the amount that
 they separate themselves from the objects of desire, in for
 instance cloisters. Usually the scandals occur with those people
 who don't have such separation.
  So in the good old days concentration was easier to cultivate
 they say, I'm not so sure, I think it was always a bit difficult.
 In a monastery of a thousand people there were probably only a
 handful who could do it, but the thing is all of us have the same
 problem, so as long as we have the pleasurable feeling then
 attachment can arise unless you've abandoned attachment. So lets
 say we have attachment, what it likes is pleasurable feelings, so
 whenever pleasurable feeling arises, there's danger of
 attachment. If attachment arises you've lost your freedom.
 Usually I don't buy many things, consequently I don't have much
 interest in shopping so when I walk down a street of shops the
 impression in my mind is just things, but when I do go shopping,
 for instance to buy a computer, then if I walk by a shop that
 sells computers even after I've already bought a computer I can't
 just walk by that shop thinking thing. My mind gets stuck there I
 have to stop walking, look at all the things, especially the
 price to see if I paid more for mine. I might get upset, all of
 these things that didn't have to happen. So that's a simple
 example, there are many other examples, where, when the
 attachment arises your mind gets stuck to the object. Then
 throughout the day your mind keeps on that object, it comes up
 again and again, you find your mind plotting in order to get that
 object. You find that your voice of reason is getting weaker and
 weaker, your voice of cleverness is getting louder and louder, so
 you're stuck, you've lost freedom, therefore The Buddha said we
 have to guard the doors of our senses.
  So it's not that a pleasurable feeling is negative, it's the
 attachment that's negative, the feeling has no ethical quality.
 Pleasurable feelings aren't virtuous, painful feelings aren't non
 virtuous. It's just that pleasurable feelings tend to give rise
 to this mind of clinging attachment and painful feelings give
 rise to anger. It's also interesting to keep in mind that if a
 pleasurable feeling is the result of virtuous karma, if that's
 the case then the object which was a cause of the pleasurable
 feeling, enabled this pleasurable feeling to occur, such as
 sunshine. From one point of view, the pleasurable feeling
 experiencing the sunshine, depends upon the sunshine, but the
 source of that pleasurable feeling being pleasurable was a
 previous virtuous action. It's like you can't have a crop without
 a field, so keeping that in mind, rather than regarding the
 various objects as sources of happiness, one should pursue
 virtuous action with the same kind of enthusiasm that we use to
 pursue those pleasurable objects.
  Okay so then the next aggregate is DISCRIMINATION. This is also
 a mental factor and is an omnipresent mental factor and this one
 apprehends the uncommon signs of an object. Each object has
 characteristics which it shares in common with other objects and
 characteristics that are unique to it, and it is those unique
 characteristics that enable us to differentiate one object from
 another. So discrimination is the function of the mind that
 apprehends those unique characteristics, and there is
 discrimination that we find accompanying sense consciousnesses
 and those accompanying mental consciousnesses, and of the mental
 consciousnesses there are the conceptual consciousnesses and it
 is the conceptual consciousness of a person who knows a language
 that has the discrimination that can differentiate objects by
 means of names. So it is this discrimination mental factor that
 applies names, identifies objects with names. Sensory
 consciousness doesn't name objects but it can nonetheless be
 clear about different objects. It can clearly differentiate say
 yellow from red.
  Discrimination enables us to recognize and differentiate the
 objects that make up reality.
  This is the one that functions when sensory consciousness is
 operating and on the basis of having clear and distinct
 perceptions a conceptual discrimination mental factor will name
 different objects and similarly when hearing true words, then in
 your mind you're identifying certain things, and giving names to
 those things you're identifying and that's also discrimination.
 Also when you identify something as good by depending upon it
 having the signs and the reasons that's also discrimination.
  So there's a discrimination, a reasoned discrimination. This is
 one that is skilled in relating names with their objects and also
 that is able to observe the appropriate qualities such as sound
 is impermanent. Also there's a discrimination that has a clear
 aspect and a clear object. This is opposed to an unreasoned
 discrimination, such as one that is unskilled in relating names
 with their meaning, such as a child who is yet to learn any
 language, or a discrimination that thinks that sound is
 permanent, or a discrimination that lacks any clear subjective
 aspect or object.
  That last type of unreasoned discrimination is the
 discrimination that operates in the highest level of the formless
 realm, where there is no clear aspect and no clear object
 appearing to the mind. It's really not a very useful state to
 generate, but it comes from the belief that discrimination, this
 faculty of discrimination is a source of the problems.
