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Essential Books from Theravadin Resources

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Apropos of some recent posts here in question of explanations about the Dhamma, I thought to put together a brief reading list of books which might help the poor old sod struggling to make out what the Dhamma is teaching, despite all the complex archaic commentarial literature there is to read and to figure out.

At one point in my training, I came to the "realization" that reading and contemplating anything other than the direct words of the Buddha (read that as: books other than the translations of the Pali canon) was for me at that time a waste of my time. I therefore put down any outside reading I was then doing and shifted my focus to the discourses of the Buddha. What I had realized was that I really had no way of verifying what others (in their books and essays) were espousing that the Buddha taught because I hadn't yet finished reading the discourses themselves. There were questions that I had which were cleared up during the course of that exercise in reading and contemplation of the discourses, as well as other questions which resulted (arose) from that same reading. I've spent a great deal of time in study, contemplation, and observation of my own practice experience in getting to the point I'm at today, and it hasn't always been an easy or smooth journey. What I can say, though, is that if one has a practice in meditation and is willing to wade through all the discourses and a few modern commentarial books, one stands a chance of being able to begin making some sense of this thing called the Dhamma.

It took a good two years to go through the Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, and the anthology of the Anguttara Nikaya that I had obtained. It took over a year to undertake and complete a reading of the Samyutta Nikaya, which is some 2000 pages in Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation, including stopping to read and understand the relevant footnotes in each of these volumes, of which there are many. This may look and sound like some kind of Chinese torture test, until one realizes that there actually is some light at the end of the tunnel waiting for one to discover it. All that reading, study, contemplation, and meditation eventually paid off, because I was able to say at the end of it all that I had read and understood from my own experience of it what the Buddha taught according to its presentation in the literature of the Theravada tradition, which I view as being the closest to the original teachings as they were spoken.

The main teachings to focus on coming to understand and realize are the following:

1. The Four Noble Truths

2. The Noble Eightfold Path

3. The Five Aggregates (this is especially important for insight into beginning to understand the teaching of anatta)

4. The Three Characteristics of Existence (also known as the tilakkhana or anicca, dukkha, and anatta)

5. Dependent Co-Arising (or Dependent Origination) — paticca-samuppada

Other important teachings to become aware of during the course of practice include:

1. The Five Hindrances (especially as they pertain to meditation — sensuous lust, aversion and ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and skeptical doubt)

2. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment (these also as they pertain to the meditation technology — of mindfulness, investigation of states, energy, rapture, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity)

3. The Five Spiritual Faculties (the Indriyas of: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom)

4. The Ten Fetters of Existence (as they relate to the path and the fruit of the path: self delusion, doubt, clinging to ritual and observances, sensuous lust, ill will, greed for fine material existence, greed for immaterial existence, conceit, restlessness, and ignorance)

As for the books themselves, the four main Nikayas are as follows:

The Long Discourses of the Buddha, The Digha Nikaya, trans. by Maurice Walshe.

The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, The Majjhima Nikaya, trans. by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi.

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, A Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

 The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya, translated by Nyanaponika Thera and edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, The Samyutta Nikaya, trans. by Bhikkhu Bodhi.


For an excellent treatment of Gotama's biographical life story, the following is highly recommended for its accuracy of adhering to what we know from the discourses and other historical references.

Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One, by Vishvapani Blomfield


Select volumes from the Khuddhaka Nikaya (The Shorter Collection of Discourses) which can be very helpful to understanding are:

The Udana & The Itivuttaka, trans. by John D. Ireland

The Sutta Nipata, trans. by H. Saddhatissa

The Dhammapada translated by Narada Thera

or failing that, this translation is equally significant and relevant with regard to the original intent of the verses:

The Dhammapada translated by Ananda Maitreya


Other modern commentarial books include:

The Great Discourse on Causation, The Mahanidana Sutta and Its Commentaries, Introduction and translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

The All-Embracing Net of Views, The Brahmajala Sutta and Its Commentaries, Introduction and translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Root of Existence, The Mulapariyaya Sutta and Its Commentaries, Introduction and translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

The Noble Eightfold Path, Way to the End of Suffering, by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought, by Bhikkhu Nanananda

The Magic of the Mind, An Exposition of the Kalakarama Sutta, by Bhikkhu Nanananda

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, by Nyanaponika Thera

Satipatthana, The Direct Path to Realization, by Ven. Analayo

What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula for a brief yet insightful overview of the main teachings along with selected excerpts from the Pali canon of discourses.

