Re: Five What?

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Posted by Andreas Isaksson ( on October 04, 2000 at 03:45:26:

In Reply to: Five What? posted by Aaron on October 03, 2000 at 20:55:36:

The Buddha said that as individuals, we are composed of nothing but the Five Skandhas. The word skandha is difficult to translate with precision. It means heap, aggregate or conglomeration of individuality. It means that we are all congeries, complex collections and combinations; we are ever-changing, not eternal, independently existing individuals we often think we are.

The Five Skandhas (or components of individuality) are:

1. Form
Are you tall short or medium? Ectomorph? Endomorph? This is your form, your corporeal body. Form includes all matter or materiality: the physical elements of earth (solidity); water (fluidity); fire (heat); air (movement); and sprace (cavities) - all of which comprise our human being.

2. Feelings or sensations
Westerners learned in school that there are five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. To this group mentalistic Biúddhists add another sensory organ, and that is "mind". We "see" a sunset; we "hear" a bell; we "smell" a lilac; we "taste" a lemon; we "touch" a cat. These five physical senses help us experience much of the physical world. But there is the world of ideas and thoughts; this world cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. To cope with this world we use faculties, or senses, of the mind and of thought. We "know" how to drive; we "know" how to speaka foreign language. Thus the faculties of mind are our sixth sense.

3. Perceptions
Perception combines feelings and sensations with recognition and judgements. What looks good to you? What tastes good to you? What kind of music do you like? Have your tastes in music changed as you've matured? How about your taste in people? Do you perceive people differently now than you did when you were younger? What are your personal likes and dislikes?

Intentionality or will
Are you basically a person of good will, which means that you have good intentions? What do you wish or intend for yourself? Your children? Your friends? What motivates or moves you? What are your intentions? Why do you do what you do? This skandha includes all volitional activities. As the Buddha poitned out, your intentions create your karma. Your will and intentions direct your mind, which controls the way you think, speak and act. You intentions establish the priorities in your life. Your past intentions condition or perpetuate your present intentions, habits and propensities. This is where karma is created.

5. Consciousness
A dog walks in to the room, and you become conscious of it. A loud radio blares on the street, and the sound stimulates your ear counsciousness. The Buddha, who was very precise in his psychological analysis and defienitions, taught that there is visual (eye) counsciousness, auditory (ear) counsciousness, olfactory (nose) counsciousness, gustatory (taste) counsciousness, tactile (body) counsciousness, and mental counsciousness. In short, one is conscious of each of the six senses; this counsciousness, which you presently think of as yours; is comprised of six different basic facets.

Buddha Dharma, which directs our attention to the real possibility ofl iving something deeper and ultimately more satisfying, outlines the Five Skandhas as a way to point out the tenous and unreliable nature of the shifting conditional reality we know as life.

Hmm, I hope this helps you a little bit. The text is an extract from Lama Surya Das book "Awakening the Buddha Within" and can be found on pages 80-82. If you haven't read the book, you should go ahead and do that. It is very easy to read and gives you a lot of insight in the Four noble truths and the eightfold path.

With Metta,
Andreas Isaksson

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