  It's not uncommon to read criticism of discrimination. For
 instance in a number of spiritual texts that would describe the
 ultimate state as somehow a unified state. With such expressions
 as all is one. Now of course discrimination differentiates,
 identifies and differentiates, which seems to contradict an all
 is one experience, and that description, based upon the mere
 description of some high state of mind as all is one, some
 psychologists have misunderstood what that high state of mind is.
 For instance in child psychology there is a recognition that as
 an infant, the child doesn't discriminate between subject and
 object. A clear subjective ego awareness is yet to arise in the
 child. This is sometimes called oceanic awareness. In one place
 Carl Jung thought that the high realizations of these yogis was
 recovering that state of mind that is possessed by the infant.
 Which is elevating a primitive consciousness to an exulted state.
 (That's not what he said), and in another place Freud referred to
 such high experiences of the yogis as infantile regressions
 thinking that they were non other than what the infant has. This
 would be devaluing an exulted state and making it a primitive
 state. So there's a big difference between lacking discrimination
 and transcending discrimination. So the infant doesn't have
 discrimination of subject and object. The yogi does have such
 discrimination, but within that discrimination has been able to
 discriminate something that transcends both subject and object
 and in order to do that, you have to have even more powerful
 discrimination than other people. So far from achieving high
 states of mind by eliminating discrimination, such states of mind
 are achieved by making one's mind that much more powerful.
  Another type of discrimination is called discrimination of the
 small, which is discrimination in the mind of a person in the
 desire realm. There's another discrimination known as
 discrimination of the vast, which is discrimination in the mind
 of a person in the form realm, so from the point of view of the
 form realm the experiences of the desire realm are small and
 quite insignificant. Then there's discrimination of the
 limitless, and this is discrimination that is found in the first
 two states of the formless realm, where one discriminates
 limitless space and limitless consciousness. And then there's
 discrimination of nothingness, which is third state of the
 formless realm, where one doesn't discriminate anything and that
 state is like being unconscious. Also a mistake. These different
 states of mind have been achieved by people who are striving hard
 for liberation, and in their striving having discovered that the
 secret for liberation was in the mind itself, or the key for
 liberation was in the mind itself. They stumbled upon the
 tremendous capacity for concentration and having this amazing
 tool tried to achieve liberation merely by it. Concentration that
 enabled them to turn off parts of their mind, trying to achieve
 liberation by making themselves unconscious for instance. There's
 no pain if there's no experience. Experimenting with all kinds of
 manipulation of the mind with concentration, and by means of this
 they could achieve what's known as the peak of cyclic existence,
 in which all of the various disturbing negative thoughts of the
 desire realm, form realm and the formless realm below the peak,
 cease functioning. They become free of all that. The only problem
 is that faults of the peak itself remain, and it doesn't have
 anything higher than the peak to get rid of those faults, unless
 you use something else besides concentration. The thing that they
 miss is the wisdom perceiving emptiness and if you have the
 wisdom realizing emptiness you can totally abandon all the faults
 of cyclic existence even without having to generate such a high
 power of concentration.
  So that's the discrimination aggregate.
  Any questions ?
  Q: As you explained it seems as though we are a community of
 different tendencies. So how is it possible to have this feeling
 of oneness ? And this feeling of a self of permanence?
  A: So first of all seeing our self as one thing. This is a very
 common phenomena to think of and it comes from our capacity to
 conceptualize by means of which we can categorize different
 things, for instance a crowd of people is actually many people
 but we can differentiate one crowd from another crowd. We can
 have one crowd or many crowds and that can have some practical
 functions, so this capacity is something that is useful. So for
 instance we are composed of a body and a mind. And when we say
 body, body includes many things, but rather than having to list
 all those things for which there's no end because there are just
 countless atoms in the body and even those things we can see,
 that is those things we can see under a knife of discrimination
 are still too many to mention. So we have this capacity to think
 body by means of which we can be including all the parts of the
 body or just some of the parts of the body. and also for
 ourselves it can be useful to refer to that which possesses the
 body and mind as in the expressions "my body" and "my mind". We
 don't mean that we are something that can get up and walk away
 leaving our body and mind behind, the way the owner of a car can
 get up and leave the car, but it's just a way that we organize
 our experiences and describe our actions, so this ability to
 construct things with thoughts can be useful, and by means of
 this we can differentiate one thing from another. The problem
 occurs is when we take the thought constructs and forget that in
 fact they are thought constructs and start thinking that they
 have an independent life of their own. And based upon the belief
 that it has an independent life of it's own and also based upon
 the fact that it doesn't appear to change that one can view it as
 permanent, we refer to ourselves as I or me, using those same
 pronouns day in and day out, and also thinking of ourselves in
 the past, thinking I did this then, and referring to ourselves in
 the future I will do this, when, and thus it appears that this I
 is not changing at all, it is exactly the same. And further more,
 if it exists with a life of it's own, then it would have to be
 permanent. It wouldn't be depending on anything else such as
 causes, to exist, but when we analyze this point closer, we see
 that although the name may remain the same we have indeed
 changed. In fact it would be a sad state if we remained exactly
 the same as we were when we were children. The thing is that we
 seldom analyze and just take things as they appear. So this
 person, the person, ourself, which is just a thought construct,
 having functions in terms of practical discrimination and
 language appears to have a life of it's own, and then it is
 actually apprehended as having a life of it's own. This
 apprehension is the ignorance or misknowledge which was
 recognized by The Buddha as being the root source of all the
 suffering. Is there anything more to that question that I could
 address. It's good ? Okay !