The Foundations of Buddhism, by Rupert Gethin for an historical overview of the development of the religion of Buddhism along with some interesting yet essentially correct explanations of the main teachings.

For some insightful scholarly and academic books, the first three listed here are very helpful in understanding about the aggregates and anatta; of the two books by Gombrich, the first one contains the most insightful look into how and what Gotama thought about the Dhamma he taught:

The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology, by Mathieu Boisvert. Also can be found here when in stock.

Identity and Experience, The Constitution of the Human being According to early Buddhism, by Sue Hamilton

Selfless Persons, by Steven Collins

What the Buddha Thought, by Richard Gombrich

How Buddhism Began, The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, by Richard Gombrich

An excellent (and free) PDF by Thanissaro Bhikkhu entitled, The Paradox of Becoming

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
8/2/11 11:28 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Thanks, Ian. Which of the four main Nikayas would you suggest I started with as a relative beginner, given that I've dipped into Access to Insight a fair bit?

I'd also like to point out that Wisdom Books sells a number of these books, and more cheaply than Amazon. Also, they aren't Amazon, which is never a bad thing. ;)

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
8/2/11 11:50 AM as a reply to Liam O'Sullivan.
[quote=Liam O'Sullivan]Thanks, Ian. Which of the four main Nikayas would you suggest I began with as a relative beginner, given that I've dipped into Access to Insight a fair bit?

That's a question that could be a matter of opinion. But given that you are becoming involved in a regular meditation practice, I'd say the Majjhima Nikaya wouldn't be a bad choice to begin with. There is a lot of instruction on meditation related issues in the Majjhima as compared with some of the other Nikayas, although each of them touch on meditation in insightful ways, some more than others.

My favorite Nikayas are the ones containing the older suttas, the Samyutta and the Anguttara Nikayas. There are also some very interesting (and equally insightful) discourses contained in the Sutta Nipata, the Udana, and the Itivuttaka. I think my favorite would have to be the Anguttara, with the Samyutta and the Majjhima coming in a close second. (Yet, as I say, only one person's opinion, as these volumes addressed and clarified some important questions that I personally had about what the Buddha taught.)

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
8/2/11 8:01 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian,
Thanks for the list. Very cool.
I too have stuck with the Pali Canon in the0 Theravadin tradition.

I am also working through the Majjhma translated by Bhikku Nanamoli.
You can also get a really great audio lesson from Bhikku Bodi at the following web link. He taught a course that works through the book. There are about 150+ hours of lessons working through the book.

http://www.bodhimonastery.net/bm/about-buddhism/15-a-systematic-study-of-the-majjhima-nikaya.html?start=5

Regards,
Gerry

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
3/27/12 12:16 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian this is great stuff. I'm working my easy through it! Thanks. I've been reading the Majjihima Nikaya but have stopped to read Sattipathana by Analayo. This book is amazing. It's really helped my understanding of "everything".

I've been looking at Tarvers' thread on dependent co-arising and had a question but it may well be best posted in this thread:

How would you recommend one "understand" the discourses? Clearly from the Analayo book there is so much more to the verses than at first meets the eye, it would be good to apply that kind of understanding to other discourses. And I agree the Visuddhimagga isn't much help.

Thanks,

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
3/28/12 3:51 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
I've been reading the Majjihima Nikaya but have stopped to read Sattipathana by Analayo. This book is amazing. It's really helped my understanding of "everything".

Glad to hear it. Yes. Analayo's book has a great deal of insight on the practice that is straightforward and practical. It helps one to make sense of the Dhamma, in addition to providing some excellent tips about how to use meditation/contemplation.

When you get a chance, also pick up and read Nanananda's two books, but especially Concept and Reality. The insights in that book, combined with a diligent practice, should open up doors of perception regarding how people's thought processes cause themselves dukkha. Once you begin seeing these processes at work from the inside out, you'll begin to understand the connection with the concept of dependent co-arising and how that can play into this whole process. Just something to look forward to.

