The texts – which were subject to multiple translations and written more than 400 years after Buddha spoke – have clouded the meaning of the Five Aggregates.

The words for such phenomenon didn't exist in Buddha's times. If they did exist in Sanskrit, then certainly not in all the other languages which they were translated into.

At present the Aggregates stretch our understanding beyond common sense... into the realms of Buddhist philosophy.

Even the word aggregates is not conjusive to easy modern day understanding, the modern word would be components, or simply parts.

The original idea is that once the Five Aggregates are set in motion, once the wheels start turning, they keep repeating.

The Five Aggregates of our sensory apparatus are manifest form, sensation, perception, concepts (mental formations), and consciousness. Consciousness is a manifest form which leads to a sensation, etc... and so the wheel turns again and the momentum is self perpetuating.

I believe the idea behind this is: 1. a visual object, 2. the transmission of that stimulus (through the ether), 3. the contact with the eye, 4. the transmission of that stimulus to the mind, and 5. the recognition and effect on the mind or the emotions. And with that recognition, it becomes an object which then produces the same sequence.

At present the sequence gives 2. sensation and 4. concepts (or more usually mental formations), which means that the sequence would start repeating at the 2nd or 4th stage, rather than when it becomes conscious.

Rather than getting lost in the small details of Buddhism, please first understand the main point, that pleasure and also wanting lead to repetition.

Back to Chapter Four : Buddhism and Wheels
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