  Q: You described the different levels of concentration according
 to each realm, can you repeat them please ?
  A: The interesting one would be form and formless realm. First
 there's desire realm, that has concentration but it's not
 distinguished, that is it is not special. And the discrimination
 associated with that one is called the discrimination of the
 small, that is the objects it can recognize are small in quality
 in comparison to the objects that are recognized in the form and
 formless realm. Then with the form and formless realm we start to
 find very special types of concentration. In the form realm the
 discrimination there is known as the discrimination of the vast,
 that is the objects that are identified in the form realm are
 vastly superior to those of the desire realm. Then the formless
 realm is said to be superior to the form realm because it is
 without the faults that are found in the form realm, and within
 the formless realm there are different types of discrimination.
 In the formless realm there's four levels known as limitless
 space, limitless consciousness, nothingness and the fourth is
 called neither sensation nor no sensation. That fourth level is
 also called the peak of cyclic existence. The discrimination
 found in the first two of those is known as the discrimination of
 the limitless and then that found in third level is known as the
 discrimination of nothingness and the discrimination found in the
 fourth level is a type of unreasoned discrimination. It is the
 type in which there is no clear subjective aspect and no clear
 object of observation. So let's take a break.
  The next aggregate is the one known variously as Compositional
 factors or Intention and all of the other mental factors are
 included in this aggregate. I'm using by the way, volition,
 intention and will synonymously.
  We'll begin then with this mental factor of Intention which some
 people consider to be the most important of the mental factors,
 and it is defined as the mental factor that moves and directs the
 mind that accompanies it to it's object, and it has the function
 of engaging the mind in virtue, non virtue, or those activities
 that are neither virtuous or non virtuous.
  It's something which is extremely powerful, it causes the mind
 to engage in an object helplessly, like metal filings have to
 helplessly follow a magnet. If you drag a magnet over metal
 filings then they just have to follow it, they have no choice.
 Sometimes it happens that a person notices that they're just not
 in control of their life, they would like to go in a particular
 direction but they are helplessly going in another direction.
 That can be striking because it makes you wonder, who's in
 charge? We have these expressions "this is my body and this is my
 mind." "I want to do this, I don't want to do that ". " So how
 come my body and mind don't go the way I want them to go ?"
 Remember when I described this I, this person, as a mere mental
 construct, aside from qualities that we might conceptually give
 it, it doesn't have any qualities itself. For instance when you
 have the thought I am walking, it's ability to walk is actually
 borrowed from the body or in other words because the body is
 walking one can have the thought I am walking. It's not like the
 body is walking and also I am walking and we're sort of walking
 hand in hand. And likewise when there is the thought I am going
 to do it, in fact it is the mental factor that is thinking do it,
 that is the impulse that produces the activity and on the basis
 of that impulse we can have the thought "I" am doing it. So it's
 that impulse that's the actual creator of things, and that's why
 it's considered so important, because there's also the I that's
 designated by depending upon feeling, such as I feel pain or I
 feel pleasure, so we can have such thoughts because there's the
 Feeling mental factor experiencing pain or pleasure and then
 there is this conceptual process that invents this character
 known as ""I" on the basis of that.
  Now the experiences then are derived from this creator function
 of intention. We would like to have it that the only kind of
 feelings we would have would be the pleasurable sort as the basis
 of our thought "I". In order for that to happen then this creator
 intention has to be only going in a virtuous direction and thus
 we can only be a virtuous person if our mental factor intention
 is directing us virtuously.
