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The Five Aggregates: Conventional and Deepest Reasons for Their Structure

Alexander Berzin
Seattle, Washington, USA, April 2003

Session One: Identifying the Five Aggregates

Unedited Transcript
Listen to the audio version of this page (0:43 hours)

This evening I’ve been asked to speak about the five aggregates and the relation of them to the meditations on voidness – a rather large topic. 

The aggregates are a very important point in the Dharma teachings. When we look at the basic structure of what Buddha taught, namely the four noble truths – or the four facts of life, I like to call them sometimes – we find that they play a very prominent role there. The first fact is true suffering or true problems. The example that is given for the true suffering is the five aggregates: each of our own individual five aggregates, that is the true suffering. The true causes of them are karma and disturbing emotions and disturbing attitudes; or ignorance, if we go a little bit more deeply: unawareness, or confusion – whatever we want to call it. When we speak about the aggregates, these are what is sometimes translated as the “contaminated” aggregates. This is a terrible translation since it gives a rather unwholesome connotation to it. The word actually means that it is together with confusion: that the aggregate factors are caused by confusion, or unawareness, and they are together with unawareness as part of them. And they also are – the word I sometimes like to translate as “obtaining” – they obtain (they will bring about) more suffering, more aggregates, more confusion. 

So we have true sufferings and true causes – the aggregates and the confusion that caused them. And the true stopping would be a true stopping of those aggregates and the causes that bring them about – the first two noble truths – and then a true path of mind that will bring that about and that will be the resultant state once we have achieved the true stoppings. 

So if there is such a central thing, we need to know what in the world are these five aggregates. What is it talking about? And how does the understanding of voidness – a true path – help us to stop them, get rid of them? In order to understand the aggregates, first of all we have to translate it in a more user-friendly manner. And “aggregates” is jargon and so it doesn’t mean very much to us. It is the aggregate factors of our experience, if we fill it out more. In other words, it’s talking about what makes up each moment of our experience. It is made up of aggregate factors, which means factors that are composites of many different elements, many different components. This is what it’s talking about. 

Now if we look at the general classification of things, as it were, in Buddhism, we talk about existent things and nonexistent things. Existent things or phenomena are those phenomena that can be validly cognized – in a valid way: either with straightforward perception or inference. And nonexistent phenomena are things that cannot be validly cognized, but you can cognize them. Like, for instance, true existence, an appearance of true existence. Well, you can have a cognition of true existence, but it is not valid. In fact, in all of our moments of cognition we cognize true existence. So that gets into a very complex analysis, actually how it is that we are able to cognize something that doesn’t exist at all. But that’s another topic. 

Within things that exist, we speak about what is usually called permanent and impermanent phenomena. These are also misleading terms – what is a more precise translation would be static and nonstatic phenomena. We are not talking about the duration of something, as “permanent” and “impermanent” would imply. But we are talking about whether or not something changes during the period in which it exists. Something that is static doesn’t change; whereas something that is nonstatic does change. Either of them can go on forever, or only for a short time. Actually there are many possibilities: you can have certain things that have a beginning and no end, something that has an end and no beginning, something that has both a beginning and an end, or something that has no beginning and no end – we list them in good Buddhist analytical fashion. Again this is another topic for another time.

Within these two: static and nonstatic, when we talk about the aggregate factors that make up our experience, we are speaking only about the nonstatic phenomena, the things that change from moment to moment. That is what is included here in each of our aggregates. We are talking about parts of our own experience, parts of each individual being’s experience. 

Now these aggregate factors can either be connected to a mental continuum or not connected to a mental continuum. We go into classifications. As you know, Buddhism loves classifications. Tibetans actually really excelled in filling all of these things out. In terms of connected with a mental continuum, there are those that are connected with our own mental continuum, and those that are connected with other beings’ mental continuums. For instance, when we see someone, the factors that are connected with someone else’s mental continuum would be their actual form, shape and color. That is not connected to our mental continuum, but it is part of our experience because that’s what we are seeing. 

What would be connected to our own mental continuum would be the mental aspect that is a semblance of the person’s form. This is sort of a hologram within our mind, or something like that – the thing on the retina, on the rods and cones. That would be a mental aspect, cognitive aspect. So that is part of our own mental continuum: the cognitive sensor, the light photosensitive cells of the eyes and then the body – these sorts of things are connected to our own mental continuum. 

