Buddha’s Garage Sale Of Skandhas
The more you learn about the Buddha the more you realise that he was-is the greatest Spiritual Genius who has ever lived, probably that’s why we are still talking about him over two thousand five hundred years later. Amongst the many brilliant things he realised and taught was the concept of the Skandha. In Pali and other languages at that time a Skandha referred to a bundle or heap or pile of disparate objects. Everybody knew what a skandha was.
He gave this innocent unassuming word, which everyone understood clearly, psychological and spiritual meaning by referring to the internal heap or pile of inner psycho-spiritual objects that beset human awareness. A Skandha is a lot more than just stuff.
A garage sale is a skandha; and what’s in the garage sale? Say it’s one of those huge garage sales that happen after living in the same house for thirty years raising four children and sending the last of them off to their own grownup lives only recently. When you walk through that garage sale you can see the chains and sequences of objects. There’s furniture, appliances and out of date electronic equipment. Old sports equipment and infomercial exercise machines. There are books, magazines, music collections, mapping out the decades. There’s kitchen equipment, cutlery, plates with mismatched bowls, pots and pans and weird grilling devices and perhaps a defunct but still working barbeque.
Boxes of old ornaments that have lost their sentimental grip on their owners are balanced precariously on the edge of an old chest of drawers. Someone’s attempt to become an artist is partly visible in that stack of almost good paintings. Old birthday and Christmas presents that were given to one and coveted by another now abandoned look rather lonely. All of these objects are connected to the memories of beloved family members, and the objects in one way or another are all connected to each other, almost as if an important part of your identity and the meaning of your life is tied up in all these old things.
It’s a nice sunny morning a good crowd of early bird garage sale mavens are in full plunder and bargain hunt mode. Today is Garage Sale Day and all these things must be gone by days end along with any feelings of attachment to them.
Now imagine that it is your garage sale and at the end of the day all the objects are gone but your attachment to them is not. It isn’t only the objects you miss but all of the associations and connections to the people and memories associated with the objects. You are having really serious sellers remorse. As time passes, even after you have moved to a new house, you are haunted by the memory of many of the things that disappeared from your life on the day of that garage sale. You often think about all the associations and people connected to those objects, and you really miss them and want them back.
Some of those memories are extremely upsetting, because they relate to things you have done that you are not proud of, and to things that others have done to you that for all you try you just can’t fully forgive or forget. There is psycho-energetic intensity to all these memories which increases the more you dwell on them. The rest of your life passes with these intensifying memories going on in the background of your otherwise normal old age.
You die in a normal way of old age. In your next lifetime you have a whole lot of weird attachments and reactions to emotional situations. You now have heavily charged Skandhas and they all relate in the main to the following five areas of your human experience:
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