Bagpuss The Gnome:

How would you recommend one "understand" the discourses? Clearly from the Analayo book there is so much more to the verses than at first meets the eye, it would be good to apply that kind of understanding to other discourses.

Just use your common sense and empirical observation of your own experience, and read (and understand) the footnotes in context with your reading of the particular sutta itself. This should help you begin to discern the point of any given sutta. Sure, there's a lot of repetition. But sometimes that can be good, as over time as one begins to understand more and more, one sees things that previously they had overlooked. It takes time and effort. Just keep at it.

Also, read and endeavor to grasp any of the essays on specific discourses that are available on ATI (accesstoinsight.org). Thanissaro Bhikkhu has a great ability to synthesize and squeeze meaning out of the discourses in his essays, as does Bhikkhu Bodhi. The more you attempt to understand the original premise of what Gotama was teaching, the more you'll eventually (gradually over time) become able to make sense of it based on your own experience of it. After a while it will become so apparent and second nature that you'll say to yourself, "Why didn't I see this before?"

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
3/29/12 10:55 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Thanks Ian. I should also mention I've read "The Noble Eightfold Path" which also has massively helped my understanding of the basics. Love the little cheat sheet at the end emoticon Also "What the Buddha Taught", though that was quite some time ago.

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
3/31/12 11:17 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:


When you get a chance, also pick up and read Nanananda's two books, but especially Concept and Reality. The insights in that book, combined with a diligent practice, should open up doors of perception regarding how people's thought processes cause themselves dukkha. Once you begin seeing these processes at work from the inside out, you'll begin to understand the connection with the concept of dependent co-arising and how that can play into this whole process. Just something to look forward to.


For anyone interested, there´s a new edition of that book that has been released as a free pdf download:

http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/files/eng/books/other/concept_and_reality.pdf

The physical version seems kind of hard to get and/or is rather expensive, so I was happy to have found this link.
Now on to the actual reading... emoticon

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
life of the buddha biography of the buddha
Answer
4/6/12 1:04 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Thank you so much for sharing the list, Ian. Which book would you recommend for knowing the life of the Buddha? Have you read 'The Life of the Buddha According to the Pali Canon' by Bhikku Nanamoli and 'Old Path White Clouds' by Thich Nhat Hanh? If so, what are your thoughts on them?

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
4/6/12 10:07 AM as a reply to Martin M.
On the same site, Seeingthroughthenet, is Ven. Nananada's six-volume Nibbana - the Mind Stilled. Here is the wikipedia link which allows easy access to any of the six volumes.

Edit: I see that I have the seven volumes, (here is its link on the host site) and I will edit the wikipedia page to add that vol. and link. Here's the link with all talks in one place.

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
4/6/12 12:49 PM as a reply to Kaustubh C.
Kaustubh C:
Thank you so much for sharing the list, Ian. Which book would you recommend for knowing the life of the Buddha? Have you read 'The Life of the Buddha According to the Pali Canon' by Bhikku Nanamoli and 'Old Path White Clouds' by Thich Nhat Hanh? If so, what are your thoughts on them?

That's a good question. It all depends on what you want to learn about Gotama.

I have read the first book you mentioned, but not the second. Nanamoli's book is good for providing a canonical background to the main events spoken about in the records we current have (the Pali Canon), and so provide some valuable input. And that was good as far as it went. Yes, I would recommend reading this book.

However, I was more interested in learning about the "real life" social and political climate that Siddhattha Gotama lived within and the obstacles he had to confront in setting up his order of monks. Having been a monk myself, I am aware of many of the issues that can arise in such situations.

With that in mind, the first book I found which did a very good job of addressing these facts was Hans W. Schumann's The Historical Buddha, The Times, Life and Teachings of the Founder of Buddhism. Schumann's research was relentless as he endeavored to track down the various spheres in which Gotama lived and had dealings. His rendering helped to provide a more "realistic picture" of Gotama and the times during which he lived. I was more interested in learning about the human being Gotama rather than retracing ground about a person who is often portrayed as being some kind of demi-god or divine personage. In that respect, Schumann's book will not disappoint.