And then there are aggregate factors that are not connected to any mental continuum. Like, for instance, the form of the table when we see the table. 

There are all these different types of things that can be part of our moment-to-moment experience. As I said, these things are born from confusion. They contain confusion with them and they are going to perpetuate confusion. That is the problem with them. 

What are these aggregates? Let’s look at them one by one. First of all there are five of them. When we speak about the five aggregates then we are talking about five groupings of factors. There are lots and lots of factors that make up our experience. In each moment there is going to be one or more factors from five different bags, five different groups. Now it is not that these five groupings or five bags exist somewhere in our head or up in the sky. It is just a conventional way of organizing them. But there is going to be at least one, if not several, items from each of these groups that is going to make up our experience. And what is always very interesting is that of course our experience is changing from moment to moment, and these factors are changing from moment to moment, but the combinations of them are also changing from moment to moment. For instance, what we are seeing: not only are they moving, but the various emotions that we are feeling, all these sort of things – everything’s changing at a different rate. It is really very complex when you look at it. And of course it is very helpful in terms of understanding reality. When we understand how all these factors are involved – how many factors are involved – in each moment, making the composite of it and how they are all changing at different rates. In any case, there is going to be one or more elements from each of these five groups, these five aggregates. 

The first one is the aggregate of forms, forms of physical phenomena. This includes sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and physical sensations – there’s all sorts of physical sensations, not just rough and smooth, but hot and cold, and the physical sensation of motion, and these sorts of things. And then there are the sensors. That’s sometimes called the sense powers – a silly translation of it, because it’s referring to something physical, not a power. These are the sensors, the cognitive sensors: the photosensitive cells of the eyes, the sound-sensitive cells of the ears, the smell-sensitive cells of the nose, the taste-sensitive cells of the tongue, and the motion-sensitive or tactile-sensitive cells of the body. 

We have these aspects in the aggregate of forms of physical phenomenon. And we also have some subtle ones which can only be known by mental cognition; they cannot be known by sense cognition. For instance, the various subtle forms that we experience in dreams would also be in the aggregate of forms. There is a whole list of them. Vast geographic distances, or astronomical distances – we can’t really see them, but it’s a physical thing. Or subatomic or microscopic things; those also are forms of physical phenomena, but we can’t actually see them. 

We have these different things make up each moment of our experience. Normally, when we see things or hear things and so on, there is the physical form – that would be external; it is not part of our mind-stream, our mental continuum. Then there is the mental aspect that our mental activity gives rise to in the process of cognizing it, which is caused by that external physical form. And that is what we actually see or hear. And then of course the sensor that is involved with it, the various cells, and our body in general. So that’s always in every moment of our cognition. How much attention we pay to it is something else, of course. While we are asleep, then sense cognition is minimal. It is not that it is turned off; if it were turned off, we would not be able to hear the alarm clock, would we? It is at some very low level. 

Then there’s various orders in which the aggregates are listed. The usual order is forms of physical phenomenon, and then feeling (which is feeling a level of happiness), then distinguishing (sometimes called recognition), other affecting variables (that’s how I translate the other one, which is sometimes called volition or composition factors, something like that), and consciousness. That’s the usual order, and I will explain why it is given in that usual order. But for understanding, I think it is a little bit easier initially to look at it in a slightly different order. 

We have consciousness. Consciousness is another aggregate, another bag. Consciousness is made up of various primary types of consciousness, such as visual consciousness, or hearing consciousness, or smelling consciousness, or taste consciousness, or tactile consciousness, or mental consciousness. It is not like our Western model, which is we think of consciousness as one thing, primary consciousness. But here we have separate faculties for each of the senses and for the mental process. What does this do, primary consciousness? It’s basically like what channel are we on – if we are talking about a television as an analogy – are we on the seeing channel, or on the hearing channel, or the smelling channel, or the tasting channel, or the feeling physical sensation channel, or the mental channel (thinking, dreaming, this type of purely mental activity)? And what it cognizes is the essential nature (ngo-bo) of its object. The essential nature means what it is, what kind of phenomenon it is. So it just cognizes that this is a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a physical sensation, or a mental phenomenon. That is all it does, that primary thing – the essential nature of something. So that’s primary consciousness, and its object would be one of these aspects of the aggregate of form. 

