What am I ?

001 What am I?

I am the five aggregates.

What are the five aggregates?

The five aggregates are materiality and mentality (feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness)

 

002 What am I?

I am a pile of the five aggregates, a conceptual being.

What are conceptual beings?

All things that can be taken apart: smart phone, computer, TV, car, human, animal, earth, world, etc.

 

003 What am I?

Curious children take their toys apart to find out how they work. When these curious children grow up and become scientists, they too take everything apart to figure out how everything works. That is modern science.

The Buddha used deconstruction method on his own body and mind (mentality) and realized the truth. Therefore, Buddha teaches deconstruction.

When 'I' is deconstructed, there are the five aggregates, or body and mentality (feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness). Therefore, the answer is naturally, 'I am the five aggregates.'

 

004 What am I?

Most frequent answers to this question are as follows:

I stick many labels [to form myself], such as I am a Korean, woman, age, physical measurements, education, occupation, family relations, address, phone number, resident card number, driver's license number, etc. These labels are created to distinguish 'I' from all other things in the world. These labels are only labels [without substance] and do not necessarily let me know as to what I am made up of. I am the five aggregates. I am body and mentality which can be further deconstructed into feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. Adding body to the four mentalities, there is a pile of the five aggregates.

 

005 What am I?

I am the five aggregates.

What are the five aggregates?

 The five aggregates are materiality and mentality.

What is materiality?

 Earth, water, fire, air elements+24 derived elements=28 types

What is mentality?

 Feeling (3 types), perception, mental formations (50 types), consciousness (89 types)

Like this, one finds the answer through deconstruction.

Then, what is the answer?

 

006 What am I?

When 'I' is deconstructed, I am the five aggregates.

To deconstruct, one needs strong, sharp, and precise tools like surgical instruments. These tools are gained through meditation and continue to be sharpened through meditation. It is a function of meditation to deconstruct my body and mind (the five aggregates) with the tools obtained through meditation.

How many types of Buddhist meditations are there?

And what is the purpose of each meditation?

 

007 What am I?

To learn about me, the most important and lovely being [to myself],

I deconstruct my body and mind with the tools I developed through my meditation. This allows me to know the truth about the being, 'I.'

The central part of the Buddha's teaching starts with 'I' and ends with 'I.' Then, what is the truth of the being, 'I'?

 

008 What am I?

I am a person who continuously pursues happiness.

So, what and how should I do more to be happier?

The Buddha said that to be happy in one's present and future lives, observe precepts (morality), donate and volunteer (generosity), and work hard on what is right for oneself. If one wants to find ultimate happiness beyond that, practice.

I do not know about future lives since I have not been there. But I have never been 100% happy continuously. It seems to me that I am moderately in pain and moderately happy, 50/50. If I am satisfied with this, I do not have to practice. Of course, if I am dissatisfied with 50/50 and want 100% happiness, I must practice and find the answer. What do I honestly want and am I prepared to pay the price for what I want ...

 

009 What am I?

I am the five aggregates.

When the five aggregates are deconstructed through meditation, the impermanence-suffering-non self of the five aggregates would be seen.

Impermanence: 'I' am constantly changing. Therefore, there is nothing that I can call 'I.' Suffering: Since there is no 'I' or 'mine' due to lack of inherent existence of 'I,' it is unsatisfactory and suffering.

Non Self: Consequently, there is no such thing as 'I.'

277. `All created things perish,' he who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain; this is the way to purity.

278. `All created things are grief and pain,' he who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain; this is the way that leads to purity.

279. `All forms are unreal,' he who knows and sees this becomes passive in pain; this is the way that leads to purity.

The Buddha. The Dhammapada (The Buddha's Path of Truth) (Kindle Locations 551-556). Formax Publishing. Kindle Edition.

 

010 What am I?

I am a pile of the five aggregates with no inherent existence (non-self) when deconstructed through meditation.

Why don’t I exist when I am vividly here right now?

It is not that ‘I’ don’t exist. It is when my body and mentality (the five aggregates) are deconstructed, my body and mentality (the five aggregates) continuously change at an impossible speed for human’s bare eyes to notice. Therefore, ‘I’ is non-self. 2,600 years ago, the Buddha discovered this truth only using his body and mentality through meditation.

The most advanced science, quantum physics, experimented using an enormous machine (Large Hadron Collider) to deconstruct matters (this includes my body) and came to this conclusion, ‘To date, the smallest matter continuously change at an extremely fast speed. Therefore, it cannot be said that matter has inherent existence.

The Buddha is truly smart, and I am truly ignorant.