  Now is the mental factor Intention susceptible to persuasion ?
 Of course! It doesn't exist on it's own independent of the other
 mental factors. Often it is something that arises after a
 considerable amount of thinking. Like if you have to make a
 decision about whether you go on a long trip or not. There you
 use your faculties of discrimination and so forth to weigh the
 advantages and disadvantages of such a trip. When you think about
 being in such a place a pleasurable experience may arise causing
 the desire to meet with such an object which also influences the
 thinking process. There might be a painful experience associated
 with the place you're staying in, causing the thought to separate
 from it as soon as possible. This can also influence the thinking
 process and at a certain point all of this thinking concludes in
 this intention to do it. Then that intention starts taking the
 mind in that direction and at that point you're just along for
 the ride, like a surfer on a wave, or more accurately a thought
 construct designated on the basis of this intention that's in
  Every conscious action we do has intention going in either a
 virtuous or a non virtuous way or a neutral way. So we are acting
 continuously, throughout the day we have numerous intentions that
 we set, and those intentions don't necessarily cease immediately.
 .....Let's say in my example of going to a place the intention of
 going to that place can take you to that place but it is not the
 case that that process of intentionality totally stops once you
 get there. That whole process is something that's remembered in
 the mind and it can repeat itself, and has many different
 effects. Anyway this whole thing is the subject of karma, so I'm
 going to have to move on. But for instance you can have effects
 even after this life, for instance at the time of death it's said
 that as a person goes through the death process they can have
 numerous visions, people who have had near death experiences
 report having had the experience of their whole life flashing in
 front of them. And having seen their life flash in front of them
 it causes to make some evaluation. Certain things in their life
 stand out more than others, they identify more strongly with a
 certain type of behavior than other behaviors, that they witness
 in such visions. Or in using the language of this description of
 Intention, there arises from it's latent state, a process of
 intentionality, that had been operating in the past but then went
 latent, and then due to the circumstances of death it became
 active again, and due to the association that we have with the
 thought "I" in relation to that intentionality process, there you
 go again another ride, but in this case the intentionality as it
 takes "you" the mere thought construct on the basis of it. It's
 taking you without your body because you've left that behind now.
 However it may be the case for this intentionality to get to it's
 object, to get to it's aim it will need a physical body. But it
 only uses a physical body which is necessary to get to it's aim,
 and there's a great many varieties of physical bodies. If your
 aim (in my other example of intention) of going on a trip was to
 go south in the winter and that was the intentionality that
 happens to resurrect itself at the time of death, then maybe all
 you need to accomplish that again is the body of a bird, because
 the mind is not linked with any specific type of body. The body
 is only a vehicle for the mind, and each body due to it's own
 nature, allows certain kinds of mental experiences to take place.
 In some ways we could say that the rebirth is the dominant
 condition for the experience of life, that is the mind coming
 together with a certain kind of body then gives that mind access
 to a certain kind of experience. The unique characteristic of the
 human body is that it's nervous system supports an unlimited
 development of intelligence. Therefore the human body is the best
 sort of body for the person who is aspiring for liberation,
 because in order to get liberation you have to develop this
 penetrative insight into the way things exist. This doesn't mean
 just any kind of human body. It has to be a human body that has
 all it's senses working properly, and a human body in a place in
 which it is not too easy and not too difficult to find the
 necessities of life. It can't be too difficult because if that's
 the case you never have any free time to explore such questions
 as why do things exist the way they do ? And we know such people
 that just dismiss such thoughts as useless philosophy and they
 have to get on with their work of making money and supporting
 their various responsibilities. But if life is too easy then that
 is also a problem, because the mind gets sluggish, and thus
 there's no incentive for the cultivation of intelligence, so it
 has to be somewhat challenging as human beings rely upon their
 intelligence to survive. That's why the practice of a person who
 is mainly trying to achieve a higher rebirth consists of the
 practice of ethics.