Then we have (if we just look at it from a logical, analytical point of view) distinguishing. Distinguishing is usually translated as recognition, which is a very misleading translation. Recognition is far too advanced. Recognition implies that you’ve known the thing before, and you compare what you are perceiving now with that previous experience, and you put it together and you “recognize” it. That is not at all what we are talking about with this aggregate, this mental factor. So I prefer “distinguishing.” Distinguishing, if we talk about it roughly first, it’s within a sense field distinguishing one thing from another. If you don’t distinguish something within the sense field, for instance the shape and color of this person’s face from the shape and colors of the background, of the wall, etc., you can’t really focus on that person. You can’t distinguish them. We are talking about some very basic function that is there every single moment. We don’t just perceive an undifferentiated sense field, but we are able to distinguish things. 

If we speak more technically, it is distinguishing a characteristic feature, or characteristic mark. Whether we are talking about nonconceptual or conceptual cognition, if we are thinking about something, then we are distinguishing it from something else. Distinguishing doesn’t connect it with past experience. It doesn’t give it a name. A preverbal baby distinguishes light from dark, distinguishes hungry from not hungry. We can distinguish yellow from black without knowing the words “yellow” or “black” or having any idea of what is yellow or what is black. Yet we can distinguish them. It is a very fundamental aspect. A worm has that. Everyone has that. That is distinguishing. 

Then there is the aggregate of feeling. “Feeling” is too vague a word, because in our Western languages “feeling” is very, very big – it covers so many different things. It covers emotions, which are certainly not included here. It also covers things like feeling hot and cold, and that is not covered here either. It also includes intuition, “I feel as though it is going to rain.” That is not included here either. Or the idea of trying to feel what it is like to fly, an imagining type of function. That is not meant here either. 

The only meaning that feeling has – the aggregate of feeling – is feeling some level of happiness or unhappiness, somewhere on that spectrum, whether we are talking about physical or mental happiness or unhappiness, or neutral. But neutral is obviously a very tiny little point in the middle of this spectrum. Most of the time we feel some sort of low-grade happiness or low-grade unhappiness. 

If I do this as a meditation course, I have people recognize, or try to recognize, that there is always some level of happiness or unhappiness that we are experiencing. And the way that we can recognize it is just look around the room. You look at something, and if you move your head then you don’t want to look at it anymore – so that’s some low level of unhappiness. If you continue looking at it, then there is some level of happiness; you want it to continue. With unhappiness, you don’t want it to continue. Unhappiness is that feeling that, when it arises, you don’t want it to continue. Happiness is that feeling which, when it arises, you’d like it to continue. This is a nice definition; it allows masochists to be included here. 

So this is feeling a level of happiness or unhappiness. And the definition of this is really very interesting. It is defined as: the way in which we experience the ripening of our karma. That is very profound and really requires a tremendous amount of contemplation to fathom what that means. Our moods go up and down all the time, don’t they? Sometimes we feel happy, sometimes we feel unhappy; we are satisfied, we are dissatisfied – it’s constantly going up and down. And that is the ripening of previous karma. In the teachings on karma, we usually talk about the aggregates that ripen from karma, and the things that we have experienced that are similar to what we experienced before, and the impulses to repeat similar actions from before, and being in general circumstances that also are similar to what we have done before and which affect a lot of people – these sort of things. Well that is one aspect of how karma ripens. 

But the other aspect is: how do you feel during all of this? That is a different level, a ripening of different karma. That’s what is so awful about samsara. There is no certainty to how we are going to feel in the next minute, the next moment. There is no guarantee. That is the real drag about our ordinary type of happiness and why it is considered suffering, a problem. The problem with it is that not only that it doesn’t last, not only that it doesn’t solve all our problems, but we have no idea what is going to come next. There is no certainty with that either. It is really problematic. This is our samsaric situation. These feelings of happiness or unhappiness are constantly going up and down as a ripening of our karma, of our previous type of behavior. From constructive behavior we experience this type of fleeting happiness – it doesn’t satisfy, anyway. From destructive behavior we experience unhappiness, or pain, or suffering (whatever degree we might look at it). That is the aggregate of feeling. That’s there every moment, even though often it is going to be a very low level. 

