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The Five Aggregates

Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology

By Mathieu Boisvert
Subjects Religion
Series Editions SR Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889202573, 184 pages, November 1995

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravaada Psychology and Soteriology by Mathieu Boisvert

List of Tables





1. The Concept of Khandha

Etymology of the term Khanda

The Five Aggregates and the Dhammacakkappavattanasutta

Pañcakkhandha and Pañcupadanakkhandha

2. The Rupakkhandha

The Four Primary Material Elements (Mahabhuta)

The Secondary Materials (Upadarupa)

The Three Divisions of Matter

Further Classifications of Matter

Implications of the Previous Classifications

Correlation between the Rupakkhandha and the Paticcasamuppada

3. The Vedanakkhandha

The Eradication of Vedana

The State of Saññavedayitanirodha

The State of Vedanakkhaya

Vedana as Bifurcation Point

Wholesome and Unwholesome Vedana

4. The Saññakkhandha

Unwholesome Sañña

Wholesome Sañña

Wholesome Sañña and the Saññakkhandha

Correlation between Sañña and the Paticcasamuppada

5. The Sankharakkhandha

Polysemy of the Term Sankhara

Sankhara as Sankhata

Sankhara as Paccaya

Sankhara Used in the Compound Ayusankhara

Sankhara Used in the Compounds Asankhara and Sasankhara

General Meaning of the Term Sankhara

The Sankharakkhandha

Correlation between theSankharakkhandha and the Paticcasamuppada

6. The Viññanakkhandha

The Function of Viññana

Viññana and Mano

Viññana as Rebirth and Death Consciousness

Correlation between Viññana and the Paticcasamuppada

7. Interrelation of the Aggregates

The Position of Viññana in the Enumeration of the Pañcakkhandha

Correlation between Four Aggregates and the Paticcasamuppada

Inclusion of i>Sañña in the Paticcasamuppada Formula

Vipassana and the Pañcakkhandha






If Buddhism denies a permanent self, how does it perceive identity? According to Buddhist texts, the entire universe, including the individual, is made up of different phenomena, which Buddhism classifies into different categories: what we conventionally call a “person” can be understood in terms of five aggregates, the sum of which must not be taken for a permanent entity, since beings are nothing but an amalgam of ever-changing phenomena. Although the aggregates are only a “convenient fiction,” the Buddha nevertheless made frequent use of the aggregate scheme when asked to explain the elements at work in the individual.

In this study Mathieu Boisvert presents a detailed analysis of the five aggregates (pañcakkhandha) and establishes how the Theravda tradition views their interaction. He clarifies the fundamentals of Buddhist psychology by providing a rigorous examination of the nature and interrelation of each of the aggregates and by establishing, for the first time, how the function of each of these aggregates chains beings to the cycle of birth, death and rebirth — the theory of dependent origination (paticcasamuppada). Boisvert contends that without a thorough understanding of the five aggregates, we cannot grasp the liberation process at work within the individual, who is, after all, simply an amalgam of the five aggregates.

The Five Aggregates represents an important and original contribution to Buddhist studies and will be of great interest to all scholars and students of Buddhism.


``. ..a careful and thorough study of how the Theravada tradition views the interaction of the five aggregates. ...This book cannot be ignored by any one who wishes to make an examination of mind (and consequently an investigation into the problem of `self' and `phenomena') in Buddhism. Further, any future discussion on the khandhas (and the Mahayana discussions on the skhadhas found in texts such as the Pancaskandhaprakarana) will not be comprehensive without reference to this study by Mathieu Boisvert. ''

- Leslie S. Kawamura, University of Calgary, Studies in Religion

``This is a useful analysis and overview of Theravada ideas on the five khandhas. ...So, overall, The Five Aggregates is a useful study which brings together much material needed for an understanding of the khandhas. ''

- Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland, Journal of Buddhist Ethics