  There are many types of ethics, one type of ethics is the ethics
 of restraint, which is restraining yourself from an action that
 will bring you some immediate pleasure, because you recognize in
 the long run it's going to be problematic, and although the
 experience of denying oneself this pleasure is painful, one can
 see that in the long run there is going to be great benefit. So
 even an animal can see what's immediately in front of it, so in
 this case for the person practicing ethics what's immediately in
 front of this person is pleasure to be had and pain if I don't
 take it. What enables a person to restrain themselves and not be
 miserable is the ability to imagine something in the future which
 the animals can't do. That requires quite a development of
  So one then is exercising this intelligence in order to get a
 greater benefit even at the cost of a short term sacrifice. That
 is especially the case for the person who is sacrificing the
 potential experiences of this life in order to get even better
 things in the future life, because this life is tangible, it is
 something that you see and you have, whether there is a future
 life you can't tell by seeing, tasting and smelling. You can only
 know that with intelligence. So for the person who is trying to
 get a good rebirth and avoid a bad rebirth, all of this is done
 through the power of their intelligence and this person is
 putting a higher priority on the use of their intelligence than
 just the instincts of taking what is pleasurable and trying to
 get rid of what is immediately painful. So such a person is
 likely then to be reborn with the type of a body that will
 support the further development of such intelligence. They would
 get for instance, a human body, in a place where they would have
 access to the type of education where they could learn about
 higher and higher states of happiness.
  Any questions about that?
  I wish I was wrong !
  But I think that's what the dharma says. That's what The Buddha
 had in mind. Even though I hate to hear it ! Due to the kindness
 of my teachers I just can't help myself but I have to say those
  They say that the dharma is like a mirror, in that a mirror is
 something that you use to see if you have any dirt on your face,
 so that you can then wash it off, and similarly the dharma is
 something that you can use to see if you have any faults, any
 mistaken conduct and so forth. Then you can eliminate those
 faults and change your conduct. So the fact that one might squirm
 a little bit or feel uncomfortable when one is hearing the dharma
 doesn't mean that it is wrong.
  Q: Is it possible that Volition can bring us to activities
 helplessly and is it possible to influence the volition and in
 this case is this influence an intention ?
  A: There are many other mental factors beside intention, and for
 instance when I was talking about generating the intention to go
 somewhere there was a whole thought process that led up to that.
 It is not an absolute that a specific intention has to arise,
 it's not like a whole package ready to go, it's dependent upon
 various conditions, for instance through the power of
 intelligence you can determine that the aim of a specific
 intention is undesirable and therefore you don't allow that
 intention to arise. Also the intention is usually taking place
 within a context of a person and that person's environment, and
 so that person has various likes and dislikes and then the
 intention is the means by which that person is able to get what
 they want and avoid what they don't want, so the force of the
 intention is dependent upon the way in which that person is
 perceived. For instance if you're dreaming, and you're chased by
 some monster in the dream, then the intention to get away from
 that monster is dependent upon you believing that you are real in
 that dream.
  Then the intention to get away doesn't arise because there is
 nobody who has to really escape from any thing really
 frightening. So like that the Buddha discovered that the degree
 of reality that we attribute to ourselves is more than is
 actually there, and when we discover that we are empty of that
 extra reality, then all of the intentionalities that were created
 in the past that were dependent upon this exaggerated view of
 oneself no longer have any control over oneself. That's when one
 is liberated. That's why the whole thrust of The Buddha's
 teachings, or the emphasis of The Buddha's teachings is the
 discovery of the actuality, of the true reality of the person.
 Sometimes when people hear about the teaching of karma there
 comes in their mind the idea of predetermination, as if they are
 locked in an experience or a process that you can't do anything
 about, but as intention is something that arises on it's causes
 and it's conditions, and these causes and conditions are not
 things that are fixed, we can get control over this karma. In
 other words we can get control over this intention.
  Did you have a question?
  (Complicated question asked)_
  It's only when you study a lot that it all becomes clear because
 the Buddha dharma has so many topics within it. We have an
 expression that you can't see the forest because of the trees,
 which means that when you're in a forest and you see the
 individual trees there's so many of them the idea of forest
 doesn't come to mind and likewise as we're studying all the
 details of the dharma a unified view, an overview doesn't come to
 mind. So for instance yesterday I talked about how there must be
 a continuation of mind and although it wasn't everything that can
 be said about it I'm not going to spend any more time on it.
  What you said today about the possibility of there being animal
 mind, preta mind and so forth, that's true. Just as it's the case
 that a human being can generate a mind of the form realm and
 formless realm, which are also actual states of rebirth because a
 human being can generate the certain types of concentration that
 are concentrations of the form and formless realms, so also the
 human being can generate animal minds, hungry ghost minds and
 just as a person takes rebirth in form and formless realms
 because of generating the form and formless concentrations, so
 the human being can take rebirth as an animal because of
 generating an animalistic mentality. There are certain times in
 our life where these states of mind appear evidently and we even
 have expressions for that like a person is behaving unreasonably
 fearfully we may say they're "chicken" and there's a lot of these
 expressions, animal names that are given to certain types of
 behavior, and that's because that behavior doesn't conform with
 the dignity of the human being.