Then the last aggregate, if we look at it in this type of sequence, is everything else. Everything that is nonstatic that is not included in the other four. So we have here all the other mental factors. When we talk about mind, it’s talking about mental activity. And there’s primary consciousness, primary awareness: it’s aware of just the essential nature of what something is. Then there are what is usually translated as mental factors, or sometimes I like to call it, nowadays, subsidiary awareness (that is much closer to the Tibetan). A subsidiary awareness: it’s subsidiary to the primary thing, it accompanies it. And what it does is it somehow either helps us to cognize the object or it qualifies it, modifies it, in some sort of way. And there’s a list of forty-nine subsidiary awarenesses in the Abhidharmakosha by Vasubandhu. There’s fifty-one in the Abhidharmasamuccaya by Asanga. These are basic Sanskrit texts. Abhidharmakosha is the Treasury of Topics of Knowledge. Abhidharmasamuccaya is like An Anthology of Topics of Knowledge. So there are different systems. The Theravada have a slightly different list – I forget the exact number there, I think it is forty-six. 

So each of the abhidharmas has a slightly different list, different definitions of them – the Bonpos have their abhidharma with their list of these factors – all quite similar. The Tibetans usually follow the system of fifty-one mental factors. That doesn’t mean that there are only fifty-one. You can divide a pie into fifty-one pieces two ways. You can either divide the whole pie into fifty-one pieces or you can divide part of the pie into fifty-one pieces. Here we are dividing part of the pie into fifty-one pieces – of course you could divide it into any number of pieces – and there’s still a lot of pie left over. So two of those pieces, two of these types of subsidiary awarenesses or mental factors, are made into two separate aggregates. I’ll explain a little bit of why they are made separate according to the texts. 

The two that are made into separate aggregates are feeling a level of happiness and distinguishing. The rest of them, the other forty-nine, plus all the ones that are not counted, are all thrown into this aggregate of other affecting variables. I call them affecting variables. The word is samskara in Sanskrit, which is often translated as compositional. It is not just that they compose our experience but more specifically they affect our experience. It is not a passive word, it is an active word. They affect our experiences of various things, emotions and this sort of stuff. 

What do we have here? Actually there are two types of phenomenon that are affecting variables. There are some that I call concomitant affecting variables. Concomitant means that they share five things in common with the primary consciousness that they accompany. And then there are those that are nonconcomitant affecting variables – they don’t share five things in common. The ones that do share five things in common are all the other mental factors. When they are present in a moment of cognition, a moment of experience, they have five things in common with a primary consciousness that they accompany. I will give examples of what we are talking about here and then I will explain the five things in common. 

We are talking about certain factors that help us in cognizing something. There are things like the urge that brings us to the object. There is the contacting awareness that is either pleasant – it is sometimes translated as contact, but that is a terrible translation because that implies a physical thing. We are not talking about a physical thing; we are talking about a way of being aware of something. So it is a contacting awareness, a pleasant contacting awareness with something or an unpleasant contacting awareness, or a neutral contacting awareness. There’s attention. How do you pay attention to something? In a very painstaking way, or in a way that is bringing back to the object? These are different types of attention that are involved in gaining concentration. Or do we pay attention to something as important, as unimportant? Do we pay attention to it as clean and beautiful? Or do we pay attention to it as something that is unclean? Do we pay attention to it as permanent or impermanent? There are different aspects of attention. How you pay attention to something. 

There is interest, there is concentration, there is mindfulness. It is difficult to find a good word for mindfulness. That is not the proper word. In the West, we use “mindfulness” in terms of mindfulness meditation. Really, mindfulness means something quite different from what the Tibetan or Sanskrit means. We think mindfulness means to pay attention: to pay attention to what is going on, to what thoughts are in my mind, to what emotions are in my mind. That is not the meaning of the Tibetan term that is being translated here as mindfulness. Of course it is a very helpful activity to pay attention and distinguish the various emotions and things that are going on, but the analysis of the mental factors is very, very precise. And it is very helpful to have that precision. This term that is translated as mindfulness is actually “mental glue.” It is the mental activity of keeping hold of something and not letting go. It is the same word that is used for remembering. It is remembering something, recalling something, holding the attention on it. That is what one really needs to work with in order to gain single-minded concentration, absorbed concentration. You have the object and you don’t let go, you hold on to it. That is what is meant by mindfulness. 

