White Lotus wrote:
dear Dexing. i see that the five skhandas are all empty, there is no self under any circumstances, but if the five skhandas are still intact there is still seeing or feeling of a self. it seems sensible to say that if there is no longer any feeling of I, me or mine that something has happened to the five skhandas. or that their illusion is dissolved. have they all gone... and if they have, were they ever there in the first place?
Not necessarily so. Arhats have seen through the illusion of a self in relation to the skandhas, but they have not seen through the illusion of the skandhas themselves. Skandhas being empty of personal selfhood is all Arhats are concerned with.
When one becomes an Arhat, seeing through selfhood, nothing has happened to the skandhas. How could something happen to nothing? They simply see that there is no personal selfhood — no I-my-me — within the skandhas.
On the Bodhisattva path when one actualizes emptiness of all phenomena, the illusion of the skandhas evaporates. When one sees through the skandhas and they are said to vanish, in which of the ten directions do they go?
None apply. Nothing happens to the skandhas, because they are originally emptiness. They neither come nor go, are neither produced nor extinguished, actually there's nothing here to be any of that.
So in Mahayana the Skandhas are not empty of a self like a basket is empty of objects, though still existing (as in the Hinayana). They are exactly emptiness itself, and vice versa.