  So if one dies with that type of mentality active then you get
 the body that best accords with that mentality and likewise with
 liberation. Liberation is a state of peace, one has been pacified
 of the disturbing negative thoughts, and being forced
 uncontrollably to take rebirth. So the source of the disturbing
 negative thoughts and karma is the ignorant misconception of the
 self. So when the person through the cultivation of a special
 insight into reality is able to completely abandon that
 conception of self and thus all the other afflictions and karma
 by virtue of eliminating their foundation, then that person is
 said to be liberated even though they are still a human being,
 and after death who knows where that person goes. Their mental
 continuum doesn't cease. They still have the experience of
 liberation. The continuum of mind is not something that is
 dependent upon ignorance, as ignorance is mind that is distorted,
 so all we're doing is correcting the distortion. So all of this
 experience like our whole life experience here, is like when we
 got off the highway to get on a shortcut and we got lost, and it
 became a nightmare. So when you get liberated it's like finding
 your way back home again. What you do there, we who are still
 lost can only just guess.
  Remember the definition of mind, clear and knowing. Mind,
 consciousness, are synonymous and main minds and mental factors
 are minds, because they are clear and knowing. They are products
 as we know. The visual consciousness for example arises by
 depending upon a visual object, an eye sense faculty and the
 immediately preceding moment of consciousness.
  So then the mind that we have now what is it's original cause
 (our present mind today thinking in this moment)? What is it's
 original cause ?
  That would be the first moment of consciousness in the womb.
 That would have been a mental consciousness
  (Missing approx. 4 minutes.)
 in all three realms, desire, form and formless realms it comes in
 the general category of mental factors known as object
 ascertaining mental factors and it is defined as a mental factor
 of fine discrimination, which can discriminate between whether a
 thing is virtuous or non virtuous. Now this definition is a
 biased one, it is biased from the point of view of how
 intelligence should be employed along the spiritual path. Using
 the faculty of mind to discriminate what sort of story you are
 going to tell somebody in order to convince them to buy your
 product might be the same mental factor but it doesn't have this
 definition. So this intelligence, mental factor in Sanskrit is
 called prajna, which is often translated as wisdom, but you can
 also translate it as intelligence based upon the definition of
 being fine discrimination which is something which sounds like
 intelligence. But if we call it wisdom we certainly put it in a
 different category than the cleverness of buying and selling
 things and it is a mental factor that you only find with the
 mental consciousness.
  The five sense consciousnesses do not have this mental factor of
 intelligence, also for example concentration that's also another
 object ascertaining mental factor and this enables one to focus
 single pointedly on an object without being distracted by
 excitement or laxity, this too is only a mental consciousness,
 you can't develop your concentration merely by looking at
 something with the eyes, there has to be a mental thought for
 instance going on that produces an image or that you use to focus
 single pointedly with. This mental factor concentration is said
 to function to increase wisdom, intelligence, because if you can
 focus single pointedly on something for a long time then that
 enables you to analyze very finely all of the qualities and
 characteristics of a thing, particularly determining whether the
 thing exists in the way it appears.
  Concentration is something that depends upon another object
 ascertaining mental factor which is known as mindfulness.
 Mindfulness is the factor of not forgetting and it functions in
 the way of holding any object without letting it go. In this
 context it's mainly referring to virtuous objects as this is a
 presentation of mind and mental factors that are either
 supportive or destructive of the path to liberation. So if you
 want to have good concentration then you have this ability to
 bring to mind an object and hold it there. To do that you need
 effort, which is found in the category of virtuous mental factors
 , this effort is the mental factor that delights in virtue and it
 functions to cause new qualities to develop and old qualities to
 reach perfection. It's essential in the bringing to conclusion
 any virtuous work. It is a specific type of endeavor, not all
 types of endeavor are this specific mental factor effort. This
 one is delighting in virtue, delighting in making money is not
 the same thing, due to delight in making money a person can
 generate a lot of energy and also use up all their time. From the
 point of view of the definition of effort that was given here,
 that type of endeavor is called laziness, the type of endeavor of
 rejoicing or delighting in making money is called laziness. Now
 from the point of view of the person who delights in making
 money, the person who's spending all their life meditating and
 studying is lazy. The person who is devoting their life the
 meditation and studying can regard this other person as lazy,
 both are exerting effort but they have different results. The
 industrialist has the result of great wealth, the spiritual
 practitioner has the result of liberation and Enlightenment. So
 after the industrialist gets all of their money are they happy ?