A third book that I would recommend is Vishvapani Blomfield's [url=http://amazon.com/o/ASIN/1849164096/thomelio-20" title="Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One]Gautama Buddha, The Live and Teachings of the Awakened One. Similar to the previous two books, Blomfield endeavors to describe the likely "real life" scenarios, motivations, and thinking of Gotama based on his reading of the Pali Canon (don't be put off by his Mahayana spelling of Gotama; he used mostly Pali Canon translations in order to arrive at his very well considered opinions, most of which I agreed with).

These latter two biographies will complement the first with a wealth of insight and information that — for anyone relying upon their own life's experiences to help make out what Gotama's likely true intentions were — one can appreciate when endeavoring to discover who the real man was and what he had to endure during his life.

RE: Essential Books from Theravadin Resources
Answer
4/25/12 9:12 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Thanks for all the great resources throughout the thread!

FYI, Wisdom Publications recently announced Bhikkhu Bodhi's new translation of the Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Complete Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya. If you order by August, you can get it for $45 versus the $75 retail price.

http://www.wisdompubs.org/Pages/display.lasso?-KeyValue=33160&-Token.Action=&image=1

Cheers,

Matt

Reviews of recommended books
Answer
10/6/13 10:18 PM as a reply to Ian And.
What follows is a review of the book The Five Aggregates, Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology which I wrote and posted on amazon.com a few years ago. While this book is not an easy read, what I endeavored to do in the review, in order to encourage others to spend the time reading it, was to reveal for the reader the central insight that the book has to offer: namely, that, as they relate to the Dhamma, the five aggregates, traditionally viewed as conventional truth, and dependent co-arising, traditionally viewed as the highest truth, "represent different expressions of the same process."

One of the reasons some readers have a problem with this book is the insistence by its author that the reader become familiar with the Pali terminology (how it is defined and the processes each term refers to) and be able to identify it within his own experience while also understanding of how these factors relate to a person's experience of reality. You see, without that understanding (or insight) with regard to the middle eight factors of dependent co-arising and how they correlate to the activation of the five aggregates, being able to see those factors being played out within the reader's own direct experience, readers are likely to miss completely the insight being pointed out to them.

In order to help correct that possible deficiency, I have inserted (in the review) the bracketed material into the text to help readers better relate to what is being said. If a reader is unable to see how these concepts relate within their own experience, the insight they carry is likely to go over their heads.

In addition, it helps to be able to go back to any referenced discourses themselves to see how that may add to one's understanding of the material being discussed. In the present case, this would be the Mahavagga of the Anguttara Nikaya (or "The Great Chapter [or Book]"). While that whole sutta is well worth while reading and examining, I will excerpt a brief portion of it here in order to demonstrate its helpfulness in smoothing out a deeper understanding and appreciation of the insight under discussion. Toward the end of section i 176 there are the following passages:

"When it was said: '"These are the eighteen mental examinations": this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted, irreproachable, and uncentured by wise ascetics and brahmins,' for what reason was this said? Having seen a form with the eye, one examines a form that is a basis for joy; one examines a form that is a basis for dejection; one examines a form that is a basis for equanimity. Having heard a sound with the ear. . . Having smelled an odor with the nose. . . Having tasted a taste with the tongue. . . Having felt a tactile object with the body. . . Having cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind, one examines a mental phenomenon that is a basis for joy; one examines a mental phenomenon that is a basis for dejection; one examines a mental phenomenon that is a basis for equanimity. When it was said: '"These are the eighteen mental examinations": this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted. . . uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,' it is because of this that this was said.

"When it was said: '" These are the four noble truths': this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted, undefiled, irreproachable, and uncentured by wise ascetics and brahmins,' for what reason was this said? In dependence on the six elements the descent of a embryo occurs.[437] When the descent takes place, there is name-and-form [nama-rupa]; with name-and-form as condition, there are the six sense bases [ayatanas; the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind]; with the six sense bases as condition, there is contact [phassa]; with contact as condition, there is feeling [vedana]; Now it is for one who feels that I proclaim: 'This is suffering,' and 'This is the origin of suffering,' and 'This is the cessation of suffering,' and 'This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering.' . . .

