24
Aug
05

skandhas


 The skandhas (Sanskrit: Pali: Khandha; literally: "heap") are the five constituents or aggregates through which the functioning and experience of an individual, ego, or soul (possibly atman) is created according to Buddhist phenomenology. They are:
 
rupa, "form" or basic ignorance: the material body.
 
vedana, "sensation" or feeling: the experience of receiving raw information, including pleasure and pain, through the sense organs and the brain.
 
samjna, "perception" or "cognition": the forming of sensations into elemental patterns and concepts: indifference, passion, and aggression.
 
samskara, "mental formations", "volition", intellect, or concept: all types of mental habits, complex ideas, opinions, compulsions, and decisions. Saṃskāras are the source of karma.
 
vijnana, "consciousness" or "knowledge": dualistic awareness, which separates the world into self and other.
 
According to Chogyam Trungpa (1976), the five skandhas are "a set of Buddhist concepts which describe ego as a five-step process" and that "the whole development of the five skandhas…is an attempt on our part to shield ourselves from the truth of our insubstantiality," while "the practice of meditation is to see the transparency of this shield."
According to the Buddha, "the five aggregates of attachment (the basis for human personality) are suffering."
It should be noted that Buddhism describes only one physical skandha and four mental skandhas, which emphasises the importance of the mind.
All personal experiences are subject to these five aggregates, according to the buddhist view. There can be experiences where not all five skandhas are present; for instance, some stimulus from an object (form) in a sense organ (sensation) does not necessitate that this will generate a conscious experience.
The order of the skandhas is important, because it is considered that the latter skandhas are dependent on all the former ones. Thus, for a given experience, for the 5th skandha (consciousness) to be present, all the previous four need to be present. And for the 4th skandha (volition) to be present, all the previous three need to be present, and so on.

***The first and last (material organism and consciousness) of the aggregates are perhaps best thought of as the "stuff", or basis, of the individual, while the other three (sensation, ideation, and volition) are the internal transactions that occur between them. Matter is organized into a physical organism and animated by consciousness. These two combine to form the body-mind substrate of the personality. The other three aggregates are forms of activity that arises in the interactions between the body and mind.***

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