 No they're not, and they will say so. So therefore they've wasted
 their time. The person who gets liberation and Enlightenment is
 happy. So they didn't waste their time.
  So if we judge laziness or not being lazy on the basis of
 getting the results you want then this person who delights in
 virtue is the one who is not lazy and so from this point of view
 engaging in other activities is a laziness and that laziness
 undermines their effort. There's different kinds of laziness.
 Laziness is a mental factor that you find among the twenty
 secondary afflictions. It's defined as the mind that does not
 delight in virtue and it has different types. Such as delighting
 in the non virtues, delighting in doing nothing. Delighting in
 doing nothing is something that you discover when you're relaxing
 in your favorite chair in front of the television and somebody
 asks you to do something, then you discover how much you enjoy
 sitting in that chair doing nothing. There's other forms of
 laziness, one of which is self discouragement, such as thinking
 that you can't possibly enter into the spiritual path, thinking
 like I just couldn't do it. "That's okay for those high beings
 but not for me." Okay so that thought is a form of laziness. The
 Buddha said that "even if a mosquito made the effort it could
 become a Buddha, you human beings have more capacity than a
 mosquito all that's lacking is effort". Remember effort is
 delighting in virtue. So this is the key. Sometimes the
 expression of putting effort into something appears to the mind
 like drudgery, like work, sweating, breaking one's nails. There's
 expressions like I don't know if you have in French. We have an
 expression for a person "working like a mule."
  "working like a mule" If you ever watch a mule work it's real
  But here idea of effort is delighting in virtue. Enjoying it,
 this comes from aspiration which is an object ascertaining mental
 factor, which is a mental factor that having ascertained a
 virtuous object then seeks it. This mental factor arises from the
 virtuous mental factor of faith. The virtuous mental factor of
 faith is a mind that causes peace with respect to a valid object,
 it's a mental factor that has a valid object and causes all the
 disturbing thoughts to be removed from the mind when you focus on
 that object. There's different types.
  One is the faith of conviction which arises by depending upon
 reasons, such that one's mind has penetrated to whatever that
 object is, so that is you know what that object is. Then there is
 a purifying faith that with respect to the qualities that one
 sees the object having causes the mind to have a peace or
 tranquillity that arises in the heart, a kind of joy. Like for
 instance sometimes when you read biographies of great saints and
 there you become aware of the qualities that such a person
 exhibited and that causes a kind of joyful energy in your heart
 then from this can come the aspiration to achieve such qualities
 oneself. The mental factor of effort sustains that aspiration.
  There's another object ascertaining mental factor called belief
 and that mental factor takes as it's object an object that has
 been ascertained and holds that object in the face of all
 discouragement. So if somebody were to tell you no it's not true
 , but if you have this mental factor of belief then it wouldn't
 matter what they said you'd still hold that as true. So by
 depending then on faith the aspiration arises so faith will arise
 by coming to know for instance the different qualities of an
 object or the different reasons that validate the existence of
 the object and that's obtained by for instance listening and
 studying. Some conviction comes from thinking about what you've
 been studying and listening to. Aspiration then arises. Then
 effort comes, with that effort seeing the various qualities, the
 various functions that say concentration can give you and you
 aspire to achieve that. Then you generate the effort to do so.
 Through this effort one cultivates mindfulness and through
 mindfulness you'll be able to hold the object throughout the
 whole meditation period. Then through another mental factor
 called introspection which is a type of intelligence you analyze
 whether or not any subtle factors are affecting the
 concentration, any subtle negative mental factors are affecting
 the concentration such as the secondary afflictions of excitement
 and laxity. We are then through the exercise of the virtuous
 mental factor of conscientiousness which is a combination of four
 other virtuous mental factors, those being the mental factors of
 detachment, non anger, non ignorance and effort. Then one avoids
 any kind of action that is not conducive to the spiritual
 development and thus applies whatever antidotes are necessary to
 eliminate these adverse factors of excitement and laxity, until
 one arrives at a place where these negative mental factors don't
 occur at all. Then you have to break the habit of utilizing this
 mental factor of introspection, because although it was helpful
 at the time, it still divides your attention between the object
 of concentration and the state of mind you have. For this you
 employ the virtuous mental factor known as equanimity, which is a
 state of mind that remains in an equal state free from excitement
 and laxity, which sounds like a type of contentment, which then
 counters this impulse to resort to introspection. Then through
 this, one arrives at single pointedness, which is achieved
 through the power of familiarity, which is brought about through
 the mental factor of mindfulness, of being able to hold the
 object without losing it. This single pointedness then gives rise
 to the virtuous mental factor known as pliancy, which provides
 one with the ability to use the mind in whatever way you want.