 

011 What am I?

I am the five aggregates. When the five aggregates are deconstructed, the impermanence-suffering-non self of the five aggregates is seen.

What is suffering?

Eight kinds of suffering: birth, aging, illness, death, union with what is displeasing, separation from what is pleasing, not to get what one wants, and the five aggregates subject to clinging

Three characteristics of suffering: suffering due to pain, change, and formations.

 

012 What am I?

I am the five aggregates. When the five aggregates are deconstructed, the impermanence-suffering-non self of the five aggregates is seen.

Suffering, suffering, ‘I’ (the five aggregates) is suffering. Then, is my entire life truly suffering? No. I am somewhat happy and somewhat unhappy. Nevertheless, happiness is subject to change, therefore, fundamentally suffering.

How can I become happier?

According to the Buddha’s teaching, one can gain happiness in this and next lives and even realize the ultimate happiness (deliverance-Nibbana) through the practice. Practice, practice, what is the practice?

 

013 What am I?

I am the five aggregates. When the five aggregates are deconstructed, the impermanence-suffering-non self of the five aggregates is seen.

It is not that I don’t exist, I am impermanent because ‘I’ changes continuously. Therefore, I am non-self due to lack of eternal essence or inherent existence.

One knows and sees (with the mind) through the practice, the impermanence-suffering-non self, the core of the Buddha’s teaching.

 

014 What am I?

The answer is in the impermanence-suffering-non self, the core of the Buddha’s teaching. One knows and sees (with the mind) the answer through meditation. The Buddha taught three kinds of meditation.

1. Mindfulness meditation (sati)

2. Concentration meditation (samatha)

3. Wisdom meditation (vipassana)

And the whole meditation practice must be grounded in morality (sila).

 

015 What am I?

According to the Buddha’s teaching, one would know the answer through meditation.

Meditation practice must be grounded in morality.

Then, what does he mean by morality?

He said, ordinary human needs to observe the five precepts.

1. Do not harm living things

2. Do not take what is not given

3. Do not commit sexual misconduct

4. Do not lie or gossip

5. Do not drink alcohol

 

016 What am I?

The answer can be obtained through observing the precepts (morality) and meditation.

Then, which meditation should one engage in among mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom meditation?

Within the Buddha’s meditation system, mindfulness meditation is fundamental. Therefore, mindfulness meditation must be practiced first. Practicing concentration (samatha, samadhi, jhana) and wisdom (vipassana) meditation prior to practicing mindfulness meditation would be like building a house without foundation.

 

017 What am I?

The answer can be obtained through observing the precepts (morality) and meditation.

Why is mindfulness meditation fundamental to the Buddhism practice?

There are many reasons. A few important ones are as follows:

• Mindfulness helps in distinguishing wholesome states from unwholesome states.

• Mindfulness (sati) lays the foundation and helps the development of concentration (serenity, jhana) and insight (clearly seeing).

• Clear comprehension (sampajanna) acts as a bridge between the mindfulness’ observational function and the development of insight (vipassana).

 

018 What am I?

Mindfulness meditation is the fundamental of the Buddhism practice.

Then, what is mindfulness meditation?

In short, mindfulness meditation is about being mindful (sati, lucid awareness) and clearly comprehending (sampajanna) the mindfulness object (body, feeling, mind, and experiential phenomena or dhamma).

“I would describe mindfulness as lucid awareness of the phenomenal field.”

“As the practice advances, clear comprehension takes on an increasingly more important role, eventually evolving into direct insight (vipassana) and wisdom (panna)” [What does Mindfulness Really Mean? A Canonical Perspective by Bhikkhu Bodhi]

*I recommend reading Mahasatipatthana Sutta (D22) in addition to other suttas (M118, M119, M10, S47).

 

019 What am I?

The following story is strictly based on my own experience.

I knew why I needed to do mindfulness practice. But once I decided to meditate, it was difficult to find ‘what to do.’ So, I did ‘what I could’ on my own. Recently, I asked for help from Bhikkhu Bodhi. He was kind and gave me detailed instructions on how to practice based on suttas. I am thankful to have received his teaching. I have practiced the following mindfulness practice for the last ten years. I think this method can be easily followed even by busy modern human beings. Of course, it is only one of many ways to practice mindfulness.

• In sitting meditation, I stay mindful (concentration) of in-and-out breath. Otherwise, normally I stay mindful (observation) of whatever is happening in my mind such as feelings, thoughts, etc.

 

020 What am I?

The following story is strictly based on my own experience.

So, what did I gain from the ten-year practice of mindfulness?

1. I am a bit more generous, less angry, and quite a bit nicer.

2. Unexpectedly, it helped to lay a foundation for samatha and vipassana practice.