I've been meaning to respond to you for some time
about this talk of yours that you sent us. I had
never thought of the panca-khanda in quite that
evolutionary way before - thank you very much for
opening my eyes to this. I have subsequently
introduced this idea to others, and they too have been
grateful for the insight.
I also like the way you then relate this to the first
I very much look forward to meeting you when I come
down under to visit in October.
--- "Bittar Gabriel, PhD, Geneva University"
> Dear Suan Lu Zaw, John and Dimitry,
> I am a bit late with my translation, having hurt my
> right hand while moving
> a stone. But there it is finally, albeit partial at
> this stage.
> The categorisation of the world structures in five 5
> types of aggregates
> (pa�ca-khandh�) is quite often repeated in the
> Suttas. I find it a quite
> useful view of the world, when keeping in mind that
> it is a categorisation
> view, when adapting this categorisation to modern
> knowledge and when using
> it with flexibility.
> The following is an extract of some notes that I had
> used in Dhamma
> retreats in relation to the first s�la. The question
> was: from a practical
> point of view, how does one integrate this s�la in
> everyday life. To answer
> this question, it seemed necessary to think about
> the phenomenon of life
> from a psychological and ethical perspective founded
> on reality. As an
> evolutionary scientist with a peculiar interest for
> psychological aspects
> of it, I have adopted and shared the following
> interpretation - mind you,
> it's nothing more (or less) than that: a personal
> I have translated from the French the critical
> biological and ethical
> aspects of my notes, leaving aside the psychological
> and philosophical
> Considering that these were notes, meant to be used
> verbally, you would
> pardon the poor litterary quality and somewhat naked
> aspect of what follows.
> The pa�ca-khandh�, the 5 types of aggregates (in the
> progression, each one of the first four is source
> and direct support of the
> next one).
> 1. : The r�pa-khandh�, the aggregates of form,
> include the basic elements
> constituting matter.
> In the archaic belief: the catt�ri mah�-bh�t�ni (the
> "four great forms") -
> pa.thav�-dh�tu, earth element; �po-dh�tu, water
> element; tejo-dh�tu, fire
> element; v�yo-dh�tu, air element -, but also
> sometimes �k�sa-dh�tu, space
> In the language of modern science, this can be
> translated as: space-time,
> sub-atomic wave-particles, fundamental forces.
> In addition to the the catt�ri mah�-bh�t�ni, the
> r�pa-khandh� also include
> the up�d�ya-r�p�, the secundary forms, derived
> properties of which some
> belong to living beings. In the archaic belief: the
> 5 senses, feminity,
> masculinity, vitality, etc. In the language of
> modern science: DNA,
> enzymes, metabolism, etc..
> The r�pa-khandh� should not be considered as some
> sorts of ontologically
> constitutive objects, but as a more or less complex
> events, in the same
> manner that modern science considers matter (e.g.,
> even a most basic
> constituent of matter such as an electron is better
> to be considered as an
> event rather than as some sort of elemental object).
> The r�pa-khandh� are
> more or less complex san'kh�r� (structural fluxes /
> processes) that
> constitute the non-living matter (including the
> viruses) but also the
> physical basic (molecular) mechanisms of the more
> complex life phenomena.
> 2. to 5. : The catt�ri n�ma-r�pa khandh�, the 4
> types of
> psycho-physiological aggregates.
> 2. The vedan�-khandh�, the aggregates of sensations,
> are formed within the
> simplest living beings. In modern biology, it is
> possible to discern three
> evolutionary levels of vedan�-khandh� formation :
> the mono-cellular beings (the bacteria and archea,
> the unicellular fungi,
> the unicellular algae, the protozoans);
> the simplest fungi and plants (e.g. the
> multicellulars), and the simplest
> animals (e.g. the multicellulars), not showing a
> nervous system (e.g.
> the complex, pluricellular fungi, the more complex
> pluricellular plants,
> and the pluricellular animals, not showing a central
> nervous nodule (e.g.
> medusas, urchins, starfishes).
> 3. The sa���-khandh�, the aggregates of perceptions,
> are formed in more
> complex living beings. In modern biology, it is
> possible to discern three
> evolutionary levels of sa���-khandh� formation :
> the higher plants, and the animals with a simple
> nervous nodule, capable of
> reflex organisation (e.g. taenias, rotifers,
> leeches, earthworms, mussels,
> aplysias, snails);
> the complex invertebrates (e.g. ticks, spiders,
> scorpions, lobsters,
> crawfishes, crabs, millipedes, crickets, flies,
> the poikilothermic ("cold-blooded") vertebrates,
> i.e. fishes, amphibians
> and reptiles.
> The higher plants and the complex invertebrates have
> approximately the same
> complexity of coding genome (...)
> All beings capable of sa��� are also capable of
> uneasiness and of pain,
> thus the ethical duty for those organisms capable of
> vi'���.na is to avoid
> whenever possible to harm them.
> 4. The (citta-)san'kh�r�-khandh�, the aggregates of
> (psychic) structural
> processes which emerge from a complex
> (quasi-)nervous nodule. Which means,
> either from a complex nervous nodule (homeothermic
> vertebrates, i.e.
> mammals and birds, plus some bony fishes such as
> tunas), or from a complex
> set of nodules (i.e. a large ants' nest).
> Any evolutive complexification implies a process of
> differentiation-dissociation; this is valid as well
> for biological life as
> for psychic life. Any psychic
> differentiation-dissociation implies in a
> first stage the constitution of some sort of ego.
> This constitution is
> necessary for the psychological coherence of the
> organism during its son
> d�veloppement multi-factorial development towards
> some sort of puggala, the
> person-personality from which a discerning
> consciousness (vi'���.na) will
> eventually be able to develop.
> What is perceived as an "ego"-puggala is not a cause
> of existence (the
> archaic att�-"anima" concept) but the dynamic
> outcome of a multi-factorial
> psycho-physiological process, unfolding and evolving
> in a complex world of
> inter-dependent processes (cf. fire, which is not,
> as the archaic view had
> it, an inalterable element, but a physical un
> phenomenon, the result of a
> chemical process - combustion - and not the cause of
> this process).
> The organisms producing san'kh�r�-khandh� are
> capable of cet�na (volition)
> and of kamma (act, action, deed), thus fully capable
> of suffering.
> Accordingly, the ethical duty for those organisms
> capable of vi'���.na is
> to rigorously avoid harming them.
> 5. The vi'���.na-khandh�, the aggregates of
> discerning consciousness
> ("consciousness-conscience"), which emerge from a
> coherent whole of
> structural processes set up in a process of
> reflection ("know thyself");
> privileged exit-point out of sa.m's�ra.
> Jacqueline "Gotam� J�varakkh�" Bittar
> Dr Gabriel "Ananda J�vasattha" Bittar,
> PhD University of Geneva
> phone +61 8 8553 7442 , fax +61 8 8553 7444
> mob. ph. +61 4 2743 5148
> Institut Suisse de Bioinformatique
> Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
=== message truncated ===
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