Saṃyutta Nikāya 22

Connected Discourses on the Aggregates

82. The Full-Moon Night

On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthi in the Eastern Park, in the Mansion of Migara’s Mother, together with a great Saṅgha of bhikkhus. Now on that occasion—the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, a full-moon night—the Blessed One was sitting out in the open surrounded by the Saṅgha of bhikkhus.

Then a certain bhikkhu rose from his seat, arranged his upper robe over one shoulder, raised his joined hands in reverential salutation towards the Blessed One, and said to him: “Venerable sir, I would ask the Blessed One about a certain point, if the Blessed One would grant me the favour of answering my question.”

“Well then, bhikkhu, sit down in your own seat and ask whatever you wish.”

“Yes, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu replied. Then he sat down in his own seat and said to the Blessed One:

“Aren’t these the five aggregates subject to clinging, venerable sir: that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging, the feeling aggregate subject to clinging, the perception aggregate subject to clinging, the volitional formations aggregate subject to clinging, the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging?”

“Those are the five aggregates subject to clinging, bhikkhu: that is, the form aggregate subject to clinging, the feeling aggregate subject to clinging, the perception aggregate subject to clinging, the volitional formations aggregate subject to clinging, the consciousness aggregate subject to clinging.”

Saying, “Good, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s statement. Then he asked the Blessed One a further question:

“But, venerable sir, in what are these five aggregates subject to clinging rooted?”

“These five aggregates subject to clinging, bhikkhu, are rooted in desire.”

“Venerable sir, is that clinging the same as these five aggregates subject to clinging, or is the clinging something apart from the five aggregates subject to clinging?”

“Bhikkhus, that clinging is neither the same as these five aggregates subject to clinging, nor is the clinging something apart from the five aggregates subject to clinging. But rather, the desire and lust for them, that is the clinging there.”

Saying, “Good, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu … asked the Blessed One a further question:

“But, venerable sir, can there be diversity in the desire and lust for the five aggregates subject to clinging?”

“There can be, bhikkhu,” the Blessed One said. “Here, bhikkhu, it occurs to someone: ‘May I have such form in the future! May I have such feeling in the future! May I have such perception in the future! May I have such volitional formations in the future! May I have such consciousness in the future!’ Thus, bhikkhu, there can be diversity in the desire and lust for the five aggregates subject to clinging.”

Saying, “Good, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu … asked the Blessed One a further question:

“In what way, venerable sir, does the designation ‘aggregates’ apply to the aggregates?”

“Whatever kind of form there is, bhikkhu, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: this is called the form aggregate. Whatever kind of feeling there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: this is called the feeling aggregate. Whatever kind of perception there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: this is called the perception aggregate. Whatever kind of volitional formations there are, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: this is called the volitional formations aggregate. Whatever kind of consciousness there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: this is called the consciousness aggregate. It is in this way, bhikkhu, that the designation ‘aggregates’ applies to the aggregates.”

Saying, “Good, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu … asked the Blessed One a further question:

“What is the cause and condition, venerable sir, for the manifestation of the form aggregate? What is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the feeling aggregate?… for the manifestation of the perception aggregate?… for the manifestation of the volitional formations aggregate?… for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate?”

“The four great elements, bhikkhu, are the cause and condition for the manifestation of the form aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the feeling aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the perception aggregate. Contact is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the volitional formations aggregate. Name-and-form is the cause and condition for the manifestation of the consciousness aggregate.”

“Venerable sir, how does identity view come to be?”

“Here, bhikkhu, the uninstructed worldling, who is not a seer of the noble ones and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, who is not a seer of superior persons and is unskilled and undisciplined in their Dhamma, regards form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form. He regards feeling as self … perception as self … volitional formations as self … consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That is how identity view comes to be.”

“But, venerable sir, how does identity view not come to be?”

“Here, bhikkhu, the instructed noble disciple, who is a seer of the noble ones and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, who is a seer of superior persons and is skilled and disciplined in their Dhamma, does not regard form as self, or self as possessing form, or form as in self, or self as in form. He does not regard feeling as self … perception as self … volitional formations as self … consciousness as self, or self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That is how identity view does not come to be.”

“What, venerable sir, is the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of form? What is the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of feeling?… in the case of perception? … in the case of volitional formations?… in the case of consciousness?”

“The pleasure and joy, bhikkhu, that arise in dependence on form: this is the gratification in form. That form is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this is the danger in form. The removal and abandonment of desire and lust for form: this is the escape from form. The pleasure and joy that arise in dependence on feeling … in dependence on perception … in dependence on volitional formations … in dependence on consciousness: this is the gratification in consciousness. That consciousness is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change: this is the danger in consciousness. The removal and abandonment of desire and lust for consciousness: this is the escape from consciousness.”

Saying, “Good, venerable sir,” that bhikkhu delighted and rejoiced in the Blessed One’s statement. Then he asked the Blessed One a further question:

“Venerable sir, how should one know, how should one see so that, in regard to this body with consciousness and in regard to all external signs, I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit no longer occur within?”

“Any kind of form whatsoever, bhikkhu, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—one sees all form as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

“Any kind of feeling whatsoever … Any kind of perception whatsoever … Any kind of volitional formations whatsoever … Any kind of consciousness whatsoever, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near—one sees all consciousness as it really is with correct wisdom thus: ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’

“When one knows and sees thus, bhikkhu, then in regard to this body with consciousness and in regard to all external signs, I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit no longer occur within.”

Now on that occasion the following reflection arose in the mind of a certain bhikkhu: “So it seems that form is nonself, feeling is nonself, perception is nonself, volitional formations are nonself, consciousness is nonself. What self, then, will deeds done by what is nonself affect?”

Then the Blessed One, knowing with his own mind the reflection in the mind of that bhikkhu, addressed the bhikkhus thus: “It is possible, bhikkhus, that some senseless man here, obtuse and ignorant, with his mind dominated by craving, might think that he can outstrip the Teacher’s Teaching thus: ‘So it seems that form is nonself … consciousness is nonself. What self, then, will deeds done by what is nonself affect?’ Now, bhikkhus, you have been trained by me through interrogation here and there in regard to diverse teachings.

“What do you think, bhikkhu, is form permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, venerable sir.”…—“Is feeling permanent or impermanent?… Is perception permanent or impermanent? … Are volitional formations permanent or impermanent?… Is consciousness permanent or impermanent?”—“Impermanent, venerable sir.”—“Is what is impermanent suffering or happiness?”—“Suffering, venerable sir.”—“Is what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change fit to be regarded thus: ‘This is mine, this I am, this is my self’?”—“No, venerable sir.”

“Therefore … Seeing thus … He understands: ‘… there is no more for this state of being.’”

These are the ten questions
The bhikkhu came to ask:
Two about the aggregates,
Whether the same, can there be,
Designation and the cause,
Two about identity,
One each on gratification
And this body with consciousness.