Then there is alertness to see if that mental hold is too tight, too loose, if you have let go. It is the mental hold that is mindfulness. And then concentration is the staying there – the attention stays on the object. And then discriminating awareness (sometimes translated as wisdom) adds certainty to this distinguishing. We distinguish between something that is reality or fantasy, or something that is constructive or destructive. Then the discriminating awareness adds certainty to that distinguishing. It knows what it is; understands it. 

So we have these types of mental factors that help us to cognize things. Then we have all the different types of emotions: positive ones, negative ones. And then we have things that are in other types of categories, like sleepiness. These are all there in the other forty-nine mental factors, and then there are lots more, for instance, boredom. Even some of the major ones that we speak about in Buddhism are not in that list of forty-nine: love, compassion, patience, fear, generosity, perseverance – perseverance is there, I think, but many of them aren’t – fear isn’t there, generosity isn’t there. So obviously there are many, many more than this list of fifty-one. 

These all share five things in common with the primary consciousness:

  • First of all, they all focus on the same object. If we are focusing on looking at these flowers, the sight of the flowers, the primary consciousness is cognizing the fact that it is a sight, something visual, visual form, and that would be like the main bulb of a chandelier. Then we have all these other bulbs around it, the little bulbs, and they are all aimed at the same thing. These would be the other mental factors, the subsidiary awarenesses that are assisting it, accompanying it, all taking the same focal object

  • And they all have the same mental aspect. Remember there is a difference between the actual external form that is not connected with our mental continuum and the cognitive aspect that is, in terms of the cognitive appearance that arises. In the West we would have to speak about that as well, in terms of something from the photons hitting the retina and then some sort of internal hologram, or whatever, that is imaging what is external – that is what we actually cognize directly. So they all share this same mental aspect, the same cognitive aspect. 

  • They all share the same reliance, it’s called – they all rely on the same cognitive sensors: the photo-sensitive cells of the eye, the sound-sensitive cells of the ear, that type of thing. 

  • Then they all occur simultaneously – they share the same time; it is all happening at once. 

  • Then they all share the same natal source. A natal source is what makes it, where it comes from. Like the natal source of a loaf of bread would be the oven. We are not talking about what it is made of. We are not talking about the flour. We are talking about where it comes from. The potter’s wheel is the natal source for a ceramic jug. 

This is according to Vasubandhu in the Abhidharmakosha. They have a slightly different presentation of the five in Asanga, the other abhidharma. This is basically the Hinayana presentation, the Vaibhashika presentation. In Asanga we have the Chittamatra presentation. It is interesting that the Tibetans actually combine the two. They speak about the fifty-one factors from Asanga, but they take the five in common from Vasubandhu. The Chinese do that as well in their study of abhidharma. 

When we speak about the natal source, here the natal source that they all share in one moment of cognition is one seed, karmic seed. The word seed is not a very good translation because it is too physical, and it certainly isn’t talking about anything physical. I change my terminology every few years. But I used to use the word “tendency,” but that is not good either; it doesn’t fit this context. So the word that I use now is “legacy,” a karmic legacy. And although if we look merely at the term with which this particular point – that the primary consciousness and the mental factors share in common the same natal source, they all come from the same karmic legacy – that actually is the Chittamatra way of understanding it. Vasubandhu explains it that they each come from individual karmic legacies, so some of the mental factors come from one karmic legacy, some from another, the primary consciousness may come from another, but the main emphasis is that all of them share the same slant. Asanga in the Chittamatra system would say they all come from one karmic legacy and they share the same slant. And Vasubandhu understands this and explains this as they come from different karmic legacies, but nevertheless they share the same slant. 

It’s not an easy word to translate, but they share the same “slant,” so that they work harmoniously together without clashing. For instance, within the structure of a single belief or a single intention (intention is another one of these major mental factors), they have to fit together. If the intention is to pick something up, or to help someone, or to hurt someone, or whatever it is, all the mental factors have to fit together within that context. They can’t be conflicting things: they wouldn’t go together in one moment. This is the explanation, the definition here, in the main analysis that the Tibetans use. 

So we have within this aggregate of other affecting variables, we have those that are concomitant. They share five things in common with the primary consciousness. Then we have those that are nonconcomitant, which don’t share the five in common. When we talk about nonstatic phenomena, there are three types of nonstatic phenomena – phenomena that change. There are forms of physical phenomena, and what is usually translated as mental phenomenon – a terrible translation as well, because that implies that you would include thoughts and you would include the objects of mental cognition as a mental phenomenon. It is not talking about that. It is talking about ways of being aware of something. So there are forms of physical phenomena and a way of being aware. Well those are very, very different types of phenomena: seeing, hearing, being angry with something, liking something, being happy about something, loving something. That is a way of being aware, mental activity, very different from a sight or a sound. 