"And what, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering? With ignorance as condition, volitional activities [come to be]; with volitional activities as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form; with name-and-form as condition, the six sense bases; with the six sense bases as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, existence; with existence as condition, birth; with birth as condition, old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering. This is called the noble truth of the origin of suffering."

Footnote
437. Mp. [Anguttara Nikaya-atthakatha, or commentary]: "Why does he begin in this way? For ease of understanding. For the Tathagata wants to explain the revolving of the twelve conditions, so he shows the rounds by the term 'descent of a embryo'. For when the round has been shown by the descent of a embryo, what follows will be easy to understand. Whose six elements serve as the condition, the mother's or the father's? It is neither, but descent of a embryo occurs conditioned by the six elements of the being taking rebirth." Mp cites MN 38.26, I 265-66 (see too MN 93.18, II 156-57).

Take special note of the reference made to vedana (feeling; where it references joy, dejection, and equanimity in the sutta passages) and contemplate the role that this factor plays in the whole process of how personal identity becomes established within the mind. When you can see and identify not only the arising of feeling but its quality within any mental activity, you have a clue as to how you create your own identity within the mind, which is without a substantial self nature. The self you create (in reference to oneself and others) and find so difficult to stop clinging to is a mental formation based on pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feeling! Feeling, which is the nearest thing to nothing there is. If that isn't insight enough for you to realize the significance of anatta, I don't know what is!

=================================================================



The Five Aggregates. . . and then some

The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology
by Mathieu Boisvert, Sri Satguru Publications, A Division of Indian Books Centre Indological and Oriental Publishers, Delhi, India. Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion, 1995; First Indian Edition: Delhi, 1997.

The question posed on the back dust jacket of this book sums up it contents quite nicely, if somewhat deceptively in terms of the profound nature of the actual answer which is submitted to the question itself. It asks, "If Buddhism denies a permanent self, how does it perceive identity?" From this simple question, Mathieu Boisvert, a Professor of South-Asian Traditions at the University of Quebec at Montreal, endeavors to show how the Theravadin Buddhist tradition supports its answers to this question in light of the Pali Canon and the tradition's rich exegetical literature. Yet, the actual scope of the book (within its slight 178 pages of text) is much broader than this introduction might convey, for Boisvert endeavors to demonstrate how the five aggregates of personality view compliment and interact within the Buddha's great discovery of the paticcasamuppada or Dependent Co-Arising. He does this by showing the connections between the aggregates and the middle eight factors of the twelve factored dependent arising process.

Boisvert points out up front that because of the great gap in time between the Buddha's death and the first written repository of his teachings, not to mention the reliance on human memory which itself might be faulty, scholars and Buddhologists alike are unable to definitively ascertain the nature of "original" Buddhism, what the Buddha actually taught, from the extant manuscripts and historical evidence which extend from that time period, and therefore he does not intend to claim that his work will uncover what the Buddha actually said about the five aggregates or anything else. What he does postulate is that "since the commentarial tradition was incorporated within the Theravada tradition itself, the latter must have insured that the former was consistent with every aspect of its own theory. . . . Consequently, I have assumed that the Theravada tradition itself must have assured the integrity of a text before accepting it." Taking this as his starting point, Boisvert then states: "This book will therefore analyze the five aggregates within the Theravada tradition as a whole [based upon the scriptures of the Pali canon and its exegetical texts]."

He begins this process by stating the core theory according to the Theravada tradition: ". . . the human personality is composed solely of the five aggregates, and to perceive any of these as the self leads to a particular kind of wrong view known as 'the view that the body is existing ' (sakkayaditthi). If the entire personality is confined within these five aggregates, the Buddhist theory of perception — and of 'misperception' as well — should become clear through an understanding of their interrelation."

