Week 22: The Five Aggregates – Perception and Formation

This week, Joseph continues his discussion of the dhammas, namely perception, and points to perception in the form of concepts, place and ownership, time, and lastly perception of self. He gives several useful examples of how we create constructs and then live in this world we have created. We become identified with the constructs and solidify the sense of who we are. We thereby miss being able to see the constant arising of complex interactions.  Joseph then moves on to teach about the fourth aggregate, sankara (or formations), which has several meanings. We learn about the four categories of mental factors (the building blocks of all mental activity) and he discusses how to contemplate the mental factors as well as the benefit of this contemplation.

Questions

Do you have a spot here at these Insight San Diego sessions where you typically sit?  How has your perception of ‘place ownership’ at home, work, or play led to feeling at ease or to discontent?

Is your concept of ‘self’ tied to how you want to be seen by others?  Has this led to the arising of a hindrance?

Have you, or someone you’ve been with, ‘put on their Groucho mask’?  What was the response by yourself or others?

What is meant by the idea that ‘the someone behind experience to whom it is all happening does not exist?’ 

Practices

Note the thought that conditions your emotional states.  With mindful attention, does an opportunity for choice to act in a more wholesome way arise?

In your daily life, are there situations, recalling Joseph’s rock concert experience, that condition states of ease or happiness?

Examine the concept of self through mental factors as they arise.  Experiment with shifting your inner dialogue, for example, from “I love’ to ‘love loves.’  Note any changes in your state of mind.