Monday, June 13, 2011
This is a term that Buddhists apply to our inner environment. Literally, it means “made up of lots of little pieces.” In reference to the mind and personality, it means that we humans assemble a world out of many, many thoughts and other internal events. There are so many pieces, and they materialize so quickly, that we come to assume this isn’t happening. We come to assume that reality is a river flowing past us.
Today on a walk up the hill, I become acutely aware of the aggregates. The walking is an ideal device to create some space around the steady parade of events in my head and heart. I see there is quite a river of reflective thought about a situation at work. There are other thoughts about getting older, my health, my social life, and more, but this one situation has taken center stage. Belatedly, thanks to the walking, I realize that I’ve come to focus so intensely on this one thing that it’s come to define my whole life lately.
There is also awareness of my body as another aggregate. I experience the walking in a body that has transient pains here and there; my back is stiff, my feet hurt, I have a dry scratchy throat. I’m also very pleasantly aware of the stretch and thrust of strong muscles in my legs, of a sense of balance finely tuned over many years of walking and climbing in precarious, windy places. This body loves to move, and it feels so, so good. There is an aggregate of feelings, too. There is anxiety, about nothing in particular. There is a celebratory sense of accomplishment about work. There are a hundred other feelings running through me like a mountain stream cascading over cool, wet stones.
At the top of the hill, I sit on a bench and watch the city go by. And while sitting there, I begin to play hide and seek with the aggregates. Now they are “out there” and I am examining them. Now I’ve fallen in, and lost track of myself, and I am living them.