 Pliancy is said to be the actual antidote to laziness. Although
 laziness and effort counteract each other it is pliancy that
 eliminates any danger of laziness because then you can use your
 mind to do any virtuous activity without any resistance, like for
 instance if there was an opportunity to take precepts in the
 early morning, a person who generated pliancy, as soon as they
 have the thought to take precepts then the mind would just go
 there. Without pliancy then when the thought to take precepts
 arises it might be followed by the thought to not take precepts.
 This mental pliancy can produce a physical pliancy in which the
 body also gives no resistance to virtuous activities, in
 particular this meditative activity. The body feels extremely
 light, like a cotton ball. There's no pain in the knees or the
 back or any thing like that. Then due to the physical pliancy
 then that gives rise to a physical joy, then that physical joy
 gives rise to a mental joy. So those two joys indicate that one
 has arrived at the type of concentration that is known as calm
 abiding, which is in the category of an actual dhyana which is a
 mind of the form realm. Then by means of this state of mind one
 can cultivate intelligence with respect to the object reality,
 that is then using the mental factor of fine discrimination, and
 when that fine discrimination enhances one's concentration
 instead of dividing it one achieves penetrative insight or higher
 seeing. This is also known as the yoga or union of calm abiding
 and penetrative insight. Quite a high achievement. With such an
 achievement one enters into what's known as the path of
 preparation, and due to the force of familiarity, that
 penetrative insight perceiving reality (which at this stage is
 still just a conceptual mind) will become a direct experience of
 reality, known as the path of seeing. When you achieve the path
 of seeing you longer create any more karma and you don't take
 rebirth through the force of karma. You're not done yet though.
  There's still the path of meditation to go before you reach the
 path of no more learning. The path of no more learning is the
 state of liberation. It gets it's name because you no longer have
 to learn anything more to achieve liberation.
  So there was a little presentation of how these different mental
 factors are operating. There wasn't enough time to go into all of
 them, but you get some idea. The last aggregate, the fifth one is
 these six main minds which I mentioned before. Somebody asked at
 lunch whether or not there are any more than six. According to
 say, the Prasangika school of Buddhist philosophy there are only
 six, but within mental consciousness you can divide between gross
 forms and subtle forms. In the Cittamatrin school that follows
 scripture, you find a presentation of eight consciousnesses.
 There is another school whose presentation asserts there is only
 one consciousness, and it just looks out through the different
 doors of the senses like one person in a house with many windows.
  In the presentation of eight consciousnesses, there are the six
 that were first mentioned, then a seventh one, known as the
 afflicted consciousness and the eighth one known as the
 foundation consciousness. So there are these different schools of
 thought. The Cittamatrin following reasoning just asserts six
 consciousnesses, so even the same school can't agree. The
 Cittamatrin school following scripture would refer to such
 scriptures of the Buddha as the Lankavatara sutra which mentions
 the eight consciousnesses. But the great logician Dharmakirti who
 had a special psychic power by means of which he could never be
 defeated in debate, (much to the annoyance of many non Buddhists)
 could not accept that there were eight consciousnesses. He found
 that the afflicted mind was part of mental consciousness, and
 that the various functions for which the foundation consciousness
 was asserted to be responsible could also be explained by the
 mental consciousness.
  You might be attending teachings on tantra and you might hear
 such expressions as "clear light consciousness". The Prasangika's
 would say that this would be an example of a subtle mental
 consciousness and also all the conceptual or thought
 consciousnesses are mental consciousnesses. Dreams would be a
 mental consciousness, although we can sometimes talk about
 hearing and seeing in dreams, such hearing and seeing should be
 properties of auditory and visual consciousnesses shouldn't they?
 The Prasangika's would say dream visual consciousness and dream
 auditory consciousness, they just use conventional expressions.
 According to them there doesn't have to be any more validity for
 a thing than just how it's used conventionally, because they say
 that all things are existing merely by name and thought. But
 that's all a subject of next month's seminar, so you have to stay
 tuned to that next episode. "Aggregates 2." The sequel to
 "Aggregates 1"
  Any questions?
  So let's just sit for a couple of minutes and try to digest the
 things that were said.
  Please dedicate the effort that we've made on this weekend that
 all those beings who have yet to generate the aspiration for
 Enlightenment may quickly do so, that those who have already
 generated such an aspiration will develop it further and oneself
 will quickly become a fully Enlightened being so one can lead
 everyone else without exception to that very same state.
 end of file