Then there is this third category of nonstatic phenomena, which is sometimes translated as “nonstatic phenomena that are neither forms of physical phenomena nor ways of being aware of something.” The actual word for it in Tibetan is “denmin duche” (ldan-min ‘du-byed). “Duche” is the same words as in the aggregates; it is affecting variables. “Denmin” means that it doesn’t possess. What doesn’t it possess? It doesn’t possess the five things in common. That’s literally what this category is. It is true that these are things that are neither forms of physical phenomena nor ways of being aware of something. 

So what would be included here would be the legacies of our previous actions, often translated as seeds, as a legacy of our previous actions – you can think of that in terms of karmic things. So that as a result of that there would be the impulse to repeat an action – that would be karma. Or the impulse to get into a situation in which something similar would happen to us to what we had done before. Like the impulse to get into a terrible relationship, or to cross the street at just that moment when we would be hit by a car, or to change our seat so that we are not hit, or that we are hit – these sort of things. That comes from a legacy. Also from a legacy of a previous experience, a previous action, would come recalling something, remembering it. Memory works that way – it is a legacy. That legacy, sometimes I translate it as an abstraction, some sort of abstract thing, nonstatic abstraction, which is changing from moment to moment and it affects things – that’s the important point – it affects what is happening. There are also legacies of disturbing emotions. And as a legacy from our experiencing the disturbing emotions, then we would have later moments in which we would experience them. 

So we have legacies and we have habits. Legacies, as I said, is usually translated as the word “seed” and habit is sometimes translated also as the word “instinct” (bag-chags). What is the difference between the two? A legacy ripens intermittently: only sometimes. So sometimes we get the disturbing emotion, sometimes we remember something, sometimes the impulse comes up to repeat certain types of behavioral patterns that we have had from the past – not all the time. That is a legacy – it ripens sometimes, intermittently, whereas a habit ripens every moment. This is the Gelugpa explanation. It is the habit of grasping for true existence will ripen every moment into grasping for true existence accompanying each moment of our perception. That is the Gelug Prasangika explanation. 

By the way, you should always be aware that when you study these four tenets, Vaibhashika, Sautrantikas, Chittamatra, and Madhyamaka, and then the various divisions of Madhyamaka: Svatantrika and Prasangika, that there are two extremely different explanations of those four. There is the Gelug explanation of it and then the non-Gelug explanation, which you find in Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma. Within Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma, they are generally one position but then there are variations within that as well. It is important to know that, so that we don’t arrogantly think that this is the only thing that Prasangika could possibly mean. And also when someone from a different tradition than our own speaks about Madhyamaka and they are saying something very different from what we have learned, we are not thrown by that. 

Anyway, here we are talking the Gelug position. So we have these things in this aggregate of other affecting variables, they affect our experience; one or more of them is going to be involved, usually, in each moment because these things are going to be ripening. And it doesn’t share five things in common. It is not aimed at the same object. It is not a way of being aware of something. Only ways of being aware of something can share these five things in common: taking the same focal object, having the same cognitive appearances, and so on. That is what is in this fifth aggregate. 

To review, we have consciousness which is, in a moment, it is what channel we are on: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling a physical sensation, or thinking. And there is an object, a form of physical phenomenon, usually – even if that is just darkness when we are asleep. There is a distinguishing, distinguishing something within the sense field, one thing from another. There is feeling a level of happiness or unhappiness with that. And there are all the other affecting variables that accompany it as well: those that are other ways of being aware of something which share five things in common and those things that are not, such as legacies, habits, time, these sort of things. 

And when we talk about the conventional “me,” the self, that also is in this category of nonconcomitant affecting variables, something that accompanies each moment but doesn’t have five things in common, because it is not a way of being aware of something. It doesn’t have five things in common with the primary consciousness, but it accompanies. It is not a form of physical phenomenon; it is not a way of being aware of anything. But the conventional “me” is a type of abstraction. 

And all these things are changing all the time, each moment, and changing at different rates. 

Why don’t we take a moment to digest that. That was a lot of information. And then if you have any questions, please ask before we go on.