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Episode 2 Transcript: How We Experience The World

Episode 2, 2 December 2014, How We Experience The World. [07:10]


Intro Welcome to Buddhism Guide’s Audio blog.

This Episode: How we experience the world. [00:17]

  • The Five Aggregates:
    1. Form,
    2. Feeling,
    3. Conception,
    4. Mental Formation, and
    5. Consciousness.

1. Form – or matter: physical factors. [00:40]

  • Form includes our own body and the material objects surrounding us.
  • Form also includes the 5 physical sense organs, and their corresponding physical objects.
    1. The eye corresponding to visible form;
    2. the ear, sound;
    3. the nose, smell;
    4. the tongue, taste and,
    5. our body, to touch.

2. Feeling – The Second Aggregate. [01:20]

  • Feeling is divided into 3 types of experience,
    1. pleasant,
    2. unpleasant, or
    3. neutral.
  • These types are felt in 6 *kinds* of ways:
    • Those of the 5 physical senses, and
    • That of the mental: when the mind is in contact with mental objects such as ideas and thoughts.
    • Our feelings are extremely important as in the end, they determine what we experience.
    • We all want good feelings and try to avoid bad feelings.

3. Conception – this is where we attach a name to an experience. [02:32]

  • Here we formulate a conception of an idea about the object we perceive.
  • The purpose of this aggregate is to analyse and investigate.
  • When we come into contact with an object, our conception aggregate categorises it by shape, colour, motion, location, sex, and other such categories.
  • These categories arise as concepts, which we are either born with, or have added.
  • Concepts can come from parents, school, society, friends and other social groups.
  • Everything we have learned, or are learning (including this blog) form our concepts.

4. Mental Formation – the impression created by previous actions. [03:28]

  • This aggregate starts in the mind and is then reflected in our body and speech.
  • That means, that whatever action we do in this life, is part of this aggregate.
  • Maybe a better way to call this aggregate is:
  • Mental Formation and Volition.
  • Volition is the capacity of conscious choice, decision and intention.
  • So, the Mental Formation stems from our past; and Volition, from the present moment.
  • Both function together, to determine our response to an object of experience.
  • These responses have moral consequences, in the sense of:
    • Skillful,
    • Unskillful, and
    • Neutral acts.

5. Consciousness – the final aggregate; which is very powerful. [04:28]

  • From the Consciousness Aggregate stem the 3rd and 4th Aggregates.
  • It is mere awareness of an object, when the eyes and a visible object come into contact:
  • the Eye Consciousness will become associated with that object and Visual Consciousness will arise.
  • It is the same with all the 6 Consciousness’s.
  • It should be noted that consciousness is not personal experience, but merely awareness of an object.
  • Personal experiences are produced through the function of the Feeling Aggregate, the Conception Aggregate and the Mental Formation Aggregate.
  • These three, turn mere awareness into a personal experience.

Putting it all together. [05:26]

  1. Your eyes see the form;
  2. Your consciousness becomes aware of it;
  3. Your conception identifies it;
  4. A pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling arises;
  5. Your mental formation makes you respond to it with a conditioned reaction, stemming from your past.
  • In the Khandha Sutra, Gautama Buddha called them The 5 Clinging Aggregates.
  • This is where the problem comes for us:
    • We cling to these aggregates as though they are a self: A solid and permanent “You”.
    • However, Gautama Buddha taught non-self.
    • When these 5 Aggregates come together, we experience the world but when they disperse we stop experiencing the world.
    • He also taught us that there is no experience other than these 5 Aggregates.
    • These aggregates are ever changing, and so there really isn’t anything solid for us to cling to.
    • When we try to cling to them, as a permanent self, we suffer.
  • And this is what Gautama Buddha was pointing out in the First Noble Truth.

Outro. [06:48]

  • You can find more information about this subject in Karma Yeshe Rabgye’s books at
    1. The best way to catch a snake – A Practical Guide to the Buddha’s Teachings;
    2. Life’s meandering path – A Secular Approach to Gautama Buddha’s Guide to Living;
    3. Ripples in the stream – A Pragmatic Journey Through Gautama Buddha’s Teachings.
  • They’re available now, from Amazon and Kindle.
  • Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoyed this blog post.




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