From here, he proceeds to the heart of his thesis, stating: "Although the theory of dependent origination is traditionally approached as the highest truth, and the five aggregates as conventional truth, I present evidence that these levels of truth are not merely juxtaposable, but represent different expressions of the same process." And to show this he begins by breaking down the five aggregates in terms of their interaction with dependent co-arising, demonstrating how both the five aggregates and dependent co-arising actually work together in what can become viewed ultimately as a dual process responsible for the arising of suffering. In actuality, it is not a dual process, but rather only appears to be, depending upon which of the two aspects one is focusing on. He states: "According to the Pali canon, both the chain of dependent origination and the five aggregates are responsible for suffering (dukkha). The Buddha stated repeatedly that the root of all suffering lies in the five clinging aggregates which represent the psycho-physical constituents of the individual."

On the other side of the coin, he shows how the relation between the five aggregates and the doctrine of dependent co-arising is established through a reference in the Mahavagga of the Anguttara Nikaya*. In this discourse, the four noble truths are shown in terms of the paticcasamuppada. "The noble truth concerned with the arising of suffering is simply explained by the paticcasamuppada in normal order, while the noble truth of cessation of suffering is defined by the paticcasamuppada in reverse order. It is clear, then, that the paticcasamuppada, traditionally seen as an explanation for the arising and the eradication of suffering, is intimately related to the theory of the five aggregates."

The doctrine of the paticcasamuppada (dependent co-arising) simply explains the process that the five aggregates go through in their journey toward suffering and the creation of the vicious circle leading to birth, existence, illness, old age, and ultimately to death and the eventual rebirth of the aggregates in a new lifeform. In showing us this pattern within the five aggregates, Boisvert states that: "The physical and psychological elements at work in the individual remain the same whether in the past, present or future. Stated differently, the theory of dependent origination could run thus: within one lifespan (links 11-12: birth [jati or birth; rebirth] and old age and death [jaramarana or old age and death]), one keeps generating karmic activities (link 2 [sankhara or karmic activities]) because of ignorance (link 1 [avijja or ignorance]), and this generation of karmic activities due to ignorance is more easily understandable by examining the process described by the eight middle links [3. vinnana or consciousness; 4. namarupa or name and form; 5. salayatana or the six sense doors; 6. phassa or contact; 7. vedana or feeling; 8. tanha or craving; 9. upadana or clinging; and 10. bhava or becoming]."

He continues, saying: "Through this study, I am able to clearly establish the correlation between Buddhist soteriology and psychology, depicted respectively by the paticcasamuppada and the five aggregates. By correlating some of the links of the chain of dependent origination with the five aggregates, it becomes clear that these links share the same order as the traditional nomenclature of the five aggregates, and that the latter fulfill the same function as the links of the paticcasamuppada. No attempt has ever been made before to explicitly connect both doctrines, and to state which links of the theory of dependent origination refer to which particular aggregate." It is from this point that the heart of the book and his hypothesis begins to take shape as Boisvert proceeds to examine each of the five aggregates one by one while bringing to light, in a very convincing manner, their connection with the doctrine of dependent co-arising.

What this work does is to look at the five aggregates as though with a fine microscope in order to discern and discover the synergistic connections between these two important Buddhist doctrines in an effort to more clearly delineate the liberation process at work within the individual who is, by Buddhist definition, nothing more than an amalgam of the five aggregates. In undergoing this process of discovery of uncovering the minute details of the five aggregates, the reader is led step by step through the process of the workings of his own mind while being shown what needs to be done in order to bring this process leading to the Round of Births to an end — in other words, to awakening and liberation.

Any reader who wishes to learn more about this process which keeps beings bound to the Round of Births, as proposed by Buddhist teaching, could do no worse than to look into and discover the connections involved which keep him attached to the Wheel of Becoming. Here, in this book The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology, Boisvert presents a convincing amount of detailed information, painstakingly dissected, which demonstrates this process which binds beings to samsara. If one reads no other book than this on the subject of the five aggregates, one would be hard pressed to find a better explanation of a more concrete psychological framework for the discovery of the Buddhist soteriological answer to the aspects of existence.


* AN i, 176-177 [pgs. 268-270]. Mahavagga [The Great Chapter] of the Anguttara Nikaya

RE: Reviews of recommended books
Answer
10/7/13 8:07 AM as a reply to Ian And.
I've definitely benefited from this book, especially pages 142 - 146.